Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tamsui Louie

Exiting the subway at the end of the line at Tamsui, my ears were assaulted by a static-filled, strident voice screeching "ADARIPAFENDDADIDERATERAKATAY" over and over.  As I got closer to the noise I could see that someone had ingeniously held down the trigger of a megaphone and hooked it up to a recording device.  Looking away from the fly-blown, deep-fried GOD KNOWS WHAT that the auto-megaphone advertised, I spied a pink tandem being hoisted onto a rust stained passenger ferry.  Fearing that the ship would depart without my finding out where the tandem was headed I soon found myself a passenger of said ship.
Said ship

Sitting next to me on the boat was a fellow decked out in short shorts and a sleeveless tee shirt.  Slung over one shoulder was a plastic bag which I imagined carried all his worldly possessions.  I guessed at this because he reminded me of a man we see wandering our downtown streets and while he appears to be harmless, we give him a wide berth especially on the days when he wears a jock strap on the outside of his shorts.

In less than ten minutes I discovered that by crossing the Dansui River, I had stumbled upon the Riverside Bikeway - part of the redevelopment of the Taipei County waterfront.  Just steps away from the ferry dock a large jumble of bicycles caught my eye and after much sign language and pidgin English the old store owner and I agreed that with plunking down $1.50 on the counter, I could be entrusted for two hours with his shiny silver Narida commuter bike.
The Narida

Heading off in pursuit of the pink tandem which by this time had disappeared down the paved bike path, I found myself following the river, riding past white Cranes busily spear diving for fish and and large pleasure boats bobbing on the waves from the ferry traffic.  In spite of the rusted chain, the bike was surprisingly quiet except whenever I engaged either brake lever in which case the bike would let out a loud howl.  At least now I didn't need a horn or a bell to warn of my approach.
Mr. T. Louie

The combination of full sun and high humidity prevented me from riding too far from the ferry dock and after consulting my trusty map I decided that a distant bridge would be a likley place to turn around.  I had no idea how he got there before me but as I rode under the bridge, who should I see lounging in the shade but my seat mate from the ferry who I had dubbed Tamsui Louie.  I quickly turned around and made for the bike shop with the hope that I would make it to the dock and not have to share a seat with him again.  For all I knew he had some ADARIPAFENDADIDERATERAKATAY in that bag of his.

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