taiwan diaries, part the fourth: jielunism
written: 10:09 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2004

chronology - part the first - part the second - part the third (a) - part the third (b)

I'm sorry if there are people (ie. Jess) who have been waiting to read about the autograph session but were frustrated by my long ramblings about things other than the autograph session instead. But fret not, for I'm going to do it today! And as a nice bonus, this entry is solely dedicated to all the Jielun goodness I enjoyed when I was in Taiwan. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

(God, that was the corniest thing I've ever said in this online journal and I still hate the word 'blog'.)

A: Charity basketball game
It was (obviously) a charity event sponsored/organised by Nike, for 世界展望会, and no, I don't know what the hell it is in English, let alone what it means in Chinese, so I can't translate it. But I think that it's an organisation that raises funds for less fortunate children or something along those lines. Die-hard Jielun fans would know that he wrote the song "Snail" (蜗牛)as a theme song for the organisation. He told it to the crowd at one of his Fantasy concerts before he sang the song, which was later released on his Fantasy Plus EP.

The date was December 9, the time was 6.30 p.m. I knew about it before I left for Taichung; they announced it in a vertical scrolling marquee at the left side of the TV screen when I was watching an NBA game on Taiwan's very own sports channel. Naturally, I got the great urge to go, but I ultimately decided against it because 1) my parents would just flip; 2) I wanted to do other things while I was in Taiwan; and 3) I had to pay for it, which gels with point number one about my parents flipping; hence.

If I'd gone though, I would've seen for myself how the National Taiwan University looks like. It's the best university in Taiwan. But anyway, if you'd care to recall, December 9 was also the day that I fell bloody sick. So I slept from like 4 to 6-something and promptly forgot about it, until my brother mentioned that there's a basketball game on TV that wasn't an NBA game.

That was how I managed to see Jielun play a real basketball game. And I really have to say this: IT WAS THE MOST HILARIOUS THING EVER. Not because he sucked, but because he was so funny and cute. First of all, let's talk about his attire. He played for the red team against the white team; his jersey number, none other than 1, of course (since he's numero uno, now and forever). But the point is, he tied this white thing around his head; nothing really wrong with it, 'cause many people do it.

Unlike most people though, he tied what looked like a towel. As in, it was long. As in, when the live camera filmed a full-court view of the game, you just had to look out for the towel to spot him; hence, he was easy to spot, which was definitely good for me. It was so cute that it was funny! Here's a picture: http://img63.exs.cx/img63/6200/095ux.gif

And a nice cute one: http://img63.exs.cx/img63/1946/158yu.gif

Secondly, he hardly did anything on court, just kinda ran up and down and stood around under the opposing team's basket and didn't even try to get rebounds, probably because he's so short. Haha! And when he did get the ball and tried to shoot, he kept missing! He only got like two shots in towards the end, one of which equalised the score for his team. I don't really know how to explain why I kept laughing my off-key laughter (due to the thick phlegm that was stuck in my throat) when I watched him play; I guess it's just something that one has to see for oneself.

Thirdly, at one point of time, he pulled this hilarious between-the-legs dribble followed by what appeared to be a behind-the-back dribble. It looked pretty cool at first, but when he tried the behind-the-back, he lost his grip on the ball! Hahaha! My brother and I totally cracked up at that. In the end he bounce-passed it to some other person.

They also auctioned off the jersey and shoes that he was wearing; the host, this cute guy whose name I don't know, cheekily said that they'd send it to the winner unwashed. Blah, I want it too! In the end they were sold to this old man who looked like he was about 50+ for NT$200,000. To convert to Singapore dollars, divide that by 20; I'm too lazy to do it. I hate Maths, you see.

And do you bloody know what? The man and his wife got to take a picture with him! He stood between them and put his arms around them! That immediately prompted many fangirl fantasies on my part that revolved around me being filthy rich, enough to out-bid the old man and buy his basketball jersey and shoes for like, NT$300,000 or something, so that I can have my picture taken with Jielun too and have him promise me front-row seats to his concerts, like what he told the man! Argh, life is so unfair!

Honestly, the only person I go all teenybopperish over is Jielun. I'm usually very sane and bitter and not hyper and cynical and dull and smart; in fact, way too much so. I think I deserve to be stupid once in a while, and I can't think of anyone more worthy of my stupidity and moronic comments/actions than Zhou Jielun. What can I say? He's tops. He's absolutely amazing. I credit him for making me realise all that I was missing out on when I didn't care about Chinese.

