Saturday, 15 March 2008

Boats. Outrageous financial demands. Tainan Art University and penis amputations.

Boats

I've always been fickle-minded. A couple of days ago I was thinking about a new tattoo. However, yesterday everything was boats. I spent a day reading online about the practicalities surrounding the purchase, ownership and upkeep of a small sailboat. The next phase of my travels is somehow going to be ocean related. I'm thinking of buying a boat to live and travel on. This would immediately nullify two costs of travelling: accommodation and transport, helping to offset the cost of the boat itself. I'm even dreaming about sailing it back to England once I'm au-fait with sailing concepts.

I did a two week sailing trip up the west coast of Scotland in 1996. Sailing past the Islands and Highlands was spectacular. Cold, immaculte beauty. Nothing but the sound of wind-on-sail to propel you through the labyrinth of islets - marvellous. I remember looking on in awe at the natural phenomenom that is The Gulf of Corryvreckan. It remains one of the highlights of my life. It's this memory combined with listening to Don's sailing adventures that has sparked this.

I've always had an affinity with sea. Perhaps it was the Scotland sailing trip. Perhaps it was growing up near the sea. Perhaps it was serving in the Royal Navy for 10 years. I'm not sure but I am hungering to go back.

After a little research, you can get a small fiber glass sailboat with a little engine, a water tank, couple of beds and a stove for as little as £2000. Live on something like that for a year and it would pay for itself on accommodation charges alone.

The thought of living a slower life, cruising the oceans at 4-5knts had me dreaming last night. I was thinking how for thousands of years humankind has travelled at a much slower pace. We've used horses and sails for eons which fit the natural rhythms of the World. I might be turning into a hippy but this really appeals to me.

Consequently, as a result of all this nautical thought, I had the kids playing battleships last night in class. I was explaining the intracacies of submerging a submarine along with many other aspects of life under the sea (oxygen, water, food, smells etc etc.). Poor little buggers.

I need to do a lot more research before any of this becomes a reality as, presently, I don't know the first thing about it. I certainly don't want to be stuck with a wreck! This is where Don and Smudge may come in useful. They're both sailing buddies with a wealth of knowledge.

Legal Eagle

Well, it looks like my stint as an English teacher in Taiwan is over. The cherry on the cake was the realisation that I'm also effectively banned from ever working in Taiwan again. How the hell have I ended up being black-listed by an entire nation?

If you've been keeping track of the last few posts you'd know the reason for these punitive measures. Due to my less than impressive work record in Taiwan (I did a moonlight flit without warning after only three months of a one year contract) I'm now unable to obtain a work permit. After some consultation with the Taiwanese Council for Labour Affairs I'd established a way forward to resolve this mess.

I had to speak to my ex-employer and try to reach an agreement with them so that they might withdraw their complaint against me. However, one fly in the ointment was that my ex-employer refused to take my calls. My new school spoke to her on my behalf as she obviously couldn't stomach the sound of my voice. She sent a fax to the new school's office outlining her demands for a withdrawal of the complaint.

To call her demands reasonable is like saying Maradona's 1986 'Hand of God' goal against England was fair. Everybody was speechless. The demands were outrageous!

She reckons I need to compensate her to the tune of 268,000ntd. To those of you unfamiliar with Taiwanese currency, 268,000ntd equates to about £4,400. Not an insignificant sum I think you'd agree. I reckon only a madman in a fairy tale written by a lunatic would consider paying this. I only earn about £100/week here in Jiali, it would take one year of graft to pay this.

I think I'll forget this new job. It was a nice relaxed school. I liked the staff and kids. I liked the part-time aspect of it. I am also lamenting the fact that I needlessly wasted money on a medical. At least I know I'm healthy.

Providing no Taiwanese law enforcement or immigration officials read this site, I can still teach Zi Ting's Aunt's kids for 4 hours/week which is better than nowt. I regard this as safe since the lessons take place in the Aunt's house and if questioned I can say I'm playing the philanthropist and working out of the goodness of my heart! However, I'm still required to leave the country every 30 days because of this fiasco.

How much do you earn?

Foreign observation: After working tonight (illegally - ssshhh!) I went for some scran. I know a few of the old lads that watch baseball on TV at this open-air, plastic-chair place. These places are synomynous with Asia. I ordered beef noodle soup and a bowl of meat rice as usual. It always makes me laugh when someone asks what I do. I say "Teacher". Then, the automatic response is: "How much do you earn?" Honestly, there's no secrecy with salaries in Asia like we have in the West. I find it refreshing as I've nowt to hide. 

I might consider engaging in a battle with my old school. I'll gauge my hunger for a legal wrangle tonight. I've never done anything like this before so it could be an interesting experience. We'll see.

Art


On the Harley Davison having just arrived at Tainan Art University

On the Harley Davison having just arrived at Tainan Art University.

