Friday, February 6, 2009

We Thought Grace Kelly Had Stayed Here

A Story for the Ox New Year, Part 4 (here is part 3)

From Kenting we started the trip back north. We stumbled on a horseback riding school of some sort. It’s something I had never done, and it seemed like the right time to start.

The elderly gentleman teacher was very proud of his English, which he learned from the Japanese during the occupation.

“Now I will teach you to ‘trot’—T-R-O-A-T.”

It was a wonderful lesson, but we needed to trade the horse back in for the bike and get going. We were going to Kaoshiung, Taiwan’s second largest city and its main shipping port.

We made straight for the Ambaassador Hotel, where THE BOOK said Grace Kelly had stayed. It turns out that that was wrong-—she stayed at the one in Tapei.

No matter. I am glad to be in a major hotel, because there is something I need to take care of.

At the beginning of the trip, just outside of Taipei, we had stopped at a waterfall where Fate put a vendor selling “Golden Fur Dogs.” They are actually roots that grow in the sheer stone of cliffs that the vendors glue rolly eyes onto, and the “hair” when rubbed into a cut or laceration stops the bleeding and promotes healing. We buy 4 of these Chinese mandrakes as gifts.

Shortly after, I lost my balance for a second when we were stopped at a light. The bike fell against my leg, and the exhaust pipe, which had been heating for hours, burned into my right calf. The pain is pretty intense, and I thought the trip would be over just as it began.

But wait! We have the golden fur dogs. Faithfully we pull off some hair and apply the balm that is released around the burn. It feels a little cooling, and on we go.

But . . . by the time I peel off my motorcycle pants at the Ambassador, I can no longer ignore the festering mess that is my right calf.

“What does gangrene look like?” I ask BFF, who springs to action.

Knock, knock.
The Hotel Doctor enters, and giving me a “you look pretty healthy" look heads over to BFF, who is lying on the bed.

“No, no, not her.”

Knock, knock.
It’s the Floor Manager and a Bellboy, who are there for propriety’s sake.

“It’s my leg Doctor,” I, say, so happy that he speaks English, “a motorcycle burn.”

“I see, when did it happen? Ten days ago you say. What have you been doing for it?”

“Well, we used this Golden Fur Dog.”

The Doctor picks up the root with a huge chuckle and with the timing of Grouch Marx says, “You believe in this?”

What does he want from two crazy people on a motorcycle trip—medical sophistication?

Knock, knock. It’s the Doctor’s Assistant with neatly wrapped antibiodics and a powerful sulfur cream. And now we are officially one person away the Stateroom Scene . .

I was relieved to have the wound attended to, and now I wanted a drink. Alas, one thing the Ambassador did not do well at that time was to make a cocktail. I had such a craving for a whiskey sour-—I have no idea what combination of some sort of alcohol was served, but pouring packets of sugar into it helped a little.