Writing about snakes on a train

Writing from the bullet train to Kaohsiung, which is actually very nice. It’s not your typical New York subway experience, that’s for sure. Everything is very clean and they reserved a couple cars of the train for our traveling party, which is about 100 people when you include all the players, coaches, staff, media and MLB International crew. The meal they served left a tad to be desired – a rather strange combination of egg and turkey sandwich and a banana, but hardly a complaint on this end. The group of Latin players on this trip are playing some Dominican music at the back end of our car while everyone else either naps or reads. Josh Suchon is in the rail car in front of us attempting to call into DodgerTalk so that those of you back home can hear the bi-continental show. Indeed, technology never ceases to amaze.

Anyway, after yesterday’s game was eventually rained out (we waited about four hours total to try and get the game in, to no avail), most people came back to the hotel to try and see a few other things around Taipei. Joe Torre had invited a group of us to dinner at 8 p.m., so we figured we might be able to get a little bit of sightseeing in during the two free hours.

Scott Akasaki and I decided to check out a Buddhist temple called Longshan Temple and it was a pretty cool experience. Apparently the temple is dedicated to Guanyin, the Buddhist representation of compassion, and while we thought it would be touristy, it was entirely locals who were there for prayer. Each would bring various offerings (food, drinks, etc.) to the shrines around the temple and they each held about five sticks of incense, which they would toss into an urn. We could have stayed much longer but frankly, with people actually praying it didn’t seem right to hang out.

But, as it turned out, the temple was right next to “Snake Alley,” which many of us had planned to visit but few actually got to. Of course, we had no clue where we were going and had just the words “Snake Alley” in Chinese written on a piece of paper. But everyone was nice enough to point us in the right direction and eventually we got to an area that had a slight resemblance to downtown Las Vegas – a flashing neon roof over a marketplace with shops and restaurants.

Mixed among the various stores selling goods or food were about five shops that looked almost like pet shops, with enormous snakes in glass cages. One of them had to be 30 feet long and as think as Michael Restovich’s arms (if you haven’t seen him, he’s a big boy). As we walked by one store, the owner grabbed a microphone and started talking to the crowd in Chinese…and suddenly he grabbed a snake by the neck. Warning, this next description is rather graphic.

From there, the guy took the snake and with all of his might, wacked it head against the ground twice, leaving a sound in my memory that will last a long time. I suppose this basically kills the snake or at least knocks out its memory of what is about to happen. He then wrapped a little noose around the snake’s head and hung it from the ceiling. While its body continued to writhe in an attempt to get out, he busted out a knife, sliced straight along it’s belly, and proceeded to drain the blood out of it into a shot glass. All the while, the snake was squirming and at one point, latched on to the snake hanging next to it until the shopkeeper broke them apart.

He repeated the same thing with the second snake with tons of people looking on in shock, including what appeared to be many locals. Then, he nonchalantly wandered over with the two shots of blood (mixed with alcohol) and put it down on a table in front of two people having dinner. Suffice to say, it was one of the more wild things I’ve seen in my life and Scott and I both left there somewhat stunned.

The whole thing was eerily similar to the opening scene of “The Beach,” with Leonardo Dicaprio, where he lands in Thailand and ends up in a private room, doing a shot of snake blood. Meanwhile, his voice comes on in the background with a really interesting monologue.

“Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe in search of something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay your welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it. You hope and you dream, but you never believe that something is going to happen for you. not like it does in the movies. And when it actually does, you expect it to feel different, more visceral, more real. I was waiting for it to hit me.”

It’s one of my favorite travel quotes and there’s no doubt that while this trip certainly hasn’t been without hiccups and sacrifice, it has been well worth it. The players and staff who have come on this adventure will remember it for the rest of their lives and hopefully the goodwill that we’re spreading will last for generations to come, like those who made this trips before us in the 1950s, 60s and 70s that resulted in guys like Nomo, Ishii, Kuo and Hu eventually becoming Dodgers.

Team has arrived at Kaohsiung County Stadium…here’s the lineup for the series finale:

Robinson, RF

Carroll, SS

Manny, DH

Loney, 1B

Belliard, 3B

Paul, CF

May, C

Restovich, LF

Hu, 2B

Towers, P 


  1. trublu4ever

    You have done a fantastic job, Josh, making it feel as though we were on the trip with you. Have a safe trip home.

