Thursday, December 27, 2007

prehistorical era / 史前時代


I've been gone from the cyberspace for almost two months. It first started with a picture I should have done, but I kept putting it off. Then I found the beauty of giving no news or self-righteous opinions through the Internet. I enjoy my days without any online connection. This is the reason for my disappearance.


I see myself enveloped in the serene darkness. I can smell the fresh air of autumn nights. I close my eyes, conjuring up a vast sea. My body is slowly pulled downwards. I am about go to into a kingdom that others fear. Yet I let go of my hands, carried away by the waves.


I am not blue at all. I've gone to a different stage of life, and I am groping and learning. Thank the angels for your greetings...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

the "mature" female travelers / 熟齡旅行團之熟女日記


As one of the three group members of mature travelers, I open my eyes wide and seek opportunities for fun all the time. As Meiyen's B & B was about to open, I couldn't wait to invite John and Sharon. Well, John, who had never turned me down in this life, only replied nonchalantly, "Taichung is too faraway. Why don't you go by yourself?" Though I felt kind of disappointed, I didn't know that there was something else God had in store for me.


Then I won a lovely chance to travel together with a car of beautiful, mature ladies. As for the story, please read my next post. After a little more than two hours, we finally came to the legendary B&B. In the heartwarming grand open ceremony, Meiyen explained that the inspiration for this house actually came from her father. He had longed to spend his old age in the scenic countryside. Meiyen, with the support of her enthusiastic friends, overcame all sorts of difficulties. Several months later, she finally fulfilled her dad's dream. Of course, many kind-hearted people gave her a hand along the way to make the dream come true.


As we lived our day-to-day life and daydreamed without taking any action, Meiyen traveled between Taipei and Taichung. She had to transfer from the big city to the country, but she and her friends got closer and closer to her dream silently. Day after day, while we were still complaining that life didn't give us anything, her dream took shape, was rooted, and even grew. I feel very lucky to have such a friend. Seeing what Meiyen has achieved, I am encouraged to go after my dream with such down-to-earth spirits.

Meiyen gave me a chance to do something for her house. Meifong, who has always been insightful, chose an excellent spot for my hand-painted vases. This is the romantic rose corner in the house. Many visitors were eager to take a photograph here.

Near the B&B is the charming flower field. The flower festival is about to start (November, 17th). The brightly-colored coreopsis can't wait!

Friday, November 02, 2007

the "mature" travelers II / 熟齡旅行團之二


On a certain weekend, John, who was rather bored, felt the desire to take a short trip again. In light of the crowds we ran into on the trip to Jingshan last time, I gave him a difficult question. This time we gotta choose a spot rarely visited. As the head of our think tank, it didn't take him a long time to figure out a place that could meet my demand. So without further ado, Sharon and I got in John's professional coach car and set forth.


On the drizzly Saturday afternoon, we three headed for Xi-tse. The further we went, the fewer people we saw. John chose White Cloud Summerhill School for us. Well, to be honest, I am not so passionate about education, but I was rather curious about this kind of free schools. It wouldn't hurt to find out how to carry out the ideals of education by living away from big cities. Yet as we got close to our destination, there was hardly any car passing by. Such a life is quite secluded, I thought to myself.


When we were about to get off the car and take a closer look, the guardian dogs lunged forth. Seeing us approach, they barked like crazy. Born with an innate fear for dogs, I didn't feel like going in there anymore. Even Sharon, who is hardly afraid of anything, ran for shelter. Only the brave John insisted on going nearer. He even thought of talking to the teacher on duty with his "special" status. What could we say? He is always so devoted to education.


Bombarded with orders from me and Sharon, John didn't have any choice but to get in the car. Our field trip was sort of disappointing, but I took it as a message from God--Put aside the issues on education on weekends. After all, the future days are long!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

my BIG dream / 我的大夢想



I would like to own a house, a house of my own. It doesn't have to be large, nor does it have to be located in a super popular area. I can mend these flaws with my creativity. The color tone of the living room has to give off a sense of warmth. I love to relax on the red couch. The living room is also my studio. I can place my brushes, paints and paper anywhere I want, and the walls are filled with my lovely works. There is a balcony right outside. It serves as a secret haven for quieting my mind. When I need to be alone, I would sit there, gazing at the woods opposite my little den. Then all my worries will be gone with the wind. When friends come, we can hold a small afternoon party. As for my beloved kitchen, it has to be orange in color. Whether I feel high or low, the food prepared by my own hands will never fail to calm or sooth me. Summer will go on and on in my kitchen that offers endless amount of sunlight. In winter, a bowl of hot soup there beats a kiss from any charming lover. The bathroom on the second floor is my ocean. Before hitting the sack, a bath in the turquoise tub is a perfect period to a long and exhausting day. When bathing, I go through the memories of the day, keeping only the quintessential ones. After being taken care of mentally and physically, I can't wait to run to my favorite bedroom. On the left side wall is the vast azure sea. If it's not enough, a book will accompany me to the dream world. The shelves on the right side of the room contain my most precious collections of books. Finally, before passing out, I won't forget to say goodnight to the stars.
If I have a house of my own, my life will become so colorful. How I long for a house of my own!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