But I digress. So, that was the charity game that I saw on TV. In the end, it was a tie between both teams, although the red team (his team) scored a basket after the buzzer had gone off. But they let that count anyway, so it was all good.

B: Omni by JFK

To be honest, his shop was a bit disappointing. It was small and dingy and dark and it smelled funny. There were two people working there, one old woman and one young dude. The young dude stood up and stared at me when I walked in, which scared the living daylights out of me.

It was just weird. And I didn't even buy anything! Jeez, how stupid. I should've just bought something, and I think I would've if my folks weren't there. Sigh. There're quite a few nice-looking chairs in there that I can definitely see myself placing in my room, but how was I supposed to lug a chair all the way from Dunhua South Road to Yonghe and then back to Singapore?

Also for sale are a series of those huge grandpa-style sunglasses that he seems to like, a rack of clothes, some vintage bags, and a few pairs of shoes. I can't believe that I didn't see anything that I remotely liked. Bloody hell.

I was quite surprised at the location though. It's located amidst a housing estate...okay, stupid comment; everything is mixed together in Taipei, unlike in Singapore, which have designated areas for housing and commerce and stuff. The lack of such distinctions in Taipei really explains why I was able to get a nice cut at a salon three minutes away from where I stayed, which is why I like Taipei so damn much. In Singapore, to get anywhere, I'd have to take a bus, and that only brings me to puny West Mall. What the hell can you get there? Nothing, that's what.

But, yes, I digress. My point is, I was expecting a messy and croweded and busy lane, but it was surprisingly quiet. Well, as quiet as it can get in Taipei anyway, but yes.

And um, I forgot to take a picture, so yeah. I'm so smart, aren't I? I think so too.

C: Autograph session at Jing Hua Cheng

If I were somebody else (ie. my parents), I would think that queueing up for four hours is too big a price to pay for a signature, even if it is Jay Chou's. And it wasn't just the time that went into it as well; it was my pride, my dignity, my intelligence, things that I place on a pedestal and worship and adore.

But like I said before, Jielun is the only person for whom I revert to a stupid teenybopper. Hence, even though the queue was about ten million miles long when I finally got to the place at about 10.15 a.m. (the session was scheduled to start at 1.30 p.m.), I was dead set on joining it and going all the way anyway.

On hindsight, it was probably the stupidest thing I've ever done, right next to waiting outside the Indoor Stadium on the day of his Incomparable gig (Nov 27) for him to appear so that I could see him, but all I saw was a fleeting glimpse.

But this time, I saw more of him than a fleeting glimpse.

I heard that people were already queueing at around 6 in the morning; a hilarious piece of info, because I was still happily sleeping at that time. But it also got me rather panicky, a feeling that intensified when my dad found out from one of the people involved in the event that it would end at 3, and that it was ultimately up to Jielun's own discretion if he wants to continue it or not.

That got me worried. You see, they started letting people into the mall (I was queueing outside in the hot sun and the cold weather did nothing to reduce the intensity of the sun but it was still not as bad as being stuck in an open field at 12 noon in Singapore) at like 10.50 a.m. or so. I was happy when the queue started moving, for I could not take the stupid sun anymore; my skin felt as though it were on fire.

But about ten steps away from the door to the staircase, the queue suddenly stopped again. It was around 11 a.m. And it didn't help my temper that a handful of people started coming up to this girl in front of me; one of them even joined her, hence cutting my fucking queue. Luckily it was just one person or I would've seriously yelled at them in English. Honestly.

Like I said, they started letting people in at 10.50 a.m. It was 12-something p.m., and I was still stuck outside. That got me seriously worried that I wouldn't get to see him face-to-face, and that I would've just be queueing for nothing. Hence, I got damn fed up and decided that I needed to pee. My mom took over the queueing for me and I dumped my bag and my books (Grandeur de D Major, Jielun's book, and Flaubert's Parrot) with my dad, sauntered into the mall and proceeded to look for a toilet sign.

I found absolutely none. I had no idea where I was either; the mall was huge. Rather nice-looking, but I didn't have the mood to be looking around; I just wanted to pee, godfreakingdammit. So I walked around, looking for the toilet sign, but I still found none. I did see an information counter, however, so I went up to them and asked for the toilet.


