Covered in Blood and Laughing. (or, why I love Taiwan)Submitted by WillZone at 2004-01-30 11:00:43 EST
Rating: 1.83 on 41 ratings (41 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
I've waited for this moment my whole life. I don't know how, why or when I became fascinated with Taiwan...maybe it was just the way the word looked on paper. Maybe it was the promise that life is completely different there than it is here in NY. Maybe if I was on the opposite side of the world I could safely leave all my troubles and problems and issues at home and, in essence, have a vacation from myself.
In Taiwan I could be whoever I wanted to be. I would be taller than everyone else. I could also figure out where all my gadgets originated from. That "Made in Taiwan" stamp has been a curse as well as a shimmering beacon of a different world for me my whole life. So I made it my quest to go to Taiwan. Who woulda thunk it was as easy to do as going to my travel agent.
Ben, the travel agent, took a look at my budget and was able to book me on a great flight, and put me up at one of the better hotels in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. 6 days, seven nights...I was set. The little details about my trip were exciting. Like eating exotic seafood, and I was even looking forward to the touristy things, like whale watching. I had no trouble getting the time off from work. Everything seemed like it was on schedule and according to plan.
Monday morning I take a cab to JFK airport. Due to the snow the flight was delayed a few hours, no matter. I'm on vacation...I do not feel the need to worry. I take a seat in the back corner of the main food court with my newspaper and coffee.
As I take a swig of my hazelnut I notice a very old woman, wrapped in black...hobbling towards me. She has no luggage. Her hands shake as she walks. She is hunched over and her eyes go from the ground at her feet, to the ground 10 feet in front of her. I'm enthralled by her...She creeps towards me...I begin to feel a nervous rumbling in my stomach. She is now 5 feet away from me...I stand up. She stumbles, I flinch, and she falls into me. I am now holding this old woman in my arms. A crowd looks on with New York City pessimism.
The old woman looks me in the eyes. Her eyes are bright, almost clear blue. With all the fight she has left in her she grabs me by the temple and says,
"Beware....Beware the gases....Beware creatures of the sea. Beware!"
She goes limp in my arms. Security runs to me, and takes the lifeless body from my hold. I step back, and watch as the paramedics arrive and attempt to give her CPR. Its no use. She is dead.
Now I'm freaked out. What a way to start a vacation...gypsy women dying in my clutches...I try to forget it.
I land in Taiwan. Check into my hotel. No one speaks English. No matter. I'm abroad and enjoying it. My first day, I just check out the city...take some bus tours. I've forgotten about the old woman. That night I ask around and find a great restaurant that looks out onto the water.
My waiter speaks English and tells me the specials. There is a seafood platter that sounds delicious, but as I'm about to order it, that old woman pops into my head...
"Beware creatures of the sea..."
I'm usually not superstitious...but there was something about those blue eyes that I trusted. I order the steak.
Everything was delicious. Best food I've ever had in Taiwan...the only food I've had in Taiwan.
In my dreams the next night I see the old woman. She is laughing.
"Beware the gases!"
The seas were rough the next day and my whale watching excursion was cancelled...no matter...I'm on vacation. Some locals tell me in broken English to take a trip south towards Tainan. So I thank them and get in a taxi towards Tainan. In my "Tourist Guide to Taiwan" it says Tainan is a "cute fishing town in southern Taiwan" lots of shops and sights to be seen." Fascinating.
I'm walking the streets of Tainan for a good couple hours and down the block I start to hear cheering. I speed up my walk. I'm at the back of a crowd of cheering men. They are repeating some strange phrase. I do my best to translate it in my Taiwanese to English dictionary.
My rough quick translation is "Arrives the Whale Penis."
Arrives the whale penis? What the hell does that mean? The men are jumping and celebrating. I look over their heads and coming down the street is a white cabbed trailer...hauling a huge load.
I cross the street to get a better view. I take a seat at an eatery. On the bed of this truck is a dead whale. Looks like a sperm whale. I ask, in English, what the big fuss is...and a small woman answers me in perfect English from behind the counter.
"The sperm whale beached itself. This sperm whale has a five foot penis, and it is considered a great honor for the men to see it and celebrate it."
"Only in Tainan, Taiwan." I say to myself. Now, this isn't what I imagined when I thought I was going whale watching, but it'll suffice. The truck stops in the middle of the road and the whale is on display...men point at it and laugh and pray. People poke their heads out of windows and join in the celebration.
I get caught up in all the hoopla and head towards the whale. I let out some yelps of excitement. I'm now 10 feet from the hind quarter of this whale. Its huge. "Gotta be over 50 tons." I think out loud.
I want to get close to it and touch it, but for some reason I'm scared to.
And that’s when it happened. The whale...long dead was making a sound. It sounded like someone was pinching a balloon and letting the air out slow...a squeal of a noise. Loud enough to shut everyone up. Me and the rest of the men just stared, inching towards the part of the whale that was making noise.
An explosion of red. I was hit by something large red and meaty, and fall to the street. I'm covered in blood. I hear screaming. I try to wipe the blood and meat from my eyes to no avail as my hands are covered in crimson as well. A group of men help me to my feet and wipe my eyes for me.
What I see then my friends is a sight I've never seen before...not to mention a smell so putrid that it'll be with me till I die. The whale exploded. Not the whole thing. There was a rip along the back of the whale and the whales insides were now outside...covering all the shops and stores and people who happened to be near it.
The dead whale exploded.
I follow a throng of people to a hose and try to wash the stink off of me. The truck is still there and the whale is still spilling out onto the street.
"Only in Tainan, Taiwan." I think to myself. "The guys at work will never believe this one." I start to laugh. As I'm laughing to myself, I look out at the damage. A fucking dead whale exploded all over the fucking place...unbelievable." Across the street my eyes meet anothers. My heart skips a beat. There is an old woman, pointing at me and laughing...she is dressed in black...from the distance I can see the blue in her eyes.
"Beware....Beware the gases....Beware creatures of the sea. Beware!"
Oh Uber, this was based on a true story that didn't happen to me.
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