the "mature" travelers / 熟齡旅行團


Last night I had a dream. In my dream, after I said goodbye to a friend that I hadn't seen for years, I found myself in Taidong. I took a magic seabus. It sailed on the sea so wildly. What I saw was more than a feast for the eyes, especially the azure seascape. I even woke up with a smile on my face.


I have not had a chance to visit the east coast. However, in this autumn, I checked out some less known places nearby Taipei city with my "mature" travel companions, John and Sharon. Well, young people probably don't find it appealing to travel with three tourists whose total ages approach the colossal number 150. But for me, there is really nothing to complain about with a professional chauffeur and considerate tour guide like John and a straightforward, sometimes too straight, companion like Sharon. To be honest, I am quite in element with them. After all, the ultimate goal for traveling is: Have fun no matter where you go, as the old Confucius suggested.


On one cool autumn day, the three of us came to Jingshan, where we'd longed for going. The beautiful Baishawan Beach was no longer intimidatingly hot. The summer heat had faded. We felt nothing but bright sunshine and lovely breezes. Though only three weeks had passed by, the change of seasons was tangible. It was especially obvious outdoors. Yet we didn't have time to linger long. We were so determined to eat the famous ducks that John, who is always renowned for his slowness, was prompted to move faster toward our next destination.


I'd always considered Sharon to be an extremely honest person. However, before the trip, she didn't say anything else besides emphasizing the beauty of the duck meat. I had no clue about the CROWDS waiting for us there. As soon as we arrived at the famous Old Street, I was literally terrified by the gigantic number of visitors there. To successfully enjoy a duck feast, the tourists have to not only wait for seats available but also send their fellow tourists to get the dishes somewhere only the insiders were aware of. From the beginning to the end, I was in a over-shocked state. Fortunately, Sharon was as clear-headed and fast-moving as usual. She worked more than efficiently, even trapped in seas of people struggling for food even at 2:30 pm. We had tons of food in front of us within less than 20 minutes.


I was sort of at a loss facing dishes that were larger than the description of words. Strangers sitting across from me dug hard into the food with a nonchalant and resigned attitude. (Rice is no offered in the restaurant and that can confuse us more than non rice-eaters can imagine.) I stared at the duck meat, wondering how helpless they would feel even if they still had a breath. It would be impossible that they still felt like flying away, confronted by the presence of so many hungry human beings.

之後讀了Peter Mayle寫的French Lessons,有關他對法國飲食文化的觀察,相對於法國人的悠閒和優雅,如果梅爾有機會寫一本Taiwanese Lessons,風格應該會截然不同,不過每餐總是吃馬拉松式三小時很累人呢,有時也要來點直爽的、大快朵頤的東西,兩種風格相互交替才好,記得,過而不及啊!

I was reminded of our duck experience after reading Peter Mayle's French Lessons, a book on his observation of French eating culture. If he had a chance to write Taiwanese Lessons, it would be drastically different. After all, we are not a people famed for being elegant and carefree like French people.

My advice is, it can be tiring to have three-hour-long marathon meals all the time. If we can have something as straight and fast as Taiwanese-style meals, it should be fun. But never go to extremes. Bear the wisdom of the ancestors in mind: The Middle Way is the best!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

my handicraft / 我的手作品


Meiyen's B & B is about to open. These bottles are my humble gifts!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

tender moments III / 溫柔時刻 III


The travel journal I made for the Moleskine contest is on exhibition in Taipei at this moment. In the cool and breezy autumn, I want to give you an airplane ticket and you can choose your own destination!


As soon as I finished the work, I was so clearly aware that I could have done a better job. But time was running out then and I think I did my best. The exhibit has been here for more than two weeks. Even my personal agents John and Sharon had checked it out for me. Yet it took me a while to go there in person. I was rather shy about looking at what I had done a few months ago, but I was very glad to learn from other contestants' works. I have to work harder!


