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台湾鄉民十怨 June 30, 2014

Posted by hslu in China, Economics, Politics, Taiwan.
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Sign of the time and possibly a testimony of the failure of the Taiwanese government:

 

{Source: http://news.housefun.com.tw/news/article/14551669354.html}

What is the root cause of the problem? Was it democracy Taiwanese style or failed leadership from the top? Was it structural problem rooted in the economy of Taiwan?

Granted, it was a very small sample taken on the web and most people who participated in the survey were probably young students, the disturbing survey result is nonetheless a reflection of what people in Taiwan are most concerned about.

Is this the Taiwan I left almost 40 years ago? The answer is a decisively NO.

People are free to express their displeasure and criticize their central and local governments. People are free to gather in public to demonstrate and block the traffic. People are free to voice their concerns of various issues. People are proud of their votes in hotly contested elections.

People of my generation back then didn’t have any of this.

Is the change good for the place I used to call home?

哎,人生不如意十有八九。May be I shouldn’t “太过计较.” The politicians and their high-paying big mouth consultants have messed up the place and who is going to clean up their “S###” after them?

 

 

这下马英九难搞了 March 30, 2014

Posted by hslu in Taipei, Taiwan.
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What will 马英九 do to satisfy the demands of these protestors?What can he do?

The actual number of protestors is not important. The official estimate by the government was 110,000. The organizer’s estimate is 500,000. The troubling part for 马英九 is that these protestors are united. They won’t back down until their objectives are met.

马英九‘s failure is 国民党’s failure。马英九‘s 9% approval rating signals his personal failure. He is in deep doodoo and his bumbler image has put 国民党 in deep doodoo too。

台湾要变天了!李登辉是国民党的第一号罪人。看来马英九可能是国民党的第二号罪人。离年底的选举没有几个月了。台中如果丢了那国民党也就完了一半。这些愤怒的学生把马英九搞惨了。他们把马英九逼到一个角落里进退两难。

陈水扁有红杉军反他。马英九有黑杉军反他。马英九没救了。

heisangjun II - 3-30-2013

Arial view of student protest in front of the presidential Palace in Taipei on 3-30-2013。

Arial views of student protest in front of the presidential Palace in Taipei on 3-30-2013。

鍍星- 台湾的悲哀 March 30, 2014

Posted by hslu in Taiwan.
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2011          350 人

2012      1,000 人

2013      4,000 人

What is this,you might ask?

Well, these were the number of Taiwanese people, mostly students freshly graduated from colleges, who went to Singapore looking for a better life.

Why Singapore, isn’t Taiwan a wealthy country, you continued?

Well, these students get paid more in Singapore than they would earn in Taiwan.

What do they do in Singapore; engineers, financial analysts. accountants or managers?

No; most of them work as waiters, waitresses, hostesses or store clerks at hotels, restaurants or boutique stores at  shopping malls and airport.

This is called 鍍星 or gold-plated in Singapore. Not a very pretty picture, isn’t it?

World Journal called it “穷茫世代” and asked “台湾,下一个菲律宾?

To be able to work in Singapore, these students received the lowest level working visa from the government. While there, as many as 20 of them share a four-bedroom house; get paid for $48,000 Taiwanese dollar a year (vs. $22,000 if they stay in Taiwan,) have no possibility to advance in their work, can’t get married in Singapore and can’t get pregnant while in the country. If they get pregnant, they either have to get an abortion without their employer’s knowledge or they will get deported by the government.

Is this the same place that I once lived for 20+ years many decades ago? Where is the hope for the young people?

