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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Janet Phipps Hometown: London, UK Profession: Librarian and Part Time Lecturer Current Residence: Melton, Suffolk, UK
met Wu Jie many years ago when she came to London to study for her master’s degree. I invited her to spend a weekend with me at my house and we immediately felt comfortable with each other and have stayed friends ever since. I have now been retired for fourteen years - after thirty-five years of working in bookshops, libraries and publishing, and ten years looking after my children when they were small. Since retirement, I have worked in primary school libraries and for an organisation concerned with working with the less able and also a charity bookshop; I still run some reading groups in Ipswich and occasionally lecture on fiction in the twentieth century. When Wu Jie asked if I would sub-edit her book Taiwan Zan!, I was only too pleased to do so. Her passion and dedication to the project is quite clear to anyone who knows her, and will certainly shine through the pages of the book. I have also been so moved by the enthusiasm and love that the writers of the articles, and Wu Jie herself, have for Taiwan. Although I have never been to Taiwan myself, every single Taiwanese person I have met has been clever, well educated, and friendly. From editing the book, it is so obvious to me that Taiwan is a fantastic place to be: the energy of Taiwan sounds amazing, the people in Taiwan reveal themselves as friendly and kind and so enthusiastic about their own town and Taiwan. The food sounds wonderful and is obviously so varied. I am totally convinced that Taiwan is certainly the place to visit and there must be a temptation to stay forever - as so many of the contributors to this book have done. I hope that Wu Jie’s book gets the publicity and circulation it certainly deserves and that many more people will visit Taiwan because of it. ■
Janet Phipps ─2─
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To Taiwan (which I love deeply), Venerable Master Hsing Yun (who has changed my perspective on life totally), my father (whom I loved too late and have been missing endlessly), and all the kind and generous people from all over the world who give unconditionally
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Contents Taiwan Z an!
12 Foreword from Secretary-General to the President, Mr Timothy C. T. Yang 13 Foreword from Former Minister of Education, Mr Wu Ching-ji 14 Foreword from Chairman, Board of Trustees of Taipei Medical University, Mr Tsu-der Lee 15 Foreword from Chairman of United Daily News Group, Mr Duncan Wang 16 Foreword from MP for Pandan Malaysia, Mr Ong Tee-keat 17 Foreword from Vice-Provost of University College London (UCL), Prof Michael Worton 18 Foreword from Former MP for South Africa, Ms Sherry Chen 19 Foreword from Chief Editor of Student Post, Mr Ciaran Madden
Brilliant People from Taiwan 22 The Honorary Doctorate of Life – Venerable Master Hsing Yun
46 A Sparkling Diamond in Hollywood’s Jewellery
30 World-Class Mayor – Jason Hu
50 The Perfect Taste Created from 116 Years of
34 Mercy + Tenderness = Dr Yang Yuh-cheng 38 Wisdom + Child-like Innocence = Chang Man Chuan 42 Tainan-born Piano Genius – Rueibin Chen
World – Anna Hu
Persistence – Tainan Du Hsiao Yueh Dan Zai Noodles 54 When Taiwan’s Compassion Meets Africa’s Passion 58 Too Late to Interview
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Fans of Taiwan from
18 Countries across 5 Continents Lai Ching-te....................................................................64
Hometown: Tainan City, Taiwan Profession: Tainan City Mayor
Hometown: Brussels, Belgium Profession: Executive Director of Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office
Gilles Porte......................................................................65 Hometown: Paris, France Profession: Film Maker, Photographer, Scenarist, Director of Photography and Traveller
Hsu Ming-tsai ................................................................66 Hometown: Hsinchu City Profession: Hsinchu City Mayor
Aaron Deveson..............................................................67 Hometown: Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, UK Profession: Assistant Professor in the Department of English at National Taiwan Normal University
Wu Chih-yang................................................................68 Hometown: Taoyuan County, Taiwan Profession: Taoyuan County Mayor
Graham Pickering ........................................................69 Hometown: Cairns, Australia Profession: Educationalist
Hau Lung-bin.................................................................70 Hometown: Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Taipei City Mayor
Clare Lear.........................................................................71 Hometown: London, UK Profession: Professional Translator
Wang Chien-fa...............................................................72 Hometown: Penghu County, Taiwan Profession: Penghu County Magistrate
Felicity Bloor ..................................................................73 Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand Profession: Former Deputy Director of the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office/ Diplomat
Felicia Deng....................................................................75 Hometown: Beitou, Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Former Communications Director for Cartier Taiwan and China
Derek Marsh...................................................................76 Hometown: Worthing, UK Profession: Company Director (Former Director-General of British Trade and Cultural Office, Taipei 2002-2005)
Don Shapiro....................................................................77 Hometown: Buffalo, New York, USA Profession: Senior Director and Editor-in-chief, Taiwan Business Topics Magazine, American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei
Alison Devine.................................................................78 Hometown: Yorkshire, UK Profession: Director of the British Council Taipei
Mary Shao-mei Chen...................................................79 Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan Profession: Development Manager at Studio in a School
Tsui Young.......................................................................80 Hometown: Beijing, China Profession: Healthcare IT Media Consultant
Monique Willemsen................................................................ 81 Hometown: Breda, the Netherlands Profession: Professional Translator/Photographer
Joagni Pare.....................................................................82 Hometown: Burkina Faso Profession: Student
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Taiwan Z an!
Fans of Taiwan from 18 Countries across 5 Continents Fabian Föh.......................................................................83
Hometown: Hamburg, Germany Profession: Student
Hometown: New Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Nurse
Hometown: Taichung City, Taiwan Profession: Landscape Designer
Liu Mei-chi.......................................................................85 Hometown: Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Freelance Writer
Brian Foden....................................................................86 Hometown: Vancouver, Canada Profession: Writer, Teacher and Voice Talent
Susanne Palm.................................................................87 Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden Profession: Director/ Teacher at Enspyre Academy
Shi Hue-shou..................................................................88 Hometown: Scheibbs, Austria Profession: Buddhist Monk
Elias Ek..............................................................................89 Home town: Sundsvall, Sweden Profession: Co-founder and President of Enspyre
Peng Xue-hui..................................................................90 Hometown: New Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Diplomat’s Wife
Richard Smith ................................................................91 Hometown: Liverpool, UK Profession: Co-Founder of UKEAS
Gao Xiang-kui................................................................92 Hometown: Fengyuan, Taichung City, Taiwan Profession: Self-employed
Hometown: Quincy, Illinois, USA Profession: Osteopath
Anthea Chou..................................................................95 Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan Profession: Education
Caroline Mauran............................................................96 Hometown: Paris, France Profession: University Student
Mark Lewis .....................................................................97 Hometown: Washington D.C., USA Profession: International Trade Consultant
Priya Lalwani Purswaney...........................................98 Hometown: Indore, MP, India Profession: Simultaneous Interpreter
Prabha Lalwani Jethwani...........................................99 Home town: Indore, MP, India Profession: Director, Taiwan Chamber of Commerce New Delhi
Lo Yuan-chyuan ........................................................ 100 Hometown: Hualien, Taiwan Profession: Medical Physicist
Lin Yu-chuang..............................................................101 Hometown: Taoyuan County, Taiwan Profession: Doctor of Western Medicine
Keiichiro Ohara............................................................102 Hometown: Yokohama, Japan Profession: Postdoctoral Fellow
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— Photo Taken by S. J. Chen
Courtesy of Taoyuan County Government
Courtesy of Penghu County Government Tourism Bureau
Courtesy of Hsinchu City Government
Must-Visit Places in Taiwan 104 Sun-Moon Lake — Taiwan's Must-See Place
Courtesy of Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government
106 The Epitome of Taiwan—Taoyuan County 110 In the Middle of Everywhere — Amazing Penghu! 114 Falling in Love with the City of Wind — Hsinchu 118 Acknowledgements 119 Afterword
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Taiwan Z an!
When I was 24.
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PR E FAC E Name: Wu Jie Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan Profession: Marketing Director Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
Taken before my two brothers were born.
irst of all, I would like to thank the secretary-general to the president, Mr Timothy Yang, for his inspiration and support.
I had met Mr Yang only twice when I told him that I was compiling a book to record all the fantastic things about Taiwan and would donate all the profits to the Childhood Cancer Foundation. When I asked him to write the foreword, I never thought he would agree as readily as he did. The first time I interviewed Mr Yang, I heard him, burning with passion, say that, “Although Taiwan is a very tiny island, we have produced lots of world-class talent like Tseng Ya-ni, Lin Yu-chun, Lu Yen-hsun… We are an international presence, and have so much to be proud of…” It was as if I had been asleep all this time and someone had thrown a bucket of ice water over me. I was born in Taipei, and, for a long time, took Taiwan for granted, seeing only its problems. Mr Yang’s words awoke my dust covered memories of Taiwan. I thought back over my life - Taiwan has given me everything I have and in that one night I actually wrote eight pages of all the good things that had happened to me because of Taiwan. The number of pages in this book is limited, so I can only mention the following events. When I was eleven, my father moved our family of seven from our small flat in a military dependant village on Kenan Street to a super cheap huge house in the suburbs. Our house was next to a stream, so every time it rained heavily, the stream would flood our house. When typhoons came, the ground floor was often completely flooded and we all had to escape to the first floor. After every flood, my heart would ache to see my father, who suffered from heart disease and diabetes, heave a sigh and lead the whole family in cleaning the mud off the floor. One day, I
could not stand it any more and I wrote a letter to the then -president, Mr Chiang Ching-kuo, asking for help. I had assumed that he would be too busy to even read my letter; I certainly did not expect the city government three months later to send builders to fill in the stream and change its course. I am quite certain it was my letter that spurred them into action. The reason is that the stream was very long but the section that was filled was very short, just enough to fill the row my house was in. From the first year of primary school, my mother subscribed to the Mandarin Daily News for me and made me read it and write a diary every day. In the sixth grade, after the first article I submitted to the paper had been published, my school principal announced at the morning assembly that a member of the city council named Liang Hong Xiou-yu had written me a letter in which she said she was very moved by my article and hoped I would continue writing. It was because of her encouragement that from then on I would often step on stage to receive prizes for my writing. In the first year of junior high school, when I was going through a rebellious phase, every Thursday I would skip school to stay at home and read Sanmao's novels and Japanese comics. Apart from Chinese and English, I was too lazy to touch my textbooks. After school or at weekends, my Chinese teacher, Ms Han Jia-ling, would often buy me books and take me to English -language films. This sparked my interest in English and everything foreign. Later I studied abroad, and once when
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Taiwan Z an!
my Japanese lecturer Mrs Yoko Beard would make me a sushi lunch box. Most unbelievably of all, I even passed a scholarship exam and travelled around Japan for two weeks all expenses paid representing New Zealand (my Japanese accent was good but I hardly understood any day-to-day life Japanese while I was in Japan). If I hadn’t been Taiwanese, learning Japanese would have been much harder. As soon as I finished university, a phone call from my father made me decide to return to Taiwan. At that time, Taiwan’s economy was thriving and I found a job as a business reporter in a week. After working for eight years, I saved enough money to buy a small flat in Taipei City. But one day on an impulse, I went with my colleague to a fortune teller who said I had to spend all this money otherwise I would become a “vegetable”. He even said someone would give me a lot of money to study for a master’s degree in London. I didn’t want to become a burden on my family so as soon as I really got the scholarship, I quit my job right away and went to London to study and in the process spent all my hard earned money; I gave two pounds whenever I saw a homeless person with a dog near any tube station I passed by. If Taiwan’s Ministry of Education had not had strong ties with the UK, then how could I have studied a master’s for free? I returned to Taiwan, she even gave me spending money. Ms Han had corrected my essays since I was thirteen and I never would have thought thirty-three years later she would agree to edit the articles in this book and not accept a penny for it. I studied at two senior high schools, and after messing around for four years, I finally graduated. As soon as I graduated, overestimating myself, I sat the entrance test for a small Chinese cram school in Taipei City. I passed the exam and began teaching foreigners Chinese. Six months later, I started teaching English at several famous cram schools. By the age of twenty, I had taught four-year-old children, junior high school and university students, professionals from all kinds of industries and bosses of SMEs. I only had a high school diploma, but was earning more than a university graduate. After teaching English for three years, I went to New Zealand to study at Massey University. I applied too late, only the Japanese department had spaces left. Every month
While I was studying in London, I called on Ms Janet Phipps, the mother of a British friend. I felt I had known Janet for years as soon as I met her; she even invited me to spend the weekend at her house and treated me with kindness. I also stayed with Anthea Chou and Clare Lear, friends I had met through work, who took great care of me. Thanks to the luck that Taiwan had brought me as always, I was not lonely a single day when I was studying in the UK. Having received my master’s degree, I returned to Taiwan. The economy was a far cry from the past, and jobs were hard to come by. I went through three jobs within a year and just when I thought my life had reached an impasse, one day, a former colleague from America invited me to go to Beijing and employed me as marketing director at his magazine. If he had not had special feelings for Taiwan, he might not have remembered me after eight years.
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During my three years in Beijing, I made a few lifelong Taiwanese and mainland friends; I was as free and joyful as a bird. But when my sister called me asking me to come home to take care of our mother whose mind and memory were deteriorating daily, I thought, “I only have one mother,” and I flew back to Taiwan right away. As it was the time of the 2008 global financial crisis, I didn’t have a regular income for over a year. The most unbelievable part was I could still go to the local recreation centre near my house to swim for free. This recreation centre even has cold and hot water massage pools, a steam room and sauna. The facilities are even better than the American Club in Beijing! I have visited more than a few countries and I have never
seen or heard of any community that has such good free public facilities. Once, I received a phone call from a fraudster. After he extracted my identity card number, I immediately dialled 165 and in two minutes the police arrived at my door to take a written statement. I was overwhelmed by the efficiency of the police force in my neighbourhood. I know a housewife, who many years ago discovered she had early-stage breast cancer in the free, regular cancer screenings the Taipei City Department of Health offers. As this woman’s mobile phone was often off, the staff at the Department of Health kept calling her for days on end and would not stop until they got through to her. The cancer was caught early and the treatment was a success. All she needs now are regular follow-up tests, and to this day she has been in good health. No doubt that is why my uncle, who has been working in an American hospital for over twenty-five years, told me that Taiwan’s medical technology is comparable with the world’s most advanced countries. There are so many similar examples; I could talk for days on end. Even today I still cannot believe how lucky I am to live in such a fantastic city — Taipei. Now, I’ve been working for my current company for over three years and have again met many wonderful people who have helped me complete this book together with all the friends I had made in the past. As the list of people I owe countless thanks to is getting longer each day, I will have to thank them at the end of the book in the acknowledgments. It was my childhood dream to travel the world, and although I have only visited fifteen countries and lived in five of those, if I were to die tomorrow I would not have a single regret about moving back. When completing this book, I was surprised to discover that all along, the place I love the most is that very tiny island which I have left many times over, but it has never left me once: Taiwan! ■ — Translated by Darren Wee
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Taiwan Z an!
Foreword for Taiwan Zan!
Name: Timothy C.T. Yang Hometown: Changhua County, Taiwan Profession: Secretary-General to the President Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
ublications on Taiwan’s fine cuisine and scenery are readily available, and the government also puts out various pamphlets and brochures to promote tourism and culture in Taiwan. However, what has so far been lacking is a publication that portrays the kindness of the Taiwanese people through the professional eye of a reporter, and that brings together human interest stories about people, events, and places here. This being the case, I was more than happy to oblige when Ms. Wu Jie approached me with the concept for Taiwan Zan! and enthusiastically asked if I would write the foreword. It was clear to me that this would be a book written out of a deep love for this land.
Taiwan Zan! presents stories of hardworking people in Taiwan, as well as the observations of overseas compatriots and foreign friends who have experienced life on the island. You will also find useful insights into Taiwan’s most popular tourist attractions. And in a generous act of kindness that epitomizes the spirit of the book, Ms. Wu Jie will be donating all the proceeds to the Childhood Cancer Foundation. If you want to know what makes Taiwan such a fantastic place, keep reading. Ms. Wu Jie and her friends will tell you all about it.
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Foreword for Taiwan Zan!
Name: Wu Ching-ji Hometown: Tainan City, Taiwan Profession: Former Minister of Education Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
aiwan Zan!, a book compiled by Ms.Wu Jie about our beautiful island, Formosa, is a moving collection of writings about Taiwan.
Taiwan has many special places, people, and customs that we would like the world at large to know about. Aside from its beautiful scenery and rich culture, Taiwan is the birthplace of many talented people. They are nurtured by our tremendous education system. Moreover, Taiwan has been actively promoting local culture by establishing Taiwan study centers around the
world and by recruiting foreign students to come to study here. More than 44,000 international students are currently studying at local education institutions. I believe these initiatives will further internationalize Taiwan’s education and connect Taiwan with the global community. I also believe Taiwan Zan! will help people around the world to better understand the unique beauty of Taiwan. — Translated by Yeh Yun-kai
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Taiwan Z an!
Foreword for Taiwan Zan! Name: Tsu-der Lee Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan Profession: Chairman, Board of Trustees,Taipei Medical University Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
aiwan has long been known for its hightechnology industry developments, but increasingly the island’s more exquisite attributes are being actively promoted by its people – and discovered by enchanted visitors worldwide. Historically, it was known as Formosa, the Portuguese word for “beautiful,” but one will find beauty not only in the island’s landscape but also in the warmth of its inhabitants and the captivating intricacy of its heritage of tradition, cuisine, and religion. The rapid advancement of Taiwan’s medical innovation and health care provision has led it to become one of the world’s leaders in the delivery of excellent health care. One of the greatest qualities of the people of Taiwan is selfless giving, the commitment to providing assistance to those who need it most, just as the island itself had received decades ago. Today, Taiwan plays a proactive role in social responsibility on a global scale, engaging in short- and long-term medical aid projects in developing countries, such as disaster relief in Haiti and long-term medical missions in countries in Africa, such as São Tomé and Príncipe. The
unreserved passion and dedication of Taiwan to make such contributions are demonstrated through its medical professionals working at the frontlines. With the rise of tourism, cultural and educational exchanges, participation in international sports events, and increased commitment to international humanitarian assistance and joint development projects, the beauty, humility, and sincerity of Taiwan and its people can be felt not only within the island itself, but also in parts of the world where one might least expect it.
Taiwan Zan! is a collection of personal accounts and interviews, through which the reader will no doubt sense the strong affection and affiliation of each individual to the island, and particularly the sense of pride from those who were born here. Through the memories and experiences related by each individual, the fondness of those living in Taiwan will be strengthened; the longing to rediscover and reconnect with the place will be awakened for those who have left; and those who have yet to realize their own encounters will feel an undeniable sense of intrigue.
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Foreword for Taiwan Zan!