I am not too proud of myself. However, on thinking that part of me lives and sparkles at the other end of the city, my heart warms up in this somehow dark city.

Invitation au Voyage
Exhibition 2007--TW



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

tender moments II / 溫柔時刻 II


My mind is always full of images. I have no problem expressing myself through art after experiencing even a minor incident. Yet there was a huge theme I kept putting off. My object of observation had changed so fast that I couldn't catch up with him. I then told myself, let him be. One day, when he is old enough, I will surely record his life in the most concise manner when I look back.


Lately I've had the feeling that I am ready. I planned to come up with 5 pictures encompassing Von's one-year-long life. While I was putting down my ideas, I had an epiphany--for others, every picture is no more than an image. For me, every picture includes what we had learned about Von within the past 13 months as I watched him come into the world, grow, and learn. In this long process, it takes love and keen observation to capture each little detail.


So, I've realized the deeper the love is, the harder it is to describe it with words because no matter how much we say, it will never suffice.


This piano is dedicated to you, who desired so much to learn playing the piano yet failed to when you were little.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

tender moments I / 溫柔時刻 I


On one early September afternoon, after my extremely exhausting "stage performance", I found a lovely white rose on my desk upon coming into the office. I had a feeling that you were here. I searched hard for you in the campus. The first moment I saw you, you offered to give me a hug. Despite my shyness, you must have known how happy I was. To keep the rose, I made a vase in the hope of making her charm last as long as possible.
Then I thought you had returned to the U.S. without saying a word. One afternoon, I found a red rose on my desk. You came to say goodbye. At my age, I am already so numb to people's coming and going. You struggled a long way, with your leg that had just undergone an operation, just to bid farewell. I felt ashamed and touched by your twenty-something sincerity. We had neither coffee or the dim orange light and music of cafes. With the yogurt I found in the refrigerator and the chair of my colleague, we had as much fun.
These years, students have done many crazy acts for many sakes. I thank them for their enthusiasm though I am always sort of ill at ease when they do that. But about 95% of them forget me after they leave. I thank them for forgetting me as well. You have known from the beginning that I am not perfect, yet you have never stopped encouraging me and told me how you like my strengths. You even try to remember me even though we are in different time and space. I am aware of every good will of yours.
I won't see you until at least one year from now on. When we said goodbye, I pretended you were someone I would still see tomorrow. But when the bus with me on it passed by the school gate and I saw you waiting at the same spot, I regretted not having offered you a hug earlier. Despite this, I felt the soft sweetness left from the tender moment circling in the air.
I am so proud of you and thankful for our encounter...

Monday, October 01, 2007

along the way / 沿途風景


Every year at this time, my heart itches. I long for everything about traveling desperately. It might be that the summer break just ended. I am keenly aware that I won't be able to get away for a while. Since my body has to stay fixed to the same place for a long period, I have to let my heart go.


I've been thinking about the postcards Alison sent on her road trip to Toronto a while ago and the greetings you sent from London and Paris. Last weekend, I spared some time for reviewing the encounter of Jessie and Celine on the train to Vienna almost ten years ago (note 1). I am so familiar with every form of moving from place to place during the trip. I can even imagine how the air smells at that moment. These are what I regard as the most beautiful fragments in life.


These moments are no more than recollections. Yet I have you, so I get to know the life that is going on thousands of miles away. Even so far, I can strongly feel your energy and happiness. Thus, I expect myself to do my best in enjoying every second. Your absence has brought ripple-like effect on others' lives. You might not have expected this.


Thank you for showing me the scenery along the way. What I usually remember is not what I saw at the destinations, but what I experienced when getting there.


(Note 1): Jessie and Celine are the characters in the movie Before Sunrise (1995).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Best Wishes / 祝福


Happy Chinese Moon Festival, to my dearest!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

birthday wish / 生日願望


If "grown-up" is defined as experiencing the dark sides of human nature, I have grown at a surprisingly rate this year.


Despite the vast evil out there, I have to go all out to keep my heart pure, so that I can fight against the dark with my tiny yet bright existence.


PS: Thanks to the low-profile wishes of my numerous secret admirers. It seems that you know my style quite well.

