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From:  shan lung <shanlung9@y...>
Date:  Wed Dec 31, 2003  
Subject:  Tinkerbell at Chihpeng

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shanlung/sets/696557/


Hi   folks!

I am   determined to write this now before the
forthcoming   deluge of work sweep me back into lurkdom.
The   last couple of weeks have not been good for long
letter   writing. My already short time truncated even
shorter   with Christmas parties, watching LOTR Return
of   the King and other miscellaneous stuff that got to
be   done yesterday but put off till tomorrow and
reading   and planning for a too short vacation down in
New   Zealand from 9 Jan.

To   make it even more difficult, I shot about 500
photos   that I need to select 60 for webshots prior to
any   writing. That was why I did not write earlier as
I   usually have the selected shots to guide me in my
normal   writeup. That is part of the stuff I should
have   done yesterday but got pushed mercilessly to that
perpertual   tomorrow. It is a bit of a pity as the
photos   are even better than that taken in the past
(courtesy   of even more re-reads of the camera manual)
and   the stunning beauty of Taiwan East Coast and the
South   Cross Island highway which snaked itself up some
of   the most rugged mountains I have been on. I remain
as   ugly as before.

With   the change of format of yahoo groups, I cannot
even   find earlier emails addressed to me that I like
to   address directly to. I am happy that some of you
readers   think enough of my description of life here
with   Tinkerbell that you forward to your friends in
California,   Nebraska and UK. It may be possible that
my   emails reached beyond mailing list into a UK parrot
magazine.   If so, Tinkerbell's share of that money
will   go back to help her kind be they wild or
abandoned(Don,   that will include cockatoos).

All   of us love our charges. Just as there are many
roads   to walk on, there are many approaches to a
compromise   with keeping both our charges and ourselves
happy.   I always feel that those who chose to clip the
wings   love their charges no less than I who decide to
let   Tinkerbell fly freely at home. I write of our
trips   together that perhaps one day if any of you have
changes   of circumstances (eg no little kids opening
screen   doors and no open pots of boiling water) and
decide   to let your charge fly and to travel about
outside   with your charges, you think of Tinkerbell and
take   that step. Or if your charge does fly and you
think   of taking him/her out to join you on harness,
you   think of Tinkerbell. Or even if your charge is
clipped   and you want to take him/her out wearing
harness,   you think of Tinkerbell. Just remember being
clipped   is no guarantee against gust of winds. And
that   they are clipped means they are even less capable
of   flying back to you.

I   mentioned in my last letter that I was going to
Chihpeng,   a hot spring near Taitung for four days from
13-16   Dec. That was our original intention, but ever
since   Tink came into our lives, plans have always
subject   to changes. While on the train, the nagging
doubt   of taking Tink to a hotspring resort area with
the   huge crowd during the weekend intimidated me
sufficiently   to decide to avoid Chihpeng that weekend
altogether.   I then called the car rental company I
used   before, remained on the train until the next town
of   Taitung where the car rental people picked me up. I
guess   Tink was relieved that the train journey was
over.   She was harnessed in her carrier cage but
stuffed   into a huge black bag so we would not be
thrown   off or threatened to be thrown off the train as
experienced   in a much earlier train ride here in
Taiwan   during the height of the SARS scare. Tink
remained   quiet during that 4 hour train ride comforted
now   and then with my fingers for her to manicure and
chew   on. Outside the station and well away from any
officials,   she came out onto her travelling basket
perch   with her harness clipped on.

In   my last trip here towards Taroko gorge, I regretted
the short   time I spend on the coast that I thought we
can   check out a bit more this time.

We   headed up North on the coastal road to this
nondescript   little provision shop on that road but
which   served one of the most delicious beef noodles I
ever   had. I found this place the last time on the
basis   that I was hungry and this was the first place I
came   to that served food. Just think of the most
delicious   French onion soup and the best beef stew you
ever   had and you may have an inkling of how delectable
that   beef noodle was. But instead of being found in a
5   star restaurant in a major city, getting that
instead   in an obscure little open air stall that
borrowed   a bit of space from a little provision shop.
Tinkerbell   loved the noodle slurping it down long
thick   string after long thick string.