 

 

三义 March 8, 2014

Posted by hslu in Taiwan, Travel.
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一個偶然的機會把我和我太太帶到了三義這個山邊的小鎮。我們的朋友帶著我們參觀三義街上的木雕店因為三義木雕是台灣有名的。

私人开的木雕店美其名曰“博物馆”也。不过店子好大东西好多。围墙里面也放了好多雕像。

私人开的木雕店美其名曰“博物馆”也。不过店子好大东西好多。围墙里面也放了好多雕像。

有的店其大無比,有的店小巧玲瓏。有的作品粗枝大葉。有的作品精細無比。因為我們不是週末去的,逛街的人非常少。店員大概知道我們也不是真來買東西的,他們大部分也不理睬我們。只有一位中年婦女她細心的給我們解釋雕刻的方法和作風讓我們得到不少的知識。

DSC_1874DSC_1877

少不得得把一两条猪放在这儿给大家看看。

少不得得把一两条猪放在这儿给大家看看。

 

 

好一个“粗茶淡饭和万般自在。”都是随缘。

好一个“粗茶淡饭和万般自在。”都是随缘。

 

 

可人生又过不了钱这一关。 君不见:贫贱夫妻百事哀。爱情不能当面包吗?天天喝西北风也不是办法呀。

可人生又过不了钱这一关。
君不见:贫贱夫妻百事哀。爱情不能当面包吗?天天喝西北风也不是办法呀。

 

 

这一家只卖桌子。桌面其厚无比。

这一家只卖桌子。桌面其厚无比。

 

 

咋看之下。。。。

咋看之下。。。。

 

 

朋友说这一路下去还有好几十家呢。仔细看一天都看不完。

朋友说这一路下去还有好几十家呢。仔细看一天都看不完。

 

 

看管请你仔细看这29个字。这首诗是台语而且有许多不同的版本。念起来也有学问的。这一首诗是怎么念的: 人 生 一 世 『ㄆㄧˇ』 『ㄆㄡˇ』憂 日 月 『ㄒㄧˋ』『 ㄋ ㄚˋ』 過千秋 天 地 『ㄍㄧ 』『 ㄍㄨㄞˊ』 人快老 水 倒 長 江 『ㄆㄧㄣ ˋㄅㄧㄤˋ』流 如果我早十年看到这个我就会把它买下来。如今丢东西都来不及。就在 Blog 上欣赏吧。

看管请你仔细看这29个字。这首诗是台语而且有许多不同的版本。念起来也有学问的。这一首诗是怎么念的:
人 生 一 世 『ㄆㄧˇ』 『ㄆㄡˇ』憂
日 月 『ㄒㄧˋ』『 ㄋ ㄚˋ』 過千秋
天 地 『ㄍㄧ 』『 ㄍㄨㄞˊ』 人快老
水 倒 長 江 『ㄆㄧㄣ ˋㄅㄧㄤˋ』流
如果我早十年看到这个我就会把它买下来。如今丢东西都来不及。就在 Blog 上欣赏吧。

 

 

说的也是。人生苦短也不过数十个寒暑。能有当下也就不错了。唉, 太太: 拿呀拿壶酒来 不醉不罢休 莫把人生不如意的事放在心头。 中国人说“人生不如意的事,十有八九。 干了这杯再说吧。

说的也是。人生苦短也不过数十个寒暑。能有当下也就不错了。唉,
太太:
拿呀拿壶酒来
不醉不罢休
莫把人生不如意的事放在心头。
中国人说“人生不如意的事,十有八九。
干了这杯再说吧。

 

 

暇意。

暇意。

 

 

我虽不信佛却从小就从台中的宝觉寺受到佛的影响。如今路过庙总要进去看看拜一拜祝亲人安康幸福。我最喜欢的是: 菩提本无树 明镜亦菲台 本来无一物 何处惹尘埃 好美的意境啊!

我虽不信佛却从小就从台中的宝觉寺受到佛的影响。如今路过庙总要进去看看拜一拜祝亲人安康幸福。我最喜欢的是:
菩提本无树
明镜亦菲台
本来无一物
何处惹尘埃
好美的意境啊!

lingyunsheqv许多作品动不动就是上万有些标价数十万DSC_1918。实在令人咂舌。

走马看花逛了一个半钟头就去吃中饭了。下次什么时候会再回来就难说了。

洪仲丘‘s death revealed a twisted logic – Only in Taiwan December 21, 2013

Posted by hslu in Taipei, Taiwan.
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Let me know what do you think about this news appearing on America’s major newspapers:

US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, resigns because a slightly overweight Army sergeant died due to hazing by his fellow soldiers .