Monday, September 03, 2007

the root / 尋根

photo taken in Herping Island Park


Last weekend, to continue my project on the trip to Italy, I had to pay a visit to Waimushan simply because of something my mom had said on our journey.

photo taken in Herping Island Park

Those who don't know me well have the idea that I was born and have lived in Taipei all my life. As a matter of fact, I come from Keelung (a small harbor city to the north of Taipei). Yet, I don't remember the details about the roads and streets anymore. What stays in me is some preferences and longings beyond the description of words. For example, when I smell the salty sea air, I would become so thrilled as if it were the smell of birth. Besides, the food in Keelung is uncomparable. Even though I have lived in Taipei for about 20 years, what I define as authentic and sublime food only exists in the narrow sea city. If you would like to find out any detail about Keelung, you will feel very frustrated. My knowledge of the city is very personal.
photo taken in Herping Island Park

Why did I have to go to Waimushan? As we traveled to one of the sea harbors included in Cinque Terre in Italy, Mom exclaimed that it is just like the Italian version of Waimushan. But I didn't recall what the latter looked like. My experience is exactly the contrary of my mom's. She related a small town in Taiwan to a piece of scenery she saw abroad. For me, I traced the whole thing from Italy to Taiwan. Thus, it is quite proper to give the post the title "The root."

photo taken in Bitojiao


My root-seeking trip was rather one-of-a-kind. I never forget how Vernazza looks, but unlike me, my parents didn't have an image in their mind. (Ah, you probably have some doubts about my mom's memory, and I have to say that you are right about that...) My father drove all the way from Herping Island to Bitojiao to Waimushan just in search of the townscape in my mind's eye. Along the way, I came to retrieve many lost memories. I might have forgot the direction, but I remember well the story behind every place. It might be a hot summer day for a beach swim, or it might be a dark night for watching the comet. It was easy and hard to believe that all this took place more than twenty years ago.

photo taken in Waimushan

When we got to Waimushan, I could finally make sense of mom's words. To my bigger surprise, I had been to the beach when I was little, but this time my memory was all blank. After this trip, I'll bear it in mind for a long long time. The author of the book Née Quelquepart, Johanna, lived in Taiwan for four years in her childhood because of her dad, who majored in sino studies. Although her family moved back to Europe afterwards, she always had nostalgia about the experiences in Asia. I've lived in Taiwan almost all the time, but I am always so absent-minded. I should feel ashamed of myself. On the other hand, traveling abroad regularly gives me opportunities to learn more about my own island.


For a small strip of comics, I found back a lost part of my life. This was a very special outing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Where is my house? / 我的房子呢?


People long for different things at different ages. I am still passionate about traveling, but in recent years, the desire for owning an apartment of my own has grown so strong. For certain personal reasons, I will have to stay at my parents' for another few years, but that does not stop me from dreaming of buying my own place. As a matter of fact, I have been diagnosed as a patient of LAAC, Lacking an Apartment Choler. When my parents return from a long trip, my symptoms will become especially obvious. For example, I am generally very calm and nice, but then I'll turn into an irascible person, not in the mood for chatting with my parents.


When I am home alone, my paints and paper are thrown everywhere in the living room. I'd play classical music and it sounds so lovely echoing in the large space. I believe that Beethoven and Chopin are as happy as I. However, when Dad and Mom are there too, our living room is more than crowded, auditorily speaking. My Mozart has to fight hard against the loud voice of gossipy hosts on TV. Sometimes Dad watches Chinese opera, which he never did in the previous 57 years in his life. I myself feel so tortured with so much noise in the same space, not to mention the heavyweight ancestors in classical music.


Yet, the above-mentioned instance does not compare to one most important reason. That is, whenever I return home from a trip, I am always shocked to find that my little drawing table, which I depend on SO MUCH spiritually, is gone! To a certain extent, it's like the principal at school fires me without my knowledge when I am away. My family hardly realizes my panic, but if I have a house of my own, I can avoid the tragedy.


Winky said that Danish people move away from home at the age of 18. I sometimes can't help wondering how my life would be if I had been on my own feet for the past 13 years. Well, it won't be too late to move out before my second 18th birthday. Now, I'll just have to work hard for my future little place!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rebirth / 重生


It took me a while to upload my new design during this weekend. I guess all this mess had something to do with the fact that I hadn't revised the layout of my blog for a year. I had planned to come up with a new look for my blog before summer vacation, but I had a serious artist block then. Luckily, I still made it before the end of summer. Well, there are finally my little room and postcards all in one. For the visitors of my little room, thank you for your lovely support, and more important, the door will be open for you always!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

about flying / 關於飛行


It is an ultimate bliss that you do not look back with any worry during take-off.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

fresh for 30 days / 賞味期限30天


Special thanks to Jason, Vincent, May and Tiffany.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Taipei vs London / 台北和倫敦之間


You wrote that it has started drizzling in London, but not everyone uses an umbrella. As a matter of fact, the mild rain in Great Britain makes it a perfect place for carrying an umbrella like an elegant lady. In Taiwan, we can't do without umbrellas on both rainy and sunny days. Yet the weather often goes to extremes. It's either fierce typhoons or torrential rain. Does God know how much efforts we make to hold the umbrellas firmly in our tiny hands?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Postcard of good will / 善意的明信片


A while ago, on my trip to Japan, I couldn't afford to write any postcard because I was eager only to heal the trauma I've suffered at work during the past half year. It takes tons of enthusiasm to send a greeting to friends, and that is possible merely when I am full of vibes. As a matter of fact, I took the trip this summer completely for myself.


