Night Stalker

Day of the Malayan Night Heron

Day of the Malayan Night Heron

Just call me Richard Ramirez

Just call me Richard Ramirez

I’ve always had an eye for the birds and that hasn’t changed since I’ve been in Taiwan. The odd looking critter in the snap in a Malayan Night Heron. This one stalks around CKS Memorial but I’ve seen a few others in strange parts of town, including a patch of grass opposite the Veterans Hospital in Shipai.

I’m not really sure what they’re doing in these places, as apparently they’re meant to be near rivers and lakes. Also, most of the info. that I can find online refers to them being in central and southern Taiwan … Anyway, they’re rather ugly looking langers but I kind of like them. When they sense you approaching, they do this weird wobble of their gullet, rolling it in and out. If you get too close they’ll suddenly flap up into the branches, though they don’t seem to be the best fliers and look happiest plodding around grassy areas in the shade of trees.

What I have discovered, though, is that they don’t seem to have much in the way of peripheral vision – at least this one didn’t. As long as I was directly behind, and approached slowly, I could get up close without her noticing, a technique which didn’t prove nearly as effective with most of the birds I knew in the old days …

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Bad Winners

Some pillock burning a Korean flag in Taipei a few years back.

Some pillock burning a Korean flag in Taipei a few years back.

Now, being a Britisherist, I have no time for the silly girls’ sport known in England as rounders, but I’m glad to see Taiwan doing well at anything. They don’t get a lot of time in the limelight, and when they do, it’s usually for negative reasons brought about by saber-rattling from Big Brother across the Strait. So good on em for getting through to the next round of this baseball thingy that’s going on here in Taiwan, by beating their arch nemesis South Korea 3-2.

There’s just one thing that detracts from all the euphoria and that’s the ugly nationalism that seems to surface anytime Taiwan locks horns with Korea in any arena, be in online gaming or tiddlywinks. You’d think that people would just be happy they qualified. But when I looked at the missus’ FB page this morning (I don’t used the cursed thing), I noticed more comments crowing about the fact the Korea went out (even though they won the game concerned) than there were whoops of joy for Taiwan. Rather mean-spirited and, frankly, lame I thought. Some of these comments were in English (like the people concerned wanted all their English-speaking pals to know such pleasant opinions as: “fuck you cheating Korea, go back home!”).  The majority were in Chinese, which my missus translated, and some of these were really unsavoury.

One that stuck out was when a friend of the missus actually spoke out against all the “kimchi” (as they call them) baiting, saying it was stoked by the media (quite true from what I can see) and that the Koreans were no worse than any other nation when it came to underhand behaviour in sports. Her rational, fair-minded comment was met with a barrage of derision including a comment that my missus helped me translate that ran: “Koreans are especially dirty. anyone who has eyes can see their sly little moves. It’s not the media that is discrediting them, just their own dirty play.” Sounds like racist bollocks to me.

Now I come from a country where that kind of xenophobic ranting is way to prevalent in sport. I suppose the Germans would be our equivalent or Italy if we’re focussing on “cheating”. But even so, you would not get the ludicrous bias that I later had pointed out to me by an American mate  who is a bit more clued up about this stuff. As we (well him, really – I was just an innocent bystander, honest) watched the highlights on ELTA, the TV channel showing the games, he observed that no once did they replay ANY of the Korean action. Even though Taiwan LOST the game, they played the Taiwanese hits and successful plays over and over again in a highlight reel.  This included not ONCE showing the home run that the Korean batter hit off Taiwan’s star pitcher (forget the name), which I think won the game.

I mentioned this to my girlfriend’s mates over a drink and they replied that any country would do the same, favouring the home nation. But think about it. As biased and blinkered as we are back home, can you really imagine the Beeb showing England’s two goals over and over and conveniently leaving out the three, say, Germany scored to win the game. It would be barmy and, quite frankly, embarrassing. It actually sounds more akin to the “alternate reality” type broadcasts you get from totalitarian regimes. (I’m recalling the other Korea’s shutdown of a public broadcast during S. Africa 2010. If i remember correctly, they showed a group game against Ivory Coast on the back of a strong performance in the first match against Brazil – probably on fear of being sent to the gulags – then switched it off mid-pasting).

Anyway, well done Taiwan, but remember – it’s not just losers who can be ungracious.