Hagel doesn’t know any of the characters and he has no relationship with any of the soldiers who committed the crime.

Well? What do you think? Shall Hagel be responsible for that sergeant’s death?

Of course not!

Well, not so in Taiwan.

Taiwan’s defense secretary had sent in his resignation due to the death of  洪仲丘, an Army sergeant. Taiwan has this twisted logic that people high, high and high up in the chain of command are also responsible for any misdeed committed by the lowest people who worked for him. This was demanded by the Taiwanese people. Taiwan has sunk to this level because the Taiwan’s so-called democracy and liberty to express themselves.

Look for yourself:

Taiwan's defense secretary didn't have to resign because the president asked him to stay. Well, he had to bow because he was deemed of lack of leadership. 马英九 had to bow too。He has perfected the practice and he knew how to be sincere: by counting numbers from 1 to 10. He'll stayed in a deep bow position for at least some number of seconds to express his sincere sorrow. This is Taiwan. A twist logic that drove the people to insanity.

Taiwan’s defense secretary didn’t have to resign because the president asked him to stay.
Well, he had to bow because he was deemed of lack of leadership.
马英九 had to bow too。He has perfected the practice and he knew how to be sincere: by counting numbers from 1 to 10. He’ll stayed in a deep bow position for at least some number of seconds to express his sincere sorrow.
This is Taiwan.
A twist logic that drove the people to insanity.

Things like this still happens in Taiwan December 21, 2013

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, Taipei, Taiwan, Travel.
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This was taken behind the soy bean milk store we went to.

Hmm… I wonder what I just ate here.

 

20130915_09090120130915_09144620130915_011514

You get this behind the popular Yong He  soy bean milk restaurant. Not the best in the world. I wonder whether Taipei has a health department conducting regular inspections at restaurants in Taipei.

You get this behind the popular Yong He soy bean milk restaurant.
Not the best in the world. I wonder whether Taipei has a health department conducting regular inspections at restaurants in Taipei.

 

台北街头一景 October 30, 2013

Posted by hslu in Taipei, Taiwan, Travel.
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台北竟然有如此低俗的商家你又能说什么呢?这是否也反映出台湾的民间文化?

低俗!这就是台北的街头文化。

低俗!这就是台北的街头文化。

马英九在台湾水门案输的好惨 – Wiretapping Taiwanese Style October 6, 2013

Posted by hslu in Economics, Politics, Taipei, Taiwan.
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Because of Watergate, Nixon resigned as the president of the United States.

马英九 probably will not be forced to resign as Taiwan‘s president due to his involvement in Taiwanese Watergate because Taiwan’s presidency is well protected under the constitution and impeachment is a very high huddle to cross. He and his party, 国民党, however will pay a hefty political price because of many personal mistakes made by 马英九.

马英九, basically threw his entire law training from Harvard Law School out of the window and let his personal animosity against 王金平 clouded his judgement from the very beginning.

马英九 has done irrevocable damages to his partyHe should resign as the chairman of 国民党. 国民党 will lose more seats at 立法院 next year. It probably will lose in the mayoral and county official elections too.