While we were strolling on the streets in Odogo, I accidentally found the sign that points to an art museum. Even though it's so small in size that the tour guidebook doesn't mention any word about it, my curiosity was aroused. We wandered at noon in the quiet neighborhood. When we were about to give up, we found Seki Museum right there, hiding among other houses for residential use. However, inside, it is so amazing, whether in terms of the decoration or the atmosphere. There were only two ladies working in the whole building, and two visitors, a.k.a. my mom and I. But their service was more than perfect. The ladies took care to turn on the music clock and DVD player for us at the right time. What was more important, the paintings were far better in quality compared with those in some other museums we had visited on the same trip. There is even a tiny yet lovely yard specially designed so that when visitors look out from the room, they feel calm and relaxed. I have to say that it wouldn't be a bad idea to spend the whole afternoon there.


Before we left, I couldn't help but buy a postcard as the souvenir of this low-key trip. One of the ladies, detecting my love for art, offered to give me one for free. I was so moved that I could only wow with smiles all over my face. I went for a postcard with one painting that impressed me at first sight. After thanking her, I decided to send the postcard of good will to myself.


It would be an exaggeration to say that this postcard saved me, but it certainly will remind me again and again how kind Japanese people can be. (Well, last year, when we were in Italy, we were requested to pay even for the small and thin plastic bag for the postcards.) If you still have some passion this summer, there is a good chance for you to make your customized postcards. There are still 17 days left before the deadline for Benq postcard contest. Even with so little time, don't give up the chance to send yourself or your beloved ones some postcards.


Link to Benq postcard contest:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Drifting on the sea / 漂流的旅行


Lately I've received tons of email from those online artists I worked with last year. Our collaborative journal book was missing on its journey around the world. After Rebekah's search, the ducks are actually taking a break somewhere in the U.S. Though everyone contributes no more than six pages, I would lament if the one and only book got lost.


In fact, Eric Carle's inspiration for the book 10 Little Rubber Ducks originated from a piece of news in 1992. A ship with all kinds of toys, including rubber ducks and other bathtub toys fell overboard and washed up on shores all around the world. It looks like if ducks do not have the experience of traveling to every corner in the world, they will not deserve the name of "ducks." As for us, we should kick back and wait for their return and all the adventures they've met with on the way.


Last year I wrote a short story based on birthday celebration for the ducks. The birthday of Mimi's pet, Duckiki is coming up. She thinks up many "special" ideas, like taking part in the duck swim meet and feasting on Peking duck. In the end, she decides to invite the duck friends from other countries for a lovely party. In these pictures, I get to see what I was like a year ago. To be honest, I kind of miss my old self!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Beautiful summer nights / 美麗的夏夜


God probably knew that I had been kind of downbeat this summer, so I was invited to participate in some arts gatherings during the past two weekends. Finally, I started to recall how wonderful it was to be busy with something I was crazy about and how I had to go on and on.


Last weekend I went down to Kaohsiung with Huei for her documentary exhibition. In the lovely museum of films, we watched the documentaries made half a year ago by a group of teachers who had attended a film workshop. There weren't many viewers, but the themes spoke to everyone. It was a new experience for all the teachers, but the sincere feeling outshone their primitive skills. I was very touched on thinking how everyone had persisted for one single goal.


This weekend, Lilou, who now dwells in France, was invited by Dala Publisher to give a speech on studying Bandes Desinees in France. Speaking of my encounter with her, I first got to know her name in the books translated by her last summer. She also took part in the blog contest held by Chinatimes at the end of 2006. It was amazing that I had a chance to see her in person this year.


I hadn't visited Eslite Bookstore, Hsin-y branch often because of its gigantic size. I go more for smaller bookstores, so I had had some doubts before yesterday evening. However, the speech yesterday was on a mini-scale, held in the detective novel room. In the room with wooden floor, we were surrounded by tons and tons of books. This was my first time going to a speech in a bookstore, and I have to say it was very delightful. I planned to go to Lilou after the talk, but she mentioned my name during the speech even thought she wasn't sure if I was there. Like a child, I was very very excited and moved. I hadn't been encouraged like that for a long time in art.