It   was getting late and I was getting lazy and we
stopped   and stayed at this wooden chalets off that
coastal   road. As always, Tink go through her recalls
to   the delight of all the others as well. She joined
us   for dinner where she was religiously feed choice
pieces   first with me taking her left over pieces.

The   next day, we continued with our slow drive up the
coast.   We came to this huge beach where I thought
perhaps   we can try that fly fly fly flyabout that was
such   a painful experience for me a few weeks earlier.
As   we walked down the vast expense of sand, the wind
was   rather light, about force 3 with gust to force 5
which   I thought will be perfect for her. But as I
tried   to get her to step up in preparation to place
her   on a big piece of driftword for initial simple
recalls,   she protested strongly and refused to step up
as   if she was afraid of the beach.

I   then recalled a few weeks ago, I rode my bike with
Tinkerbell   to Tainan, a city just south of Chiayi, to
look   at the stuff made by this knife/sword maker who
forged   the swords used in the movie 'Crouching tiger,
hidden   dragon'.


http://publish.gio.gov.tw/FCJ/past/03103141.html

(above   URL got me interested enough to check him up
but   sadly, he told me his better pieces were sold)

We   passed by a very wide beach that time. The winds
at   that time were blowing at force 8 with gust to 10
courtesy   of a late passing typhoon. Tink readily did
her   step up and attempted to fulfill her recalls to me
at   very great difficulties. She could barely come to
me   against the head wind over a five meters recall.
With   the tail wind, she slammed at me. In cross wind,
she   tried once but just could not fly to me and was
blown   down and I had to retrieve her. That wind was
whipping   sand up and we did not stay too long.

That   must have upset her enough to dislike beaches
even   in more friendly windy conditions. When we got
off   the beach and onto open grass land, she was back
to   her usual self chattering and scolding me and added
more   holes to my suffering shirt. She readily step up
and   got to various perches to do her recalls at cue.

We   passed by this town called Changung. It looked
just   like any small taiwanese town, people going
around   in their everyday ordinary Sunday stuff.
Except   you recalled my last email? that Chiayi was
shaken   by this earthquake of Richter 4 which was at
6.6   at its epicenter on the other side of the massive
central   mountain range?

Changung   was the epicenter. The damage it suffered as
watched   by me on the local TV was that drink bottles
and   stuff kept on shelves tumbled down and messed up
the   floors. In the light of that terrible disaster in
Iran   and a short while back in California, Changung
picked   itself up within hours. But then, there are so
many   earthquakes in Taiwan that newspapers even have a
regular   daily column telling you about the earthquakes
that   struck the day before.

It   will take a really big one like Sept 21 1999 where
the   Richter scale of 7.6 was reached. Even then, many
buildings   remained intact even at epicenter.

We   even went into the large marine aquarium in
Changung.   The huge tanks and everthing remained ok.
Seeing   that very few people were around in such a big
enclosed   area, I took off Tinkerbell's harness. She
did   her recalls and she took off to do her flyabout
before   answering her recall back to me. That tickled
me!   We know that aviary is to fly birds, not often do
we   get to fly bird in an aquarium.

I   then decided to drive up the South Cross Island
highway   which snaked itself up and across the main
mountain   range in the center of Taiwan.

After   a while, we were off the coastal road and onto
the   mountain road winding itself into what was cut and
blasted   out of granite and marble. I know I should
keep   my eye on the road. However, it was fascinating
to   watch Tinkerbell on that basket perch resting on
Joy's   lap. She was looking out as if fascinated by
the   powerful view. As and when the car turn to follow
the   road, her body swayed from side to side to balance
the   centrifugal force on her. Now and then as I had
to   apply the brakes, her body dipped and did a slight
curtsey   before uprighting herself.

In   the past, she talked only at home with the two of
us.   She must have gotten so seasoned to the
travelling   that we did together that she talked to us
in   the car. And screamed along when her favourite
songs   (which happened to be the ones I liked too) belt
out   from the car CD player.

Before   it got too dark, we checked into a hotel just
before   the road really start to climb. Photos are
impossible   to convey the scale and the beauty and
words   are even more inadequate.