Who the hell does not put toilets on the first floor of a shopping centre? I mean, duh, it's basic knowledge that a mall MUST have a toilet on its first storey. Why? Because I bloody said so, that's why.

After going up the escalator to the second level, it took me about another minute to finally locate the loo. It was adjacent to the staircase exit, and I saw many people sitting by the wall, on the steps, all waiting to get a piece of my darling Jielun.

That was the second floor, right? And at that time, my mom was still queueing outside, right? Well, the event was on the 7th floor. People were queueing from the 7th floor all the way to not just the 1st floor, but to the road that leads to the carpark of the mall as well. I'm not kidding. But nobody should be surprised, because we're still talking about Jay Chou, who's only the top-selling Asian artist and the top-earning Taiwanese singer (S$15.3 bloody million! I want his salary!) who's just performed a sell-out concert in the Shrine Auditorium, a.k.a the home of the Academy Awards, in Los Angeles. So the queue was really nothing.

Anyway, after I got out of the loo and went back to my spot I discovered that the queue had finally moved. I got my stuff from my dad and squeezed past the people to look for my mom. I forgot that 's'cuse me' probably wouldn't register on the mind of the average Taiwanese, which should explain why nobody made way for me when I tried to 's'cuse me' my way through; in the end I used the Chinese version of 'jieguo' which was quite odd as I hardly say it.

Found my mom. Fast-forward to when I was marched up the stairs to the second level, past the toilet, and to an empty space next to the railing. We were herded there like cows. The security folks put up barricades (or whatever you call those metal stands with the strip of cloth that you pull out to mark off a certain part of a certain place) and we continued to queue there. After a while people started sitting down, and so I sat too.

Let me just say this quite simply: IT WAS ABSOLUTELY MORTIFYING. I was at the biggest freaking mall in Taiwan, sitting on the floor like some idiot queueing to see her favourite singer.

Well, I was queueing to see my favourite singer, but the thing it, it was just bloody idiotic. It was the sitting part that completely eroded away my dignity.

Having said that, I still maintain that for Jielun, it was worth it.

But still, it doesn't mean that I was pleased. And my folks decided to leave me to buy me something to eat, so I was all alone with nothing for real company but Julian Barnes's "Flaubert's Parrot". So I took it out to read, and a few seconds later, these two guys who were next to me started to irritate me. They were mere kids; looked like they were still in junior high. One of them glanced at my book, and his friend asked, "Ying wen shu ah?" (An English book?)

The guy who glanced at my book answered in the affirmative. And I really don't know what the hell the kid who asked the question was trying to pull, but he started glancing at my book too, like he was trying to read it.

Dude, what the fuck? I doubt you could recognise, let alone understand, ten words in a single page anyway so what the hell were you doing?

So I turned my head and stared at him. He caught my stare and after a while, looked away, and that was it.

How irritating. And they were eating filthy McDonalds' too! Oh, the travesty!

My mom bought me Subway with tuna, tomato and onions. I was surprised that she got it right; I would've thrown half of it away if it came with lettuce and other disgusting raw vegetables along those lines. But the onions almost made me gag. I bit into like a chunk and it was really bitter and disgusting. I was tempted to throw the rest of it away but I miraculously ate the whole thing. Washed down my pills (I was still sick) with the mineral water that my dad reportedly took ten years to hunt down, and the water tasted like crap.

Okay, how difficult is it to find mineral water? What kind of shopping centre does not have easily available mineral water? I mean, duh, it's the most basic form of edible commodity, for crying out loud!

Um, I don't know what I'm ranting about either, but I don't blame my dad; I blame the lack of mineral water sold there. Totally stupid.

And don't tell this to anyone, but I left my trash behind on the floor when the queue got moving again. Haha! It was too inconvenient to find a rubbish bin; it meant that I'd have to leave my spot, which was the last thing I'd do, considering I'd already queued for close to three hours by then.

Right. Fast-forward to when I was moving up the staircase and approaching the seventh floor. I still find it quite strange that I wasn't the least bit excited; wasn't even anywhere close to freaking out. It was just like, yeah, okay, are we bloody there yet? Hurry up and move lah, wah lau!

But things began to change when I got into the 7th floor. The event had already started. My mom went to check it out, and she came back, telling me that she saw him.

That certainly got me excited. I asked her to stand in my spot and I went to see if I could really see him.