Name: Duncan Wang Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan Profession: Chairman of United Daily News Group Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
met Ms. Wu Jie at our sixtieth anniversary party of the United Daily News – a Chinese paper that has been going through the ups and downs of Taiwan. When Ms. Wu Jie posted me a copy of Taiwan Zan! and invited me to endorse the second edition of the book for her, I agreed as soon as I had looked at the book. Her realization about how fantastic Taiwan is and the wonderful experiences of living in or visiting Taiwan by foreign friends from eighteen countries, as well as the interesting interviews she conducted, all moved me very deeply. I do know how fortunate I am to be able to live in my hometown – Taipei – which offers wonderful public transportation: the clean, comfortable buses and the MRT (called subway in New York and the tube in London) that can take you to nearly everywhere in the city. There are a wide range of foods to choose from: you can have a bagel with coffee for breakfast, Japanese sushi for lunch, and Cantonese noodles for dinner… or
any number of dishes from the thirty-three provinces of China or local dishes from the five cities and twelve counties of Taiwan. When you feel like working out, before or after work or during lunch break, you only need to pay NT$110 (less than US$4) at a local public recreation center for swimming, soaking yourself in a hot or cold water tub and sitting in the steaming room or sauna. Residents in certain districts don’t even have to pay. During the weekend, if you feel like hiking, you can spend as little as NT$30 (around US$1) on a bus or just walk up a local hill; there are hills or little mountains everywhere, in and outside of Taipei City. If you feel like walking by the sea, you can just hop on the MRT, which may only cost NT$80 (less than US$3) at the most to go to the other side of the city. Where else can you find a city like this in the world? I found Taiwan Zan! a warm and sincere read. I enjoyed reading it, and I believe you will, too.
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Taiwan Z an!
Foreword for Taiwan Zan!
Name: Ong Tee-keat Hometown: Pandan , Malaysia Profession: Member of Parliament for Pandan Malaysia Current Residence: Pandan, Malaysia
aiwan Zan! is a lovely book that
demonstrates all the good virtues that the Chinese people treasure the most; such as kindness, modesty, honesty, generosity, diligence and traditional family values. The book also reveals the appreciation from people of eighteen nationalities throughout five continents towards the kind and generous Taiwanese people. Some articles are so vivid and moving, they make you want to visit Taiwan to experience its beauty, warmth and friendliness. To many ethnic Chinese from Southeast Asia, Taiwan is well remembered for various reasons, ranging from scenic tourist attractions and a gamut of sumptuous Taiwanese culinary delights to the myriad made-in-Taiwan products that once dominated the consumers’ market.
To t h o s e w h o g r a d u a t e d f r o m Ta i w a n e s e universities, the island was and is still the bastion of Chinese language education that has offered numerous opportunities of higher education in Chinese to overseas Chinese students. Now the flourishing religious establishments and their respective followings in the region have added a new dimension to its gamut of attractiveness. Of the various faiths, many Buddhists from Southeast Asia and even across the globe now view Taiwan as an emerging bright spot on the Buddhists’ map. Let this be the pride of all Taiwanese, as it is their hard work and creativity that made all this happen.
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When to Stop Travelling Name: Michael Worton Hometown: London, UK Profession : Vice-Provost, University College London (UCL) Current Residence: London, UK
n October 2012, I finally made my first visit to Taiwan. I’d been meaning to visit this extraordinary island for several years, and now that I have finally visited it, I regret not having gotten to know it earlier. Taiwan is an island rich in beauty and in history, and it has some of the most welcoming people I have ever met in the world.
Taiwan Zan! compiled by Ms Wu Jie, is essential reading for anyone who is going to visit Taiwan or who has already visited it. In words and pictures, it brings to life this vibrant island and the many special people who live there. Each vignette, or pen-picture, throws light on a particular response to being in Taiwan. By reading these observations and seeing the images, the reader will be able to understand better the rich complexity of Taiwan, of Formosa, the beautiful island that everyone should visit. It is said that to travel is better than to arrive, but when you arrive in Taiwan and begin to get to know it, you will never want to leave or travel further.
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Taiwan Z an!
A Unique Book about a Unique Place!
Ms Sherry Chen and her husband Vincent Lin
believe no place can rival Taiwan in terms of the kindness and generosity of its people, the beauty of its natural landscape or the varied nature of its culture and cuisine. This is something that Wu Jie has showcased with great effect in her book, Taiwan Zan! Through a range of insightful interviews with local and foreign people who know the island, Taiwan Zan! provides a wonderful window into life in Taiwan, including the talented people, beautiful places and many aspects of everyday life that make this island so unique. As an overseas Taiwanese and a businesswoman, I commend Taiwan Zan! for being an excellent
Name: Sherry Chen Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan Profession: Former Member of Parliament for South Africa / Businesswoman Current Residence: Johannesburg, South Africa
ambassador for Taiwan and its people. I can also recommend this book wholeheartedly both for people who already know Taiwan and people who are being introduced to it for the first time. In particular, what Ms Wu Jie has expressed in such a beautiful way is that above the natural landscape of a place or its wealth and business opportunities, a place is really made special by the people who call it home. I have travelled widely and currently reside in South Africa, and I can say with certainty that although Taiwan may not be large geographically, Taiwanese people have such big hearts! I would like to thank Wu Jie for showcasing this in this beautiful book.
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Foreword for Taiwan Zan!
Photo taken by Wang Chien-yu
ince the moment I first set foot on Taiwan, this island has fascinated me deeply. Through its culture, its language and its history, I discovered something alien though oddly familiar in this place and its people. For this reason, I have spent much of my adult life working and studying in Taiwan or researching it from afar. Even so, I have often struggled to capture the spirit of this remarkable place. This is something that Wu Jie has done sublimely in her book Taiwan Zan! The text provides an extraordinary snapshot of the people shaping and being shaped by this land. Through her interviews with political and religious leaders, artists, academics and others, she has managed to perfectly capture the passion, intelligence, spirituality and kindness of the people of Taiwan. Additionally, this book records the growing role of Taiwan in the international
Name: Ciaran Madden Hometown: Waterford, Ireland Profession: Chief Editor, Student Post Current Residence: New Taipei City, Taiwan community by providing a unique look at just some of the foreign lives that have been touched by this land. In many ways, it does not surprise me that Wu Jie has managed to produce such an outstanding book, I have always found her to be an engaging and insightful person. The key factor that has made Taiwan Zan! such an outstanding achievement is her wonderful vision and determination. Whether you are new to Taiwan or have lived a lifetime here, Taiwan Zan! has something to offer. It provides a thoroughly original and utterly fascinating look at this place, its culture and – most importantly – the people who will play a role in its future.
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Brilliant People from Taiwan ─ 21 ─
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Taiwan Z an!
The Honorary Doctorate of Life –
— Courtesy of FGS
Venerable Master Hsing Yun — Translated by Deborah Lu ─ 22 ─
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Profile of interviewee
Venerable Master Hsing Yun Profession: Founder of International Buddhist Order Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Educational Background: Temple Discipline Achievements: ● 1967: Founded FGS and began promoting “Humanistic Buddhism” ● Established over 200 temples and 50 schools, as well as 16 Buddhist colleges, 22 art galleries and 26 libraries throughout the world, and four universities in Taiwan, America and Australia ● 2004: Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s Buddha’s Light International Association granted NGO status by the United Nations ● Has written over 30 books which have been translated into more than ten different languages ● 2006: Received numerous awards, including the “Outstanding Achievement Award in Asian Committee” awarded by George W Bush ● Received honorary doctorate degrees from a total of 12 Taiwanese and international universities
— Courtesy of FGS
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Taiwan Z an!
uring her visit last year, my aunt, who works for the Brazil branch of Fo Guang Shan (FGS), invited me to have dinner with her and the secretary-general of BLIA Chunghwa Headquarters, Venerable Chueh Pei. Having lived abroad for over eleven years in total, I knew next to nothing about Venerable Master Hsing Yun and FGS. As someone who dislikes religious rules, I was not interested in any religion, but I went along anyway to please my aunt. I had planned to stay for thirty minutes and then find an excuse to leave. Never did I expect that Venerable Chueh Pei, who is my age yet looks much younger, would command my attention with everything she said at the dinner. By the time she had finished telling a few stories about her mentor, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, I was deeply curious about the 85-five year-old religious leader. As it turned out, a social engagement I thought little of became the beginning of a spiritual journey for me.
Interview with Venerable Chueh Pei on Her Mentor
Why did you, an overseas Chinese living in Argen-
tina, decide to become ordained under Venerable Master Hsing Yun? How did you come into contact with Fo Guang Shan(FGS)?
In 1996, I had the pleasure of meeting Venerable Master Hsing Yun in Paris. In a one-month period, I asked him numerous questions on a daily basis, all of which he answered tirelessly. Pursuing the truth has been my lifelong goal and I decided to drop everything to move back to Taiwan. A year later I became a novice and the year after that I was ordained at the Bodhgaya International Full Ordination in India. FGS is a Buddhist temple where its people are busy with teaching the Dharma and are filled with joy from helping others. I am grateful to have become a monastic at the right temple, especially because of Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s open heart and the open space FGS offers. What kind of teacher is Venerable Master Hsing Yun?
He is very humorous, compassionate and intelligent. All sentient beings are equal to him, as he loves all life forms as he loves himself, to the point that he notices things like fish in the pond being overfed by visitors, or birds in the mountain not getting enough to eat. His attention to such tiny details comes from his concern for all sentient beings. Venerable Master Hsing Yun is an educator because of his lifelong involvement in education, a literateur due to his literary works and a management specialist who spreads Buddhism to the five continents. His knowledge comes from the great deal of reading he does on Buddhism as well as on other subjects such as history, literature, politics, education, economics, architecture, science and other religions. He used to read Newton magazine when his eyesight was better. Anything that benefited all sentient beings, he studied eagerly. He may be old, but he is young at heart. With his creativity and innovative ideas, young venerables often feel they can’t catch up with him. He pays no attention to his immense fame, focusing his time on writing, calligraphy, teaching, meeting guests and patiently providing answers to questions – however confusing – from his disciples. Why do you think Venerable Master Hsing Yun has so many disciples?
His forgiving personality and democratic ways are easy to see. Even though he received a strict, traditional Buddhist school education, he never puts strict demands on others. When his disciples suffer from grievances, he objectively points out the root of their Venerable Chueh Pei.
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— Courtesy of FGS
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— Courtesy of FGS
problems and offers advice on how to solve them. The hour of rising at FGS used to be 4.30 a.m., and a lot of his disciples did not get enough sleep. Despite opposition from the elders, the Venerable Master held a vote and democratically decided on 5.30 a.m. as the new time of rising. He cares about the spirit of religious discipline, not the formality of it. He understands the world and is able to explain profound Buddhist doctrine in simple language. Why does he get the kind of support that he does from high-ranking officials as well as distinguished politicians and businessmen from Taiwan and mainland China?
In the Venerable Master’s opinion, elites are people too, with their own set of problems like everybody else. These distinguished people can feel the genuine compassion and wisdom of the Venerable Master when they meet him. After meeting him, everyone, even children, youths and foreigners, become drawn to him, especially for his willingness to share every bit of his wisdom. He is merciful and never strays from the path of righteousness. Even when he comes face-to-face with heads of states, he doesn’t hesitate to remind them, in a dignified manner, of the importance of treating their people as they would themselves. Of course, his righteous ways have displeased some people, but that doesn’t
bother him, because he says the world is made up of different kinds of people. He has many friends, including ones with religious backgrounds, personalities and interests very different from his own. He is a believer that the world is made more beautiful by differences, his philosophy is to embrace and accept them. When people come to him for help, he does his best as long as their motives are good. He has attracted millions of followers throughout the world with his warm-hearted ways. Moreover, the Venerable Master did not let poverty destroy his aspirations, and never would he beg for donations to build temples; never in his life has he begged for alms. Many entrepreneurs respect him even more for his philosophy of gaining without asking. After the Interview
I was extremely moved after hearing what Venerable Chueh Pei had to say. On the bus ride home, I eagerly opened a book on Venerable Master Hsing Yun that she gave to me. Some parts moved me to tears, and I managed to miss my stop. A week later, I submitted an interview outline to Venerable Chueh Pei and asked for her help in arranging an interview with Venerable Master Hsing Yun. I also told her I would write a book as a way of thanking Taiwan for nurturing me through the years. ─ 25 ─
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With the help of Venerable Chueh Pei, my colleague Deborah Lu and I had the pleasure of interviewing the 85-year-old Buddhist master – an important figure in Taiwan’s religious circles – at the Fo Guang Shan headquarters in Kaoshiung City. When I saw the Venerable Master struggle up from his wheelchair, my eyes became wet with tears. The heartache I felt was indescribable. With thirteen years of experience in the English media accumulated from working in Taipei and Beijing, that was the first time I had to keep myself from crying during an interview.
Interview with Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Could you please share your opinions of Taiwan?
Taiwan has great people, landscapes, transportation and especially education. It is not patriarchal and the two genders enjoy equality. Taiwan is democratic and oppression-free, so there is more freedom to be enjoyed, especially in terms of religion. Many religions co-exist here. Taiwan is a loveable and beautiful land. What are the things you love most about Taiwan?
It is loveable all over; the sunrise at Alishan and the landscape at Sun Moon Lake are beautiful. I’ve spent many years in Yilan County, and from the entrance of the Fo Guang University, one can take in a view of the Pacific Ocean. The scenery of Turtle Island and Lanyang Basin are wonderful. In the south, Kaoshiung City and Pingtung County are rich in vegetation, having towering
trees and thriving flowers. The only pity is the excessive desires of Taiwanese people. Everyone eats excessively, but should instead be taking better care of the ecosystem. It will be better for our society if people can love and protect the earth and take better care of their health. What aspect of Taiwan are you most proud of?
Taiwan is not a big place and it is chaotic. However, the basic good manners, disposition and cultural standards of its people are worth praising. What is your favourite place in Taiwan?
There are too many lovely places in Taiwan to name. It is beautiful how the rocks of the majestic Taroko Gorge go through metamorphosis as the seasons change. Elephant Mountain, Taiping Mountain and Jade Mountain are all magnificent. Sun Moon Lake is more beautiful than one can ever imagine. Our Fo Guang Shan in Kaohsiung City is a temple that focuses on education. It was not meant for sightseeing, but we never turn away followers when they come to visit or pay their respects. We have a lot of followers and thousands of them visit every day. We have built the Buddha Memorial Centre and hope the rest of the world can think of all that’s beautiful about Taiwan when they see it. What are some of your favourite local foods and other
A view of The Buddha Memorial Centre — Courtesy of FGS
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— Courtesy of FGS
famous Taiwanese dishes?
I am a simple person. The fermented bean curd, choy sum and sauce dishes of Yilan County are delicious. Night markets are a distinguishing characteristic of Taiwan. Tainan City’s Dan Zai noodles and oyster omelettes are famous. A lot of people visit the Liu Ho Night Market in Kaohsiung City and the Taipei Raohe Street Night Market – both of which have well-priced food. Aside from the Buddha, who else do you look up to?
Many, many great mentors are needed in this world. I find it significant that mainland China erected a statue of Confucius, because he advocated the “Four Anchors and Eight Virtues”. I think Confucius is important, like the Buddha and Jesus Christ. Who influenced you the most in your life?
My mother, who gave birth to me, influenced my character. I’ve always been hardworking. My parents were benevolent towards me. My mentor provided me with education and the training I needed to grow. My life is enriched by the masses. Besides being hardworking and benevolent, what other good qualities do you have?
My good qualities? I am embarrassed to say that I don’t have any special skills. If you must ask, I would have to say that optimism is my only good quality.
Venerable Master Hsing Yun met with Pope John Paul II on 28 February 1997. — Courtesy of FGS
Do you have any shortcomings?
There are too many … I don’t know any English or other foreign languages. I can’t sing or play any instruments, nor can I fix cars; but diligence makes up for deficiency. My compassion and hard work make up for my shortcomings. Who are you most thankful for?
I am thankful for all sentient beings. The rice I eat comes from the labour of farmers; the clothes I wear come from the weaving of workers; and when I go out, I need someone to help with driving. Therefore, everyone in the world should be thanked. When was the happiest moment of your life?
People would wish me a Happy New Year or a Merry Christmas, but I am happy every day! I was brought to this world to experience happiness. What is the point of suffering? I can tell you that I am happy everyday. Like right now, I am very happy talking to you. I am even happier talking to you! What do you do when you are not promoting Buddhism?
When I was younger, I taught the Dharma and spread happiness to others. Now, I am old and can’t walk or see well any more. But, the Buddha helps me so I am able to write, so I do a lot of writing every day to help others and make friends.
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Taiwan Z an!
Venerable Man Ho — photo taken by Wu Jie
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After the Interview
I did not want to tire out Venerable Master Hsing Yun, so I skipped ten questions and wrapped up the interview. When I turned off my Dictaphone, I was surprised to find tears streaming down my face. It took a while before I could finally get myself together. The down-to-earth Venerable Master made me – admittedly arrogant at times – feel shameful and so small that I wished to vanish. Before we left FGS, Venerable Man Ho took Deborah and me on a tour to visit some of the shrines and the Museum of FGS History as well as the Buddha Memorial Centre, which I think can rival the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Venerable Man Ho, who graduated from Taipei First Girls High School (the best high school in Taipei) and National Taiwan University (the best university in Taiwan), told us that she had held jobs at a trading company and the Civil Aeronautics Administration and had also worked as a substitute English teacher. In 1987, she attended FGS Buddhist College, which is free of charge. During that time, Venerable Master Hsing Yun was building the Hsi Lai Temple in the U.S. and needed the help of
people who were competent in English. Venerable Man Ho met with the Venerable Master, and just like Venerable Chueh Pei, felt immense joy after speaking with him and decided to become a novice. When I asked her what she had learned from Venerable Master Hsing Yun, she smiled with contentment and responded: “Too much, but one very important thing I learned was to continue growing and never give up!”
I once fled to New Zealand for a year during the SARS outbreak simply because I was afraid of getting infected and passing the virus on to my family members. After interviewing Venerable Master Hsing Yun, I began to believe things will always work themselves out eventually. Today, I would not panic even if tomorrow was the end of the world. Special thanks go out to Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Venerable Chueh Pei, Venerable Man Ho, Venerable Man Mu, Venerable Miao Guang, Venerable Hue Shou, Venerable Ru Bin, Ms Chou Wan-ting and my aunt Lo Lan-fang for helping me find the true inner peace for which I was searching for a long long time. ■ The Buddha Memorial Centre — Courtesy of FGS
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Taiwan Z an!
Hu and his wife Shaw Hsiaoling appeared in a poster to support Mollie Used Books charity project. — Photo taken by Yang Ya-tang
Jason Hu — Translated by Deborah Lu
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noticed Mayor Hu possesses a rare international vision that perhaps stems from his previous diplomatic experiences. He has without doubt become a world-class leader because not only has he successfully transformed Taichung into an international city of arts and culture, but he has also been dubbed by Monocle magazine as one of the top ten urban leaders in the world. My first impression of the Taichung Mayor when interviewing him in 2010 was that he made an excellent diplomat due to the combination of fluent English, poise, typical English humour, eloquence and high EQ (Emotional Quotient) that he possessed. When I interviewed him again for this book, I was met with his usual humorous demeanour but I also perceived from him a sense of modesty and honesty as well as a sincere affection for Taiwan and especially Taichung.
Profile of interviewee
The Interview How would you describe Taiwan to foreigners?
