Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 9th, 2007- A Day Which Will Live in Infamy

Turning 24 became a little less depressing thanks to the help of some good friends and one of the craziest days of my life.

It all started on Friday night. Shane and Rachel made the trip down from Jubei to help me celebrate. Since most of us had to teach a class Saturday morning; Friday night consisted of just staying in and drinking a beer or two.

After class on Saturday, the fun began. We started by taking our scooters about 20 minutes outside of Taichung to a natural hotspring. The hot springs were only about 6 dollars to get in, and included a towel and shower cap which was required to wear. Why everyone who entered had to wear the shower cap, I'm not completely positive; but I assume the water isn't filtered and having a bunch of long, black hairs floating in the pools would be quite disgusting.

There were several pools to choose from of varying temperatures. Since it is still summer here, about half the pools were cold water. I didn't spend a whole lot of time in those because I just didn't feel like I was getting my money's worth when I paid to go to a HOT spring. And the hottest temperature pool, about 75 degrees Celsius, was too hot for anyone to sit in for more than a few minutes. There was one pool, however, that was about bathwater temperature and was very enjoyable. I could immediately feel my circulation increasing and my arthritis disappearing.

After a few hours of soaking, we showered up and headed for a nearby hiking trail. We decided to stick to the easiest path since half of us were wearing flip flops. It was very nice to get out of the heavy traffic, smog, and neon signs that make up the majority of Asian cities. Just a few minutes outside of Taichung, the forest gets so thick it appears impossible to even walk through. I can't wait to go back and head up one of the more difficult trails.

A full day of hot springing and hiking made us all famished. Still dirty and sweaty, we drove back into town and stopped at an Indian restuarant. Since most Western food in Taiwan is absolutely terrible; I didn't hold out much hope for the Indian food here. But surprisingly it was very cheap and tasty. We ordered a variety of Nan, dips, smosas, chicken, lamb, and vegetables; and devoured them all.

Then we all went to our respective apartments, took a quick nap, showered, and ran to the 7-11 for some beverages. We pregamed a little there as we talked and watched bad Taiwanese game shows on the only television channel we get. Rachel and Shane also gave me a birthday gift: a full sized glass and a fork. It was probably the best gift ever as I no longer have to use chopsticks and tiny, paper Dixie cups that dissolve after retaining liquid for more than 30 seconds. I swear I am going to start a full sized, plastic, disposable cup company in Taiwan that will sweep all of Asia and make me an overnight billionaire. The market is definitely there.

When it got a little later, we all headed out to a bar called Party Animal. It was a very relaxed place with a band playing. It was also very Taiwanese as we were the only foreigners there. The band leader sang me happy birthday and I received a number of toasts from the bar patrons. He asked if I had any song requests, but I don't think they knew 'Rocky Top.'

A few over-priced beers later, we headed out again to our favorite jaunt, The Pig Pen. For about 15 US dollars we gained entrance into a hip-hop style club with an all-you-can-drink promotion. There are several places in Taiwan that offer all-you-can-drink nights, which is quite hilarious to me when I think of how much money a bar would lose and how many people would get injured if this type of deal were offered back home. I suppose, however, since most Taiwanese take taxis and are able to drink very little anyway; this is still a viable option.

We did a little dancing and a little more drinking at the Pig Pen. All of us were having a great time until the real rowdiness began. Wade was talking to some girls when he turned around and noticed a young Taiwanese guy throw his girlfriend onto the ground and started to stomp on her face. Hard.

In true heroic fashion, Wade jumped in and put the guy in a choke hold. Unfortunatly for him, he didn't see the beer bottle wielded by the guys friend as it came smashing down over his head. Stephen and I joined in the melee after this and tossed a few punks around like it was our job. A little bit of pushing and some yelling at each other in different languages later, the face stomping boys realized they weren't going to make any friends in the bar that night, and were escorted downstairs to where the police were waiting. We all celebrated the rest of the night with more dancing and people continually coming up to us and thanking us for helping the girl. We felt like celebrities.

The night wore on and we started to drift home one by one. When there was just a few of us left, we ventured outside and realized that the sun was up. We hailed a taxi and made the journey home. Upon my arrival, I was sure to wake up everyone who had gone home before me was already soundly asleep. By 8 am I was in my bed and dozing quietly.

And thus ends one of the best birthdays I've ever had.

Ps. Fighting is wrong.


At September 14, 2007 at 7:17 PM , Blogger Naruwan said...

I don't get why you're depressed to turn 24. I'll be 37 next birthday, so by that standard I should be suicidal, or past caring maybe!!

Nice job with helping that poor girl. You are somewhat lucky though that those guys broke with tradition by not returning for revenge with a bunch of baseball- or watermelon knife-wielding buddies. That's what usually happens.


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