© 2006 Catherine. All rights reserved.

Xinhai and some healing time

Well I’m not doing very well at sticking to my goal of getting to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up at a reasonable hour. From what mom says I’ve been a night owl since I was a baby. I guess I should stop fighting nature.

I was somewhat “productive” today. I got my butt out of the house and did some exploring without any accomplices.

In Taipei I live on the brown or Muzha line of the MRT (subway system). It’s one of two lines that has above ground portions except Muzha line is completely above ground. I literally go from one end of this line to the other every day for work. One of the stops is Xinhai. Passing Xinhai makes me love being on the brown line.

I’m speaking with very little knowledge and I wish Han was here to fill in the blanks for me… but it seems to be Asian custom for the remains of the deceased to be put in tombs high high up in the hills. I say “Asian” because I’ve noted this in Korean movies too. So any high hills, no matter where in the city they are, are covered with these really beautiful ornate tombs. I’ve really wanted to do some photography of Xinhai but was worried that it may be “rude” culturally. Han told me it’d be fine when I asked.

So to Xinhai I went. I’ve never gotten off at this stop so I don’t know the area. The tombs are all very visible from the MRT stop but the MRT stop is up really high. I didn’t have success getting the shots I wanted but while I was roaming around trying to find a non-intrusive way to get up the hills (most ways seem to go through people’s backyards or these tight tight spaces where people had their property or laundry… I avoided trying since I have 0 Mandarin)…. anyway I kind of gave up but decided to explore Xinhai a bit more to see if I could find anything interesting or to see if I could find some vantage point to get a good shot of the tombs on the hill. While walking I found this set of beautiful stone steps (obviously meant for the public) going steeply up this mountain/hill.

Once I got high enough up I found a tomb 🙂

Unfortunately because I got a late start and because it took me awhile to find one I don’t think I’ll be happy with the results (I took film).

I decided to keep going and see how far the path would take me. I could see the mass tombs in the distance but not from anywhere I could take a clear shot. So I kept walking and discovered plots for future tombs amidst the bamboo trees. After I let go concentrating on trying to find a good shot I realized just how beautiful my surroundings were.

I couldn’t hear the city (aside from the random firecracker going off), I couldn’t smell the city… it smelt like forest but not a forest smell I’m used to….. and I could hear bugs and birds. I found a really nice place to sit, and I just sat.

It was a really good hike up the mountain, something dad would’ve really have loved. Everything around me made me think of him. He was supposed to be coming over this week to stay for a month if everything hadn’t have happened. I wonder if I would’ve thought to try to take him to Xinhai and if we would’ve discovered the same place?

I don’t think if I was home I’d be visiting my father’s grave excessively. Dad always kind of turned his nose up at that and thought it was silly… but there was some comfort for me being near these well kept tombs in a place that dad would’ve loved to have been exploring too. The culture and customs here are very focused on the deceased and more specifically deceased ancestors…. there’s some kind of comfort in being in a society that places value on that.

Anyway back to the forest. I think it healed me a little. There’s a term called “data smog”, google it. The idea is that we stimulate ourselves so much (with tv, music, cellphones, computers, etc) that we can’t think anymore. I think this has been another form of intoxicating myself… I do it on purpose. I can’t even fall asleep without some movie or tv show running on my computer in the background…. but up there, aside from the camera around my neck… that’s all there was. Sitting on the soft ground, bamboo trees all around, mosquitoes eating me… it was magic. It brought me back to when I was younger…. I looked around thinking about dad showing me how to tell what leaf came from what tree, what the animal tracks were, how to tell what direction you were facing based on moss and the sun…. it opened my eyes and I started discovering funny little things.

Weird spider webs……

strange tree knots……….

perfectly naturally positioned vines on trees…………

My eyes were open again. I could’ve sat there forever… but stupid mosquitoes and an urge to see if I could find another path lead me off.

I get how one of dad’s dreams was to become a hermit way deep in the forest some day 🙂 I got it at that moment…. I got it when I saw Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring last night……

I think I got some neat shots. I’ll reference this post when I get them developed and post them.

update: 02/06/06 got the pictures developed…didn’t even realize I was shooting black & white. How goth!

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