Gods of the 60-Year Cycle [Introduction]

I shall be commencing a new endeavor, one that could destroy my very soul.

Besides my Abandoned Tape Project, I have decided to do something decidedly easier, yet a bit more complex. Whilst asking people whether they know an person who is singing is rather easy, finding information on every song will be difficult. Contrastingly, I have found sixty generals' names and information on them, but translating these from Chinese will be somewhat daunting.

So, the skinny is this: A-lun and I went out tonight to try and find some Tamsui elders to gather data on the songs from the abandoned tape. Unfortunately, we found no such people and wandered around for a bit. We went from the Tamsui Matsu Temple on Old Street to the biggest Land God temple in Tamsui, up the hill behind the Matsu temple. There, near Kuangong, Land God, Hell God, and a number of other gods, was an enclave containing 69 statues. 60 of these statues are generals, and the other ones are...well, we'll just figure that out eventually, now, won't we?

All of the gods and generals in the room

Here are more "close up" versions of the sides, where the generals located; I will list their names below each picture. Please note: I will not translate these yet, but will do so in later posts.

(Left to right, back row to front row)

01. 甲子太歲金辯大將軍
02. 乙丑太歲陳材大將軍
03. 丙寅太歲耿章大將軍
04. 丁卯太歲沈興大將軍
05. 戊辰太歲趙達大將軍
06. 已巳太歲郭燦大將軍
07. 庚午太歲王濟大將軍
08. 辛未太歲李素大將軍
09. 壬申太歲劉旺大將軍
10. 癸酉太歲康志大將軍
11. 甲戌太歲施廣大將軍
12. 乙亥太歲任保大將軍
13. 丙子太歲郭嘉大將軍
14. 丁丑太歲汪文大將軍
15. 戊寅太歲魯先大將軍
16. 已卯太歲龍仲大將軍
17. 庚辰太歲董德大將軍
18. 辛巳太歲鄭但大將軍
19. 壬午太歲陸明大將軍
20. 癸未太歲魏仁大將軍
21. 甲申太歲方章大將軍
22. 乙酉太歲蔣崇大將軍
23. 丙戌太歲白敏大將軍
24. 丁亥太歲封濟大將軍
25. 戊子太歲鄒鐺大將軍
26. 已醜太歲傅佑大將軍
27. 庚寅太歲鄔桓大將軍
28. 辛卯太歲范甯大將軍
29. 壬辰太歲彭泰大將軍
30. 癸巳太歲徐單大將軍

(right to left, back row to front row)

31. 甲午太歲章詞大將軍
32. 乙未太歲楊仙大將軍
33. 丙申太歲管仲大將軍
34. 丁酉太歲唐查大將軍
35. 戊戌太歲姜武大將軍
36. 已亥太歲謝太大將軍
37. 庚子太歲盧秘大將軍
38. 辛丑太歲楊信大將軍
39. 壬寅太歲賀諤大將軍
40. 癸卯太歲皮時大將軍
41. 甲辰太歲李誠大將軍
42. 乙巳太歲吳遂大將軍
43. 丙午太歲文哲大將軍
44. 丁未太歲繆丙大將軍
45. 戊申太歲徐浩大將軍
46. 已酉太歲程寶大將軍
47. 庚戌太歲兒秘大將軍
48. 辛亥太歲葉堅大將軍
49. 壬子太歲丘德大將軍
50. 癸丑太歲朱得大將軍
51. 甲寅太歲張朝大將軍
52. 已卯太歲萬清大將軍
53. 丙辰太歲辛亞大將軍
54. 丁巳太歲楊彥大將軍
55. 戊午太歲黎卿大將軍
56. 已未太歲傅賞大將軍
57. 庚申太歲毛梓大將軍
58. 辛酉太歲石政大將軍
59. 壬戌太歲洪充大將軍
60. 癸亥太歲虞程大將軍

Yes, they have an order, so that is why they are numbered.

My first update will be a general history on just what the names are supposed to represent/mean, and subsequent posts will give "historical" data on each, in sequential order.


