Beside Kaoshiung, I have never ventured out of Taipei and its vicinity. I passed Taichung by bus when Bévinda and I visited Nicolas in Kaohsiung for his birthday last year. But barely saw anything of the city.
Adrian managed to convince to drag myself to Taichung. He wanted to show me several potential places for future exhibitions, as well as the GDI Centre where we were to have our show next month - in three weeks!!!
My train arrived at 1:15 PM and I had a couple of hours to kill before meeting Adrian. 1:15 was a good time to have lunch, so I walked around the station in search of a nice place. Later I could find a coffee shop to relax myself and read.
I knew there was a big community of Vietnamese people in Taiwan. Most of them come as workers or to marry a Taiwanese man, as far as the women were concerned. But they had been invisible, save for the two ladies who work at the beef noodle shop near my house.
I had noticed from the train some words painted on a dilapidated house: "Đài Loan buồn đời", which means Taiwan, sad life. Someone who was homesick and at loss in this foreign island...
I was walked near the pedestrian area near the train station. I saw a dog with eyebrows pencilled on his face, then my ears caught more and more words in Vietnamese. Obviously I had reached the Vietnamese quarter. Posters plastered on the walls advertising for upcoming galas or events, small nail shops, boutiques and restaurant. So that's where they would meet every week end...
I picked one restaurant at random. It was packed and very noisy. The customers were at the end of their meal and had consumed a considerable amount of beer, speaking on top of their (usually nasal) voice. The floor was littered with beer cans!
I ordered a bún riêu (vermicelli soup with crab balls, shrimp and tomato) and a gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls). My palate was not aroused. The food was below average. But I liked being in this Vietnamese pandemonium. I can't say it reminded me of home, since I had never lived in Vietnam. However hearing my mother tongue allowed me to indulge in some sort of familiarity.
Adrian arrived by bus from the airport. I'm always so happy to see this little man. I consider him my little brother. He drove me to the GDI Centre by bike.
"I love the atmosphere in Taichung. It always relaxes me, while I usually feel angry and stressed in Taipei." he told me as we were driving. "And the weather is much less hot than Kaoshiung. Not as humid. You will see. You'll love that city!"
I had no comment to add, but I felt good there.
The GDI, Taichung gay and lesbian centre, was located in a building, so only people who know about it can find it. They suffered harsh complaints from homophobic neighbours who demanded they left their previous office and now had to hide in at the eighth floor of the unnoticeable building. It was Sunday, so the place was crowded, mostly young boys who certainly happy to find some relief in each other's company. The place was not ideal for an exhibition. The main room was basically a big office, with a nondescript whitish wallpaper.
"That will be to kick off the whole series" Adrian said.
I didn't want to make any remark.
"We'll our best with what we have" I replied. I had told Adrian that there was no point in doing any exhibition if it had to look like some amateur or student work. He nevertheless convinced me to do something for the GDI.
"We're going to find some good galleries for other exhibitions. This is just a warm up!" His enthusiasm is communicative. But my reluctance remains.
He then took me to a couple of places, nearby then to an area near the art museum. I liked the spirit of it. Colourful and lively, it could be perfect for a film or a music video! (Ideas are already growing). I know things will take shape at the right time. Just for now, everything seems so joyfully messy and I revel in it.