Sunset Sunset People waiting in anticipation For something so natural, so primitive Mother Nature must laugh at our pettiness A game of hide and seek Trying to inconspicuously dip away Not trying to draw attention to itself Doing a poor job of it Trying to run away from sky Trying to escape from civilization Away from world Away from people Unaware that it will return again tomorrow Repeating the same process Again and again For eternity The definition of craziness Reflecting off the surfaces of the water Reflecting the human experience Sunset -Bali, Jan 11/2017
Alone I look around and I am alone I wake up in the morning and check my phone I realize that I have so many friends Who I don't really know, on whom nothing depends With Facebook and Youtube and Twitter and Line You'd think that I would be feeling just fine But the more that surrounds me, the more distant I feel Now I've lost all my values, a life with no zeal If I could go back to when I was a kid Further back to the womb still developing id I would tell my mom not to worry or stress Cause I'm sure I inherited all her duress Or just to abort me and throw me away So I’d never have to the see light of day And never would have to feel alone But for now I gotta go check my phone
Upfront Reviews – April 2 is International Pillow Fight Day!
written by Cameron Brtnik For Taipei Trends
WHAT DO feathers, linen, and all-out-war have in common? Pillow fights of course!!! And yesterday, media entertainment group Taipei Trends proved that wars don’t have to be bloody but rather benevolent, and fought with feathers rather than bullets…This was “history in the waking.”
On this warm April day in Taipei, about 500 warriors, spectators, and curious onlookers gathered in the improvised arena on the grounds of Taipei’s historical Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, a national landmark and tourist attraction in Taiwan. There were attendees of all ages (even some brave kids!) and nationalities, making this a monumental event that brought together the diverse melting pot that is Taipei’s multicultural charm.
Gladiators donned their fluffiest weapons: pillows of all shapes, sizes, and colors stuffed with the most comfortable of fabrics from foam to feathers, fleece, fluff and faux-furs. Hundreds waited in anticipation, hungry for the taste of fowl, and the chance to pummel their opponents into a feathery pulp. At the sound of “Go!”, chaos erupted as hundreds of what looked like escaped insane asylum patients raced towards each other in some sort of narcoleptic nightmare; thousands of birds flocking towards each other on a collision course. It was “every man for himself”, and even women and children weren’t safe….
In the end, there were no casualties, except for the remains of some massacred cushions… As for me, my futile weapon met its end committing pillow-cide as it exploded upon some unsuspecting victim’s noodle. The remainder of my time spent gathering the innards of a once-cushiony sack of cotton…a tragic end, but it must know it gave its life for a higher cause, say then a comfortable night’s sleep: It contributed to bringing hundreds of strangers together on a warm, spring day in Taipei. And, in “wake” of the “Battle of Bed-lam,” for those brave warriors who are still standing, if you are feeling “down” and need a “doze off shut-eye,” “rest assured” you can get some well-deserved sleep tonight – Sweet dreams.
See photos from the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/624185041062561/
Apple Daily News: http://m.appledaily.com.tw/realtimenews/article/life/20160402/830526/
Follow Taipei Trends on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaipeiTrends/
Cameron is a freelance writer living in Taipei, Taiwan cbrtnik.com
9.2.15 – Depression
I ate a whole box of O’s in bed last night and passed out. I effectively both avoided Skyping home, as was my plan (every time I want to Skype home I have guilty feelings of all the times I never Skyped home, and therefore avoid it again to rid myself of those negative feelings, therefore causing the cycle to continue) and all responsibility – I had planned to accomplish a few things before bed. WTF is wrong with me! I’m afraid I haven’t improved since I was a teenager, and I’m not sure if I ever will… I’m scared, and feeling more depressed than ever. I have a prescription for Ritalin, which helps me focus for long periods without getting tired or eating, and gives me feelings of inspiration, motivation and happiness… but those do not last. I feel worse the next day. It must be what a cocaine hangover feels like. I should probably change my prescription to antidepressants.
Taiwan’s Beautiful and Boring Island
by Cameron Brtnik
Penghu, September 8, 2014 – My thirty-third birthday. I’m currently sitting seaside at a port in a small city on a tiny island off the coast of Taiwan, enjoying a glass of “The distinctive flavor lager beer,” also known as Taiwan Beer, and gorging on delicious freshly caught oysters and imported salmon. I feel at peace.