I feel that Taiwan is not as westernised as Hong Kong and Singapore or as traditional as China. Taiwan has a strong Confucian culture. Taiwanese people emphasise filial piety, religion, hard work and frugality. While studying abroad, I noticed it was very easy to pick out from among a group of oriental students the ones who came from Taiwan, due to a strong cultural quality often possessed by Taiwanese students. They were not excessively westernised, they did not speak only English, and at the same time could open their hearts to the concepts and thinking of foreign cultures. They were also happy to interact with people from other cultures. I am happy and deeply proud to be Taiwanese. What aspect of Taiwan do you feel most proud of?
Even though Taiwanese people don’t appear very aggressive, and by that I mean the positive meanings of the word such as “zealous”, most never give up easily and are full of perseverance. Taiwan is a small place, but it plays an essential role in the global flat panel, mobile phone and computer markets. Thinking back, Taiwan’s economic miracles were made possible by a group of people who went all over the world carrying small suitcases to sell small products. Is it easy to travel to all parts of the world in order to get orders? It isn’t easy! This is the spirit of perseverance I am talking about. What do you find most likable about Taiwan?
The warmth of Taiwanese people is what I find most likable about Taiwan. This kind of friendliness is a rarity in other parts of the world. If a foreigner lets newly met Taiwanese people treat him or her to dinner, the visitor could be given meals for an entire month. Some hosts may invite him or her home for meals while others would take him or her to street vendors. This does not happen in other places in the world. Would anyone treat you to dinner while you walk the streets of Vancouver? You’ve got to be kidding! What is your favourite city in Taiwan and why?
I like Taichung the most. I think Taichung represents a new style of presentation of ancient cultures. Taichung is not too big or too westernised. Its size is
— Courtesy of Taichung City Government
Jason Hu Profession: Taichung Mayor Re-elected three times Educational background: ● National Chengchi University, Taiwan – BA in Diplomacy ● University of Southampton, UK – MA in International Relations ● RBalliol College, University of Oxford, UK – DPhil Achievements: ● 2010: Was listed among the world’s top mayors by UK magazine Monocle ● 1997: Received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Southampton ● 1996: Received "Outstanding Professional Achievement Award" ● 1994: Received "The Top Ten Chinese Award" ● 1993: Received "Best Government Spokesperson Award"
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Taiwan Z an!
Taichung scenic spots include Lishan and Guguan Hot Springs. The scenery from the Central Range is even more beautiful than the Alps. Taichung has seas and tall mountains and it only takes forty-five minutes to get from the seaside to a mountain range higher than 2,500 metres. Taichung has temples that are hundreds of years old, like Wanhe Temple, Leh Cherng Temple and Da Jia Jenn Lann Temple. It is very close to the Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Nantou, and only a forty- to fifty- minute drive from Sun Moon Lake. These advantages make Taichung more attractive to tourists. Please tell us about your upbringing.
I was born in an air force military village in Taichung City. I was brought up in tough conditions, able to have chicken soup and an egg only on my birthday. My mother was very gentle. My father was a soldier who was rarely home. He was very strict and never praised me, no matter how well I did something. It wasn’t until when I was going abroad for studies and my father cried at the airport that I suddenly realised he loved me very much. Who had the biggest impact on your life?
(Top) Taichung City won a World Leadership Award for best city in the field of Culture and the Arts from the World Leadership Forum on December 7, 2007 (Above) Taichung Mayor Jason Hu warmly received Melvin “Kip” Holden, Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, on April 6, 2005 — Courtesy of Taichung City Government
just right, allowing people there to be able to relax. The Situn District in greater Taichung not only possesses the prosperity of old cities, but also Buddhist, Hakka and Aboriginal cultures. There’s also Taichung’s famous pastry culture which includes “sun cakes” and more. On top of that there’s the Fengjia Night Market which was voted “Taiwan’s most delicious night market”. There are way too many famous and delicious speciality snacks in Taichung City to mention. Which Taiwanese dishes would you recommend to tourists?
I wouldn’t recommend specific dishes. I don’t think it is fair because there are countless great Taiwanese dishes. I can only advise tourists to be fearless in trying all kinds of different food in Taiwan. I personally believe that Taiwan’s food is the best in the Chinese-speaking world.
My character of perseverance came from my father’s strict teachings. I had never done very well in my studies when I was young, until the second year of senior high. One day, when school had just ended, I heard someone calling me from behind. I turned around, and my legs went weak when I saw my principal. I thought to myself, “If it had been a teacher calling me, I had likely done something wrong and was about to get my palms smacked. If it had been a military instructor, I was almost certainly in line for a demerit. The principal had called me, which probably meant I was on the verge of being expelled; but I had not done anything bad!” He took me to his office and said, “I have been watching you for a long time. You are a good kid. You have what it takes to go to university, but why are you so half-hearted? It is already the last semester and you are still slacking. When I finished high school in the countryside of Hebei Province, a private school there offered me a really good salary to take charge of it. I could have just lived a stable life and grown old in my hometown, but one day I went to Beijing with a friend and saw the National Peking University and the Tsinghua University. I immediately told myself that I must attend university because it would be such a shame if a person has the chance to do that yet doesn’t try. As my family didn’t have money, I went to Beijing Normal University and dived into a lifetime career in education.”. After I heard these words from my principal, I started getting out of bed at around five in the morning and went to school at six
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Hu promoted “Turandot,” a largescale opera directed by director Zhang Yimou, at a press conference in Taipei on March 10, 2010. — Courtesy of Taichung City Government
to study. I didn’t go home right after school, because it was hard to concentrate on studying in the environment at home. When all of the lights were out in the classrooms, I noticed one light was still on in the washroom so I moved my desk beside the washroom and just like that, I studied at school until eleven at night every day. I ended up getting into the Department of Diplomacy at the National Chengchi University – my first choice. When I became mayor, I often told teachers to pay more attention to their students because ten minutes of their time can change the entire life of a student. What was the biggest setback you have ever been through?
A few years ago, I made a bid for the Guggenheim Museum contract for Taichung, and got it. Guggenheim picked Taichung out of over one hundred countries. Well-known international designers Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel all agreed to plan and design three buildings for Taichung. At that time, the central government promised to subsidise it with NT$5 billion(NT$ means New Taiwanese dollars) , but many years have passed and I haven’t received a penny. Guggenheim did not come to Taichung, but I think this is a setback, not a failure. There are two projects currently going on in Taichung – the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House and the Taiwan Tower. Taichung must move forward, with or without Guggenheim! What do you feel is your biggest fault and asset? I don’t know what my assets and faults are, but people approve of my hard work, good heart and empathy. People often tell me I am very humorous. I ask you to please not write humour down as my asset because it has never been done for
me but for others to make them happy. It is the same for politics - to create happiness for others and see their smiles. Can you give some suggestions to children who do not like school, and also to their parents?
Everyone has different skills. The greatest responsibility that education has is to uncover everybody’s talents and skills. Taiwan’s current development in education is to promote competition among students but it won’t necessarily satisfy every student’s characteristics. Jason Wu liked playing with Barbie dolls when he was a child and was almost sent to a psychiatrist. Now, even the US first lady wears his designs. There is a book called “The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” that I would recommend to parents. We often use one model to measure a child but after reading this book, I realised the term IQ has existed for less than one hundred years. Before the term was coined, what did human achievements mean? Is there only one specific model to measure children’s success? If we only use one very simple way as the standard to select talents, does that mean the rejected ones really have no good qualities? This question deserves deeper consideration.
I saw in the mayor the characteristics of perseverance he mentioned. Perhaps because I was moved by his determined expression and firm tone of voice, two years after the interview, “Taichung must move forward, with or without Guggenheim!” was still floating in my head. How can Taichung not progress with a leader like Jason Hu? ■
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Taiwan Z an!
Mercy + Tenderness =
Dr Yang Yuh-cheng I
was diagnosed with uterine myomas by a famous gynaecologist three years ago. Following that, I regularly visited him for check-ups. But one day, that famous gynaecologist told me that his nurse couldn’t find my medical records. I promptly decided to change to another hospital following this disturbing incident. An old friend of mine recommended Dr Yang Yuh-cheng in Taipei’s Mackay Memorial Hospital to me. She told me that her friend’s mother was diagnosed with early stage cervical cancer more than a decade ago. It was Dr Yang who had carried out the surgery for her mother. She also told me Dr Yang is not only an expert in gynaecology, he is also a very nice person. The old lady treated by Dr Yang is still in perfect health today. I was a little doubtful at first but still, I tried to make an appointment online to see Dr Yang. I was surprised that he was fully booked for the following two weeks. I decided to call the hospital for help, and they told me I should make an appointment in person during Dr Yang’s clinic hours. On the day, I arrived at Dr Yang’s clinic half an hour before his shift began. There was already a huge group of women standing in a long queue. The nurse later told me that I would probably need to wait another five hours before it was my turn to see Dr Yang. When the nurse finally called my name, I had to wait outside the clinic room for another ten minutes while the young lady he was seeing complained to him about her pain and frustration. Not only did Dr Yang listen to her complaints with great patience, he used the most gentle voice I have ever heard in my life in talking to the woman’s family. He said that she was very ill and needed to be hospitalised immediately for surgery. The patient calmly accepted Dr Yang’s diagnosis. I believe this was because she also felt the gentle concern of the doctor listening to her. It was almost 9 p.m. when my turn finally arrived. Dr Yang
― Translated by Yeh Yun-kai
looked exhausted, but he still examined me carefully and gently. He had a certain magic quality that made me feel I could totally trust him. After seeing Dr Yang for more than a year, I found he seemed to have more and more patients and most of them were elderly gynaecology patients. Some of them came from far away. I thought maybe I was a little bit selfish to see Dr Yang just to do regular check-ups. There were so many women with far more serious problems who needed him. So I decided not to see Dr Yang any more. Another year passed, and during checks in other hospitals, a doctor told me I had another four new myomas in my womb. Two doctors told me I should have my womb removed. It was a tough decision, so I visited Dr Yang again to ask for his opinion. After examining me carefully, Dr Yang said to me, “I don’t think it is necessary for you to undergo the surgery. If you were my sister, I would persuade you not to have the surgery.” From that moment, I felt an unspoken sense of security and knew I was really fortunate to know Dr Yang. I said to myself if I have the chance, I will interview Dr Yang so that every woman in Taiwan knows about him and knows we have such a great doctor with a moral conscience in Taiwan.
Why did you decide to become a doctor?
I did so to fulfill my grandmother’s dream. It was very hard to raise children and earn the money to cover the cost of further study in a rural area of Taiwan back in the old days. My grandma originally hoped her eldest son (my father) could become a doctor. Becoming a doctor meant you could have a good salary and improve your life. When did you realise that you had to fulfill the expectation placed on your father?
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When I studied in the freshman year in high school, I was getting pretty good grades in physics. But one day my father told me that he wanted me to fulfill my grandma’s wish to become a doctor. That’s when I decided to change my major in preparation of becoming a doctor. Could you share with us your family background?
My grandfather was a blue-collar mechanic. Though he was not highly-educated, he knew that the only way for children to get on in life was for them to go on to higher education. My grandparents focused on my father, their eldest son whose only responsibility was to study hard, and my father did pretty well. He always took first place at school. However, my father believed that the industrialisation of Taiwan was the most important thing to improve people’s lives. The first step to transform Taiwan from an agricultural society to an industrial one was electrification. Therefore, my father decided to study in Tainan Technical College , now National Cheng Kung University, and chose to join the Taipower Company after graduation. He later served in the government-owned energy supplier for more than three decades. My father was an expert in the transmission and distribution of electricity. He always told me that only with proper management of the transmission and distribution of electricity could the benefits be available to everyone. Nowadays many people in Taiwan are talking about whether to build a nuclear power plant or not. But before we even begin to discuss the topic, we should solve the issue of electricity distribution first. After working for more than thirty years in Taipower, my father was asked by then-premier Sun Yun-Suan to serve as an official in government. He served as the head of the Construction Office. He was also mayor of both Taipei and Kaohsiung cities. During my father’s tenure as mayor, I did not like it when other people mentioned his name to me because I always believed that they would only see me as the son of a mayor instead of who I really was. But after my father passed away, I really appreciated people talking about my father, because I wanted people to understand my upbringing and how well my father had educated me.
— Photo taken by Akie Ang
Profile of interviewee
Dr Yang Yuh-cheng Current positions: ● Superintendent, Mackay Memorial Hospital ● Attending physician, Mackay Memorial Hospital ● Board of Directors of the Taiwan Association of Gynaecological Oncologists ● Professor at Taipei Medical University Educational background: ● Taipei Medical University School of Medicine, 1974 ● National Hualien Senior High School, 1967 ● Credit programme, Graduate Institute of Health Care Organisation Administration, National Taiwan University Achievements: ● Successfully cured the illnesses and soothed the anxieties of countless female cancer patients
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Taiwan Z an!
groomed, clean man, but my wife always sees me looking sloppy. For so many years, she supported me and helped me in many ways and also accepted me the way I am. For instance, I have a bad habit of leaving used dental floss everywhere in the house, and my wife is the one who picks it up. My home is always clean too and you can always see fresh flowers and pot plants there. I am extremely fortunate to have such a wonderful wife. Please name some of your strengths and weaknesses. Dr Yang and his family — Photo provided by Dr Yang
When people mention him, it reminds me to examine my every move and conduct and remember my father’s teaching, in order not to let him down. Before my father passed away, I told him that any success I had, was because of him. I gave him my word that I would do the best I could so that other people could see him in me and remember him. Could you talk about your children?
My daughter studied in Taipei First Girls High School until her second year. She later went to study in the United States at Cornell University and ultimately received her PhD degree at the University of Southern California. She is a self-starter and we never need to worry about her. My son majored in computer science and is now working in a computer game company. At first I was pretty bothered about his career plan. I even argued with him by asking him how his job could contribute to human society. He answered me in a logical way and concluded by saying, “ ... and so I bring joy and happiness to people.” I was really touched by his answer! It is a wonderful thing to bring others joy and happiness. Honesty and integrity are the only two things I ask from my children, nothing else. Who is the person you feel most thankful and indebted to?
There are so many people to thank, including my parents and teachers and many of my friends. But first of all I want to thank my wife. You see me as a well-
I have many flaws. For example, I always see other people’s flaws, which is wrong. I have a short temper so that I stress everyone around me. I always worry about how others feel, so I am a bit indecisive. My strength is that I really care about others. Because of this inborn quality, I think I am perfectly suited to being a doctor. How would you describe Taiwan to foreigners? What do you think are the best features of Taiwan and what makes you really proud of this island?
Taiwan has very little space and a very dense population. So one sees it as flawed for it is too crowded here. However, it is actually very convenient to live in Taiwan. We can visit the ocean or the mountains in no time at all. If you live in Taipei City, for example, you can get to Yangmingshan National Park in a twenty-five-minute drive and then drive another thirty to forty minutes to see the Danshui River and the sea nearby. It’s very convenient. On any Taipei street, you can find a 7-Eleven (a small supermarket chain) and you can always find somewhere to eat. The special delivery services also help to shorten the distance between friends and family. In the past decades, Taiwan’s medical care system has seen tremendous improvement. The high quality and relatively low price as well as accessibility of medical care institutions also make Taiwan a world leader. At the same time as enjoying improvement in the urban environment, Taiwanese people still maintain close relations with their family, which is the most precious thing for humans. Where is your favourite place in Taiwan?
My home town, Hualien. You can see beautiful ocean views and landscapes there, but it is also very convenient living in the city. Most importantly, I have great childhood memories there.
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How would you like others to remember you after you pass away?
I hope people can remember me as a person who loves others as myself and a person who has lived that way for his entire life. I work hard and pray for this. After interviewing Dr Yang, I also asked his student Dr Chuang Yin-ting the following questions. How long have you known Dr Yang? I have known him since my first year as a resident doctor in
Mackay. This year is my fifth year here. I have been following Dr Yang this year and have begun to know him better by observing how he takes care of his patients.
humble and treats everyone without a trace of superiority. So every one enjoys working with him. What have you learned from Dr Yang?
Dr Yang has set a great example for all of us as a gynaecologist. Taking care of gynaecological patients is a long-term, even lifetime, task, and we need to be aware of both the physical and mental health of patients in order to look after them properly. Witnessing how Dr Yang looks after his patients, I feel deeply touched while at the same time very fortunate that I have the pleasure of learning from him. He has vast medical knowledge as well as an understanding of the importance of interpersonal relationships. I hope I can use what I have learned from Dr Yang to give the best medical care to my patients in the future.
What kind of doctor do you think he is?
Even though he also serves as superintendent of the hospital, he still tries to find time to visit all of his patients in Mackay. I think Dr Yang is admirable not only because he does his best to treat patients with the latest medications, but he also treats them with love and sincerity. He always tells his patients, “If I were your family member, I would do so and so...” From what he does for patients, I am certain that Dr Yang wholeheartedly loves and cares about them. He is a respected leader, but at the same time, he is always very
I can fully understand why Dr Chuang feels so grateful for Dr Yang’s teaching, even though I only saw Dr Yang a few times a year. Since I’ve known him, I no longer feel awkward and uncomfortable whenever I undergo a pap test. Normally no one likes to see a doctor, but whenever I saw Dr Yang, I always wanted to tell him: “It’s so nice to see you!” Even though I do not see Dr Yang any more, I would like to say to him,“Thank you for showing me so much mercy and tenderness. I sincerely hope you can live over one hundred years!" ■
Family gathering on Tomb Sweeping Day — Photo provided by Dr. Yang
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Taiwan Z an!
Wisdom + Childlike innocence =
Chang Man Chuan
― Translated by Deborah Lu
nvited by Gracie Chou from United Daily newspaper, I attended the Marc Chagall exhibition which took place last May. There I had the pleasure of speaking to Taiwan’s renowned author Chang Man Chuan. “Chagall had three relationships, yet traces of his first wife Bella, could be detected in his paintings. How do you look at his tendency to live in the past?” I asked Chang. To this she replied, without pausing to think, “It is a life choice. Some people believe in letting go of the past, but maybe to Chagall his time with Bella was his eternity. After she died, Chagall’s memories of her became his most valued asset. I think it is a life choice he made for himself.” This response gave me the impression that Chang is a modern and non-judgemental woman full of wisdom. A few days later, I asked my friend Karen, a recent university graduate, if she had read any of Chang’s books. Karen said that she had read Chang’s award-winning short-story collection The Colour of the Deep Ocean many times, the last story never failing to bring her to tears. “I think she is a writer who can touch people’s hearts,” she added. Shortly after this conversation, I emailed Chang’s assistant to arrange for an interview.
What kind of island is Taiwan in your eyes? — Photo taken by Doris Pan
It is a magical one, with intense conflicts and political oppositions as well as angry people. It is special in that there also exists a strong bond between its people, many of them kind and generous. There are team players and there are even people who are willing to help others they have never met. To Chinese people from other areas, Taiwan is an intricate place. People from China are affluent, people from Hong Kong value efficiency, Singapore’s people are orderly and
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Profile of interviewee Malaysians are warm. Intricacy, however, is complicated because it is built upon a country’s people, economy, culture and education. Intricacy isn’t something that can be learned from an etiquette school in three days. Intricate people can do intricate things, like make a small museum out of a second-hand bookstore so that when you visit, you feel an interactive spirit and a sense of pride and gratitude. Taiwan offers great technology, medical services and cosmetic surgery at good prices. It should be introduced to the world, we can arrange medical tourism packages so tourists can receive health checks, cosmetic surgery or other minor surgery and enjoy the great food and visit the famous attractions of Taiwan in one trip. I hope Taiwan can become a destination for medical services. What is your favourite part of Taiwan?
