Back to Archives

Interview with a rat

Lunar Spring Festival celebrates the Year of the Rat

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Last month, researchers in Indonesia made a shocking announcement. In an extremely rare scientific discovery, scientists say they’ve recently identified a new species of mammal — a giant rat — living and flourishing in the Foja Mountains rainforest in eastern Papua.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, today we find ourselves in the Year of the Rat. If you’ve eaten at a Chinese restaurant lately and checked your place mat, you probably already knew that. I looked it up on Wikipedia since there are no Chinese restaurants in Indonesia.

To celebrate the Year of the Rat, The Evergreen State College and South Puget Sound Community College have teamed up to sponsor a three-week Lunar Spring Festival, including a concert by the Seattle Chinese Orchestra Saturday, Jan. 26, a poetry workshop Feb. 2, and a Tai Ji Workshop conducted by Tai Ji master Chungliang Al Huang Feb. 8-10. The Lunar Spring Festival is one of the most important festivals in Asia, and The Evergreen State College and SPCC seem intent on bringing that magic to Olympia.

But I’m in Indonesia this week on special assignment for the Weekly Volcano — seeking an exclusive interview with the giant rat found here by researchers last year. How does the giant rat feel about Olympia’s Lunar Spring Festival? What does a giant rat do during the Year of the Rat? How big is the giant rat’s poop?

These are all questions dying for answers. I traveled to Indonesia to find out. I ran into my first giant rat outside a topless bar in Jakarta.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: So, you’re a giant rat. I must say, you are at least five times bigger than any rat I’ve ever seen.

GIANT RAT: Yeah, that’s why they named me the “Giant Rat” and not the “moderately bigger rat.”

VOLCANO: Good point. Have you heard about the Lunar Spring Festival being put on by The Evergreen State College and SPCC in Olympia?

GIANT RAT: I’m a Giant Rat who lives in the rain forests of Indonesia. How would I have heard about a festival in Olympia?

VOLCANO: Maybe MySpace?

GIANT RAT: I’m on Facebook.

VOLCANO: Oh. Anyway, the festival kicks off Saturday at the SPCC Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts. The Seattle Chinese Orchestra will perform, and they’ll be joined by the Huan Yin dance ensemble and the Urvasi Dance Company. Any thoughts?

That sounds fantastic. I may be a rat the size of a small child, but if there’s one thing I love it’s a Chinese orchestra.

VOLCANO: The concert is the first of three events planned by the colleges to celebrate the Year of the Rat. How do you feel about the coming Year of the Rat?

Mark my Giant Rat words — The Year of the Rat is going to be the bomb, yo. The bomb.

VOLCANO: How big is your poop?

GIANT RAT: Big. Like footballs.

[Minnaert Center, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2 p.m., $10-$25, 2011 Mottman Road S.W., Olympia, 360.596.5501,]



comments powered by Disqus