Art in action. What a pose. Can you spot Gollum from Lord of the Rings?

Art in action. What a pose. Can you see Gollum from Lord of the Rings?

Inappropriate toilet. Sorry love, but you can’t have a shit here.

Inappropriate toilet.

Leonardo DiCaprio or Da Vinci? You decide.

Leonardo DiCaprio or Da Vinci?

Manners

I've just finished two bowls of oyster fried noodles with chopsticks. I've been away from the Western World for so long that a thought occured to me. I was trying to think of the last time I used a knife (刀子 daozi) and fork (叉子 chazi). I can't remember. I'm mint with chopsticks now!

man-chopsticks.jpgMy Dad was an absolute stickler for table manners when I was a bairn. I dreaded eating soup as I couldn't avoid clinking my teeth with the spoon. This would incur his wrath - I think he may have had a touch of OCD about it - hehe. I still think of this every time I eat soup today and I still can't help doing it.

My fatha would 'do his nut' out here in Taiwan where people noisily slurp soup and rice directly from the bowl.



Look at him - filthy bugger!

Driving on the left?

Counties that drive on the leftSurprisingly, around a quarter of the World's population drives on the left, and the countries that do are mostly old British colonies. Up to the late 1700's, everybody travelled on the left side of the road because it's the sensible option for feudal societies of mostly right-handed people. Think swords, you want your sword-hand facing potential threats. The drive-on-the-right policy was adopted by the USA, anxious to cast off all remaining links with its British colonial past. Once America drove on the right, left-side driving was ultimately doomed. If you wanted a good reliable vehicle, you bought American and for a period they only manufactured right-hand-drive cars. From then on many countries changed out of necessity. Today, the EU would like Britain to fall into line with the rest of Europe, but this is no longer possible. It would cost billions of pounds to change everything round. The last European country to convert to driving on the right was Sweden in 1967.


I'm currently in Taiwan where we drive on the right. I've been in some countries where you can drive on any side you like - Cambodia springs to mind. Driving on the left is another reason SE Asia is such an attractive destination! Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia have adopted the sensible British policy of driving on the correct side of the road.

CD

Last night at work I found a CD of 'Wonderwall' by Oasis. I found the lyrics online and then blanked-out some of the words. I gave each kid a photocopy of the lyrics with words missing. I then played the song repeatedly for 20mins while the kids tried to catch and fill in the missing words. We danced and sang along. It was a laugh and I got paid £10 for this!

Cut ya dick off

Last time in Manila I was talking to a bloke from County Durham. He has lived in the Philippines for donkeys. He has a Filipino wife and three kids. He was great crack, regaling us all night with many tales of expat life in paradise. One story that sticks in my head is this: One night he got very drunk and had sex with a woman of the night. Nothing exceptional so far right? Well, his missus caught him at it. He was worried for days but his anxiety abated as his wife never once mentioned the matter. His blissful life carried on as normal.

However, his wife never forgot this betrayal and her anger simmered away deep beneath the surface for days before erupting in a terrifying manner. He woke one night feeling something wasn't right. He glanced down the bed and saw something that made his heart miss a beat. His wife had his penis in her left hand and a knife in her right. She was exerting a telling force on his member. She was smiling, teasing, warning "If I catch you doing that again.........". The guy lay there enveloped in panic as his wife retreated from the scene, happy that she'd made her point. He didn't sleep too well that night!

I was gob-smacked. Incredibly, he's still with his wife whom I met later that night. I bought him a beer and thanked my lucky stars I haven't experienced that. Even with his wife present, we chatted openly about this for a while until we'd exhausted the repository of dick jokes. Hehe. Top bloke, top dit.

Flat

Where I currently live, the land is very flat. Similar to East Anglia. It's perfect cycling territory. The landscape has many water-filled rice paddies, fish farms, palm/banana trees and oyster farms at the coast. These flat east coast planes are a good source of salt. Cycling past the fish farms, you can't help but hear the motorised devices that agitate the water in order to supply the fish with oxygen. Otherwise these small man-made pools would be stagnant, filthy mosquito pits.

taiwan-grave.jpgThe landscape is punctuated with clusters of graves. These grave sites look a little peculiar to me. There seems to be a few graves with a building, that looks like a small cozy house, in among them. I don't know the purpose of the building. At night, the locals are VERY aware they are walking past a grave site. They become perceptibly anxious. Again, you're not allowed to point at the graves. Quite frankly, all very spooky. Here's a pic to give you an idea of what these elaborate resting places look like during daylight hours:

This landscape on this pic is like the Himalayas compared to Cigu (where I am) but the cemeteries look exactly like this. 

This time last year I was recovering from a hangover in the intense heat of Phnom Penh. I remember the glorious views over Boeng Kak Lake - bonus.

再见 Bye

一二三四五六七八九十 1-10

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