I needed a vacation – Not from work overload, but because in the three years I’ve been living in Taiwan, I’ve never left the island (except for my trip back home to Canada). So I decided to take a trip, alone, to a pretty neighboring island to the west of Taiwan called Penghu (actually a cluster of islets). Warning: This is a couples’ trip, so only go alone if you want to experience cabin fever…without the cabin. Albeit a beautiful island, there’s not much to do besides visit the gorgeous local beaches – I suppose everything’s “local” in Penghu – to surf, dive, or (like me) finally get through that worn paperback you’ve been schlepping around everywhere. And that’s about it. “No matter, I’ll meet people!” I thought. Unfortunately, I came to this isle toward the end of the Moon Festival holiday when people were already returning home. Oh, not to mention the plane crash that killed 48 people (including two foreign exchange students from France) just two weeks prior to my arrival. That never helps an already flailing tourism industry.
Undeterred (I had caught wind of this news the night before, but I was drunk enough at the time that I accepted my destined, likely watery fate), I took the first flight out of Taipei – which, by the way, I caught the same night of my birthday celebrations, or should I say following morning after leaving Halo, the club we were partying at, bottle service in tow – still inebriated, but somehow functional. I had smartly packed that evening and took my luggage straight to the nightclub. The plane ride was short, just an hour, and I felt safe (which I can’t say for those unfortunate souls who got caught in the typhoon), perhaps because I was passed out the whole way.
I arrived at the small airport, where I passed out for another three hours on the uncomfortable, yet somehow comfortable seats. When I awoke it was only 10:30am, and I asked about cheap hostels. Soon a van arrived to escort me, and a lovely girl named Julia, whose family owned a local hostel called “Big Fish House,” drove me straight there. It was a very cute inn, more of a Bed and Breakfast, and wasn’t very cheap – $1500nt for the night. But it was well worth the stay, with a bright, spacious room to myself, breakfast, and a scooter (for an extra $300nt) included. I spent the next two hours sleeping (still working off that hangover, or tequila, or both) then hopped on my scooter and hit Shanshui aka “Mountain Water Beach.”
The first thing I noticed along the way was that sea smell; the salty air hitting your nostrils like it was the first fresh breath of air you’ve taken in years. I was told there’d be “lots of foreigners there.” I was optimistic, as I wanted to meet some new friends to share my adventure with. There was one – he and his Taiwanese girlfriend – and he didn’t look the sort I was interested in meeting (or vice versa). So I kept to myself and got into my book – Freakonomics, a former yet still-popular bestseller I always intended to read, but never got around to till I found myself on a lonely island.
At dusk, I jumped on my scooter and headed into town; if I were to find any action, it would be in the heart and centre of Penghu! I was wrong. I found one bar that I recognized from the Taiwan Lonely Planet called Freud. It was modelled after a fishing boat, with the same charm and décor as any Canadian seafood tavern, but it was missing that one asset I was looking for: people. I ate the mediocre “Thai-style shrimp” and enjoyed the choice Heineken beer. The mood was dark and depressing, so I left soon before it “got busy.” I went back to my commodious, Japanese-style room, and passed out for the fourth time that day..
I woke up too late for breakfast, but it was still available: dried up bread loaf and two choices of spread: Nutella and peanut butter. If you know me, you know I enjoyed the shit out of it, more so because it was included (although not served in a bed). Julia, the friendly hotel manager – she and her mother manage two locations of Big Fish House, and she plans to leave in three weeks to study English in Australia for six months – drove me in her Big Fish van to the north end of the island to catch a ferry to a smaller islet fifteen minutes away. Exotically called Chikan (or “chicken island” as I preferred to call it), it’s a little paradise get-away, punctuated by stone weirs – oddly-shaped stone walls in the water originally built as fish traps – and small beaches. I visited Aimen Beach, famous for its jet skiing and banana boating. I did neither, and instead collected coral fragments that had washed ashore, and that’s what the sand was mostly composed of. A nice way to spend the day, but I was sunburnt and happy to catch the last boat back to “civilization.”