The Abandoned Tape [02]

So, I've done a bit more with the tape.

I went to Carrefour and purchased a 1/8" audio-in to 1/8" audio-in cable, plugged one end into a Panasonic portable cassette tape player Yaling lent me and the other into my laptop, and fired up Audacity.

What did I learn?

Well, after using Audacity to digitize the entire tape, I found it to be mostly full (about 54 minutes, without silences and space between songs). Further editing revealed the following:

There are eighteen songs, total.

It is now my goal to figure out each song and who sang it. We'll see if I can get this done; A-lun has agreed to help.

Here is where we stand now (A-lun knows the name of one song).

01 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
02 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
03 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
04 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
05 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
06 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
07 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
08 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
09 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
10 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
11 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
12 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
13 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
14 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
15 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
16 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
17 - Unknown Singer - Unknown Title
18 - Unknown Singer - 你在我左右


The Abandoned Tape [01]

Apparently, I really like 同一陶業, you know, that factory I explored once by myself and then again with friends. I can now report its English name: Tong I Pottery Co., Ltd. I discovered this fact when A-lun and I explored the building, today, and decided to go into the other half that, for some reason, I had ignored the other two times. I shall go into more detail on this trip later, but right now I'd like to report on something very interesting, at least to me:

I found a tape in an abandoned vestibule's drawer. This cassette tape was produced in 1982, so the whatever is on it was recorded then or shortly thereafter.

Each side of the tape has a capacity of thirty minutes, making the total possible length one hour.

The factory was abandoned a bit over thirty years ago, which leads me to a few conjectures:
- The contents of the tape predate 1982
- The factory owner was probably older than thirty years of age, given that he owned the business
- The tape belonged to a woman

The last point I make because the tape was within the vestibule that remains in a room with a crib and make-up strewn about.

Now, to the tape.

I know nothing about its contents or its history; I shall keep you apprised of my ongoing "investigation."

(Yes, I find this extremely interesting and entertaining.)


Two friends

Recently saw these two little guys sitting outside the [now vacant] breakfast shop near where I work. Two best friends enjoying the day!


A Bit O' Scenery Before Work

As I look out my window, I see nothing but fog and rain. Yesterday was rather pleasant and warm, around 75 degrees out. I woke up around 10am, and decided that it was too nice to be inside around 11:30am. After exercising and cleaning up a bit, I headed off to Bali (八里) via ferry, taking my scooter with me. After partaking in some market delectables, I headed off in the direction of Linkou (林口) by way of Guanyin Mountain (觀音山). As I was making my way up the mountain, I saw a sign that said "Seediq Film Scene" and promptly went in that direction.

Tamsui in the background;
Bali in the middle;
Guanyin Mountain to the right;
Taken from Linkou.

Looking at Guanyin Mountain.

I found myself at Arrow Film Production Co. (阿榮企業有限公司), which is responsible for a lot of music videos and commercials, in Taiwan. Going further still, I started back down the mountain and came out at a rocky beach.

(The photos would be a lot better without the dust in my lens...)

I walked along the beach to what I thought was an abandoned building, but turned out to be a coffee shop!


Puli/Ren-ai Trip (Part 2)

Waking up was quite...annoying. I don't say this because I was tired (my sleep was flawless), but because I had made a mistake when pitching the tent. You see, my tent has two [heavy] poles that hold up a kind of canopy for the opening. With that canopy, you can get a nice breeze in the tent, so it's not too hot. Seeing as the trip had been pretty rainy so far, I didn't want to leave the top open. My next option was to rig the opening in such a way that it stayed open.

This rigging turned out to be a bad idea, as I had attached the opening flap to the top of the tent, creating a sort of catch for water. As this filled, it came through the tent, soaking Yaling's and my feet as we slept (or, at least, as I slept, Yaling reportedly half-slept). This resulted in rather wet sleeping bags in the morning.

