Pregnant Pause

What? I thought you were just a chubbster …

This young, blatantly preggers, lass stood for stop upon stop on the MRT the other day while these cool-as fuckers played Tetris-etc with their volume right up. Eventually one guy got up and offered his seat like a gent – a gent who had sat for 22 minutes before giving up his seat when he was getting off. Hero.

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Civilized and rational anti-Japanese protest

The row over the little pieces of rock called the Diaoyutai Islands seems to have been dragging on forever.  I’m not going to claim I  know a lot about the issues at stake, but FTNM’s take is that China and Japan obviously aren’t going to war over this crap and it’s just a an excuse to do some chest-puffing.

In China it seems any time these kinds of spats with Japan occur (over anything from state visits to the Yasukuni Shrine to questionable interpretations of history in textbooks), it’s the perfect justification to allow people who are not usually allowed to do so to let off some steam, oh, and to smash up some Japanese shit.

With that in mind, it was good to see these in Guangdong Province blokes taking a more balanced approach.

The sign reads “Civilized patriotism. Rational anti-Japanese”. Of course. What could be more rational than running around butt-nekkid with a red water scoop covering your dangly bits and a placard denouncing Japan? I definitely prefer these clowns to the usual nasty nationalist dreck.

The best part for me is the surgical masks. They might be mincing around in their birthday suits but they still have to protect themselves from nasty germs and what not.  So Chinese! Some people probably wear that shit going to their graves.

Anyway, according to Taiwan’s Apple Daily, despite giving it the large, they were actually pretty pussy and deliberately picked a deserted road. Anytime a car or pedestrian approached, they running for cover, which appears to be what’s happening with the guy on the right in the photo.

Whatever, as I say, China would probably actually come across in a much better light if more people responded like this, rather than going bat shit and smashing shit up.

A Tale of Two Eateries

Sometimes I really wonder what is going through people’s heads. How can some people be so cool and with-it while others are thick as pigshit and unable to think outside the box.  I’m showcasing these two joints for absolutely polar opposite reasons in terms of service and mentality. They are in a lane behind Bade Rd, Section 3. I forget the exact address but it’s on a corner in a market area, pretty much opposite the Taipei Stadium and Sports Centre.

If there’s a better liang mien deal this side of the Formosa Strait, my name ain’t FTNM.

Case 1: The Perfect Example of How to Run a Small Restaurant in Taiwan  

I’ve been to this place quite a few times and I can’t think of many better places to eat for the price. It’s a cold noodle store, liang mien they call it in Chinese. You get a load of noodles, a kind of sesame sauce, cabbage, shredded cucumber and chicken and it really fills you up for just 50NT! Not only is the grub good and excellent value – I once realised I didn’t have a penny to my name after the boss lady handed me my noodles and sheepishly told her I would try and go to the bank. She raised her arms in protest and refused to hear of it. She was basically saying next time without batting an eyelid.  Another time, she forgot to add the sesame sauce for my take-out. When I mentioned it the next time, she looked mortified and gave me a free dish of veg (which I don’t even think is on the menu) on the house. As well as the food being good and dirt cheap, this is why I keep coming back here.

This poor young hussy got caught in the crossfire. To her I offer half-sincere apologies. Still: If you’re standing outside a bona fide dufus-owned establishment, you can’t expect to roll around with pigs and not get mucky. The offender can be seen peeping out from behind the pillar btw. Probably dropping the exact amount of coriander leaves allowed into a bowl of soup. Cos that’s OK.

Case Two: The Clueless Dickhead Next Door

This place is next a couple of doors down, right on the corner. I’d been there a few times before. The guy remembered me but apparently that counted for nothing. I was buying a 35NT portion of rice and fatty pork lurou fan and asked the guy to sling a couple of sprigs of coriander on top. My Chinese is pretty basic but I know that word because I love coriander. I’ve made this request at many places before with no problem. But Mr Man here says “Sorry, that’s not for rice.”  I was with a Taiwanese girlfriend and so made sure I understood right. Even she was amazed by this idiot’s refusal to give me a couple of leaves but, in true Taiwanese non-confrontational fashion, she turned away and gave me a helpless look.

I wasn’t giving up that easily. “You don’t want to give me a little bit of coriander?” I asked.

“It’s for the soup, not rice.”

“But I come here quite often. I just want a little bit.”

“Sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

This last phrase I know because I’ve heard it too many times. It’s: “Mayo banfa”, which means something like “There’s nothing I can do”. With the help of my reluctant female friend, I told him I wouldn’t come back to his place. He shrugged and turned away. What a fool.