Walking along the beach I noticed one thing: I love long walks on the beach (not a cheesy dating site description). This goes back to my cottage days of walking the shore of Georgian Bay all the way to Balm Beach, over an hour’s walk, and feeling happy as a sand boy (an expression my mother often used, but I never understood. I had to look up the etymology and discovered sand boys were actually “men who drove donkeys selling sand,” and were reportedly always happy). I also noticed something else: I felt utterly alone. It wasn’t a good feeling. I realized right there and then that life is better with friends, or family, or a significant other. That feeling faded though as I thought about how lucky I was, and started plotting world domination.
I took the ferry back across the straight, caught a cab back into town, and checked into a shitty cheap hotel. I put a generous helping of aloe on that inexorable “Brtnik Burn,” grabbed my laptop, and headed down to the port where I’m currently sitting, two tall beers in, writing this diary entry. It’s my birthday, and I’m surrounded by drunken fishermen and the feeling of loneliness. I think I’ll try and bump my return ticket to tomorrow, as another day on this beautiful and boring island may make Jack a dull boy. As of right now, I feel content, but I wish my friends were here… My friends from Taiwan. My friends from China. My friends from Toronto. My brother and sister. A stranger. But all is well, and let’s all feel lucky we’re alive and not on a plane destined for doom (God bless their souls). I’ll see everyone soon. Oh, and happy Moon Festival!
-Written by Cameron Brtnik, September 8, 2014 on his 33rd birthday
Cameron is a freelance writer living in Taiwan and part-time explorer cbrtnik.com
***Background: I wrote this on a lonely mountaintop in the middle of nowhere, China, after taking my first job teaching overseas... It was a tough year, but we (the Lingxi Crew) made it through, and I ended up spending six years teaching in Asia! My girlfriend, upon reading it years later, described it as "very emo." China Poem - Part 2 Eating rice and noodles a lot Streets lined with stroodles and oodles of shops Teaching classes, reaching masses of children still in teeny baskets People sleeping, amputees begging Young girls squealing, old bags haggling Age is keeping, time is lagging but never runs out so we keep on dragging While we’re treated like celebrities a person’s life here is never free Sidewalks, streets are used as bathrooms Pollution looms, witches brooms, no vacuums Umbrellas, umbrellas – everywhere! Shield from rain and protect from glare On a sunless morning The Sun is scorching Try to feel inspired but fun is boring Feel like I might evaporate, I’m exasperated! Need a nap or break, hot like a pasta plate Hot and muggy, feel sluggish Draught is coming, revealing rubbish Old folk exercise, keeping healthy Many are poor, but hide the wealthy Girls get married, still so tender Having babies, frill and slender Starting families so young When's the time come just to have fun? Motorbikes racing traveling fast “Out of the way!” Better make a dash Horns honking, breaks screeching Salesmen preaching, constant beseeching My ears are bleeding! .... Gloomy day, cloudy weather A ray of hope holding on by tether There's always next day to feel better So for today, I’ll just endeavour -Lingxi, China, 2010
***Background: I wrote this on a lonely mountaintop in the middle of nowhere, China, after taking my first job teaching overseas... It was a tough year, but we (the Lingxi Crew) made it through, and I ended up spending six years teaching in Asia! My girlfriend, upon reading it years later, described it as "very emo." China Poem Everything is old and new But new is old, and old is new Rickshaws, BMWs, Shaolin temples Strict laws, streets in rubble, flower pedals Car horns, “corn for sale!” kids crying, birds chirping The sound of construction men constantly working Muslim noodles served in huge bowls Rice and chopsticks, spice and hot spits Milk tea, milk drink, egg milk, hot milk Silk scarves, silk sheets, rag silk, not silk Polluted river, chicken liver Cold shiver, hot quiver Rain, rain, rain, rain Again, again, again, again Sun! Humid, hot, wet, damp, dirty, sweat, AC! WC no seat; both feet Good people, look feeble Paint a portrait on wood easel Fun times, vent rhymes Lifetimes into bent spines Sun climbs, then shines Rays upon spent minds China: Sign up! One year, I’m stuck But with my luck Won't last five months -Lingxi, China, 2010