In a nutshell, this is why 马英九 failed so miserably:

  • First of all, the root cause of 马英九’s debacle is his determination to remove 王金平 as 立法院院长;the chairman of Taiwan’s legislature body; 立法院. 王金平, being a member of 马英九’s party, may have showed more affiliation to the causes of the opposition party than those of his own party. In short, as far as 马英九 is concern, 王金平 is in the way. He must go. The question is how to remove him.
  • 马英九, as the chairman of 国民党, did the following; many of them unwise and not very well thought of. It showed his total incompetency and lack of judgement. The worst nightmare for 马英九 was that the whole drama got played out on national TV like a soap opera for every citizen and foreigners to watch. 马英九 and all his subordinates’ incompetence had no place to hide:
    1. Used illegally obtained information (via wiretapping on an unrelated matter, hence the Watergate connection) and instructed the head of Taiwan’s secret service agency to announce 王金平’s unethical activities with a leader of the opposition party while 王金平 was out of the country to marry his second daughter;
    2. Deprived 王金平 due process to proof his innocence and declared openly that 王金平 was guilty as charged;
    3. On the day of 王金平 daughter’s wedding, 马英九 publicly demanded 王金平’s return to answer the charges;
    4. Publicly humiliate 王金平 and called him unfit to be the chairman of 立法院 and remove his party membership.
    5. The president office publicly suggested that the vice chairman of 立法院 is more fit to takeover王金平’s position because she is well qualified and, more importantly, loyal to 国民党.

As 王金平 fought to regain his reputation and to keep his 立法院院长 position with overwhelming support from members of the opposition party, 马英九‘s lack of judgement  and his subordinates’ incompetency were revealed one piece at a time like peeling an onion; layer by layer and none of them was good for 马英九 though.

  • The information gathered from wiretapping on 王金平 may not stand in court. The wiretapping was granted by the court for something and someone else.
  • By most accounts, the head of the secret service agency shouldn’t give the information gathered from wiretapping to 马英九 because the case wasn’t revealed to the public and the persons involved.
  • The punishment to 王金平, if he is unethical as charged, should be taken of  by 立法院 according to its regulations. 马英九, being Taiwan’s President, has no authority over this matter. He over-stepped his bound.
  • 马英九, as the chairman of 国民党, ran with this information and removed 王金平’s party membership and as 立法院院长. In essence, 马英九 used his unique position (President and party chairman) to interfere with the internal matter of a department of the government.
  • The lower court and the higher court ruled in favor of 王金平 and allowed him to stay as 立法院院长. 

In the end, 马英九 and members of his inner circle have to be deposed for their roles in the wiretapping matter. They probably will answer to 立法院’s inquire in the coming days and months too. The legality of 马英九 and others’ knowledge of information from wiretapping before it was revealed publicly will be determined soon. The result of this investigation may be unfavorable to 马英九 too.

马英九 was going to appeal high court’s unfavorable decision to the highest court in the land but decided to give it up. 王金平 will for sure keeps his chairman position and party membership. As such, 王金平 will be an even bigger eyesore to 马英九 going forward. The worst part of all these is that 马英九 still has to rely on 王金平 to move his agenda in 立法院. However, the damage has been done. We call this: 泼出的水已经是收不回来了。

Many people involved in wiretapping and its illegal revelation before its time, including judges and the head of the secret service agency, will probably lose their jobs and possibly their retirement benefits too. Most if not all are members of 国民党.

The opposition party,民进党, will for sure call on 马英九 and the head of the executive department to resign. An impeachment movement may be in the work too. It probably will not go very far but it is an embarrassment to 马英九 and a constant reminder to Taiwan’s citizens of 马英九’s incompetency. For sure, the opposition party will get as much benefit from 马英九’s missteps. They will drag this drama out.

马英九’s legacy will forever be tarnished by his bumbler description and his lack of judgement on this matter.

The damage to 国民党 has been done. I can not image just how low the morals of members of 国民党 could be at this time. The impact to 国民党 on next year’s general election could be severe. The chance of 国民党’s 2016 presidential election no doubt also took a hit.

Above it all, no one in the government will seriously work on reviving the economy which is in the tank right now. GDP growth of 5 or 6% has been replaced by words like 保2有望;meaning maintaining at 2% level is a possibility.

