Friday, 31 July 2009

Pride and Prejudice

On July 27, President Hu Jintao of The People Republic of China sent President Ma Ying Jiu of Taiwan a congratulatory telegram on his electoral success. Ma Ying Jiu has been elected as Chairman of the Kuomintang, the political party that the president belongs to. In the telegram, Mr. Jintao offered good wishes for the Chinese nation.

China has been claiming sovereignty over the independent nation of Taiwan for the past 60 years. In my mind, its seems demeaning that Hu Jintao, president of China and Chairman of the Communist Party, had just wished us a bright future for all Chinese citizens. Many Taiwanese, if not most, have a heritage and ancestry that is Chinese. A lot of whom came over as recent as 1949 with Chiang Kai Shek and the Kuomintang after being defeated by Mao and the Communist Party in a civil war . This 60 year separation has created two drastically different cultures in terms of just about everything. The language, religion, government, customs, and society are asymmetrical.

I suspect that the world is insensitive to the rhetoric of the Hu Jintao and the Communist Party and its implications for three reasons: One, there are not a lot of people in the west who do not understand Chinese do not pay much attention to China's publications for numerous reasons. Secondly, because of the world's business interests and investments in China they are willing to ignore the rhetoric of China and the predicament of the Taiwanese future. Many Taiwanese are also starting to not worry about China's policy toward Taiwan as they increasingly consider China a solution to their economic problems. Lastly, because China does not have a blue water navy which makes it less "imperialistic" than Western countries that have blue water navies. China, with the exception of Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan, rarely interferes militarily or politically with other countries.

Imagine if Britain had sent George W. Bush a telegram congratulating him on his nomination as Republican presidential candidate with hopes of a bright future for the "English Speaking Nation". I think a lot of people would consider this imperial and incredibly prejudice if not racist.

Monday, 20 July 2009

What I have learned

This blog is not going to be about the great wisdom I have accumulated over the years nor about an epiphany I have had while living in the "orient" or talking to mountain "sages". No, I want to leave out the stereo-play and tell you about my findings at the Taipei City Zoo.

All over the zoo are toilets, for people. Around these restrooms or above the urinals are bilingual signs with information on poop. From these signs I have learned the following:

1. When Koalas are babies they eat their mom's poop for sustenance.

2. A long time ago, indigenous Taiwanese built their homes out of poop. Well, they used a mixture of poop and mud

3. Poop doesn't smell after it is sun-dried, so their homes did not stink. Dried poop also keeps bugs away. A natural bug repellent if you will.

4. In Tudor England (a time period I assume? not sure when) people also used a poop mixture to build their homes.

These signs always begin with a question. For example, "can you build a house out of poop?". Or "do Koalas eat poop?". And even, "how does a kangaroo poop?". Then these questions are followed by facts obviously as an answer to the question. In conclusion, I have learned a lot about poop and hope that I will learn a lot more on my next trip to the zoo.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Adventure 1

It was 3pm on Saturday and Ed's last class was about to be finished. We met at the school to drive to Fulong beach. We picked up two bottles of coke and two fifths of whisky for the drive. We weren't going to be in the driver's seat and figured there was no harm in starting a bit early after a long day of teaching zombies and the Saturday English warriors.

The two hour drive was fine. We had a detour in Jiufen, a scenic mountain side town that is half tourist trap and half overlook with a view of the port city kilong (jilong). I recommend stopping in "condom world" if your in the area. Its worth the embarrassment of walking into the alter-esque shop. After jiufen, we continued toward Fulong beach and the music festival that was on a beach. literally. When we got to the stage area there must have been a couple thousand people on a massive sandbar who all used one bridge to get back and fourth.

White eyes was the highlight of the night without a doubt. Their singer is great and lets herself go. They are very distinct among Taiwanese underground bands and have a good sound though they might look to the "yeah, yeah, yeahs" for too much guidance. We made it back to the car only after sand cartwheels, Ed out running a car and I leapfrogging to his back in celebration causing us to fall over in the street. On the way back is when we ran into trouble. Or perhaps, what didn't run.

On the way home we stopped by the store for some post music snack and beverage. When we got back to the car the engine wouldn't turnover. The car wouldn't even try to start. That was about the time my breakdown instincts kicked in. I have had my share of experiences with cars leaving me for dead and now was the time to put that past torture to use. Three of us pushed the car while the fourth started it. It worked! now we just had to get in a moving car. One by one we jumped in and after a scrap or two and losing some loose "baggage" we were on our way back home.

The car didn't like the idea of driving though and quit. Magically, after a cigarette, the car started again and we were back on the road only to breakdown for a final time on a nice, big hill next to the ocean. Ahhhhh....what a view. After some passersby and a few phone calls I was asleep in the back seat while we waited for an hour or so for the tow truck to arrive. When the truck finally showed up it was 3 in the morning and I wasn't in the mood to be awake. Our trip ended with Ed and Mei in the car that was being towed while Wei Wei and myself rode in the truck with the driver.

Better Than Your Morning Coffee

Coffee is a great way to wake up. When you can barely open yours eyes or if you had rager the night before it can do the trick to pull you into the world of the living. At least for a little while. Yesterday, I discovered coffee's rival. Something that can send a jolt of consciousness through your body and deliver immediate energy albeit an adrenaline fed panic.

I discovered it around 2am. I woke up to my boat rocking violently on stormy waves. The earthquake made my apartment bow like a Japanese hotel clerk to the Queen of England. Well, that's a bit exaggerated but the sound of things falling over, bending and creaking sent a panic through me heightened my sense of "awake" immediately. Henceforth sleeping like shit for the rest of the night. Earthquakes are common in Taiwan and I know I will have the pleasure of waking up again to the sway of this new friend. Good times and earthquakes, good times and earthquakes....