I am very into Hualien at the moment. I was there in June visiting a Japanese immigrant village with my colleagues. For a period of time, some Japanese people immigrated to Hualien because they felt it was very similar to Hokkaido. Hualien has a lot of beautiful B&Bs. Its res-
Chang as a teenager. — Photo provided by Chang Man Chuan
Chang Man Chuan
Profession: Professor of Chinese Literature at Soochow University/Writer Education Background: Soochow University Taiwan,PhD in Chinese Literature Achievements: 1985 First novel, The Colour of the Deep Ocean was published and sold over 600,000 copies. It was voted as one of the 10 most influential books in 40 years in a poll by China Times 1987 Taught classic novel, modern literature and creative writing courses at Soochow University, Chinese Culture University and National Chengchi University 1997 Employed by The Chinese University of Hong Kong as an Assistant Professor (August ) and invited by Radio Television Hong Kong to produce and host “Literature Starry Sky” and “Starry Sky of Dream” 1997 Contributed to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao, making Chang the only writer in Taiwan 2000 to do so on a long-term basis 2002 B ecame the only female writer to top Kingstone’s best-selling female author chart for 10 consecutive years 2003 L ectured at Shanghai Normal University, Beijing Normal University and Peking University, exchanging ideas on Taiwan’s literary works with students 2004 F irst novel, The Colour of the Deep Ocean, was voted best novel by readers in a poll conducted by Eslite, Taiwan Public Television Service and United Daily News 2005 “Chang Man Chuan study”, a reading and writing workshop for children, was created and well-received by the public 2005 Became Professor of Chinese Literature 2011 at Soochow University 2010 Voted one of the 10 most popular foreign authors in a 2010 poll by Sin Chew Daily 2012 Became Director of Kwang Hwa information and Culture Centre
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idents created new snacks and planted large amounts of organic food. In order to plant non-toxic food, farmlands must lie fallow for three years between harvests, but a lot of people there are willing to wait that long for organic food. Some friends of mine plant unbelievably delicious fruits, corn and pumpkins and send them to me from Hualien. With such magical food, there was no way for me not to fall in love with Hualien. What kind of environment did you grow up in?
I was born in 1961, the best era to grow up in. The civil war had just ended and Taiwan was becoming stable and education was becoming more common. Now, people often talk about conflicts between ethnic groups and I find it strange. When I was growing up, people did not distinguish “benshengren” (people who came to Taiwan from China centuries ago) from “waishengren” (people who came to Taiwan from China after 1949). I often went to my neighbour’s home and it wasn’t until later that I found out they were the so-called “benshengren.” If my family made steamed buns, my mother would tell me to take some to them, and they were happy to receive the food. Everybody got along well and it was natural. Unlike now, where we give classes to students so they can get to know the
local culture and the different groups of people living in Taiwan. When I was a child, the different groups were a part of life. At that time, Taiwan’s economy was taking off. When I was ten years old, the Ten Major Construction Projects were being carried out. The age of Chiang Ching-kuo had arrived. Everyone was full of hope. My parents were not refined people. My mother was a nurse and my father a low-level public servant. They came to Taiwan from China, met each other, got married and gave birth to me. They were a little like refugees or orphans who had to leave their homes behind. They spend a lot of time with their family, maybe to make up for what they lost. My mother was maybe only seven or eight years old when she left China with her brother and sister-in-law. She didn’t realise she would never go back again. My father’s studies only reached elementary school level. He later joined the navy and came to Taiwan on a boat. When he got here, he learned skills like sending telegrams to make a living. He applied for whatever job openings he saw in newspapers. I had a very close relationship with my family, even though they weren’t highly educated so they couldn’t help me with my studies. I spaced out a lot and got very bad grades. Even though I was grouped into a good class, my grades were always some of the worst in that class. I managed to get into college even though my grades kept me far from its best departments. When I started college, I began reading a lot at book rental shops and exchanging books with classmates. I never listened in class, only read novels. One day, I got my hands on novels by Eileen Chang and Kenneth Pai. Even though their books look like romantic novels from the sound of the titles, they are actually literary works. Later, I began writing my own novels and my classmates became my readers. After graduating, I got into Soochow University, got my Ph.D. and started teaching there. If you were to interview my junior high school teachers, they would say they would never have believed that I would become a university professor. What kind of parenting approach did your parents take?
Writer Chang Man Chuan as a little girl — Photo provided by Chang Man Chuan
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My parents were very strict. I was expected to be proper while having meals – fumbling around was not allowed. I had to get permission to watch TV. Snacking was not allowed while watching films – I had to pay close attention to the actors and the story. I didn’t understand why then, but I did when I became an adult. It was because my mother’s wallet would be empty after purchasing four movie tickets. How were you able to write such a touching novel, The Colour of the Deep Ocean, at such a young age of twenty-four?
I was teaching literature courses at the university and used myself as a subject for research. At the time, I was very closedoff, and so my feelings were very direct and intuitive. When transformed into words, those feelings had powerful effects. It was a sort of closed-off power that was perhaps too pure to be replicated by others and even by myself because that time has gone forever. Taiwan was going through transformations at the time, its divorce rate was increasing every year. Taiwanese people were beginning to feel unsteady and the political climate was changing. I felt that the book provided the last pure and stable force that a lot of people could look forward to and be moved by.
Professor Chang teaching a university course — Photo provided by Chang Man Chuan
becoming writers? Have you ever experienced setbacks?
A lot. When I was young, I got bad grades and was as skinny as a terminally ill cancer patient. Everyone looked at me strangely and I was depressed. I know how it feels to be excluded and looked down on. The workshops I give allow my inner child to communicate with children. Children have a lot of fun with me, maybe because I have an inner child. Children with low self-esteem would slowly gain confidence when they come to my workshops. Who is your favourite Taiwanese writer?
Chiang Hsun – he plays the role of a creative force as an author as well as a promoter of traditional Chinese art. I think that is great. Are you satisfied with your achievements so far?
I don’t really have any achievements. I am very grateful to have fulfilled some of my dreams! What advice do you have for people interested in
Never rely on writing as a way of making a living, because you will come to hate the instability from this job. If you were born to write, it is best to find a stable job and write when you can and stop when you cannot. Do not allow pressures from the world to destroy your writing spirit. Most importantly, believe in yourself!
It was a joy to listen to Chang Man Chuan talk. Her wisdom inspired me and her innocence drew my inner child out to play. I did not want to end the interview at all. She and I belong to the same period, I also grew up in “the best era” that has “gone forever”. This is why I am thanking Taiwan by writing this book. This is the reason for Chang’s immediate acceptance of my interview, where she shared her love and views of Taiwan in such an honest manner. After this interview, I got the feeling that even though times are changing and Taiwan is changing, the kindness and generosity of Taiwanese people will never change! ■
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Taiwan Z an!
Tainan-born Piano Genius ― Translated by Deborah Lu
— Photo provided by Rueibin Chen
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Profile of interviewee
henever I hear the music of a piano, I stop whatever I happen to be doing and close my eyes, as if the wooden scent of the piano can take me from reality and transport me back to my childhood. When I was eight, I took piano lessons from the pastor’s wife. Those lessons became a fragment of my dreams after I informed my father, who had five children to support, of an increase in lesson fees. Last year, I was introduced to the Austria-based pianist Rueibin Chen in Taiwan, at a party celebrating Austria’s national day. Feeling excited, I immediately exchanged business cards with him. One night, I told my aunt about having met Chen. Her daughter is a gifted violinist, so she had good knowledge of classical music. She told me that Chen was a rare piano genius. After discovering this, I wrote an e-mail to him about doing an interview, and was surprised when he responded right away. We then set up a time for an interview via Skype. Could you tell us about your piano learning experience?
My father was an elementary school music teacher. There was already a piano at my house when I was born. Following my father’s wish, my brother, sister and I, the three of us, are all involved in music. My childhood consisted of non-stop competitions. There were no CDs at that time. I never travelled to Taipei to take lessons from well-known teachers. I grew up in Tainan and started playing the piano when I was four or five years old. At six years old, I began taking part in competitions. My father’s piano skills did not come from formal training, but my uncle’s did and he was already the top student when he was eight years old. I received training from him, though he lived in Taipei and only came back to Tainan once every six months. Before moving abroad at the age of thirteen, I listened to vinyl records for my competition pieces. Back then, the records were all pirated and had static louder than the piano music itself, but I still enjoyed them. It wasn’t until I went to Vienna that I really came to like music. My family was with me until I was thirteen years old, when I went to Vienna and there wasn’t anyone watching over me any more. Did you go to junior high school in Vienna?
I went directly into university. Their university education was eight years. In the first two years, my German was a problem. I had to deal with learning the piano and other school subjects. The
— Photo provided by Rueibin Chen
Rueibin Chen Profession: Internationally acclaimed pianist Education Background: 1989: Obtained Concert Diploma for being the First in the Class from the Vienna Conservatory 1996: Received the highest Solo Diploma at the German National Institute of Music in Hannover Achievements: 1986 Awarded 18 prizes and recognition in 1988 various international piano competitions including Rachmaninoff, Manresa, Stresa, Bellini and Vienna 2002: Honoured with the seventh “Medal for Honorary Citizens” from Tainan City 2003: Awarded “The Best Achievement” by the Rotary Club in Taiwan 2004: Awarded the “Golden Melody Awards” in Taiwan for “Best Performance” and “Best Collection” 2010: Performed for the Grand Opening ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo
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remaining four years were spent on competitions. I graduated after eight years like most people, then studied in Germany. I didn’t live in that country. I just went once a month for five or six years to study and eventually obtained the highest Solo Diploma (at the German National Institute of Music in Hannover). With my scholarship, I also went to Italy and France for piano studies. The lessons were mainly in German; my French and English weren’t very good. My teacher (Lazar Berman) was Jewish and could speak German. He was the most famous Russian pianist of the 20th century. I studied with him for five or six years. He died of heart disease. By learning from him I am considered a student of Beethoven and Liszt. I rarely met my teacher, only once or twice a month, as both of us had to perform. Why Vienna? What was your life like?
The Ministry of Education in Taiwan held a national talent search and I was selected. But I did not get funding to go abroad. My parents provided for me until I reached seventeen, and after that I relied solely on scholarships and the money I won from competitions. I wasn’t allowed to work. It would’ve been too hard for me to anyway, with eight hours of practice a day. It took five to six months for money from my family to get to me, for they had to transfer it to the U.S. first. I had to check my account balance almost every day to keep track of the money I had left. I spent a lot of time seeking out scholarships. The prizes from music competitions could not compare with the ones from sporting competitions. Being a student, I couldn’t work in bars. I was a minor at the time, so I was supposed to have a guardian, but for reasons unknown to me the Austrian government allowed me to continue staying in the country. So I was without a guardian and lived alone. I was asked
to move out many times when my landlords found out about my age though. However, I talked to my family on the phone once every six months. We communicated mainly with letters for over ten years. The total time it took for my letter to travel to them and their letter to travel to me was one month, but the letters never stopped. Did you go through a rebellious stage?
How would that be possible living alone in Vienna? I did not have that luxury. I was busy taking care of myself. How many awards have you received?
I have received eighteen awards and five gold medals. How long have you been a professional concert pianist?
I’ve been performing since I was sixteen, so close to thirty years. What did you most miss about Taiwan?
My friends and the food. All the food in Taiwan is comforting. It doesn’t feel like home in a foreign country. Do you think that Taiwan had an impact on your career?
Yes, the enthusiasm and support from the Taiwanese fans mean a lot to me. Some of them attend almost all of my performances whenever I come back to Taiwan. Some fans even know the programme of my performances in other cities, which to me is very special. How would you describe Taiwan to foreigners?
Taiwanese people are very warm. Of course, Taiwan’s snacks — Photo provided by Rueibin Chen
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are also special. If they have time, I would suggest a visit to eastern Taiwan, Ilan, Taitung and Hualien, where the seas are majestic. Those places also have hot springs for one to relax and relieve stress. For a musician, these are wonderful places to vacation in. Why do you think people enjoy your performances?
I think there are two reasons: first, because my teacher was a world-famous Russian pianist known by every one in the music circle. I was his only oriental student. When CCTV in Beijing interviewed me last year, they made a point to hire a Russian interviewer. From that, you can see the effect of my teacher on the international music scene. The other reason, I think, is that I play sincerely. I put my life into my performances. Sometimes my performances are open to young children, and not only do they not cry, they are more absorbed by the music than the adults. Their parents find it unbelievable and many organisers are surprised to see that, unable to figure out why the children who watch my performances are so quiet. I don’t have any special tips. Perhaps it is because I am so focused when I play because I love my music and I love to share it with my audience. So that is probably why my performances can move three-year-old children. What are the qualities required for a professional concert pianist?
Nothing in particular is required. I’ve never felt I had a lot of talent. Hard work is not a quality because everyone works hard. Sometimes, however, luck is needed. I love music. I do not see performing as a job or a tool to make money. I know that my performances can bring excitement and happiness to my audiences. Today’s success does not equal a lifetime of success. Communicate with the audience with music, and they will enjoy your music for a long time to come. Who are you most grateful towards?
I am most grateful towards my parents and uncle. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. If you could not play the piano any more, what would you do?
I may go into education, or do charity work like volunteering. After I became an adult while studying in Austria, I worked to sustain my livelihood. I had a lot of life experience. My hands have done many things other than playing the piano.
— Photo provided by Rueibin Chen
I felt so ashamed after hearing about Rueibin Chen’s struggles. From thirteen to seventeen, I was rebellious and wasted my father’s hard-earned money. Chen, on the other hand, had to check his bank balance every day at the age of thirteen. He had to live so carefully in an unfamiliar country and waited six months for the money sent by his family to arrive. I simply cannot imagine the kind of loneliness and helplessness he must have felt. No wonder he performs with his life. No wonder his music can move three-year-old children. How can anyone not be touched by such a resilient piano genius? ■ ─ 45 ─
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Taiwan Z an!
— Courtesy of Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie
― Translated by Darren Wee
A Sparkling Diamond in Hollywood’s Jewellery World ─ 46 ─
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ne day while I was having lunch with my British colleague Darren Wee, I asked him: “I want to interview home-grown Taiwanese successful people. Who would you recommend I interview?” He thought for a few seconds and then said: “Why don’t you interview Anna Hu? She’s very popular in Hollywood at the moment!” A few days later while I was visiting my grandmother, I ran into my aunt and I asked her the same question and she said: “I think Anna Hu is a very remarkable young Taiwanese woman. She went to the same school as my daughter and I know her mother. If you decide you want to interview her, I can ask Anna’s mother.” That night when I returned home, I immediately Googled Anna Hu, and I discovered she really was very outstanding. Thereupon, through my aunt, I was lucky enough to interview Anna Hu and her mother separately.
Interview with Anna’s mother
Please talk a little about Anna Hu’s childhood.
She wanted to be the best from a young age. After learning piano at four, she had this desire to perform and liked applause. She went to music class, and she had to learn two instruments. I chose the cello for her, because it is played sitting down and the performer is upright and elegant; the cello has a rich sound, and she also liked it very much. From a young age, her expectations of herself were very high. When she wanted to show her progress, she always needed affirmation. I planned every second of her time; she didn’t even have time to watch television; she even ate meals in the car, and all her time was devoted to study. This road led her to outstanding achievements with the cello; she had to be first in her class. She entered the Tainan City music competition, and won first prize several years in a row. Once she skipped a grade and entered the junior high school section of a national competition; although she scored the same mark as her older schoolmate, there could only be one winner and in the end she was announced as the runner-up. She felt very wronged and hurt. After this, I thought it might be better for her if she went overseas to broaden her horizons, because no matter how good you are, there is always someone better. So, after she graduated from junior high school, I sent her to Boston to study in the ninth grade. Her father has a business in New York. But I felt New York was too busy; I liked Boston’s simpler British-style education, so I chose the renowned Walnut
Profile of interviewee
Anna Hu Profession: Contemporary New York-based jewellery designer/Founder and artistic director of the Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie brand Educational Background: New England Conservatory, BA in Cello Gemological Institute of America, jewellery design degree Parsons School of Design, MA in Art History Columbia University, MA in Art Administration Achievements: 2008 : E stablished Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie brand and flagship store in the Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue, New York 2009 :International Superstar Madonna wore Anna Hu “Edelweiss Cross Pendant” to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 2009 : Hollywood star Drew Barrymore wore Anna Hu’s The Princess Collection pearl necklace and earrings to Emmy Awards ceremony 2009 :Her works were sold at Christie’s in Dubai, and were featured on the cover of its catalogue, she became Christie’s youngest-ever contemporary jewellery designer 2009 :Talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey wore Anna Hu Spanish Sunflower earrings on the cover of O,The Oprah Winfrey magazine 2010 : Anna Hu was featured in The Wall Street Journal New York section, which described her as the “diamond district artisan” 2010 :Collaborated with fashion designer Jason Wu for a high-end fashion show in New York 2010 : Renowned contemporary photographer Cindy Sherman commissioned the design of the “Yin Yang Snake Bangle Ring” 2010 : Won "the China Institute’s Artistic Vision Award", she is the first jewellery designer and the youngest person to win the award. The New York Times features her in its fashion and style pages 2011 : H ollywood star Scarlett Johansson and two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank wore Anna Hu’s jewellery to the Academy Awards ceremony, rated the best jewellery by InStyle magazine 2011 : D esigned jewellery for the lead role in the Madonna-directed film“E.W.”and was invited to the premiere in Venice
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Hill School for the Arts in Boston. I think after she went overseas, her biggest influence was her guardian, Miss Tan Jialing. Miss Tan is highly educated, elegant and has culture and class. I must say, Miss Tan was a very good role model for Anna when she was in senior high school. Later, while she was at university, and with no way to become a cellist, after a change in our family circumstances, she moved to New York to study two masters: art history at Parsons and art administration at Columbia; and after years of hard work and perseverance, she has exceeded my expectations by receiving a little recognition in the jewellery design world.
Interview with Anna Hu
Please talk a little about your childhood.
I started to learn piano at four and cello at eight. When I was young, I had a typical musical childhood; my mother was very strict and I didn’t watch television or go out to play. I practised piano one and a half hours a day and cello two hours a day. If I didn’t finish my homework, I couldn’t go to sleep. Although I was a well-behaved child, I had character. I wouldn’t always agree with what my mother said and sometimes
answered back, but in the end I would do everything well. I was very real, had strong emotions, and had an opinion on everything. I liked to win. I was a competitive child, and as soon as I stepped on stage I felt excited and wanted to perform. When did you start to get interested in jewellery design?