When I woke up, I discovered thus, apologized, and set off in search of...items. First on my list was a towel, so I could dry off the outside of our soaked tent. Second, I needed to find breakfast. Since it was 7:30am, my only towel option was a hand-towel for 80nt at OK Mart (I later found three awesome hand-towels for 10nt each). Afterward, I stopped at a Mei-mei chain breakfast store and got some egg and vegetable sandwiches.

Food out of the way, we packed everything up and headed out to our next destination: a laundromat. We found one, put the sleeping bags in a dryer, and proceeded to further dry the tent with much better towels I found elsewhere.

With that done, we bought bus tickets to Ren-ai (仁愛鄉) and stopped for lunch. After eating, and as we were waiting for the bus, we found that Yaling had misplaced her phone. She figured it must be at the laundromat; I ran there and there was no phone. Rather crazily, I called about thirty or forty times before some middle-aged lady picked up the phone. She said that her niece had given her the phone and that she would have to ask her niece about it! What!? Then she hung up! The nerve! I proceeded to call her numerous times until she, apparently, shut off the phone. Yaling it changed so that out-going calls could not be made, and then we went to Ren-ai.

There, it was much rainier than in Puli. That mattered little, though, as our purpose was to partake in the hot springs!

Seediq woman carving

Yaling holding up a teapot! 

I guess I'm serving some tea.

Please, remember that this was not our original destination when I tell you this: We also did not have reservations for a place to stay, in Ren-ai. So, the first hour or so was spent finding a place to stay. After that was said and done, we had dinner, checked out some of the aboriginal structures built around the town, and then dove into the wonderfully sulfuric waters of Ren-ai! That was that...oh, wait...

I called Yaling's phone yet again, and eventually it came to be that a man had her phone, now. We made arrangements to pick it up the next day...then, went to sleep.

Upon waking, we had breakfast at the hotel, which was all right (but rather bland). We packed up our stuff, and then headed out to the bus, erm, to go hiking...

Before that, whilst we were walking up the hill to the main market area, there was a Mazda trying to back down the hill. This wasn't going well, as the incline was very steep and he got himself stuck (he shouldn't have backed down in the first place). I tried to direct him on how to get out of it, but it seems his lack of experience with turning wheels in the proper sliding direction, coupled with anxiety to get his car moving, caused him to continue to be stuck. Eventually, a group of ten people congregated to try and help maneuver his car into a good position. Twice he was in a place when he could've backed down, and twice I made him aware, but the Taiwanese around me always talked him out of it. I left when a police officer came to manage the situation; that is just as well, seeing as the man obviously wouldn't take my directives (and I was the only one telling him something useful!).

Anyway, back to Yaling and I going up the mountain:

It turns out that she and I had very different ideas of where we were going: I thought we were trying to find the bus station, but she was taking me on a rainy hike into the mountains. I thought it was a little strange that to get out of Ren-ai you needed to hike 4km through the mountains, but I wasn't complaining!

Up and up we went, trudging through ankle-high waters and muddy roadsides, until we arrived at a roadside eatery, where I asked Yaling to find out where the bus station was. The man replied that there was none up here, and this is when we figured out that Yaling and I had miscommunicated our travel plans. That was just fine and well, as we got to see some "lovely" scenery (sadly, the rain and fog made it hard to see, at times):

Poor Yaling making her way up the mountain... 

Pretty neat path 

This time, we found a Seediq man. 

Nantou is rather famous for its mountainscapes. 

Love hiking!

We turned around, there, and headed back down. At the bottom, we found our way to the bus station and went back to Puli.

Upon arrival, we called the man and established a meeting point. We waited for him, and a woman showed up in his place...OK, that's fine. We got the phone, thanked her, and went to buy a bus ticket to Taipei City. After, we got lunch at a wonderful little restaurant, where the owners were watching a really funny mahjong movie. This stop was another fateful one, as Yaling found out when we had made it halfway to Taipei. She asked, "Corey, do you have my jacket?" to which I replied, "Nope." She went to watching a movie and I located the restaurant on my phone. She should have her jacket back, soon.