  2. crzblue2

    Well, I don’t know what happened to my post..
    Thank you so much for all the updates! I know you warned us but like a good book, I could not stop reading!
    I was googleing Tommy Lasorda and Deja Blue when I ran into this posted in from 2007. That is me with that email address Dodger5_03 (I created it May’03) that I have not used in ages.
    “What an introduction! I watched the whole thing on the Met’s TV station. WoW it was like the Dodgers were “My Home Team”. It was great to see you guys celebrating. And to think of it, he was an old Giant fan. Like You Tommy, an old Yankee fan. Well we’re all Dodger fans now. Since Joe was a Brooklyn boy, former Met’s player & manager and great Yankee manager, the whole thing was telecast. Almost like “Deja Blue” with the Dodgers in Brooklyn again. THE GREATEST OF LUCK TOMMY AND TO JOE TORRE AND THE REST OF THE DODGERS.
    By pierreseastmeetswest@yahoo.com on November 5, 2007 12:27 PM
    Report any abuse or spam
    Nice name with the Deja Blue! Is it Spring yet?
    Don’t forget that our beloved Vin was a also a Giant fan and we never held it against him.
    Welcome Joe to the Dodger family!

    By dodger5_03@hotmail.com on November 5, 2007 3:09 PM ”
    funny how we ran into old posts when googleing something.

  3. cpompe1

    Hey Josh! I haven’t been posting much lately, but been reading almost every day. I echo Trumom’s sentiments; you have been doing a terrific job keeping us updated on your trip!

    Oh, and no, I’m not going to get all “religious” on you, but from someone (me) who was Buddhist (not anymore), I can tell you that the one thing Buddhist’s hate is when us “Westerners” say that they are “praying.” They are not! ๐Ÿ™‚ But again, you’re doing a great job in keeping us informed. Too bad that the game the other day got rained out. Have a safe trip home…

  4. nellyjune

    It’s 7-1 now………….It looks like Jamey Carroll cleared the bases with a double. Manny just hit a deep fly ball to right field…………….but it was caught.

    Here’s the problem………………we are in the middle of a game, and I have been locked out for an entire inning. This is going to make watching games and commenting very difficult. Why is this problem so hard to fix? Perhaps the time change will fix it.

  5. demrmybums

    Game over — Dodgers win 11-1. Their hitting got over the jet lag and the pitching was at a level that I hope we see all year long. I really liked Lindbloom’s innings. Go Dodgers!!

  6. bpdogs

    I want to know who’s bright idea it was to take the tarp off at 4pm when I could CLEARLY see the thunderstorm heading towards the staduim. What were they thinking?? So the downpour hits and the infield is ruined. Game cancelled!

  7. nellyjune

    lineup: Furcal 6 DeWitt 4 Ethier 9 Kemp 8 Anderson DH Blake 5 Johnson 7 Mientkiewicz 3 Ausmus 2 Kuroda RHP

  8. nellyjune

    I don’t see anywhere where the game has been cancelled.

    BTW – the time change didn’t help our time warping, submission error issue.

    11:05 am (pst)

  9. oldbrooklynfan

    Hi everybody
    Well, it’s great to WATCH a game other than listening and worstly, watching a box score bounce up and down every 30 seconds.
    Enjoy the game.

  10. nellyjune

    Just so you know…….Our Dodger team that was in Taiwan is back in Arizona. I am glad they made it home safe.

  11. cpompe1

    Okay Josh, I will try to explain without getting all “religious” on you. I can’t seem to remember what the word is to describe what looks like praying. But I can tell you this. In Christianity, we believe in Christ, our Savior. Well, in Buddhism, Buddhists don’t believe in such a deity like Christians believe in Christ. So when they perform the ritual that “looks” like they’re praying (and I don’t want to diminish it’s affect on Buddhists) I just think they are presenting a gift to the Buddha. I don’t know. It’s been SOOOO long since I considered myself Buddhist that I’ve forgotten a lot. Perhaps there is someone else here on ITD that is Buddhist that can give a better explanation that I just tried to do.

    Sorry for such a round-about answer to a very straight-forward question on your part Josh! Again, have a safe trip home! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. seeskybout2rain@comcast.net

    Josh, that was your best post yet on the Taiwan trip!!! Your experience with the snake kind of reminded me of the Anthony Bourdain food and travelogue show on the Travel Channel a while back. Loved the DeCaprio quote. That’s what travel should be all about!!…..I, too, am glad to see that DeWitt has taken charge in the 2nd base competition. Keep it up and relegate Carroll and Belliard to backups. Lots of positives in the games today. It will be good to get the whole team back together and see what we’ve really got. GO DODGERS!!!!!

  13. bluesplash09

    So apparently Rihanna was at the game today and Matt hit a monster home run, is she the anti jessica simpson? If so, get her season tickets right now! GO DODGERS!