AND I SAW HIM. Oh god, he looks amazing in real life too. He was seated, obviously, while those around him were all standing, so I couldn't get a very good look at his face; but I SAW HIM, and that was quite enough for me at that moment.

Very excitedly (is that a word?), I went back to re-claim my spot and gushed to my mom, "Oh my god, he's so cute!" (in English; it just came out as such; totally unplanned) in true teenybopper form. And then I finally finally finally began to inch closer and closer to the platform where he was signing books.

I decide to take off my Slam Dunk jacket; it's getting hot. Tie it around my waist; ask the girl behind to hold on to my book for me for a while. Clutch the book to my chest. Wipe my palms on my jeans every now and then, to avoid getting sweat onto the book cover.

Closer. Attempt to keep calm; seem to be working. Think of what I'd say, if I'd say anything. Decide against saying anything, but set on saying 'thank you' not in Chinese after he's scrawled his signature on my book.

Five lines away from him. The feet seem to work on their own; the brains have completely shut down. A near out-of-body experience; it's barely registering in my mind that in less than a minute, I'd be standing in front of Jay Chou Jie Lun.

Three lines away from him. I keep moving like a robot, and the clockwork doesn't need to be rewound for a while. People start to scream; some even cry. But generally, it's pretty non-chaotic, and I'm simply not thinking at all, just moving along.

One line away from him. Half a line. A platform and a few steps away. I step up the platform; the three or four steps hardly make contact with my feet.

A table away. Oh my god. I give my book to the assistant. I move along, almost directly parallel to the length of the table, keeping my eyes down.

My eyes locate my book. I watch as he shakes his silver marker once, brings down the nip of the pen to the surface of my book. Bottom left-hand corner. A quick scrawl.

And then, he looks up at me.

Eye contact.

Oh my god.

I'm not thinking. All I can do is take my book, widen the smile that I'm sure has been plastered on my face since time immemorial, say a quick 'thank you!' in a voice that doesn't quite sound like my own, and walk off the platform.

And that's that.

I had about all of three seconds in front of him. He looked directly at me for all of one second.

And it's been about two weeks but I can still see his eyes in my mind. It's the eyes that I remember the most. I didn't even see what he was wearing on that day. Some stubble was beginning to show on his face, and honestly, from the heart, he looked really, really handsome.

He looks so good in real life, and the pictures don't lie: his skin is flawless. Hardly a blemish at all.

So yes, I queued four hours solely for those three seconds. If truth be told, getting the autograph was merely a nice bonus, that's all.

It was so surreal. I could hardly let it register that it was happening. I can't believe how calm I was, but there you go. Apparently a bunch of kids who look like they're 13 who were in front of me cried; I didn't see, my mom told me.

I didn't cry, obviously; wasn't anywhere close to it. But even as I'm writing this, I'm still amazed that it really happened.

Do you have any idea how much I respect and admire Jielun? Well, I do. A lot. Enough to do what I did on that day. It's not fanaticism; not really, anyway. It's just...I don't know. It's hard to describe.

But in spite of the loss of face, of all the complainings I did in my diary, of the discomfort, of the four hours spent on doing nothing, and of the very simple fact that I did something very out of character, I still maintain that it was worth it.

I've never ever got that close to him before, and I don't think I ever will again. It was just absolutely incredible. Those three seconds felt like three seconds, but at the same time, it felt like an eternity. To him, I was just another face in the crowd; but to me, he's the brightest star in the universe.

I made my mom take pictures for me, and she did try; unfortunately, I still have about 7 shots left in the camera so I haven't developed the photos yet. I hope I can at least see his face though. My concert photos were crap; have I mentioned it? They're horrible. There were about five pictures where you can see something that looks like his face; the rest were either too dark or completely blurry.

Sigh. Oh well.

And now, the autograph:

I took it on my phone so it's a bit blurry.

It doesn't really look like a 'Jay', but then again, mine was probably the 34583435985486th book that he signed, so I don't blame him. There were so many people there; like about a few thousand. Maybe 5000. I don't know. And the most amazing thing was, he signed everyone's books. Nobody queued for nothing.

And later on in that day, he had to perform at some Channel [V] concert (which I didn't attend), and the next day, he had to go down to Kaohsiung for another book autogrqaph session.

God, Jielun is amazing. In all respects of the word.

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