Yes, I did survive the onslaught of typhoon Jangmi, a
category five beast that decided to create some disturbances on the
island of Taiwan. (For those many who are not familiar with typhoon
categorization, it’s as big as it gets. (Hurricane Katrina was the same size and magnitude).
The previous weekend a category 4 typhoon hit the east
coast of Taiwan. The eye of the typhoon literary passed over
my house by the sea; there was a quiet moment of sanity in which I
realized that I am not that much of a beach person. In fact, at that
point I didn’t regard myself as much of a traveler. All I wanted was a
sunny Saturday afternoon watching a rugby match in the Highveld, South Africa. I
clearly remember turning to a fellow expat and saying: If that was
category four, I don’t want to know what category five is like.
South China Sea gods surely must take pity on a South African so
far from the heart of the bush," I murmured, as I tried to fall asleep
on the third evening of insomnia marathon. The pity turned out to
be a sick sense of irony and humour. I was going to face the beast and
all its might with a single candle and a bottle of whiskey.
Saturday was a full working day for me. The uneasy feeling that a dark natured monster the size of the Sudan was clawing its
path to Taiwan, was inflamed when I saw my boss dragging in all the
pots and plants from outside the school. I was unnerved by this, but he
kept smiling, saying we should be working. That night I was wrapped up
with a small expat beach crowd, having a beer, discussing what was going to happen. General opinion was
that I was over worked, stressed and not thinking clearly. (I was the
only one who predicted this hurricane. I was terrified!)
Have you seen cars flipped on roofs, shipping containers ripped through
walls, motorcycles hurled hundreds of meters through shopping
windows? Power polls cemented in the ground for 30 years snapped like
twigs; 1,100 centimeters of water fall in one area in a few hours. Winds in
excess of 290 kilometers made me a tad uneasy.
It’s hard to imagine that air can move so fast and with the might of
Hercules. I assure you, an experience not even a born and bread, wind
soaked Cape Townian can fathom.
The apartment, soon
to be ex-apartment, where I am currently dwelling, was in
water. I have never seen such aggressiveness. Water showered me in the kitchen, on the staircase. According to the locals,
Jangmi was one of the worst typhoons in the history of this generation.
The area where I am living is called Shingshwei (fresh water),
one of the worst hit areas. My makeshift Weber grill is now resident in Taipei, approximately 100 kilometers away, servicing a new master.
Jangmi has left me with food for thought: I am not really a beach person, I am
more of a safely tucked away from wind and flying cars kind of guy, and I am the type who executes decisions with speed. I moved the next weekend!