马英九又输了。这次他和国民党输得很惨。马英九的正义大旗已被撕得粉碎。他被民进党和王金平打的全无还手之力。马英九实在好可怜!许多国民党的党员一定很灰心:为什么他们选出来的总统一而再再而三的让他们失望?I don’t have an answer.

In many ways, 马英九 is the Jimmy Carter of Taiwan: a good and honest person, insisting on doing everything big and small himself but the job was way over his head. He is, based on his past performance, more than likely to fail in the end.

Well, 马英九 still has three years to prove everybody wrong.

I wonder what the White House has to say in private. More importantly, will 习近平 re-evaluate China’s policy wrt Taiwan?If he does, what will it be?

 

 

 

马英九做台湾总统做的还真惨呢! October 3, 2013

Posted by hslu in China.
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马英九不但这个台湾总统做的凄惨无比,连他自己做人做事都需要检讨。

百分之九的满意度让人觉得马英九可怜。可是这有一部分是马英九自己不会做人自作自受的结果。

请问:

1.   身为台湾的总统以及国民党的党主席,台湾国民党指派做了十年以上的立法院院长出国在马来西亚的一个小岛上嫁女儿,马英九怎么能够不知道?他的幕僚是干嘛的?他的幕僚无能也就显得马英九无能,你说是吗?马英九那又能怪谁呢?再说,马英九指派的立法院院长嫁女儿也不关照总统和党主席一声,那也太不给马英九面子了吧?我说这个立法院院长根本不把马英九放在眼里,你说是不是?

2.   马英九由司法单位监听(可能违法)得到法院院长關说的消息怎么不经过仔细协商推敲就在立法院院长还在国外时召开记者会公布这个消息?在记者会以前你难道没问一问院长去那了就公开的大做文章?这个总统是越做越糊涂了吧?

3.   这也就罢了;马英九你怎么还当场要求院长马上回国解释解释,一定要给国民(Read:马英九)一个交代?难道马英九要院长抛下下午要为女儿主持的婚事马上坐船然后坐飞机回台湾跟马英九报到?这也太不够情不够理了吧?马英九啊,马英九,你好歹也是五六十的人了你这样做也实在是太不会做人了吧?马英九你自己说说,你这样做是不是连死心塌地为你忠心为你卖命的人都感到难过失望呢?他们感到难过是因为你一错再错。他们失望是因为你像一个扶不起的阿斗。大家以为百分之十七已经是够低了,没想到你居然能把自己的满意度搞到百分之九。那也是破记录的了,你说是吗?

4.   事到如今,你想一想在院长要嫁女儿那天跟你协商的那几位是不是跟你一样糊涂?还是他们有心故意要把你推下汤锅看你在台上出丑?他們的居心何在?你的幕僚,你的党秘书,你的党前辈,你的副总统,你的行政院长和你的监察院长是干嘛的?他们难道没跟你说如此做不太妥当吧?还是你一意孤行,自以为是完全听不进别人的劝告?还是你打着正义的大旗想要靠报章杂志来打击立法院院长靠社会舆论来拉下这个不听话的立法院院长

5.   在院长正要嫁女儿的那天早上跟马英九协商的那几位是不是都和跟马英九一样没有中国做人的基本常识吗?难道你们不能等个三,五天等院长回来把他违法關说的证据告诉他私底下请他辞职?道不能等几天等院长不辞职以后再召开记者会宣布院长违法的事实然后公开要求院长辞职,好给台湾人民一个交代?

6.   马英九身边怎么没有一两个律师或两三个台湾出生的谋士呢?由司法单位监听得来立法院院长關说的消息是否合法?这个监听得来的潘朵拉盒子一旦搞出来是不是会产生意想不到的反效果?看来马英九的幕僚存心要马英九丑,而马英九以为他举的正义大旗可以拿来抵挡民进党的大炮和子弹。没想到,马英九不但在公共舆论上搞的体无完肤还弄到自己要出庭为自己的行为辩护。马英九啊,马英九,你这个总统也实在做的太窝囊了吧?