From a young age, I have liked music and art. I have tried my hand at pottery, photography, watercolours and sculpture; I have taken every class related to art. Before my injury, I only thought of being a cellist. After my injury, I went to my first jewellery design class. After the class, I thought jewellery design really suited me. It was just like composing music - if it’s not well written you can discard it. I seek perfection in everything I do and only then do I feel content. That summer vacation, I took classes in jewellery design and jewellery setting. While other people read one book a week, I read one a day. I was enjoying myself too much to feel tired. I think everyone has a kind of voice inside them. When I do something, I must put 100 per cent into it. I always listen to the voice inside, and once I’ve made up my mind, I charge full steam ahead. I’m most afraid of regret.
— Photo taken by Doris Pan
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Please talk about the days when you had to give up the cello.
Actually, I haven’t completely given up the cello. I can still play, just not professionally; but I keep it as a hobby. I don’t think there are boundaries between music and art. Do you think you’re successful? What is the next step you’ll take?
If you define success from A to Z, I think I’m only at B. I’ve only just taken my first step, I’m not successful yet. For my next step, I hope I can make a jewellery brand that has an oriental aesthetic. I’m very hard on myself. When Monet was thirty, he certainly didn’t think he painted well. All artists think their work isn’t good enough, I hope I can be even better. To date, I have only finished one hundred pieces, and that took five years. I think this little bit of fame will inspire me to reach my ultimate goal of 999 pieces. I hope when I’m eighty, I will have completed all 999 pieces. I also hope to have a certain influence on history. Why is your jewellery getting so popular in Hollywood?
Courtesy of Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie
Which is your favourite Taiwanese city?
Word-of-mouth. Because I’m very natural, and also very professional, I don’t kiss ass or flatter. Female celebrities feel very comfortable around me. Although I studied classical music, I can design classical jewellery, and I can also design avant-garde. I started studying jewellery from ancient Egypt to Napoleon to contemporary. I’m very clear about every period. My design style is classical, romantic, aesthetic, dreamy and timeless. These words sum up my designs. I don’t copy or plagiarise; I’ve created my own style.
Tainan. It’s my hometown, and a very vibrant city, a wellpreserved beautiful old capital full of culture.
When you’re in New York, which Taiwanese food do you miss the most?
Finally, please give some suggestions to young students who want to become jewellery designers. Read more, listen more, study more. Don’t rush into it! Take one step at a time. Listen to your voice and find out what makes you special.
Rice cake, pork meat balls, spicy hot pot, fish ball soup, eel noodles and so on. What do you think is the best thing about Taiwan?
Culture. Taiwanese people are slowly but surely reaching new heights. In recent years, Taiwan has produced lots of great talent which now occupies a leading position in the world. Taiwan is especially strong in creative cultures. Jason Wu, what a formidable young man. Ang Lee is beyond great. Teresa Teng and Chyi Yu’s songs touch my heart.
If a foreigner came to Taiwan, what recommendations would you give them? First, go to the National Palace Museum, then go on a culinary journey of Taiwan; the restaurants in Taipei are great! Then you must go to see the alleys in Anping, Tainan. Tainan’s snacks are exceedingly good!
After interviewing both Anna Hu and her mother, I had a thought. With a mother as strict, serious and hardworking as Anna’s, along with her own work ethic, artistic gift, self-confidence and crystal clear objectives, how can Anna Hu not succeed? ■
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The Zhongxiao store of Du Hsiao Yueh in Taipei — Photo taken by Akie Ang
The Perfect Taste Created from 116 Years of Persistence
Tainan Du Hsiao Yueh Dan Zai Noodles ― Translated by Priya Lalwani Purswaney and Prabha Lalwani Jethwani
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t a press conference about Taiwanese local foods, I met the fourth generation of Tainan Du Hsiao Yueh Dan Zai noodles, Ms Hong Guei-lang. I went up to Ms Hong and told her that my ten- year-old niece’s request for her reward for being in the top three in her class was a trip to Tainan to taste authentic Du Hsiao Yueh’s Dan Zai noodles. I also mentioned my project Taiwan Zan! to her. She gladly agreed to the following interview that evening.
Please tell us about the origins of Du Hsiao Yueh.
Du Hsiao Yueh was started in 1895 by Hong Yu-tou, my great grandfather, who had come by boat from Zhangzhou in Fujian during the Qing dynasty. Like many other ordinary people, they depended on the ocean for survival. Taiwan has many typhoons between Tomb Sweeping Day and Mid-Autumn Festival, so it was often impossible to go out to sea during those months. In order to
The 5th generation of Du Hsiao Yueh
— Photo taken by Akie Ang
provide for the family, my ancestor had no choice but to sell noodles to live through that period. At the time, this period was known as Hsiao Yueh (small months) in Taiwan. During the big months, he would go out to sea, and during the small months, he would sell noodles. Dan Zai noodles is a refined dish, meant to be savoured, not to be filling. My great-grandfather would take his bamboo chair and sell noodles at the temple by the docks. In order to make it easier for customers to find him, he hung up a lantern that had the characters Du Hsiao Yueh on it. The unique soup base and tasty noodles made the business flourish. Therefore, starting from 1895, my great grandfather stopped going out to the sea to fish, and officially started his noodle business. The 4th generation of Du Hsiao Yueh, Ms Hong Guei-lang — Photo taken by Akie Ang
What does Du Hsiao Yueh mean to you?
Du Hsiao Yue is a witness to Taiwan’s history, and is also a
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Taiwan Z an!
The 1st generation of Du Hsiao Yueh
— Courtesy of Du Hsiao Yueh
The 3rd generation of Du Hsiao Yueh
— Courtesy of Du Hsiao Yueh
Dan Zai means the pole holding the cookers and food stalls.
richly memorable old noodle shop that has accompanied Taiwan through the years. One could say that Du Hsiao Yueh represents the heritage of Taiwan. My great-grandfather passed Du Hsiao Yueh to my grandfather, and he passed it on to my father. At the young age of thirteen, my father started learning the art of making noodles from his father, and continued making them until he was sixty-eight, after which he retired. My father passed on his art to his six children over a decade ago, and I am the eldest. The children of all six of us (i.e. the fifth generation of Du Hsiao Yueh) will also continue the mission set by our great-grandfather, which is “Insist on serving customers a bowl of perfect Dan Zai noodles”. What is “perfect Dan Zai noodles” to you?
The basic element of Dan Zai noodles is the tasty combination of carefully selected lean pork hind thigh, fresh shrimps, garlic paste, vinegar, and cilantro. During my management of the business, I have realised the persistence of my predecessors towards our soup base. Du Hsiao Yueh shrimp soup base has not had any changes in the raw materials used; in spite of the changing times, we have not switched to any unhealthy chemical alternatives. Safe guarding the health of our customers is our
duty and responsibility. I still remember one day when I was still a kid, my father came back home with a black eye. My mother asked him what happened. He replied, “A drunken customer kept asking me to give him more soup. After I refused him a few times, he just picked up a chair and swung it at me.” My mother asked him, “Why didn't you just give him some more soup? Isn’t it just a bowl of soup?” My father passionately replied, “I have the responsibility to serve the customer a bowl of authentic Tainan Du Hsiao Yueh Dan Zai noodles. If I add more soup, it will destroy the perfect taste that has been passed down over all these years.” I never understood what he meant by duty and responsibility to the customer, until one day some years ago. I saw two taxis park outside our Tainan main shop, and a family pushed a frail old person on a wheelchair into our shop. The old man’s son said they had chartered a plane from Taipei, because his father wanted to come back to his home town and eat the Du Hsiao Yueh Dan Zai noodles that he missed. How do you know that the Dan Zai noodles that you make are as perfect as those made by your father and ancestors?
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It was over a decade ago when I started learning to make noodles from my father, and occasionally he would have to go out of the shop. If any of the regular customers realised that he was not in, they would first ask when he would return, and then they would just leave. They were not at all willing to taste the noodles that I made. One day, I begged one of our most picky loyal customers to give me a chance, and taste my noodles. I knew that if he could accept what I had cooked, then no one else would have any problem with it. So I continued to prepare free noodles for him, until one day he finally nodded and said they tasted good. Have you ever tried to count how many bowls it took for you to pass?
Too many! I don’t remember. Apart from the different era, décor and owner, what do you think is the biggest difference between the Du Hsiao Yueh of your great-grandfather’s time a century ago and of today?
No matter how the times change, Du Hsiao Yueh’s flavour and ideal – insistence on perfection – will never change. The only difference is that the clientele of Du Hsiao Yueh has now become international. We often receive invitations to participate in various exhibitions all over the world. In fact, even The Wall Street Journal has written about Du Hsiao Yueh . The signature dish of Du Hsiao Yueh – Tainan Dan Zai noodles – has already overcome the boundaries of time, nationality and race. I cannot speak for our other dishes, but I can guarantee, wherever a customer is from, once he or she eats a bowl of our Du Hsiao Yueh Dan Zai noodles, there will definitely be a smile of satisfaction on his or her face. One hundred sixteen years ago, my great-grandfather’s customers sometimes had to stand in line at the docks in order to get the noodles, and even when it was their turn, they could only buy a maximum of two bowls. And after one hundred and sixteen years, when Du Hsiao Yueh participated in an expo in Macau, some customers waited in a queue for five hours, just for a small taste of Taiwan’s Du Hsiao Yueh Dan Zai noodles.
It was very cold the evening of my interview with Ms Hong, so after I finished the bowl of perfect Dan Zai noodles that she
A group of tourists entering the Zhongxiao branch of Du Hsiao Yueh in Taipei — Photo taken by Akie Ang
treated me to, I really felt like having another bowl of hot soup to warm myself up. However, I was afraid that this action might be a sign of disrespect to Du Hsiao Yueh’s 116 years of persistence, so I decided against it. As I was leaving the Du Hsiao Yueh shop, located in a lane off Taipei’s Zhong Xiao East Road, and I turned my head to look back at the restaurant, I seemed to see a face with a black eye, saying to me, “I have the responsibility to serve you a bowl of perfect Tainan Dan Zai noodles!”. To me, the success of Du Hsiao Yueh comes not just from that unforgettable delicious taste. Perhaps it is the 116 years of persistence towards the quality of their products that is the key to Du Hsiao Yueh’s success. ■
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Taiwan Z an!
The happy Sao Tomian children — Provided by Santiago Huang
When Taiwan’s Compassion Meets Africa’s Passion
― Translated by Grace Soong
n April this year, I was invited by Taipei Medical University (TMU) to attend a forum and discovered that TMU, entrusted by the Taiwan International Co-operation and Development Fund (ICDF ), has been sending medical mission teams to the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe (this will be abbreviated as São Tomé hereafter,) since January 2009. I had never heard of São Tomé before. After the team leader Dr Chang Yu-tai’s short but genuine briefing about how the medical mission team had contributed to the relationship between Taiwan and São Tomé, I had the urge to understand more in depth, so I decided to interview two of TMU’s medical mission team members who had held different roles. Through a friend, I was introduced to Hung Yun-fei, a nurse
practitioner from Taipei Medical University Shuang Ho Hospital , who had served for a year in São Tomé, and Santiago Huang, who had spent two years in São Tomé and is now positioned back at TMU.
When did you go to São Tomé? Under what circumstances did you decide to go?
Hung: I left for São Tomé last January and only returned to Taiwan earlier this year; I was there for a year. I had known about the medical mission team for many years and always wanted to go. While working for Wang-Fan Hospital, I was informed that TMU emphasises international medicine and
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frequently sends medical staff overseas, but only senior staff could go. I waited until I became qualified and successfully applied. Huang: I had done one year of military service in São Tomé, and had the opportunity to go again because I can speak Portuguese. What did you think São Tomé was like before going there?
Hung: I had no prior knowledge of the country, and could hardly find any information about it on the internet either. Limited information could only be found on the blogs of some young men who went to São Tomé for their military service. Can you describe São Tomé?
Hung: It is a very friendly country with a population of about 170,000, and is about the size of Changhua County in Taiwan. It is very comfortable to live in, with only two seasons, the dry and the wet. It is very hot in the daytime and cool at night, suitable for strolling and star-gazing, similar to the northern coast of Taiwan, I’d say. Huang: São Tomé was colonised by Portugal until the 1960s, so most of the population can speak Portuguese and French. They also have their own dialects. Few speak English. How do most São Tomians live?
Hung: Most São Tomians fish. In addition to seafood, they also eat lots of coconuts, breadfruit and bananas. They usually sell what they grow or catch at markets. The fish are always fresh and big.
Huang: Electricity is a luxury that only rich people can afford. Most people cook their food with kerosene stoves and use candles for lighting purposes, and there are no fans. There is no television. Children either wear ragged clothing or they wear nothing; not even shoes. They live in stilt houses, and there are lots of deserted villages. Children eat dirt when they have nothing to eat. Many people fetch water from far away on a daily basis. Please describe what São Tomians are like.
Huang: They are very friendly; poor, but very friendly, especially to Taiwanese people, which I think is out of gratitude for us working with them there. True, it could be because we are wealthier, but I believe we are regarded differently to a lot of foreigners in São Tomé who just thrust money at the locals and look down on them. Taiwanese people and the São Tomians enjoy a more friendly relationship. Do you think the São Tomians are happy?
Hung: They are so much happier than Taiwanese people, because they are content and live in the moment. I heard from a psychiatrist that they have met quite a few neurotics, but never a patient with depression. What kind of food did you and the team members of the medical mission team normally have?
Hung: We made congee for breakfast (São Tomé has imported rice, although not of high quality), or ate bread with imported longlasting milk. Lunch was prepared by the locals, they did not use
Hung Yun-fei, first (left), with two young patients, their parents, and Hsu Yu-hsuan, (right), wife of medical team leader Dr Chang Yu-tai — Photo provided by Hung Yun-fei
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Taiwan Z an!
many vegetables, but were good at making a kind of hodgepodge risotto, which was quite tasty. Please describe your days and work routine in São Tomé.
Hung: The clinic was not close to our dorms. As nurse practitioners, not only did we have to manage nursing-related work, but also administrative work. We would help out at the clinic for three days every week, teaching them what kind of medical equipment to purchase. Their knowledge of nursing was quite limited, they could not afford to travel abroad for updated medical knowledge and did not know what others in the medical field were doing, so we would teach them how to practise nursing. Physicians would start the clinics at eight in the morning and take off at 5 p.m. Usually, few patients came after two p.m., because the clinic was not close to the villages either. Of course, there would always be someone on duty in the emergency room. Huang: Those who were poor could not even afford to see a doctor. The locals only earn about NT$550 (less than US$20) per month, and the transportation to the hospital alone would cost about half of that. Although registration and emergency services were free, they had to pay for other examination expenses, e.g. blood tests and X-rays , which would be a big portion of their earnings. Hung: We opened a free clinic at our hospital where, unless X-rays were taken or an operation needed, patients could enjoy all services for free. Also, when we were on medical tours, we would even prescribe free medicines.
Did you not watch TV there?
Huang: We had our own satellite TV, which had news channels such as CNN and China’s CCTV. If we wanted to know about Taiwanese news, however, we had to find out from news stations of China. The internet connection was really slow there. What were the biggest frustrations you encountered there?
Hung: Before going to São Tomé, I had never needed to participate in any planning or execution of decisions, because nurses’ responsibilities were very straightforward. In São Tomé; however, nurses were responsible for the planning and execution of all activities. For example setting up schedules, preparing the medicine, estimating how big the patient crowd would be, what items should be prepared and for whom... As soon as the team leader voiced his ideas, we had to carry them out immediately. It was stressful-we had to explore and work out how things should work by ourselves. Back in Taiwan, one phone call would solve all the problems and questions. Huang: The São Tomians do not face much pressure in life, but I was very nervous and felt great pressure for the first half of the year when I was there. After gradually completing various missions, my confidence grew and I was no longer as nervous. We who had served in the military had to listen to our superiors and also had to translate, manage the customs and engineering work and so on. Being required to do everything was actually pretty stressful. How did you relieve stress?
How did you spend your weekends in São Tomé?
Hung: We ate, and went swimming and boating, and would spend holidays on islands, etc.
Hung: I would stroll along the beach in the middle of the night, ride a bike or participate in other recreational activities. Huang: I would go mountain climbing or swimming at the weekends. In addition to medical support, has Taiwan provided São Tomé with other kinds of support?
Santiago Huang explaining the usage of Taiwan’s 3C products to the Sao Tomians — Photo provided by Santiago Huang
Huang: Taiwan has long been sending agricultural technical mission teams to São Tomé, and has provided the nation with a number of scholarships, there are currently more than thirty São Tomian students studying in Taiwan. Few locals there go to college, except for the children of government officials, who are sent to Brazil, Cuba, Italy or England. I think it's very unlikely most students who have studied in Taiwan will return to São Tomé. To help this nation from the roots, students should be required to sign a contract agreeing to return and
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The São Tomian sea
serve in their country, otherwise the education level there will not rise. What kind of people are suitable for the São Tomé medical missions team?
Hung: Those who are willing to learn, who want to help the poor, and who can think independently are more suitable for the team. I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with our team leader, Dr Chang Yu-tai, from whom I learned a lot. He had a genuine yearning to help the locals, rather than vacationing with Taiwanese tax money, using the Taiwan medical team’s name, doing superficial work only, or simply doing whatever the government officials wanted to see and hear about. He would drive into the Coffee Mountains, discover which places and people desperately needed help and decide what we could do to improve the situation. He set a very good example for the team members. Lastly, please share your reflections regarding the São Tomé trip.
Hung: Every São Tomian I met was friendly. If you were to ask me whether or not I would like to go back, I would say yes. The São Tomians were like my friends; my interactions with them made me think this country is worth helping. They are keen to be educated; if you are willing to teach, they are willing to learn. However, I don't think Taiwan needs to keep providing the country with medical equipment. After seeing how they lack education, and without us being there, the equipment would just be put away and not used. Those who do the budgeting in Taiwan may not know the situation because they
— Photo provided by Hung Yun-fei
probably have never been there; if they witnessed the actual situation, they would know how to help in more substantial terms. I always say to my colleagues: “You should visit São Tomé if you have the time and money, you will have some unexpected experiences.” Huang: With regard to diplomacy, I think Taiwan has left a very good impression and image on São Tomé, for we have truly brought love into Africa. We do not simply give money; instead, we help them solve problems on a daily basis. We have built power plants and helped them with electricity problems; the NGOs there as well as the United Nations all know about Taiwan’s contribution. In terms of humanity, I think the São Tomians are genuinely happy, sincere and worry-free. For example, I lent a few workers quite a bit of money. Some wanted to return the money, but I did not take it, and for this, they called me their great friend and took me to their churches, treating me like a family member. The feedback I received was genuine, and it was a revealing experience. In comparison, people in Taiwan are not as spiritual. I feel lucky to have been able to help such a country that is joyful despite suffering poverty. People there taught me a different view towards life. Actually, instead of claiming I helped them, I should say they helped me even more.
While writing up the interview about Hong and Huang’s African trip, not only can I see the passion in Africa, I can also see the kindness and generosity of Taiwan again. Can you see it? ■
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Taiwan Z an!
