第六章 – 那些年我們一起追的女孩 – 九把刀
When I got out of such unconscious stage of mind, I was 26 years old already.
No matter which stage of life you are in, “coming home together”, simple as it sounds, always has a very romantic meaning.
“Together” means that you cannot do anything on your own, “coming home” brought about with warm feelings.
You will never get the name of the first one coming home with you out of your mind.
After 13 years, whenever closing my eyes, I can see this scene clearly…
On the great Zhonghua Bridge, in the sunset, I shyly held the bicycle handlebar, walking alongside Li Xiaohua, chitchatting about almost everything. Then there came the breeze, or the misty rain, or sunny day, or cloudy day.
Deep inside the bottom of my heart was the restless mind.
In the drawer left only a little paper umbrella with the last note which was already faded.
Chapter 6 – You are the apple of my eye
It has been two weeks since I traveled to Taichong and Changhua but it is not until now that I felt like writing something related to this trip. If you are following my blog and have already read my translation of the novel “You are the apple of my eye” by Giddens Ko, you may know about Changhua, the background of this novel and somehow understand how this place means to me.
Two weeks after my arrival in Taiwan, my father asked me if I had met Giddens Ko yet. Of course, the answer is “Not yet” and actually, the chance for me to bump into the famous people like Giddens Ko is almost zero. Actually, I am not a fan of Giddens Ko. After finishing reading “Cafe. Waiting. Love” and “Poetry of the Days after” written by Giddens Ko, it is not difficult for me to find the writing style, the story plots or the characters’ characteristics in these two novels replicating that of “You are the Apple of my eye”. Therefore, after reading his two novels, I gradually lose my enthusiasm towards his novels. Perhaps his informal writing style which makes a Chinese learner easy to comprehend is a saving grace to his lack of creativity shown during these novels.
Monotonous as Giddens Ko’s writing style may be, his most famous novel so far “You are the Apple of my eye” is still a very meaningful novel to me. It was the very first novel written in Chinese that I read and the first and only novel that I have already translated in Vietnamese so far. Thanks to the time spent on reading and translating this novel, I had the chance to improve my Chinese, finishing my very first individual project and gained lots of insights into Taiwan, which motivated me to come here and try living here for a short period of my life. Many thanks should come to this novel for bringing about lots of visitors to my blog and some of them have become my friends in the real life. This novel, therefore, means a lot to me. Changhua, as the novel’s main background, became a really important part of my impression of Taiwan and then, became a must-visit place of mine when I planned my trip to Taiwan.
Two weeks ago, when my younger sister traveled to Taiwan, we agreed to meet each other in Taichong so that she could give me my laptop and other important things I forgot to bring when setting for Taiwan. I planned to join my sister’s friends for a trip to Sun Moon Lake in Nantou at the first place but thinking about the report that I was about to submit on Monday, I decided not to go to Sun Moon Lake but took an earlier bus to Taipei. On finding that Changhua is just about a 30-minute trip by train from Taichong, I decided to go to Changhua instead. (If there is something I like the most about living in Taiwan, it should be the great convenience of Taiwan public transportation system that accommodates almost every random trip of mine in Taiwan. Google Maps is extremely helpful here and I just used Google Maps to figure out the place of my interest on the map by accident and then hardly have I come by a place where there is no direct bus service reaching there.) When getting on board, it was just like yesterday when I sat in my own room in Hanoi, reading and translating the novel and imagining about the whole background of the story. On arrival to Changhua, I was a little bit “disappointed” when hearing a lot of Vietnamese talking with each other at Changhua Station. (Just kidding but you may understand how all the feelings related to the story got accumulated then disappeared when you heard your mother tongue in a place supposed to be very Taiwanese :P). Fortunately, Changhua is not as busy and “messy” as Taichong so after a 5-minute walk from Changhua Station, such old feeling found its way back to me soon. Changhua is the smallest county in Taiwan and for almost foreigners, Changhua is not a special place that is worth visiting in Taiwan. Or whenever thinking about Changhua, people may suggest me with the Buddha Statue of Baguashan or Lukang. So when my classmates knew that I did not go to these places when I was in Changhua, they were a little bit surprised. I just spent around 3 hours in Changhua and my itinerary included the following places: A Zhang Meatball (阿彰肉圓）- Zhonghua Bridge (中華陸橋)- Jing Cheng Middle School (精誠中學）, which appeared in the novel or the movie。
A Zhang Meatball (阿彰肉圓) – 144 Yong’an Street (144永安街）
If you already saw the movie, it would be easy for you to recognize the place where Ko Ching-teng and his friends shared a bowl of meatball together.
When I came here at around 11 am, there are lots of people lining up for the meatball. It seemed to me that there were lots of local people coming here and there were only a few travelers like me coming here just because this place appeared in the movie. In front of the stall, there were the posters of the movie for movie lovers to find out this place and take photos (of course:P). I ordered a bowl of meatball (40 TWD, the price is not 30 TWD as noted in the above image :P. 20 years passed by and you cannot expect the price to be as low as it was in 1995 :P) The dish, made of sticky rice and mushroom, is good indeed. Actually, I am not sure if the meatball here is especially good in comparison with other food stalls on the same street. Or you may wonder if it was just the effect of product placement that made you feel the meatball here especially good. But the product placement really works here when you realized there were not as many people as in A Zhang Meatball in the store next door.
Zhonghua Bridge (中華陸橋)
Leaving A Zhang Meatball, I went straight ahead to Zhonghua Bridge (中華陸橋). If you read the novel already, you should get used to its appearance in the novel or the movie. What made me remember about this bridge is that it was the place where Ko Ching-teng and his first love, Li Xiaohua had a conversation when they walked home together. Chapter 6 should be the most favorite chapter of mine in the novel for the well-wrought and poetic passages written by Giddens Ko when he wrote about the intimidating Ko Ching-teng on facing his first love. (Chapter 6).
Jing Cheng Middle School （精誠中學）
On my way to find Jing Cheng Middle School （精誠中學）, I bought the bus ticket to Taipei. As the bus operator told me that all the tickets for the trip from 2 PM were fully booked, I had to buy the ticket for the trip on 1 PM, which meant that there were only 30 minutes left for me to figure out this school. Fortunately, I got here in time to take some photos outside of the campus. It was a pity that the school was not open for visitors on the day I came here.
Hope that you may find the photos familiar.
I finished my short trip in Changhua here. I am really not sure if I will come back here any time during my period living in Taiwan but thing that I am pretty sure about is that Changhua is still a very special place in my mind.