7.   马英九,请问你,你晚上睡的着吗?你的夫人是不是又给你眼色和颜色看了?她难道没有教你几招吗?她难道看不出来你光打着正义的大旗和清廉的招牌是不够的吗?你难道不知道你须要先站在不败之地才能进攻才能打败你的敌人?如今你的正义大旗被你的敌人打的体无完肤。而你拿来进攻的武器却被敌人从根挖起。你不但没有打击到你的立法院院长,反而要为你的行为辩护。而你的手下你的党员被调查被起诉的将会有好几个。看来我们中国人说的“偷鸡不着蚀把米”正是你的写照。

8.   欲听后事如何且听下回分解。

都有点问题。令人觉得实在

台湾游记, Dec. 6 – Dec. 16, 2009, Day 6, Tainan Part I March 22, 2010

Posted by hslu in Chinese Food, Food, Restaurants, Taiwan, Travel.
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台湾游记 Day 6, Tainan, Thursday, December 11, 2009

Today we’d have a chance to take 高鐵 for the first time to Tainan where I stayed four years for college after graduating from high school.

It was 43 years ago near the end of summer when my parents took me on a 慢車 ”man4 che1” from Taizhong to Tainan on the day of registration for all new students. 慢車 was a slow train which stopped at every station between two cities. The train ride must have taken more than four hours. 高鐵 was high speed train which would cut the time to 1/5  of what it took in the past.

I couldn’t wait to relive the experience on a train.

Before we moved to 北屯新村 when I was 12 or 13 years old, we seldom saw any train because we didn’t travel that much away from Taizhong. After we moved, we often played near the railroad track which was about 15 minutes from our house on foot. There was this narrow dirt road, about 10 – 15’ wide, meandering from the back of our village to the railroad track. From there it stretched to 大河 “da4 he2,” or big river, and into the mountains.

One of the fun things for the neighborhood kids was playing around the railroad tracks about 10 minutes’ walk from our village. The railroad was called 縱貫鐵路 “zong4 guan4 tie3 lu4” which started from the city at the northern end of Taiwan called 基隆“ji1 long2.” It then connected large cities on the west side of the island such as Taipei 台北 “tai2 bei3,” Taoyuan 桃園 :tao2 yuan2,” Xinzhu 新竹 “xin1 zhu2,” Taizhong 台中 “tai2 zhong1,” Jiayi 嘉義 “jia1 yi4,” Tainan 台南 “tai2 nan2,” Gaoxiong 高雄 “gao1 xiong2”” and Pingdong 屏東 “ping2 dong1.”  The reason it was called 縱貫鐵路 was because

  • 縱 “zong4” implies something that stretch from north to south or from top to bottom as opposite to 橫 “heng2” which mean something horizontal.
  • 貫 “guan4” means piercing through or passing through as in貫穿“guan4 chuan2.”
  • 鐵 is metal or iron and 鐵路 means railroad.

As a kid, train was something that’s exciting to wait for its arrival and amazing to see it passing through just a few feet away. There were two railroad tracks: We’d put our ear to the track and hear the train coming closer and closer toward us from far away. We’d put a penny on the track and wait for the train to come by. When the train finally came, the sound and the wind it generated made us stand back as it flew by us. We’d see steam coming out of the engine and the dark smoke flew away from the locomotive. We’d waved our hands to the engineer and passengers and hoping they’d wave back to us. After the train past by, we’d rush to the track and check the penny which usually got smashed to twice its original size. Sometimes, a slower train would stop on one track about half a mile north from the dirt road and wait for an express train to pass by.