That was our trip! It was an enjoyable, three-day adventure, and now I've finally seen more of the mountainous Nantou!


The Constant Cloud

Since the start of the weekend, a blanket of fog has remained around the general area of my apartment building. It's kind of spooky when you walk outside, at night, and there's no sound, little light, and dense fog.


Puli/Ren-ai Trip (Part 1)

Originally, during the four day break for 2/28, Yaling and I were going to venture off to Taidong (台東) and experience the east coast of Taiwan with an aboriginal guide. Circumstances prevented us from getting there, so we decided to go to Nantou (南投) instead. (This is just as well; a large, 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck when we would've been in Taidong.)

So, last Saturday morning (2/25), Yaling went to the MRT station in Tamsui to wait for me. Before going there, I stopped at the bookstore to get a travel book on Nantou, as this was not our first choice of place to go and we needed some idea of what we could do.

To get to Nantou, you have to go to Taichung (台中). From there, you get a bus to wherever it is you decided to go. Our destination ended up being Puli (埔里), since our original choice was too far away to allow for easy accommodation (not that it really ended up mattering).

When we got there, it was our priority to rent a scooter; seeing as all scooters in the town were rented, we ended up walking everywhere. That's fine...Puli isn't that big.

Our first top was this awesome bread store, where I got some curry-laced bread! Delicious!

After eating, we went to a place that I thought was extremely interesting: the geographic center of Taiwan! (Yaling found it extremely boring.)

Oh, yes, briefly, I was the center of everything in Taiwan.

The center of Taiwan is located on top of 虎頭山 (Tiger Head Mountain). Besides the center of Taiwan, the top also has a few paths for casual hiking (a.k.a. walking). I believe this area made Yaling extremely happy, as she has been dying to see some sakura trees, which there was no shortage of:


From there, we hiked a bit down the hill to find the location of some awesome (sarcasm) karaoke singing. This isn't the "sit in a comfortable room and eat food with your friends," KTV karaoke you may have heard of in Taiwan; we found ourselves at a truck, in effect a traveling karaoke club. The only people there were a few middle-aged men and women, but they were extremely youthful. The lady that owned the truck was obsessed with a flying squirrel she saw in the woods, so I was obliged to view it with her for a bit. Eventually, I sang a song by A-gei-la (阿吉仔) called "The Destiny of a Guitar" (命運的吉他), in Taiwanese. I even got the woman to participate, so it was a good time!

Karaoke truck!

We hoofed it down the mountain to the main town area, and then found our way to the night market. There, the most eventful thing was driving these little cars around!

Mine played music and had an oscillating horn.

So, long story short, we searched unsuccessfully for a hotel, motel, and hostel in the area to no avail...they just were not to be found. My bright idea was to search for a temple! There are three ways to say temple: 寺 (sì), 宮 (gōng), and 廟 (miào). This isn't entirely true, because the names themselves have two characters, but when you throw it onto a temple it is reduced to one.

I'll explain this simply:

Taoist temple
廟宇 (Miàoyǔ)
宮廟 (Gōngmiào)

Buddhist temple
禪寺 (Chánsì)
寺院 (Sìyuàn)
寺 (Sì)
道場 (Dàochǎng)

I go about describing the distinctions because this is how I suggested calling temples to find a place to stay. First, I looked up all the 寺 temples in the area, but none of the listed ones would take us in. Then, I looked up the 宮 temples, but we found ourselves in the same situations as the 寺 temples. Finally, I searched for 廟 temples and found 孔子廟 (Confucius Temple). When we called, the man gave us the number for the temple's manager. Calling that number, we got the manager's daughter, who gave us another number. After calling this third number, we got the manager and ended up being permitted to set up camp in their parking lot. 

(We got there too late to search for a spot to camp in the woods, and I wasn't trekking the mountains of Nantou at night time.)

Confucius Temple

Our "camping" site

That was our first day: we went from Tamsui to Taichung to Puli. When we woke up, we had some tasks to accomplish, something to find, and a whole new place to go. I'll post on that later, so that's it for part one. Until then...