A very old photo of my grandparents (taken 60 years ago)
— Photo provided by Lo Yuan-chyuan
Too Late to Interview —Translated by Evie Chen
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ver since my father passed away unexpectedly sixteen years ago, I have been living with endless regrets. I often pray to dream about him and wish I had a chance to tell him how much I miss him and love him. I wish I could take him out for a nice meal or a cup of tea, or just have a nice chat with him. My father came from a poor family in the northeast of China without receiving much education. He joined the army when he was sixteen and came to Taiwan as a refugee in his late thirties. I never knew how well-respected he was back home until I visited his home town four years ago, saw his name on a relative’s tomb and discovered that a relative had been using my father’s name all his life. Only recently have I found out that a neighbour has been visiting my mother in his wheelchair during the Chinese New Year ever since my father passed away. He has been giving my mother money and asking her to buy ghost money (money for the dead) and burn it to show his gratitude towards my father. A few years ago, I was devastated when I lost my grandfather (my mother’s father) who was gentle and kind. At the funeral, I discovered that my grandfather had lost his father when he was eight years old and had to quit school and work to be the financial provider for his mother and five other siblings. He joined a
big private Taiwanese company, worked his way up from the ground level and became the head of the biggest department before retiring. My grandfather and father were similar types of people who were caring, giving, intelligent and diligent. They always tried their best to achieve their goals in life to look after their families. I believe their life stories must be interesting and inspiring, and I regret not getting to know them better and interviewing them before it was too late. For a long time, I spent all my time working and socialising with friends without paying much attention to my family. When I finally met all my cousins in Taiwan for the first time at my grandfather’s funeral, and saw that my grandmother’s hair had turned grey, I started to realise the importance of family. In order not to have more regrets in life, I moved back to Taiwan, for my mother, four years ago. Since then, I started visiting my grandmother regularly. Talking to her, taking her out for a nice meal or simply just watching TV with her has made me feel contented and my life more meaningful. When I decided to write this book over a year ago, my plan was to conduct the last interview with my grandmother because her typical Hakka values and philosophy inspire me very deeply. Not only was she hard-working, thrifty, kind and positive, she
My parents’ engagement photo (taken in 1965)
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Taiwan Z an!
was also the most physically flexible person I have ever seen; she could bend down and put both hands flat on the ground without bending her knees. She was the healthiest, happiest and busiest eighty-three-year old I knew. Nine months ago, I had lunch with her. I hugged her tightly and listened to her saying in Taiwanese, “Why is my life so beautiful? Every one of my children and grandchildren treats me so well!” One month after that lunch, I did not expect that my pending interview with her would become an impossible dream. She had a stroke and can no longer talk or walk. I have therefore invited my two uncles to talk about her by email. She is an extremely ordinary old lady, but at the same time, an extraordinary one.
leaving Taiwan to study at Yale University, my mother discovered she had stomach cancer, which required an immediate operation. She did not want me to worry, so she did not tell anyone. When my wife and her mother went to hospital for a check-up, they inadvertently ran into my father there, which was how I only discovered in America that my mother had had two -thirds of her stomach removed. Youngest Uncle: I have always known since childhood that my mother is someone who bears hardship without complaints. She cherished each job opportunity as a means to earn money, because she needed to help my father support their six children. She did a lot of heavy manual work that mostly men would do, such as surfacing asphalt roads or moving building materials around construction sites. Later on, she worked in Hualien carving Chinese The Interview characters onto decorative Please describe your wooden swords and knives, understanding of your which were then sold as a mother and her greatness. popular item to Japan. She Oldest Uncle: When my couldn’t read or write so she mother was a child in the didn’t know what the charac1930s, her birth parents gave ters meant, but she studied her away to another family to them in her own time and become a child bride. Her became a master craftsadopted mother forced her to woman. Her colleagues often do a lot of housework and laughed at her and bullied An old photo of my grandparents, my uncles and aunt often abused her. The legal her for the fact she was not — Photo provided by Lo Yuan-fa term for this today is ‘domestic literate, but my mother always violence’ and her adopted mother could be sent to prison nowrose above it and gave it little regard. adays. My mother could not stand this abuse, but although she In time she didn’t need to provide so much for the family tried to run away several times, she was always caught and and she took on a recycling job as a way of getting some taken back. Before her stroke, she still looked frightened when physical exercise without being too concerned about the pay. talking about the punishment after each escape. On the last She was also a voluntary worker for the Eden Foundation for (successful) escape, she went on a long, arduous journey back the Incapacitated for more than ten years. She was accusto her parents in Hualien. tomed to working hard. When I asked her why she was The thing I most respect about my mother is that she does always so busy and didn’t want to stop, her answer was that not harbour any ill feelings towards her adopted mother or her she always wanted to be doing something and could never birth parents, even though her adopted mother abused her and contemplate days without activity of some sort. From my her birth parents abandoned her. After she married my father mother I learnt tolerance and humility as well as the ability and I was born, one day she even took me to visit her adopted to behave, forgive others and have compassion in my dealings mother. I never once heard her complain about anyone. My with them. favourite outings as a child were cycling to visit my grandparAfterthought ents. As soon as I heard the news of my grandmother’s stroke, I had There is another reason why I feel she is a great mother. my doubts about whether there is any sort of justice in this world. When I received a PhD scholarship and just a few days before ─ 60 ─
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My Grandmother - Ms. Tseng Yi-mei — Photo provided by Lo Yuan-fa
At first, I could not understand why someone as simple and kind as she is had to suffer so much. But when I witnessed my aunt (her daughter) and my eldest uncle (her first son) taking turns to take time off from work in Brazil and America and flying back to Taiwan to look after their mother (they had recently come back to Taiwan to visit their mother and took her on a trip around Taiwan two weeks before her stroke), when I saw all the family members coming to the intensive care unit to give my grandmother blessing and support, when I heard that my grandmother’s neighbours and her colleagues from the Eden Foundation for the Incapacitated were visiting her regularly and two masters from Fo Guan Shan had come to pray for her, all of this made me think perhaps the Bodhisattva that she was praying to for many years felt she had worked too hard all her life and the stroke was the only way to get her to rest for a while. With all the love and blessings around her, my grandmother came out of the coma very quickly and learned how to frown, smile and sit up again. When I fed her ice cream (the only thing she could eat without choking), and saw her using her mouth to eat and swallow for the first time in months without using a tube, I laughed with tears and joy. This hit me very powerfully and made me finally realise what my own mother had gone through looking after five children for so many years. I also came to see the greatness of all mothers in the world. Through taking care of my grandmother for a month, I finally see this obvious truth now.
As I am writing my last article for this book, approaching my 48th birthday, I now know I was an extremely selfish teenager and did not understand how hard it was for my father to raise five children. I hope he will forgive my foolishness. For many years, I had the bad habit of calling others idiots. Whilst writing this article, I have discovered that, in fact, the biggest idiot in the world has always been ME! Here and now, I would like to offer my deepest gratitude to my mother who gave birth to me and raised me. I also want to thank my grandmother who brought up my mother. I need to thank Dr Lin Yen-nung and the physiotherapy staff of the Recovery Department as well as Dr Lin Yi-chen and Dr Lin Yu-shu of the Neurology Department of Wanfang Hospital. Thanks to Ms Wu Hsiu-mei, Yati and Ms Tsai Ai-chu who gave continuous care to my grandmother, and my thanks also go to my grandmother’s neighbours and the young, loving and kind staff of the Eden Foundation for the Incapacitated, Venerable Miao-duo, Venerable Miao-yuan, Venerable Miao-wei, Venerable Miao-chien and Venerable Chue-nien of Fo Guan Shan, and Venerable Shou-chih of Amida Temple. All your blessings and prayers have given my grandmother hope for life again. She is now working very hard on the road to recovery. I believe that in the near future, she will once again be able to taste the delicious food of Taiwan. I also hope she will be able to walk and talk again and re-experience the joy of living in Taiwan. ■
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Fans of Taiwan from 18 Countries across 5 Continents ─ 63 ─
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Lai Ching-te Hometown: Tainan City, Taiwan Profession: Tainan City Mayor Current Residence: Tainan City, Taiwan
aiwan is also known as “Formosa,” meaning “beautiful” which shows how much foreigners appreciate the beauty of Taiwan. The island is shaped like a long sweet potato, and the Tropic of Cancer cuts across the southern and central regions. This is the reason Taiwan has a variety of climatic zones—tropical, subtropical, temperate, and alpine—and hence is home to rich natural resources and a diverse cultural landscape. Geographically, Taiwan is located in the central region of the East Asian island arc, an important hub for Asia-Pacific economic and trade transportation. The easily accessible land, air, and sea transport make it a very convenient tourist destination. A diverse and colorful culture climate has formed on the island due to the colonization by Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Taiwan also embodies a fusion of Minnan, Hakka, and aboriginal cultural spirit. I have deep roots in Tainan, and I am committed to promoting Taiwan, to championing the spirit of Taiwanese culture in the international arena. Building up Greater Tainan, creating a Kyoto in Taiwan, and then internationally presenting Tainan as Taiwan’s cultural capital is my biggest vision. I hope you can join me and contribute your utmost to my favorite city in Taiwan, Tainan. I have spent more than a year visiting different parts of greater Tainan, moving along the winding mountain road of Dadong Mountain, overlooking the rolling hills, and enjoying the sunset at the salt fields of Cigu. I have gazed at Anping from a cruise boat and had a panoramic view of Tainan. I have admired the charm of old houses being reborn, the Nanying Longchi bamboo harvesting culture, and the creative Qie-zhi grass weaving art of Houbi, while enjoying the rich Dongshan coffee, the sweet Yujing mango, and the Guanmiao pineapple. I have felt the joy of the people of Madou and Guantian as they harvest water chestnuts and pomelos, listened to eagerness of Gueiren residents as they hold the custard apple festival, and experienced the Siraya tribe’s commitment to passing down their culture to descendants during the aboriginal heritage night festival. Such magnificent mountain and ocean scenery and the simple, hard-working people are Tainan’s greatest assets. Taiwan is a good place of great earth and outstanding people. In addition to a long cultural history and rich food traditions, Taiwan has also given birth to much talent, in various fields, that has often shone on the international stage: Taiwan’s first successful US major league baseball player, Chen Chin-feng; Wang Chien-ming, often called "Pride of Taiwan"; the International Film Festival award-winning and internationally acclaimed director, Ang Lee; and the vegetable vendor Ms. Chen Shu-chu, named by Forbes Asia magazine as one of the fortyeight most prominent altruists of Asia-Pacific region. Taiwanese creativity and inventions have won several awards at the International Exhibition of Inventions. The pride of Taiwan lies not in a political, social, or economic boom but rather in the hard work and diligence of the people in their own areas of expertise, or in their silent contribution to society. This is the irreplaceable pride of Taiwan! ■ — Translated by Priya Lalwani Purswaney
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Photo taken by LAURENT BOISSIN and LOU BOISSIN
y twin brother, Peter, and I were six years old when we discovered two small electric cars, one red and one blue, under the Christmas tree. The red was for Peter, the blue was for me, but what impressed us the most were the three words written on the bottom of both our little cars: “Made in Taiwan.” Our father then traced a world map on a sheet of paper, added a little bread crumb at the south east of China, and said to us, “This is where your electric cars came from – Taiwan!” I was amazed by what my father said, thinking: “How come such a little bread crumb could produce so many electric cars?” Many years later, when I visited Taiwan for the first time, a friend explained to me that the manufacturers of the small electric cars had been relocated to China. The old factories are now used as workshops for artists, which was good news for me, as I had come to Taiwan to meet some young artists who could not read and write. Using white pencils and sheets of black paper, I asked a few Taiwanese children to draw themselves. These drawings are a part of my world project, which has involved children from over forty countries on five continents. In Taipei, I enjoyed watching the Chinese characters slipping into the middle of some self-portraits of the children. When I left Taiwan, I did not bring back small electric cars in my bag as I had originally planned, but rather a bunch of drawings that were “made in Taiwan,” which the Taiwanese children drew right under my eyes. When I returned to France, I showed all the drawings to my
Name: Gilles Porte Hometown: Paris, France Profession: Film Maker, Photographer, Scenarist, Director of Photography and Traveler Current Residence: Paris, France
daughter, Syrine, who asked me tons of questions about this tiny island: “What are the Taiwanese people like?” “What do they eat?” “Where will I sleep?” “What time is it there when it is noon in France?” “Why is it so far?” and so on. I answered, “The people in Taiwan smile a lot; they are kind. They welcomed me with great generosity.” I also told her that many Taiwanese people asked me why I had not taken my nine-year-old daughter to Taiwan with me. Taiwanese culture is mixed with modernity and tradition. In Taiwan, when I walked through little alleys, discovering the latest super-modern inventions that don’t even exist in France, I felt like I was traveling in another century. Concerning food, my guides have made me taste incredible things that were sometimes sweet, sometimes salty, sometimes both…things I had never tried anywhere else, and that I really enjoyed! But what touched me the most was the incredible abundance of bright colors at every corner, as if we were walking into an impressionist painting! When Syrine and I looked out the window of our apartment in Paris, the sky was gray ; everything was monochrome. Syrine said, “Daddy, next time when you go to Taiwan, can you promise me that you will take me with you?” I could sense her desire to visit Taiwan by the way she looked into my eyes. I promised her that I would, and I am sure she will sneak into my suitcase then. “I will be covered by bright colors when I get to Taiwan, Daddy!” said Syrine with excitement. ■
— Translated by Caroline Mauran
─ 65 ─
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Taiwan Z an!
any foreign friends know of Taiwan because of the Hsinchu Science Park – the technological pioneer that yields an annual production value of over NT$10 trillion(over US$33 billion). The Park has long supported Taiwan’s technological development and economic achievement. I grew up in Hsinchu, a city where technology and humanities reach a perfect balance: not only does Hsinchu boast of its Science Park, it also prides itself on producing the first high-ranking government official to hail from Taiwan. During leisure time, one has the option of wandering into cultural heritages to appreciate Taiwan’s history, or biking around the seventeen-kilometer coastline of the West Pacific Ocean to enjoy the ocean breeze. Flower-lovers will be thrilled to know that azaleas are often in full bloom along the shaded paths on the Eighteen Peaks Mountain; those who are ready for some coffee can stroll to Green Grass Lake for some relaxing reminiscences of Taiwan in the olden days. All of Hsinchu is anxiously waiting for your visit! Besides the natural beauties in Hsinchu, I have been contemplating the possibility of making certain additions to this city. One plan was recently realized: the Taiwan Pavilion, first exhibited at the Expo 2010 Shanghai, will soon open in Hsinchu. This building, an architectural gem that demonstrates a variety of world views, will make Hsinchu City the new international hub in Taiwan. Let us welcome the day when Hsinchu City becomes Taiwan’s window to the world. ■
Name: Hsu Ming-tsai Hometown: Hsinchu City, Taiwan Profession: Mayor of Hsinchu City Current Residence: Hsinchu City, Taiwan
— Translated by Grace Soong
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Name: Aaron Deveson Hometown: Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, UK Profession: Assistant Professor in the Department of English at National Taiwan Normal University Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
ost “foreigners” come to Taiwan for the promise of work, of learning Chinese, or of adventure, erotic or otherwise. I came here because I had already met the Taiwanese woman who is now my wife. She knew enough about her culture and mine to know that, even though I would never be able to acquire full Taiwanese identity without renouncing my British nationality, my chances of happiness in work and daily life here would be much greater than hers in Britain. Perhaps as a result of its history of marginalisation and multiple colonisation, Taiwan is an island that welcomes outsiders on the (often mistaken) self-deprecating assumption that those outsiders must have things to teach the Taiwanese. As a teacher of English literature at a national university in this still deeply Confucian society, I experience a level of respect and freedom from bureaucratic intervention which would simply not be available to me in Britain or other western countries. The particular manner in which I have “married to” Taiwan has given me a rooted sense of identification with the island that I might otherwise lack. My wife and I live just six storeys above her parents, with whom we regularly eat and talk over the incidents of the society and, above all, that family – a family that, in its extended forms, can be seen, as many Taiwanese families can be, as a microcosm of Taiwan’s great diversity and tolerance. I wonder how many societies there are in the world where the members of one religion can participate in the funeral rituals of another religion without unease being felt by anyone, as is the case here. Being a trusted member of
the family has made me feel like an insider to the extraordinary story of Taiwan’s accelerated development, which has led to the increasingly common spectacle of grandparents who can neither write Chinese nor speak Mandarin eating at the same table as a younger relative educated partly in the west. It has also given me some insight, I think, into the post-war political factionalisms that can somehow simultaneously exist and not exist when the common bond of family and sometimes professional imperatives are involved. Taiwan might, I believe, offer the world an alternative model of conflict resolution based on shared future objectives and a certain quiet forgetting. I have been very struck in the three years that I have lived in Taiwan by the extent to which the extended or nuclear family as the unit of identity is strengthened by being replicated in other parts of people's lives here. One can observe brotherly and sisterly, parental and materteral (maternal aunt-like) relations operating in restaurants, offices, hair-salons and motorcycle repair shops all over the island. Taiwan will need these systems of support – the kind mutual teasing, the sense in which one never has anything to prove to these people– if it is to cope with the challenges already facing it: a perilously dropping birth-rate, the apparently never-ending competition for institutional places, the career structures that can divide families by geography and a gulf of expectation, and more besides. I shall watch with great interest – and almost certainly admiration – as this most adaptable of peoples responds to the encroaching future. I have never for a single moment regretted making Taiwan one of my two homes. ■ ─ 67 ─
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Wu Chih-yang Hometown: Taoyuan County, Taiwan Profession: Taoyuan County Mayor Current Residence: Taoyuan County, Taiwan
aiwan is famous for its passionate hospitality and geniality; annually, it attracts millions of international tourists to experience the beauty of this island. When one arrives in Taiwan, Taoyuan County is the first stop that welcomes all our foreign friends wholeheartedly. This beautiful, warm place, my most beloved Taoyuan County, is my hometown. Due to its critical location in northern Taiwan, Taoyuan County serves an important role as a gateway to the world. Taoyuan is the transportation hub for northeastern and southeastern air routes. Also, it is the entrance to Taiwan and starting point from Taiwan to everywhere else in the world. The diverse cultures of thirteen townships in Taoyuan make it the epitome of Taiwan. Historically, Taoyuan was the hometown of former leaders – Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo. Geographically, it has unique scenery and beautiful mountain landscape along the Northern Cross–island Highway. Culturally, you can experience the passionate aboriginal Atayal tribe and the frugal Hakka tradition. Tourism-wise, the various delicious local cuisines, alluring herbal flower farms, splendid family house communities, and fresh seafood straight from the harbor all enrich the lives and cultures of Taoyuan. Various events and festivals are held, according to different themes and seasons throughout the year. Every tourism spot entices the tourists to linger for more. All these features merge to create the unique characteristics of Taoyuan. At the same time, Taoyuan County is equally famous for its agriculture industry, as it is the largest flower provider in Taiwan. Also, it is home to many prosperous business and industrial communities. Moreover, the thousands of ponds within the county give it a well-known reputation. Even better, the well-developed traffic network that connects tourism spots helps the tourists enjoy the amazing Taoyuan County more easily. I would sincerely invite everyone to visit Taoyuan County and enjoy its beauty. Enjoy the beautiful scenery of this natural Arcadia. At the same time, I wish all my friends who visit this lovable peaceful county to have a pleasant journey. Welcome to Taoyuan! ■
— Translated by Yeh Yun-kai
─ 68 ─
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Name: Graham Pickering Hometown: Cairns, Australia Profession: Educationalist Current Residence: Taoyuan, Taiwan
here is much that makes Taiwan outwardly appealing, but a quality that particularly attracts me is Taiwan’s seemingly innate ability to transform. Taiwan has transformed everyone who has shared the destiny of living here, and as if by some immutable law of reciprocity, as Taiwan is changing us, we too, are changing it. Perhaps it is the independent spirit that island-life demands, or perhaps it is contact with the melting pot of Hokkien, Hakka, mainland and indigenous cultures, but Taiwan leaves no one unchanged. It hybridises us, and invites us to form multiple identities. We are at once, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, colleagues, neighbours, local residents and global citizens. In the same moment, we are all insiders as well as outsiders. From the outside looking in, we are witnesses to, as well as protagonists of immense social, economic and political changes. We share optimism for the future, a remarkable tolerance of others, a generosity of spirit as well as a common aspiration that each generation will be successively better than the last. From the inside looking out, we acknowledge the need for self-reliance and we feel a calm pride for all that Taiwan has accomplished so far. And, despite our geography, we are not insular. We do not spend our time and energy building fortresses. Rather, we reach out, we invite in, and often, we lead by example. We have our faults, granted but we don’t
seek to cover them up. We challenge them, overcome them and learn from them, and in the process we earn the respect of others. As the island changes us, so too, do we transform it. Our rugged interior, mountain chains, verdant valleys, gorges and coastline provide a backward glimpse of how the island must have looked to the indigenous traditional owners, and to the first wave of migrants coming from China. The agricultural base for which Taiwan is justly famous is still prevalent but in many places Taiwan’s entrepreneurial industrial parks have supplanted the rice fields. As cities have expanded, more farmland and older factories have given away to better planned suburbs and residential communities. Cities have become increasingly sophisticated, cosmopolitan and convenient. As in many developed countries, damage to our environment committed in the name of earlier progress is being ameliorated as people rediscover the wonders that Taiwan’s bounteous nature has to offer. The island is changing and as long as we show it the respect it is due, we can be increasingly optimistic about its future and the quality of life it can offer us. This for me is Taiwan; a touchstone that both transforms us and is transformed by us. And, although this transformative process is by no means predictable, it is always dynamic, exciting and alluring. It is for this reason that I have chosen to make Taiwan my home. ■ ─ 69 ─
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Taiwan Z an!