After I graduated from high school, I moved to Tainan for college. Four years later, I joined the Army and served in a transportation division in Gaoxiong. Whenever I had a chance to go home, I’d usually take slow train to Taizhong because it was cheaper. The train stopped at every station and took forever to get to Taizhong. On the train, I got so used to hear the repetitive clatter when the box car I was in rolled from one track to the other, it became so calming that I ignored all other noises from fellow passengers and food vendors. On the way back to college, I sometime would buy a 便當 “bian4 dang1” for lunch or dinner because I had a few bucks in my pocket. Another reason was that the food in  便當 was something I very seldom eat at home and it looked very appetizing to me: a hard boiled egg cooked in meat sauce(鹵蛋 “lu3 dan4,”) a few pieces of pickled yellow radish (黃蘿蔔 “huang2 luo2 bo1”, Korean Takuwan,) a piece of deep-fried pork chop, some 酸菜 and soft rice soaked with meat sauce. The rice was softer than what we ate at home. The meat sauce was savory and slightly sweet. The pork chop was deep-fried to golden brown which paired well with 酸菜 and 黃蘿蔔.

We got to Taipei train station well before the 10:30 AM departing time and got our tickets to Tainan at 1,145 NTD each. We looked around the huge building in order to find a restaurant for breakfast. It appeared that there were some restaurants on the second floor but all gates to the second floor were closed. Furthermore, there was no one at the Information desk to provide any help. We were very disappointed that a busy train station with no breakfast services to its customers. Fortunately there was a newspaper stand which also carried 便當. We got one for 60 NTD but it was not very appetizing to me: greasy pork chops, a few pieces of over-cooked vegetables and some lukewarm rice. I had a few bites of rice and that was all I cared to eat.

Our 高鐵 train moved out of Taipei train station on time. It traveled underground for the most part of Taipei city then emerged to the surface near 板橋 “ban3 qiao2.” The train was clean, comfortable and nice but I didn’t like the PA announcement which broadcast in four languages: 國語 “guo2 yu3,” mandarin Chinese, 台灣話 “tai2 wan1 hua4,” Taiwanese, 英語 “ying1 yu3,” English and 客家話 “ke4 jia1 hua4,” kejia dialect. It suggested to me that Taiwan was a deeply divided country. I was afraid that it may be a matter of time that台灣話could replace 國語as the official language. Taiwanese people accounted for almost 85+% of the population on this island and 台灣話 was widely spoken outside of the capital city of Taipei. It was an ominous sign and I didn’t like it.

The train ride was fast, quiet and comfy. The scenery along the track was different because there were many high rise buildings now. The box car still rocked but not as rough. The repetitive clank was still the same but it came much faster. Things have definitely changed from what I remembered many years ago. Everywhere I went, I saw progress and prosperity. Yet there are signs of deep division in the society. The cultures divide still existed which could be the Achilles’ heel for this island of 21 million people.

When we arrived at Tainan, I was impressed by the bright and clean platform which was way better than the old, dark and dirty platform I knew before. We got our carry-on luggage and walked to the station and my professor friend was already there waiting for us.

He took us to the city and on the way there we saw many unfinished buildings near the train station. He said that the promised growth around the train station has never materialized. Many developers lost their investment and were forced to abandon the constructions. He said that the economy in Tainan has struggled for many years because a steady flow of capital was moved away from Taiwan in search of better returns in China. High labor costs and unfavorable government policies could not compete with China’s massive expansion. The money drain began almost two decades ago and it continued unabated to this date. In his own words, he said that Taiwan 完蛋了 “wan2 dan4 le1” which means “finished.”

He was very pessimistic about Taiwan’s future and didn’t like the previous government under the independent minded Democratic Progressive Party 民進黨 “min2 jin4 dang3.” He also didn’t like the corruption and mismanagement in 國民黨 “guo2 min2 dang3” to the point that he switched party several year ago. He joined  親民黨 (sprung out from 國民黨) and used his own money from professor’s salary to compete with local wealthy business men in national legislature elections several years ago. Of course, he and his puny election money didn’t have a chance competing with billions of personal wealth from local politicians. At least he said he tried and he had no regret that he failed.

