Friday, May 18, 2007

Iron Horse Tour

It's surprising that Feiren hasn't done a daily blog cataloguing Citizen Ma Ying-jeou's current bike journey. The former Taipei mayor and KMT presidential candidate is on a tour of Taiwan on a bike. [In Chinese, it's dubbed "Iron Horse Tour" (鐵馬行). Bikes are known colloquially as iron horses and Ma's name means "horse". I could explain more, but I don't want to be accused of flogging an indicted horse.]

I haven't really followed it, but Feiren was saying the other day that Ma is getting flack for riding a 35,000NT (US$1,100) Merida bike. So when I was at a popular Taipei bike store yesterday admiring the latest -- including Merida -- carbon fiber models, I asked the portly proprietor which one Ma Ying-jeou was riding. He said something like, "I don't give a flying fuck about Ma Ying-jeou." It seems that what really offends him is that Ma is using a bike trip as a way to generate PR instead of actually just doing it for the love of riding. "If he wants to take that bike trip, then fine -- start pedalling today and you'll be finished the day after tomorrow. Why's he taking 10 days? He just wants to put on a show, that's why!" said the gregarious bike store owner.

I guess this is one of the things I love about Taiwan. In my cynical world view, any bike shop owner/salesman -- regardless of political stripes -- would have replied to me, "Oh, Ma is riding the Merida T45XCT. It's a pretty good model, but you could save lots of money with this sweet ride ..." But politics suffuses life so much here that the man was too offended by Ma and his PR to make a sales pitch.

It could be this is not political at all, of course. This could be like Jerry Seinfeld being mortally offended as a comedian that his dentist had converted to Judaism so that he could make Jewish jokes. Beware, Citizen Ma, you're pedalling into someone else's territory!


Feiren said...

Well Ma has his own blog.

It says the bike is NT$30K. Good maps. Terrible route.

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