Lilou not only talked about her own experiences of studying B.D. in France but also telling us that art is a very efficient means of promoting Taiwanese culture. She has been working hard in this field and also believes that there are many people with potential in Taiwan. I saw in her a soul going all out for her belief. She might not be the most influential person, but she is definitely full of light. Even the little fat boy next to me sat through the whole speech!


After the speech, I had a very short chat with Lilou and then came forward another young artist—Grey Monster, who had just finished her book for graduation from college. She had with her the only printed book, and everyone wowed at its quality. We prayed hard that she would find a publisher soon and then we each of us would own a copy of her book. We even pushed her forward to the editor present!


Upon saying goodbye to Lilou, Gray Monster and I walked out of rooms and rooms of books. I said, I was so excited to see these books, but I dreamed of seeing one with my name on it one day. She nodded hard at my words. On our way to the metro station, we chatted about our art dreams, and I even imagined her going to France for further studies one day.


At beautiful summer nights, I thought of the promise I had made to so many people, that is, I have to go on painting. What's more important, it's what I expect of myself. Fortunately, there are still around me so many people who dream.


The link to Lilou's introduction on European Bandes Dessinees:


The link to Lilou's works:


The link to Gray Monster's works:

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Romance in the air / 曖昧


During the summer break before the 12th grade, the world is divided into two halves. The hyper sun outside seems to have endless energy. It burns on and on and on. But the air-conditioned classroom is the deep dark sea. The sea animals are lacking in drives and vibes. They try hard to grab the test papers carried by the sea waves. Yet the flesh is so weak...


Finally, thank God it's Friday. When the bell for the noon break rings, kids rush out like prisoners that have been kept in jail for ages, regardless of the blazing sun. Even at the risk of getting a tan, they have to go out to take a breath. In the quiet classroom are girls with lunch boxes and those waiting for the delivery. When I raise my head again, there is a man in my sight. Ah, it's the young and beautiful substitute teacher. At this time, I am suddenly surrounded by some chattering mouths, introducing to me the teacher's charm and the girls' crush.


What happens afterward takes place in slow motion. The shy teacher is about to leave, but girls invite him to stay for lunch. He holds onto the doorknob, thinking hard. Within seconds, he comes in. Girls do not scream or shout, but the fragrance of romance spreads in the air. Within a second, the deep sea becomes fields of flowers of pastel colors.


Before leaving the classroom, I take a deep, hard breath.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

farewell trip / 道別的旅行


You are about to leave. We decide to go on a trip together, as usual. On our way, the sweltering sun shines with dazzling light. Young people around us wear nothing but tanks and shorts, posing endlessly for cameras that never stop clicking. Like waves of seawater, the powerful beats of blooming youth thunder in our ears. We sit quiet and calm on the slightly swaying ferry, breathing in the air that smells of air-conditioning, sweat and salt. When tired, we take a nap in the open-air pavilion nearby, accompanied by an old man who seeks for shelter from the shower. You make a comment on the wrinkles around his eyes and compare them to flowers in blossom. I am impressed by the beautiful lines. They echo to the bay waves right in front of us.


The heat lasts for a whole day. Finally, it cools down in the evening after the rain. So does my indefinable feeling. When the color of the sky isn't so blinding, we take a stroll. After passing through the mysterious tunnel that leads to Chung-shan University, we discover Shi-tze Bay that lies behind it. On seeing the out-of-the-world sight, I realize, I will find answers to all soon.


We take out the cameras, aim at the sunset in the distance. We can't help but click the button non-stop. I am desperate to freeze that moment, but no matter how many photos I take, they are never enough. I then focus at people playing in water around me. In this way, when I look back on this trip, I will remember clearly the positions of everyone and everything, even their colors and moods. I turn to you. You are still there, trying to capture tiny details that others are not aware of. That is how you are in my memory.


The sun lowers. We keep recording the bright moments before the dark and recall the fragments of our last trip. The beaches of Shi-tze Bay and Bali Island are so alike. Every trip we take together feels so familiar, yet we move on regardless of the beauty of the past. I've already forgot many things that took place yesterday, not to mention the distance between today and tomorrow. I will miss you, but in the meanwhile, I understand that each of us has our own plans for life. And I am so proud of your confident stride.


At a certain moment, the sun drops without any sound into the sea. When I am to put away my camera, the moon is already on the other side. You grin without any nostalgia, saying that we will see each other soon. I think so too.