Conclusion: I have had experiences similar to both Case 1 and 2 over the last couple of years but far too many like the second. OK, people have their silly little rules but surely it’s just common sense to break them for a regular customer. Why would you not do something so small and insignificant? Answer: Because you are a moron who sees rules as more important than customer service.  I only give peabrains like this one chance (in fact this guy got a couple) before I blacklist them.

Fun for all the family with Nazi accesories

Aaah, inni sweet: The Führer as a cutesy keyring.

Mark Lee’s designs often bear the slogan ‘I’m Mark’. This one might have added ‘also known as Adolf’.

Alongside the Autobot and Decepticon insignias, we have those other kids favourites, Nazioids.

What is up with Taiwan and all the Nazi paraphernalia? I’ve seen bloggers in Taiwan like Ozsoapbox here mention this shit before but even complaints by the German and Israeli trade offices don’t seem to make a blind bit of difference. They just keep on peddling this shit and it obviously sells. 

These keys rings were made or designed by some jester named Mark Lee who first off excused the use of the image by saying it didn’t have the same connotations in Taiwan and that it was just meant to be an angry boss. Lee later backpedalled and apologised after the image was used by another company called Ergotech in a magazine ad. 

Following a letter of complaint from the Israeli trade office, he said he said he was brushing up on his history and that he was sorrythat the image was used again but that there was nothing he could do as the contract with ergotech was already signed. But while 711 pulled the products off their shelves, they were still to be found at a Carrefour supermarket recently. Meanwhile, the Nazi flag stickers were on the rack among Yankees and Transformers logos at an everything store I was in a while back. You can find this stuff almost anyhwere – bumpers of cars, shop windows, t-shirts (I once saw a kid wearing Hitler’s face). In Taiwan, Nazi imagery = cool.  

The justification I’ve heard is that people just don’t know what it means and it doesn’t have any significance but when businesses get called on it they usually seem pretty embarrassed and withdraw the merchandise (at least temporarily). anyway, ignorance is no excuse. If you don’t know what something means, why use it in the first place?

Withering Criticism

A pitiful sight …

I often used to stroll through the  Taipei 228 Peace Memorial Park of an evening. It’s a rather very male-orientated location after dark, but a great place to meet friends, particularly around the gate that opens onto Ketagalan Boulevard. These young guys will always greet you with a smile and seem very friendly and willing to offer a hand to anyone who might need it, especially foreign visitors.

In the daytime, not far from that gate, you can visit the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum, a testament to the brutality of the KMT dictatorship that ran Taiwan for 50 years. The old building used to be a radio station under the Japanese regime, I think. There’s not a lot to see or hear in English there but it gives you a bit of an idea of what went down during the massacres of thousands of Taiwanese that started on 28 February, 1947. Some of the protesters during these events actually took control of the station.

Outside, in front of the building and near the boards displaying rows of faces of the murdered, is a plant. Withered, half dead and very pathetic-looking, it is a giant white spider lily, known as a hamayuu in Japanese. Apparently this plant became a symbol of peace in Japan as it was the only form of vegetation growing in a 2-kilometer radius from the epicentre of Ground Zero, the point where the atomic bomb levelled Hiroshima in 1945.

On the 12th Memorial Service for the Victims of the 228 Incident in 2005 (I suppose people weren’t allowed to commemorate the event before 1993) it was given to then Mayor (and now President) Ma Ying-jeou as a symbol of peace by the Chairman of the 228 Incident Association Te-sung Liao on behalf of two Japanese citizens. Ma and various other officials then planted it here “in the hope that humanity, just like the hamayuu, will rise with vitality and determination to oppose war and pursue peace.”

If humanity’s hopes are tied to this plant then it looks like we’re all royally screwed, cos this plant is in a right old state. Amazingly, every time I pass, it is still clinging to life like a plant my mum got me for my room at uni years ago. I wonder if the KMT types are giving it just enough sustenance to hang on, just so they can sneer at the puny little Japanese weed.

Whatever, it’s pretty shabby way to treat something that was given in a spirit of humanity.

Public Enema

This guy must literally have been full of shit.

As I was at a certain chemist the other day, picking up a “special” prescription, I noticed the fellow in front of me in the queue was making a particularly interesting purchase.

“Hello Mr. Chen. The usual is it?” said the cashier with a smile. “Ten atomic enemas and a couple of bottles of Savlon. That’ll be NT$1,000 please.”

Not sure what he was up to later that night. Not sure I even want to think about it.

Masking Dissent

The following helpful sign can be found on the MRT. Should I? Doesn’t sound like a law to me so I’ll say “fuck off”, especially when that mask bollocks has repeatedly been shown to do nothing.

Wear em or die (especially if you’re a foreign type)!