The Tainan I knew 40 years ago was no longer there. On the way to city center, new streets, new buildings and new shops were every where. There were traffic jams at many traffic lights and the bicycle era was gone except inside the university. Tainan became much bigger and the rural area I knew back then was replaced with high rise buildings and department stores. Restaurants were everywhere and many of them I have never heard of.

Busy street to Anping Harbor.

My professor friend took us to a famous local restaurant called 周氏蝦卷 “zhou1 shi4 xia1 juan3” (Shrimp rolls from Chou’s) which I have never heard of when I was a student here. The light industrial area with a second class dance hall and run down building on the way to 安平港 “an1 ping2 gang3,”  or An1ping2 Harbor was replaced with wide streets, cars, taxis, fashion stores, restaurants, apartment buildings and coffee shops. The area was quite familiar to me because I have frequented the dance hall several times because it was cheaper than the one in a 10-story building on Zhongzheng Road just east of the canal. The change was amazing and I couldn’t recognize it at all. However, I believed the restaurant wasn’t very far from the dance hall I used to know.

The restaurant had about 80 seats or so and there might be a section upstairs too. The menu was displayed on an overhead board and my professor friend placed our orders at the counter. As I returning from the rest room, I thought to myself that there was no way I could finish that much food. We each had an order of deep-fried 蝦卷 with dipping sauce, 擔擔麵 dan4 dan4 mian4, a shrimp ball soup and a bowl of fish soup. Wow! That’s a lot of food and I wasn’t sure I could finish all this, especially the fish soup.

Since my Dad didn’t like seafood, we seldom had fish at home. As such, I wasn’t very fond of fish at all and didn’t like the cheap, 3-day old fish smell. Because of this, I rarely cook fish at home and if I did, I’ll buy live fish and add tons of ginger, onions, wine and heavy sauce in order to mask that fish taste. Whenever there was a fish dish in front of me, be it steamed, sweet and sour or deep-fried, I’d eat one or two small bites, carefully separate fish bones in my mouth and spit out the bones sometimes with fish meat too. I then casually moved on to something else.

I started with 蝦卷which was fresh and juicy. The wrapper was crispy and golden brown. There were a few good size shrimps inside. They were fresh and very tasty. No wonder the restaurant was doing such a good business with students, businessmen and housewives alike. However, I was concerned about its cholesterol content so I moved on to finish the 擔擔麵, ate the shrimp balls and then it was the dreaded fish soup.

Sauces for the shrimp rolls

There it was: a large piece of fish fillet with skin intact in a bowl of clear broth; nothing could be simpler than this. For garnish, there were some shredded ginger and green onion. And that was it. I started with the broth which was very delicious and full of ginger flavor. The green onion complemented the ginger nicely which was exactly the way it should be. So far so good! Now, let’s do the fish. And I’ll skip the skin because I hated fish scale in my mouth.

The first bite of the fish made me think: was this fish meat? It was very fresh but that’s what I expected. How come it was so tender? It practically melted in my mouth. How come there was no fish bone at all? This kind of fish was supposed to have a lot of small fish bones. Maybe I got lucky on the first bite. I was ready for the slow process of picking bones out of the fish before I could continue.

The second bite followed by the third and fourth. There was no bone. Every bite was as good as the first one. Amazing! Even the skin was good: smooth, tender and no scales at all. Not even a tiny one on the whole piece of skin. The skin was gelatinous and very delicious too.  Pretty soon, the fish and the soup were all gone. I finished it the whole thing because it was the best fish soup I have ever had. It was that good: fresh and extremely tender fish meat, delicious fish broth with strong ginger flavor, a hint of white pepper and right amount of green onions. A wonderful surprise in a town I spent four year here!

Our next stop was a tour of my university and the research center started by my professor friend. Tonight, we’d meet a few of my college friends who lived close to Tainan for dinner. I’d stay at my friend’s place for the evening.

Tomorrow, we’d take the 4 PM train back to Taipei.

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