In the violet nightfall, we head for the next destination. After you leave, it strikes me that there is not even one picture we took together in our cameras. Well, that's fine...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

trips within trips / 旅行裡的旅行

圖為文中介紹的插畫家Nathalie Lete的舊作─巴黎之吻,取自於Nathalie的網站

In the picture is the book Bon Baiser de Paris by Nathalie Lete, the artist introduced in the article / picture taken from Nathalie's website


In recent years, visiting bookstores has become part of my itineraries when traveling. But it is not planned in advance. Often I find bookstores by accident on my way to a certain destination. Once I spot any of them, I can't help but be drawn in like a magnet to the iron. The world I see before and after going bookstores can be so different that it is not exaggerating to compare trips to bookstores abroad to "trips within trips."


On my trip to Japan this summer, I learned how to give up the itineraries prepared ahead of time because of many external and internal factors. There were some scenic spots I regarded as "must-go" before the trip, but it takes pleasant weather and good physical condition to have a safe and nice trip. Now I can live with spending an evening in the hotel room writing journals or hanging out in a bookstore nearby. In this way, the mental and physical pressure can be relieved, and my companion and I can breathe without having to being stuck together 24/7.


The first bookstore where I took my time to read on the trip is Miyawaki Bookstore in the big shopping district in Takamatsu city. I couldn't locate my favorite illustrated or children's book area at first sight, but I was impressed with Japanese' preference for using illustrated book covers. After browsing through shelves of books on how to prepare for exams in all fields, I was attracted by books centering on the topics about love, marriage and family. Maybe they are targeted basically for women, so I found large numbers of pictures and illustrations in many books. The Japanese I encountered gave me the impression of being discreet and self-disciplined, but in these pictures, I saw the childlike innocence and creativity. I am glad my new discovery showed me different sides of Japanese people. I walked out of the bookstore at a light pace. The orderly and low-keyed world I envisioned in my mind for Japanese took on some colors.

印象最深刻的書店是德島市車站旁SOGO樓上的紀伊屋國,那天有點颱風要來襲的意味,我和媽咪在陰暗的傍晚在明亮的八樓書店打發時間,書店裡有下班的上班族、小學生等等,我一路瀏覽過五花八門的雜誌,有關於東京生活的東京人期刊,有各類旅行的雜誌,甚至有針對繪本討論的crayonhouse ehon school,我不禁又血脈噴張起來。童書區雖不大,但是對我來說每一本都是新書,我用力抄下喜歡的書名,計畫在旅行的最後一天把書購齊。那天傍晚步出書店時,感覺輕飄飄的,因為旅行因此又多了個目標,令我心情大好的目標。

I was most impressed with the visit to Kinokuniya on the 8th floor of Sogo near the train station of Tokushima city. That day, we could smell the threat of the No. 4 Typhoon in the air, so my mom and I decided to spend the cloudy evening in the well-lit bookstore. There were people who just got off work, students who searched hard for books, etc. The variety of magazines really amazed me. Tokyo jin is about life in Tokyo. One can find all kinds of magazines on traveling. There is even a periodical crayonhouse ehon school devoted to the discussion on illustrated books. I felt my adrenaline speeding up after a long interval or dormancy. The area for children's books isn't daunting in size, but hey, every book was new for me. I copied the titles of those that captured my attention, planning to buy them all on the last day of my trip. When I left, I felt so light because I had one more goal, a goal that took me to seventh heaven.

於是旅途中只要有機會去到書店,我想擁有的書目不停增加,我沒有什麼野心,擁有這些書對我來說就等於擁有全世界。於是當我們最後購齊了親朋好友的紀念品之後,媽媽問我對於那些美麗的衣裳有沒有興趣,我直嚷嚷書店才是我最想去的地方。我們從四國松山市大街的大明書店找到本州大阪新齋橋商店街的雅典書店,除了找到我看好的書之外,又有了個新發現。雅典書店在一樓特地開闢一小塊空間,主題是巴黎,上頭陳列著日本出版社和巴黎人的合作書籍,有的書只是集結20名巴黎在地人的訪談,有的書則拜訪巴黎戀人的公寓等等,我個人認為這些應該都是日本人對於巴黎嚮往之下的產物,不過書籍做得很精美,我無法抗拒地從其中選了一本 A to Z de Nathalie Lete,納塔莉是住在巴黎的藝術家,她的作品多采多姿,反正一本書可以讓我從大阪飛到巴黎,何樂而不為呢?