aipei City has always been the first choice of foreign visitors to Taiwan. Not only does the city have a convenient and comprehensive transportation network, but more importantly, it has warm and friendly citizens, as well as world-renowned technology and cultural creativity. People never get tired of the rich and diverse nature of Taipei City. Moreover, with the hosting of international events like the 2009 Taipei Deaf lympics, the Taipei Pavilion of the Expo 2010 Shanghai, 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo, and the 2011 Taipei World Design Expo, the city continues to show its strength and boundless potential to the world. I was born and raised in Taipei. I studied, got married, had children, and became a public servant here to be of service to the people. This is my beloved hometown and my favorite city. Although Taipei seems busy and hurried on the surface, the people here and their intrinsic culture are just like the voice of the late singer Teresa Teng, very gentle and mellow. In the tidy new MRT stations, passengers wait quietly in line for the train. Late at night on Dunhua South Road, the twenty-four-hour Eslite Bookstore is always there to share a scholarly sleepless night with you. In the city’s northern area are mist-shrouded mountains and hot springs. In the south, there are f lourishing gatherings of intellectuals in independent bookstores; in the east, there is the dazzling, bustling international business district, which includes Taipei 101. In the west are Monga and Dadaocheng. Every brick represents a piece of nostalgic history of Taipei’s development. Taipei may be small – perhaps Taiwan is small – but the gentle, sincere people of this island have together created a small and beautiful world. I would like to welcome you to visit Taiwan in person and experience the hospitality of our citizens. Have a cup of Maokong tea and enjoy a bowl of beef noodles that is brimming with history. Venture into the streets of the city and see all the smiles of our citizens, as you experience the diversity and charm of this role model city for the Chinese. ■
— Courtesy of the Dept. of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government
Name: Hau Lung-bin Hometown: Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Taipei City Mayor Current Residence: Taipei City, Taiwan
— Translated by Priya Lalwani Purswaney ─ 70 ─
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feel like I grew up in Taiwan, although I was already thirty when I moved here. I fell in love, got married, gave birth, got divorced, bought and sold apartments. I’ve always lived in Taipei, I’ve rarely left the city. I know it like the back of my hand, better than a taxi driver…and I learnt to drive here. In twenty plus years the whole citiscape has literally changed. But I know and love this city…I can take you anywhere…you want mochi with peanut powder and tea in a white china cup? I’ll take you to Shuanglian Street. You want pointe shoes, tutus, dance costumes? I’ll take you to Neijiang Street. You want stainless steel kitchen equipment? I’ll take you to Jinmen Street near the river … you want secondhand car components? Up beyond the Confucius temple there are alleys cluttered with components from every car that ever ran. What I loved the most about the city was that I could always see the mountains at the end of the street. Over the years they’ve become obscured by skyscrapers, but they’re still there. A few times I’ve sat on top of the hills overlooking the
city, listening to the birds, or the cicadas and the distant rumble of traffic and house renovation. Every time I’m up above the city like that, I come to the conclusion - what a city! What a place! How lucky I am to have ended up here! What Taipei has is human warmth. It is rich in people; mothers who shop in real markets and cook every day, students who pack the buses and MRTs like zombies at dawn and dusk, men with suits and cigarettes and mortgages and motorbikes, women who keep the economy going with their clothing habits. They are all passionate politicians and poets, each and every one is an ambassador for his or her island. They seek to educate us foreigners at every chance and with generosity - ‘I’ll take you here to eat this.’ - ‘I’ll take you there to see that.’. How could you not love a place whose people love it so much? In the West they say there are two types of people, Italians and those who wish they were Italians. I’d like to modify that - there are two types of people, Taiwanese people and people who choose Taiwan. I choose Taiwan. ■
Name: Clare Lear Hometown: London, UK Profession: Professional Translator Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
─ 71 ─
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Name: Wang Chien-fa Hometown: Penghu County, Taiwan Profession: Penghu County Magistrate Current Residence: Penghu County, Taiwan
ife in Taiwan is a happy one. It is a beautiful precious island abundant with produce, filled with bird song and the fragrance of flowers, and the people are kind and warm. Many foreign friends come here and are amazed by the people’s kindness. This is probably the most unforgettable thing about Taiwan and is something we should be proud of. My favourite place in Taiwan is still my hometown Penghu. In the sixteenth century, the Portuguese named it the Pescadores, which means “Fishermen’s Islands”. Located northwest of Taiwan Island, Penghu consists of ninety islands, big and small, and the county is divided into six administrative regions: Magong City, Xihu Township, Baisha Township, Xiyu Township, Wangan Township and Cimei Township. Young people love the north eastern coast in summer for its jade green seas, blue skies, gentle winds and fine sand. The scenery at Nanhai is even more unusual. The Twin Hearts Tidal Weir, the mystery of Tiger Well, the old houses in Wangan Township and the basalt pillars on Tongpan Island form a natural unspoilt landscape, just as the heavens intended. In the future, it is Penghu County’s ambition to create a world-class, low-carbon island for the benefit of all of humanity.
My favourite Taiwanese food since childhood is Xiwei noodles from Penghu and I sincerely recommend them to everyone. I hope everyone comes to Penghu to try them for themselves. Of course, Penghu’s seafood is the main reason why tourists don’t want to leave. Penghu also has many recreational activities that give tourists the experience of being a real fisherman. For example, you can go night fishing for squid, take photos of octopuses, go trawling, shell picking, sea fishing, rock fishing, as well as canoeing and sailing, etc. In 2010, Penghu voted for its top ten scenic spots and in 2011, it hosted the Fireworks Festival, Lantern Festival, Asian Sailing Championship, the Ten Thousand Turtles Prayer Ceremony and other festivals, showcasing its improved tourist facilities. I hope those who have already come to Penghu will come again to experience that feeling of happiness. To those who haven’t come to Penghu, I extend an invitation to bring their curiosity to this island with its seven hundreds years of civilisation. ■ — Translated by Darren Wee
─ 72 ─
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y home town is Wellington, New Zealand. Three years ago I went to Taiwan to take up the role as Deputy Director of the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office. I first visited briefly in August 2009, arriving four days before Typhoon Morakot. What impressed me at that time was the way in which the local and international communities rallied around to help the people in southern Taiwan in their time of need. New Zealand has also had its share of disasters over the last three years. In September 2010 and February 2011 two devastating earthquakes struck Christchurch, our second largest city. Taiwan was one of the first places to come to our assistance with the offer of its search and rescue team. What I like most about Taiwan is its people. It is hard to feel lonely there. No matter what time of day or night it was, there were always people out and about. I felt safe walking home late at night or jumping into a taxi whatever the hour. When I went walking early in the morning there were people exercising, doing Tai chi, ball room dancing, playing basketball and hiking. I loved exploring the little back streets and lanes in Taipei where I could see families living their daily lives. There was always more to be discovered. I found the Taiwanese people wonderfully warm, caring and kind. In my life I never thought I would be able to live in a community where people treated one another with such respect and decency. It was often the small things that made me feel at home there. More than once I had been out without an umbrella when it began to rain and someone walking in front of me slowed down to share his or her umbrella with me. I commented to someone when I first arrived, that I was feeling frustrated because I couldn’t speak enough Mandarin to communicate. She responded “Just speak with your heart”. That wise advice served me well. I went on to make many Taiwanese friends on the mountain, in the market and in my life in Taipei. The place I loved to go, which was very close to where I lived, was Elephant Mountain. When my husband visited me in Taiwan, he would go up there every day regardless of the weather. I tried to go up there at least once a week. On the odd day when I was feeling energetic I would go up to Jiu wu (Peak 95), where I felt like I was sitting on top of the world. I believe that Taiwan is the jewel in Asia’s crown. This tiny island is one seventh of the size of New Zealand yet it has six times the population. It has some of the most beautiful and scenic places in the world. But its most precious commodity is its people. It was a real honour to live and work on this island. Thank you Taiwan, it was a privilege and honour getting to know you. ■
Name: Felicity Bloor Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand Profession: Diplomat/ Former Deputy Director of the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office Current Residence: Wellington, New Zealand
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Name: Hugues Mignot Hometown: Brussels, Belgium Profession: Executive Director of Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office Current Residence: Beitou, Taipei, Taiwan
y hometown for the last twenty years has been Beitou, but before that it was Brussels in Belgium, the capital of Europe! A request from the government to succeed the then director of the Belgium Office in Taiwan brought me here twenty-six years ago, and I have remained ever since. Before that, after my studies at the Universities of Louvain in Belgium and Berkeley in California, I was a salesman for Africa and the Middle East, then a banker in Belgium and Hong Kong. I visited Taiwan for the first time in 1981 for a week or two. That was a long time ago, when Taipei was still a small provincial city: there were few high buildings but an abundance of natural and beautiful scenery and many friendly people. When I was offered the job in Taiwan in 1985 I didn’t hesitate to accept it, after thinking it over for exactly five seconds. On weekends I often drive out to White Sand Bay, Fuji Fishing Harbour and the cemetery on Mt Jinbao on the north coast and I love to walk in the mountains around Beitou, where there is only vegetation and rice paddies. Fuji Fishing Harbour is a beautiful little port where fishermen bring in live seafood. Hiking and swimming are my favourite outdoor hobbies. Variety in eating is never a problem in Taiwan: you can have three different dishes a day, every day of the year. Like Paris, where you can find food from all over the French provinces, in Taiwan you find food from all over China. I like
especially the unsophisticated Taiwanese food. Once I took a cooking class in Taipei and can make Kung Pow Chicken, Lion's Head Meatballs and Chinese dishes from Hunan, which I like a bit spicy as it is well-represented in Taiwan. From Taiwan’s popular music, I have collected most of Teresa Teng’s songs and I like Tsai Chin as well – they were my taxi driver’s favourites when I first came to Taiwan and liked to read the translations of their lyrics, like those to Teng’s “You’re in my dreams”. Time has probably changed Taiwan quicker than any other country, politically, economically, sociologically, architecturally and culturally. For a foreigner, the most striking aspect of Taiwan’s evolution over the past twenty years is its economic growth which has benefited its people. Prosperity, consumerism, high-rise buildings, highways, luxury, art and so on. All these have changed rapidly. Many people ask me what it is I like about Taiwan and I always modestly reply, “I think Taiwan likes me.” Taiwan is an island and it has a tradition of welcoming foreigners. Aborigines from Micronesia first settled here 3,000 years ago; the first Chinese migrated to Taiwan from Fujian province after the glacial period; then the Dutch, Spanish and Japanese successively colonised the island; a second wave of mainlanders moved onto its shores in 1947, and now a new wave of Chinese tourists are coming to Taiwan too to enjoy its cultural and political diversity. Taiwan is and will remain an island of diversity and hospitality. ■
─ 74 ─
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n May 2001, I left Taiwan to work in China. That was over ten years ago now. Taiwan is a treasure island with beautiful mountains and rivers. I especially remember the mountains I used to climb as a child (the scenery was breathtaking), the people, who were simple and kind, the mouth-watering Taiwanese and Hakka food and night market snacks. Beitou is the name of the place where I grew up, and is also one of my favourite small cities. It is surrounded by mountains, small winding paths, relaxing and soothing hot springs and it has easy access to the beach. Mullet, oyster noodles and squid soup are the Taiwanese foods I miss the most - although you can find them in Taiwanese restaurants in Shanghai, they taste different from the ones in Taiwan. My favourite Taiwanese singer is Teresa Teng. Her unique and pure voice can always soothe a soul or touch a nerve. Taiwan really is a Formosa, a little piece of heaven on earth, people never want to leave - a place full of creative and talented individuals. ■
— Translated by Darren Wee
Name: Felicia Deng Hometown: Beitou, Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Former Communications Director for Cartier Taiwan and China Current Residence: Shanghai, China
─ 75 ─
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Name: Derek Marsh Hometown: Worthing, UK Profession: Company Director Current Residence: Bath, UK
n 2001 I was working in Seoul. My successor had been appointed. Where was I to live and work next? I chose Taiwan. My first visit was some years earlier. It was summer, hot and humid and near midnight when I arrived in Taipei. I walked around the hotel through the street markets and food stalls. In the heat and darkness with steam rising from exotic cooking and the press of people it was like a scene from “Blade Runner”. I always wanted to go back. I did and never regretted it. By the time I arrived in Taipei again much had changed and so had I. Taipei seemed less foreign. I grew to love Taiwan and its people and its way of life. As for so many people in Asia food became a priority and eating out a daily pleasure. I was fortunate to be able to eat out once and often twice each day. My favourite restaurants are many and different: a private room at the Lan Ting in the Formosa Regent became like my own club for discreet conversations about business and politics; L’Osteria Rialto was my favourite for having lunch with friends; the most extraordinary restaurant is the Tien Tain where you can eat in a small simple room dishes based on Imperial Chinese recipes going back centuries. And there were many others all over the Island.
I was fortunate enough also to live on Yangmingshan with a view from my garden directly over the City so that I could watch the Taipei 101 Tower growing ever higher. I loved the countryside as much as I loved the cities. My dog shared weekend walks in the valleys and by the streams where few people go. We used to see owls, snakes, tortoises, dragon flies, crabs, fish, monkeys; and, in the summer, clouds of tiny blue butterflies which sparkled as they turned in the sunshine through the trees. From time to time our paths would be changed by typhoon or earthquake damage. Occasionally passers by would stop to talk. One told me which plants I could eat and which she had gathered and eaten with her family in the hard times in the 1940s. Another told me how as a child many years before she had lived high up in the valley but twice a day, before and after school, had gone down to the river to collect water for drinking and washing. There is so much to remember about Taiwan but principally it is the kindness and friendliness of the people which I treasure. I am grateful to have lived there and to have known these things. And these are the reasons why I go back today: Taiwan and the people change but the kindness and friendliness do not. ■
─ 76 ─
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grew up in the Buffalo, New York area, which is known for its harsh winters and heavy snow. One of the things I appreciate about Taiwan is the much milder climate (I don’t mind the heat). When I arrived in Taiwan in October 1969, on a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and East Asian Institute, I expected to stay here for ten months – I never imagined that the stay might extend to more than forty years. But I felt very comfortable here from the very beginning, thanks to the very warm and hospitable nature of the people. Also, I had learned to love Chinese food while studying at Columbia and was delighted to discover that the cuisine in Taiwan was even more delicious and more varied than what I knew in New York City. If forced to choose one favorite food, I would probably say Szechuan-style dried fried string beans wrapped in pancakes. My favorite pastime is playing table tennis, which is a much more popular sport in Taiwan than in the United States, so I’ve had the chance to improve my game immensely since coming here. What I miss the most when not in Taiwan is the fun and exercise I can get at my table tennis club in Taipei. Taiwan often feels very crowded and congested (especially driving on the freeway on a holiday or weekend), but it also has many places where one can escape for a bit and enjoy some solitude. Just across the street from where my wife and I live in Taoyuan County is a broad expanse of hilly land called WuGeo-Tun(Five Wine-jugs) Mountain with hiking paths stretching in various directions. It’s a great place to relax and get some fresh air. I have lived in Taiwan longer than anywhere else, so it has become more than just my “second home.” I am very appreciative that Taiwan has been so welcoming to foreigners like me. ■
Name: Don Shapiro Hometown: Buffalo, New York, USA Profession: Senior Director and Editor-in-chief, Taiwan Business Topics Magazine, American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei Current Residence: Taoyuan County, Taiwan ─ 77 ─
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Name: Alison Devine Hometown: Yorkshire, England Profession: Director of the British Council Taipei Current Residence: Taipei
riginally from Yorkshire in the north of England, and having lived in Japan, Malaysia, Greece and the United Arab Emirates, my job brought me to Taiwan in 2010. There are many things to love about Taiwan. Top of my list are its incredibly warm, friendly and welcoming people. Even in the face of language barriers, the people of Taiwan will find a way to be giving, kind and helpful. Taxi drivers have gone out of their way to help me find the most obscure of addresses and food-stall owners smile sweetly as I point to the dishes I have difficulty pronouncing. Living in Xinyi district, I am lucky enough to be greeted every morning by the majestic Elephant Mountain as I throw open my curtains, along with wafts of incense from the temple below. My walk to work takes me through the charming Zhongqiang Park, a hive of activity buzzing with people of all ages exercising, playing basketball, running, playing various traditional musical instruments and even ballroom dancing. Accompanied by the melodious sounds of a wooden flute, within a couple of minutes I find myself in the very heart of Xinyi – where the magnificent Taipei 101 stands proudly, telling me I’m in the central business district. I fancy some sea air today, so hop on the highly efficient metro, traverse Taipei, and get off at the end of the red line in Danshui. Strolling along the water front munching barbequed squid on a stick, I smile as I watch the children running around having fun and see couples holding hands. Sitting and gazing at Guan Yin Mountain, I reflect on how lucky I am to live in such a wonderfully diverse city.