  14. cpompe1

    That sounds like a great idea bluesplash!!! I heard about that HR from Matty!!! And I see that DeWitt is on his torrid hitting!!! That’s great Blake!!! Take that starting 2B job for yourself!!!

  15. seeskybout2rain@comcast.net

    cp, thanks for the Buddhist explanation. If you’re lucky, you learn something new every day. Who says you only learn about baseball on ITD????

  16. colliethec

    Josh — All I can say is Cheers!!!!
    Nice post! I hope you had a great time! It sounds as if it was a blast.
    You mentioned how great technology is these days… Do you think that can translate to someone fixing the issues with ITD technical issues? It would be marvy!!
    Take care & welcome home!

  17. cpompe1

    Okay Seesky. I was ATTEMPING to give a response to your last post about Buddhism, but I kept getting REDIRECT ERROR after REDIRECT ERROR! They are pains in the you-know-what! Just as bad as Submission Errors! And Collie, I’m with you; it would be “mahvelous” to have someone fixing these technical issues!!!

    Now, I hope this goes thru!!!

  18. seeskybout2rain@comcast.net

    Amen, collie, to fixing the technical problems on this blog. Clean up your own backyard first.

  19. seeskybout2rain@comcast.net

    Telepathy??????????????????????????? Actually, that comment was intended for Josh and it’s become even more amplified in the last few moments due to the PROBLEMS LOADING THE PAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET THIS DAMN BLOG FIXED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. cpompe1

    Okay, first of all, I get so disgusted by these redirect errors that I close up my compter without saying a little bye-bye. (And all the while knowing that this post may not make it either). So I start get ready for beddy-bye, and my husband is watching a program that I watch, but I came into the middle of the program. So I’ll watch the whole thing on the DVR tomorrow. So I come back here. Let’s see if ITD’s technical issues are done for now…

  21. nedajerk

    I just love seeing someone that might not have a chance of making this team hit a homerun. Nice homerun in your only AB’s Brian Cavazo-Galves.

  22. cpompe1

    Oh and since we’re on a technical issue tirade, I’ve got a note to Josh… Josh, you know that ITD means the world to me, and since you run it, so do you! But why is it that I ONLY have this problem on ITD and not anyone else’ blog? I go on Emma’s; that works great. I go on Cat’s; that works great too. I even go on a blog for a Cubs fan (Read Between the Vines). I don’t have these technical issues on ANY other blog I post on – except for ITD!!! Why???

  23. crzblue2

    I don’t know anything about Buddhism, but is it more like meditating that they are doing since we can’t use the word praying?
    I have emailed Mark from MLB about the technical problems with all the blogs but he has MIA.

    Glad our boys got the W today!

  24. nedajerk

    I see another one that won’t make the roster WTG Robinson. I see Withrow struckout the side how does he look?

  25. cpompe1

    Emma, meditating seems like as good a word as I can come up with. Again, I’m no expert…

    And yes, great that we got the win today!!!

  26. colliethec

    I can’t agree more with you guys! The blog is so frustrating that I’ve been a bit shy of attempting to post because its so hard to reply to someones comment. Then after 45 minutes of attempting to reply to someones comment you get time warped.
    Just a bummer…
    Like now.

  27. cpompe1

    Yeah, it does get frustrating Collie. That’s why I left to begin with. Well, I’m going to go for sure this time. Goodnight all!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. nellyjune

    Don’t you just love being able to read people’s minds – LOL!!!

    I thought there was a slight chance the time change would help our ITD clock issue, whether it is time warping, redirect, and/or submission error. I think it’s all related to the fact that ITD time is 48 minutes ahead of PST.

    Great posts by all tonight. CP – thanks for the lesson. I agree seesky…….ITD isn’t just about learning baseball.

  29. nellyjune

    I discovered last night when I was watching the Taiwan game that it can become a big problem if you are trying to communicate game situations and you are all of a sudden locked out to submission errors. Some readers rely on our account of what it going on during the games due to not having access to the game for a variety of reasons. It would be nice if this were fixed before Opening Day. It’s more important than seeing if Dodgereric’s theory of ITDFST will be at 1 hour by May 22nd, 5:06 pst. It sure seems to be headed that way.

  30. trublu4ever

    Good Morning ITDland. There is some serious talk about the Cardinals trading Pujols for the Phillies’ Howard. Good move?

  31. enchantedbeaver

    DAMN!! If only we’d kept Pierre, we could’ve been the ones trading our MVP for Pujols.

    Way to go Ned.

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