I didn't give up any opportunity to go to bookstores. The books I would like to have kept increasing in number. I was not ambitious. Owning these books meant having the whole world for me. After we got all the souvenirs for friends and family members, my mom asked me if I was interested in beautiful clothes. I thought of nothing but the books. We made our way from one local bookstore in Matsuyama city in Shikoku to Athens Bookstore in the Shinsaibashi shopping area in Osaka in Honshu. In the process I found something intriguing again. In Athens Bookstore, a shelf is reserved for books on Paris. They are mostly products designed by Japanese publishers with interviews of Parisians, Parisian lovers and their apartments, and what not. Personally, they reflect how crazy Japanese are about French or European culture. The contents didn't deprive me of my rationality, but I have to admit that the designs of the books are enticing. I chose one titled A to Z de Nathalie Lete, an artist living in Paris. Her artworks are extremely colorful. Well, merely a book can take me from Osaka to Paris. I didn't see any harm in buying it.

在書店裡,我看到了日本人的夢想 〈夢想之書也琳瑯滿目〉,日本人的愛旅行,日本人的創意,還有各種反映現實人生的考試書和實用手冊,當我的日本筆友被遺忘在年少的過往歲月,起碼有書店讓我可以多了解一下這個和我們那麼相似又那麼不同的民族,也讓我去到他們的內心世界一遊。

I got to see Japanese people's dreams (many books on this subject are available), their love for traveling, their creativity and all kinds of books and manuals that present how competitive the real life can be. Since all my Japanese pals were left in oblivion a long time ago, at least I still have bookstores to turn to and gain a better understanding of the race that is so similar to and so different from us. I also won a chance to travel to their inner worlds.


Nathalie's website is:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

this summer / 今年夏天該這樣過

森 友治 攝影

photo by Mori Yuji


Today is the first day after the short summer break. Girls asked, "Was the trip to Japan fun?" I gave some thought to the question, then it hit me that this trip was not quite like those I had taken before. There is no exaggerating or hilarious story to tell, but my journal book was full. What is verbally said seems too shallow, and only people of my age or even older can understand my feeling. I've seen too many things, but for the time being I have to put the records away. A little distance in time will do me some good.

遠離我狹隘的生活,去了日本,遇到許多日本人,買了好些日本人的書,此時的心情雲淡風輕,回頭看幾個星期前的人生像場鬧劇,我又準備要站起來了。這次很幸運地發現森 友治的新書,他的照片令我愛不釋手,我要過濾掉那些不重要的片段,把他小女兒的微笑放在心裡,穩穩地大步向前。今年的夏天還有時間成就一番作為。

To get away from my narrow life, I went to Japan, ran into many Japanese and bought some Japanese books. I feel quite light at this moment. My life a few weeks ago was nothing but a farce. I am ready to get up again. I was more than lucky to have found Mori Yuji's new book. I take so much delight in watching the photos he took. This summer, I am going to put aside those unimportant fragments and bear in my heart only the warm and innocent smile of Mr. Mori's daughter. I will stride forth at a much more steady pace this time.

森 友治的網站:

Link to Mori Yuji's website:

Friday, July 20, 2007

the meaning of traveling / 旅行的意義


photo taken in the movie village of 24 eyes, Shoudoshima, Japan


After this school year, I had a feeling that my heart was locked somewhere in the classroom. Somehow I lost my poise along the way, trapped in self-worry. I even couldn't find the desire to get out. So when my colleagues talked about their annual travel plans with excitement, I buried myself in the trifles at work quietly, as if I didn't plan to go anywhere. I couldn't understand if I was being low-key or indifferent.

圖攝於高知 Los Hotel

photo taken at Los Hotel, Kochi, Japan


"Would traveling make any difference?" I asked myself. Well, I still went on the trip planned in advance to Shikoku, Japan. Different from the past, I chose a low-profile destination where only a handful of tourists could be seen. Yet like before, I couldn't help taking wrong buses, getting lost. We even bumped into a typhoon. Our trip was enriched by what could and could not be expected. They might not always be pleasant, but these experiences took me out of the narrow frame of the reality. I saw myself on the tired look of the office workers. By traveling I took a glimpse into others' lives, so touched by their serious attitude toward life. I also realized how pointless my fear and worries were. I witnessed the strength of life in the beautiful nature. Out of the window in our small Japanese room, I saw the blue sky after the storm.


Two weeks later, I saw a brand-new me. I am not 100% brave, but I do not want to run away anymore. Nor will I change myself to cater to others. I want to hold onto my beliefs and find the answers I am looking for. You asked me the meaning of traveling. Languages seem extra. If you are sensitive enough, you'll find them in me.