The Water’s usual jade colour has been replaced by a murky brown and the sky is an ominous grey, but today the riverside has taken on a different, peaceful quality.
The wind and rain from our almost typhoon earlier in the week has dropped the temperature just a little and right now there is a constant smattering of tiny, mist like rain drops.
Our teacher told us this kind of rain has the Chinese name “mao mao xia yu,” feather rain. Some feathers brush against my face, others dance in the humid air.
The overcast sky makes it too dark to take good pictures and seems to be keeping most people away from the riverside, usually alive with families savouring the last hours of their weekend.
I like the way the smog clears after rain and feel almost connected Taipei sky as the fog clears from my own head.
There is still plenty to see as the faint peach hue of the sky deepens and mingles with the neon reflections of the “Beautiful Hotel” sign in the river.
Old men are playing Ma Zhang, the game’s tiles clicking away underneath vines overgrown with bright pink flowers – a variety of flower I thought only grew indoors before coming to Taiwan.
Two girls are giggling scandalously as they tip toe up behind their parents.
An old man in a straw hat sits smoking beneath a plastic marquee, assessing passers by. Earlier, the marquee would have housed a side-show like stall or the pay station for the swan boats nearby.
There’s a girl beneath Xindian’s enormous concrete bridge, trying to balance on a chain fence using only an umbrella and her father’s advice for assistance.
The bridge forms part of the free way to the airport, obscuring most other things in the vicinity. A former flatmate would complain bitterly about man made monstrosities being plonked down on top of perfectly good rivers, but it is as mesmerising as it is alien.
Sometimes the oval shape between the bridge and the river frames the sunset above the distant mountains and now I can see the last traces of pink against the blue mountains, marking the end of the weekend.
When you look down on the bridge from our roof top the sight of its long line of traffic makes you feel as though everybody is on their way somewhere else.
Perhaps that appeals to the part of me that is restless to get out and explore more of the world. Maybe it’s just the perfect metaphor for a foreigner’s life in Taipei. Few linger for more than a short time.
It’s getting dark. Time to turn back towards my apartment building, five massive columns looming above even the bridge.
The feather rain has ceased and the lights of Taipei are gradually coming alive.