Where   ever we stopped, Tink gets to do her recalls.
After   a warm up of 3-4 meters, I put her through 15
meters   recalls. Perhaps it was from the car trip.
But   at the fourth long recall, I sensed her reluctance
to   step up off from my shoulder and to step up onto
the   balustrade. I knew I should have gone back to 3
meters   recall but I guess the devil in me sensed she
was   annoyed and I wanted to see if I was correct. On
the   cue from 15 meters away, she flew towards me,
lifted   herself upwards and soared beyond to the end of
the   line to circle me a couple of times.

Thats   when a break was agreed upon and we went to our
room   so she could be released from her harness. In
the   past, we tend to use the attached bathroom for
her.   It got to a point now she just stay with us in
the   hotel room while the bathroom is used to place her
food   and drink dishes.

Next   morning we continued the drive upwards.

12   years ago when I was first in Taiwan as one of the
advisors   on the Taipei MRT subway system, I walked
across   on this route that I wanted to show my wife
now.

The   road was so difficult and with so many landslides
that   you did not know if the route was through until
you   got there. That time, I spoke very little Chinese
which   did not make the matter better. It was only on
the   fourth attempt that I found the route was through
and   I could take a hike across. With the outmost
persistence   and expense of energy that astonished me
now,   I could get in my quota of masochistic exertions
which   made me wondered at those times why did I do
such   things to myself when all other sane people
relaxed   and enjoy their holidays.

I   walked up on the other side and walked down on this
side.

Driving   up with the car now, I relived those earlier
memories   of a painful but hauntingly beautiful walk.
Then   for a while, the drive became very slow as fog
and   mist lowered vision to just a few meters. When it
cleared   to 10 meters visibility or so, the sides of
the   valley wall showed themselves covered with thick
rich   green moss.

Then   we broke through the cloud cover. The air was so
clear   that you can see almost for ever. The sky was
so   blue and the sun so bright that the it was so
unreal.

We   stopped at the top just before the road entered a
600m   tunnel at 2600 meters. There was some traffic
control   with the cars on our side waiting for the
designated   time to continue through the tunnel.

Tinkerbell   did her rounds of recalls. I wish I know
what   go on in her mind at those times, I understand
bird   vision is far superior to ours. She must have
seen   the other mountain peaks stretching far away in
the   distance in superb visibility. She also flew and
can   know where she was in the context of that
surrounding.

All   too soon, it was time to turn back. After all, we
were   going to go to Chihpeng although the past 3 days
were   spend in about anyplace but Chihpeng.

Thirteen   years or so ago, I was at this hotspring
area.   I thought things may have changed and memories
of   where to stay may not be that reliable.

It   was evening when we reached there. I recalled that
the   hotels and hotspring resorts were 2-3 storey high.
The   mushrooming up of 14-20 storeys of hotels drove
me   to such confusion that I cop out, let myself be
taken   by the first 'hotel tout' that spotted me as a
target   and checked into the room that he 'sold' to me.

The   next morning was much better. We checked out as
early   as we could to drive further up the valley to
find   the rest of the place was like before, but much
better   now with well designed hotspring facilities.

Tink   stayed on her basket on a big patio overlooking
the   crystal clear water of the river as it flowed over
the   rocks. The verdant green of the opposite slope of
the   valley acted as a wonderful backdrop. If you do
get   to this part of the world, just remember that you
must   get past the initial concrete jungle of Chihpen
and   you can get to some real gems deeper in the
valley.   Dong Tai is the name of the beautiful
hotspring   resort/hotel that redeemed Chihpeng in my
eyes   and heart.

We   then got home. And over the 4 days of Christmas
holiday   here from 25-28 I took Joy and Tink to
Tsaoling   to revisit my bird whisperer friend and
beyond.

But   let us keep that for the next email.

Let   me wish everyone of you and your fids a GREAT AND
HAPPY   NEW YEAR







=====
With   warmest regards

Shanlung
Joy   - wife, Tinkerbell - CAG & surrogate daughter

earlier   emails and photo links on Tink -

http://www.geocities.com/shanlung9