The next day takes me to Kaohsiung, where it’s several degrees warmer. Lunch by the sea at Sizihwan Beach, a panoramic view of the city from Shoushan Park, a tour of Kaohsiung followed by a trip up Love River on the amphibious ‘duck boat’, then back to Taipei in one hour and thirty-six minutes on the high speed rail. All of that in just one day! I have yet to visit ‘my mountain’ Alishan (my name’s Alison) and am very much looking forward to doing so. I am told that the Alishan mountain range is stunning, especially at sunrise – and am proud that my name sounds so similar. Taiwanese food is another thing to love about Taiwan. Readily available everywhere you look, I love all the tofu and vegetarian dishes, the prawn and fried egg, the kung pao chicken, the Hakka fried squid and, especially in the colder months, piping hot red bean soup. My first attempt at eating spaghetti with chopsticks was quite an experience - and certainly amused my colleagues! To people who have never been to Taiwan, I would describe it as one of the friendliest islands in the world. Taiwan has something for everyone. For those who like the outdoor life and nature, the island offers readily accessible mountains, forests, beaches, lakes and hot springs. Those craving the shopping or night life of a big city will find Taipei’s offerings second to none. And traditional culture abounds – be it in aboriginal villages, arts and crafts, the many night markets, or when walking down the road of any major city. Taiwan is a place where tradition and modernity sit comfortably alongside each other, where spirituality has not been forgotten in the face of fast-paced technological innovation. Such contrast yet complementarity serves to continually delight the visitor. ■
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Name: Mary Shao-mei Chen Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan Profession: Development Manager at Studio in a School Current Residence: New York City, USA
resided in my hometown, Taipei, for a total of six years, beginning with the first three and a half years of my life, followed by two and a half years in my mid-to-late twenties. In between, I lived mostly on the east coast of the United States and Canada. What strikes me most about Taiwan is its enterprising spirit and hospitable people. Each year, when I return to Taipei to visit my relatives, I notice new developments. Since I last lived in Taiwan in the late 1990s, the infrastructure has improved tremendously with the construction of an efficient rapid transit system. Taipei 101 was erected as the tallest building in the world. Shopping malls have sprung up in the outskirts of the city. On the cultural front, the National Palace Museum, which holds the crème de la crème of the imperial Chinese art collection, has been renovated and expanded to include special exhibitions from abroad. In my most recent visit, I was fortunate enough to attend Taipei’s international Flora Expo – an ambitious undertaking that mixed the display of beautiful blossoms with 3-D films and videos utilizing the latest in technology. In addition to fueling technological advancements, Taipei has also embraced a greener way of life through massive recycling efforts and a greater respect for native aboriginal culture. Although I enjoy the hustle and bustle of Taipei, I’m also very fond of Taiwan’s beautiful countryside. One of the most striking vistas is Sun Moon Lake, with its breathtaking aquamarine water. Another scenic destination, Taroko Gorge, reminds me of why Taiwan is also known as “Treasure Island.” Recently, I was mesmerized by the quiet charm of Maokong, where one can easily spend a lazy afternoon sipping tea and gazing at misty mountaintops. What I miss most about Taiwan are its welcoming people, tasty cuisine, and shopping at all price levels. The Taiwanese really know how to eat! I’m particularly drawn to beef noodle soup and stinky tofu, as bizarre as it sounds. If you’re a vegetarian, prepare to feast at all-you-can-eat buffets. After a satisfying meal, you could work off your calories while shopping in a myriad of stores and night markets, where you can snatch a bargain. All in all, Taiwan is an inviting island nation that blends the old with the new and offers something for everyone. Come see for yourself! ■
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Tsui Young Hometown: Beijing, China Profession: Healthcare IT Media Consultant Current Residence: Beijing, China
rom a young age, my image of Taiwan has been of Alishan and Sun Moon Lake, of a precious island where aborigines sing “Alishan girls are as beautiful as water ...”. I first really started to get to know and understand Taiwan in the summer of 1998, when I met my wife. As soon as I got off the plane at Taoyuan Airport, I heard a familiar language and immediately felt a sense of belonging. Now that I understand Taiwan and its people better, I feel that Taiwan is the place that has best preserved traditional Chinese culture. Taiwan is also modern and is a world leader in information technology but the sense of tradition is palpable and the people are polite and friendly. These are the impressions Taiwan left with me. Having travelled around the whole island several times, the feeling I’m left with is beauty. No words can describe Taiwan’s beauty - that of the Danshui River at night, the rugged coastline, the Hungchun Peninsula in Pingtung where Cape No. 7 was filmed, Kenting National Park, Sun Moon Lake, Shigang Reservoir which was hit by the 921 earthquake, and the night market all lit up on the sea side of Anping in Tainan. When I introduce Taiwan to my mainland friends, I tell them, if you go to Taiwan you must travel down the east coast, and take the feared Suhua and Hengguan Highways. The mainland also has a long coastline, but it wasn’t until I took the Suhua Highway, that I knew the true meaning of the sea and the ocean. Looking down from the highway, you can see the green of the steep cliffs, the white of the sandy beaches and the darkening blues of the ocean as it stretches to the horizon. Everyone in Taiwan says the Hengguan Highway is dangerous, but as a mainlander I wanted to experience this kind of danger. Not far from the entrance to Taroko Gorge is Swallow’s Grotto (I forget its exact name). Drive in further and the road starts to wind around the mountain and, as you ascend, the fog
thickens. On one side of the winding road are deep, impenetrable gorges, and on the other are mountain peaks from which rocks could fall at any time. On some parts of the road cars can scrape past each other; driving and overtaking on this type of road is indeed a thrilling experience. As a mainland Chinese I am extremely proud to be able to say I’ve driven along the Hengguan Highway. Another lasting memory of Taiwan is the haunting aboriginal songs I heard at the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. They were some of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. As to my favourite Taiwanese cuisine, Wang steak and Dan Zai (peddler) noodles from Tainan are the best main courses, but I personally prefer the street vendors' dishes sold at roadsides and temple entrances. In fact, wherever I go, I must search out the street food the locals eat. Oyster omelettes, oyster rice noodles, minced pork on rice, meatballs from Taichung and teppanyaki are all things I could eat hundreds of times and never get tired of. Besides the street food, Taiwan’s desserts also left a deep impression on me, nougat, such as sun cakes, wife cakes and pineapple cakes. I remember when the mayor of Taichung, Jason Hu, came to Beijing to promote Taiwan. He brought sun cakes and pineapple cakes as well as high mountain tea, shaved ice, mochi etc.. There are many more things about Taiwan that I love, but I can’t describe them all in detail. Before I finish, I must mention that, from a professional point of view, I’m really looking forward to visiting Taiwan’s hospitals and medical schools and understanding Taiwan’s medical information technology. Finally, I sincerely wish Taiwan prosperity, beauty and abundance. I love Taiwan! ■ — Translated by Darren Wee
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W Name: Monique Willemsen Hometown: Breda, the Netherlands Profession: Professional Translator / Photographer Current Residence: Belgium
hen Wu Jie asked me to write a piece on Taiwan, describing my thoughts on the island, two words immediately popped up in my head: “love” and “home”. These two words describe the enormous significance of this precious island to me. Having majored in Chinese, I still firmly believe that choosing to study Chinese, going to Taiwan for further training, and leaving Holland to settle in Taiwan and to marry a Taiwanese, have all been the best decisions I could have ever made. If it were not for me going to study Chinese, I would never have been able to experience the beauty of Taiwan and its people. The first time I went to Taiwan, I was still a student. At the time, I didn’t know that almost every Western visitor who plans to stay in Taiwan for a longer period of time sooner or later will experience a so-called “culture shock”, and I of course was no exception. After having overcome this culture shock, however, I was even more able to love and cherish all the good and beautiful things that Taiwan has to offer. Although Taiwan now has a modern society, it has preserved traditional Chinese customs and characteristics, which is exactly why tourists who come here will find a perfect blend of the modern and traditional that is so rarely found in other Asian countries. This is also one of the reasons why Taiwan is such an attractive destination. Taiwan’s society has also made great progress in a short period of time, but the government has never neglected to recognise the importance of continuous development and innovation so as to keep up with global trends. This has all resulted in Taiwan having a solid infrastructure, service quality and high-tech environment. Adding to this the convenience and low cost of its public transportation (buses, MRT, taxis), shopping (department stores, night markets, computer information shopping centres), and food (small restaurants and eateries, hot pot restaurants, food stands, Western restaurants, traditional tea houses, coffee shops), it is no understatement to say that Taiwan is a tourist paradise. It was only after I decided in 2006 to leave Taiwan and move to Belgium, that I started to think about why Taiwan has such a huge attraction for me, why I always want to introduce Taiwan to others, and why, every time Taiwan is mentioned, my eyes start to twinkle. My final conclusion is the following: because of its people! The Taiwanese are probably the friendliest people in the world. Moreover, although people living in modern societies are mostly busy managing their own lives, the Taiwanese still manage to keep respect for the elderly, patriarchs, teachers, etc. The friendly, hospitable, compassionate and strong people of Taiwan, who are eager to work and learn, have captured my heart, and the Taiwanese themselves should recognise their own capabilities and the assets of the land they live in. To me, Taiwan is a place I love dearly, a place where I learned to love life, and a place that gave me a warm home. Even though I, a foreigner, only lived in Taiwan for fourteen years, in my heart I will always feel part Taiwanese and Taiwan will always be the place I long for! ■
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Joagni Pare Hometown: Burkina Faso Profession: Student Current Residence: Taipei City, Taiwan — Courtesy of RTI (Radio Taiwan International)
n May last year, I participated in Radio Taiwan International’s “Taiwan in One Word” speech contest for foreigners, and by a stroke of luck I won the best stage presence award. Before the winners were announced, Ms Wu handed me her business card and asked if she could include my speech manuscript in her book, to which I said, “ Of course you can.” My speech manuscript is as follows: Although there are many good words that could be used to describe Taiwan, I personally think “warm,” as in “warm hearted,” is the word that best suits Taiwan. The reason why I have chosen this word is not because Taiwan’s weather is warm, but because to me, Taiwan is an island of warm people. What do I mean? Actually there are many reasons. First of all, my good landlord in 2009 really treated me like his own son. He lowered the rent until it couldn’t be lowered any further, and he not only gave me a bike, but at Chinese New Year, he returned a month’s rent to me saying: “I’m giving this red envelope to you.”, I was moved nearly to tears, because that was the first red envelope I received in Taiwan! Last year, I carelessly lost my wallet. I looked all day and couldn’t find it. In the end, I received an unexpected call from a policeman telling me to find him at Shilin Police Station. I was scared to death, because I couldn’t figure out what I had
done wrong. It turned out a good-hearted person found my wallet and handed it into the police station. After I retrieved my wallet, I asked the policeman for the phone number of that kind person, so I could thank him. I called that person and he not only told me to not be so polite, he actually took me to eat all-you-can-eat hotpot. Then there was this granny I met when I first came to Taiwan. One day I went out to eat and discovered it was raining heavily outside when I was going home. Without bringing an umbrella, I wracked my brain thinking how I’d get home. To my surprise, the smiling granny walked over and said: “Where are you from? You’re not an aborigine, are you?” At that time, I could not speak much Chinese let alone Taiwanese and I thought I couldn’t speak to her in English either, let alone French. In the end, she gave me an umbrella. Once again, I felt very moved! I thought: “Why? I don’t know you, you don’t know me, and on top of that we don’t speak the same language, but you are still so nice to me!” So this is why I say the word “warm” best suits Taiwan, “warm” for warm welcome and warm-heartedness. It’s a really meaningful word to use to describe Taiwan. ■
— Translated by Darren Wee
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Name: Fabian Föh Hometown: Hamburg, Germany Profession: Student Current Residence: Bonn, Germany
lthough I spent only one year in Taiwan, I already think of it as my second home. If you come from a cold place in northern Europe, where the people are rather rational and rough, it is a pleasure to go to a place like Taiwan and experience totally different surroundings. From the first moment I set foot on the island I knew that this would be a nice place to live. The temperature, the landscape, the culture and the language were all good reasons for me to go to Taiwan and stay for a year as an exchange student. The most important reason for me to want to go back to Taiwan is the people. Compared to the people in my country the Taiwanese are the kindest and friendliest people I could ever imagine. That is not to say I don't like people in my country. I certainly do appreciate some rough and rational and direct talking people every once in a while. I think that, especially because I am used to people like this, I can fully appreciate the kindness and openness of people in Taiwan in a totally different way. For me the overwhelming kindness of students, teachers and every single person on the street never was and hopefully never will be a normal thing. There is always someone helping you. If you are lost, people are happy to show you around and
explain everything to you. Especially in the countryside the people could not possibly be friendlier. I have been invited to tea, meals, drinks and even to a total five day holiday on the island Penghu. And all this without the hosts expecting to get back anything, people welcome you in such a nice way, that it moves my heart every time I experience it again. Taiwan is a great place to live. You have some of the finest landscapes in Asia like the Taroko Gorge, Kenting and a lot of places all around the island. It has incredible mountains right next to beautiful coastlines and beaches. I love the contrasts. For example, the contrast of the breathtaking urbanity of modern Taipei against the nice and quiet traditional Chinese atmosphere in several nameless cities and villages, all scattered over the countryside; the high speed railways against ancient hiking trails. The tropical and subtropical nature are right next to some of the world’s leading high-tech companies. Also, Taiwan is the place where you can get some of the best food in Asia: be sure to try xiaolongbao, if you haven't yet. The most important reason why I like Taiwan is neither the nice temperature nor the beautiful landscape, language or culture. It is simply the people who make Taiwan so beautiful. ■
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Molly Huang Hometown: Taichung City, Taiwan Profession: Landscape Designer Current Residence: Beijing, China
t has already been over ten years since I left Taiwan. In the past few years, I have discovered that Taiwan is becoming more and more fun. It has lots of interesting bike trails, exercise parks, themed restaurants and special homestays. Taiwan has become an attractive tourist destination. I miss Taiwan’s clean, crisp air, its bright sun, the deep compassion of its people, my friends with whom I would go horse riding and the food from my hometown (nowhere else can recreate the same delicious flavours). Taichung is my favourite city. Not only does it have the most hospitable climate, but it is the most convenient and there are many special restaurants tucked away in its alleys. All sorts of cheap and high-end things, from NT$10 (around US$0.33)stores to global luxury brands can be bought there. At the same time, the pace of life isn’t too fast and the traffic is never jammed. A mainland friend once said Taichung is bustling without being chaotic and drivers are orderly and don’t randomly beep their horns. My favourite Taiwanese singers are A-mei, Daniel Tao and Chyi Yu. My favourite foods are oyster vermicelli, danggui duck, spare ribs noodles, midou ice and Tainan peddler rice noodles. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. Now that Taiwan has experienced rapid economic growth and the economic crisis, we should take this opportunity to think about our future. I hope Taiwan will find the self-confidence to live out the special Taiwanese way of life and become the role model for the rest of the world in green living. ■ — Translated by Darren Wee
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here is a place where you can turn on the television and there are all kinds of food and talk shows, enough to leave you in a daze. Every time an election comes around, the pulses race and emotions run high. This is my homeland – Taiwan. I left Taiwan five years ago but there are many things I miss about home. 1. Convenience of life: The high concentration of convenience stores, drugstores, beauticians, hair salons, coffee shops and restaurants. The buses, MRT, high speed rail and rail networks are regular and you can travel all around the island easily. 2. The quality and professionalism of service: Bank clerks are efficient. Those working in the service sector always smile and are happy to help. 3. Cultural attainment: People are orderly, polite and friendly, and they follow the rules. There is an abundance of diverse performances, everyone is quiet when watching them and orderly when entering and exiting the venue. The smell of books in Eslite makes you not want to leave. 4. The quality of health care is universally high, and with the health insurance system everyone can rest assured he or she will receive high quality health care. 5. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech, and information channels are not censored. 6. Taiwan’s unforgettable local street vendors' dishes: stinky tofu, oyster omelettes, traditional meat balls, fresh milkfish stomach porridge, Taiwanese marinated food and tianbula... and so on. Although small, Taiwan has beautiful mountains and rivers and you can enjoy all kinds of outdoor leisure activities: diving, boating, hot springs, hiking, mountain climbing, biking. For example, Taipei, where I grew up, is an international and modern city, but wander into an alley and you will discover traditional vegetable markets and quaint old streets. Taiwan is full of surprises. It is a place that has both tradition and modernity, high-tech products and natural beauty. Only when Taiwanese people have left their homeland and widened their perspective of the world do they understand how good Taiwan is. If anyone criticises or complains about Taiwan, I will tell them: Be thankful for what you have! ■
Name: Liu Mei-chi Hometown: Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Freelance Writer Current Residence: Guangzhou, China
— Translated by Darren Wee
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Brian Foden Hometown: Vancouver, Canada Profession: Writer, Teacher and Voice Talent Current Residence: New Taipei City, Taiwan
first came to Taiwan in March of 1999, with the intention of staying perhaps two years. I had heard that Taipei was an interesting, dynamic city, as well as a place that requires native English speakers to teach ESL. Vancouver has a sizeable Taiwanese population, and I had spotted several ads for teachers overseas in the newspapers. Honestly, though, I knew very little about Taiwan before I boarded the plane to make the journey to this Asian island. One of the things I like most about Taiwan, and one of the reasons I have stayed here, is the fact that interesting people and opportunities frequently pop up from out of nowhere, making for (as I often hear people here saying) a “colorful life.” I’ve often heard people refer to Taiwan as one of the most foreigner-friendly places to live in, and I have no doubt that is true. I have met, and continue to meet, many wonderful Taiwanese people, including my wife, Vivian. Regarding locations in Taiwan that I like, I enjoy Taiwan’s non-urban areas the most: the majestic scenery of Taroko Gorge, the challenging hiking trails of Yangmingshan, the relaxing Fulong Beach, and the like. Also, I have often enjoyed the soothing hot springs that Taiwan is blessed with. Having been here for more than a decade, I am regularly asked, “Don’t you miss your home country?” Certainly, due to
the vast differences between Taiwan and Canada, there are things I do miss about Canada – the wide-open spaces, abundance of natural beauty, the cleaner air, and low population density are all things that I used to take for granted in my home country. However, there would be things I would miss about Taiwan if I were to leave as well: the energy, the friendly people, plus the work and social opportunities, including the ample chances to meet other ex-pats from around the world. Of course, I would also miss the fabulous food Taiwan has to offer, my favorites being Kung Pao chicken, sweet and sour pork (and chicken), and stinky tofu (just kidding about that one!). I believe many “foreigners” who have never been to this island, like myself before venturing here, are not very knowledgeable about Taiwan. I am sometimes asked by my family and friends in Canada, “What is it like living in Taiwan?” Naturally, I tell them about the food, the people, and what I’ve learned of the culture. Most of all, I say, “It’s a fascinating experience.” Now, even after twelve years as a resident of Taiwan, that fascination still hasn’t worn off. I’m constantly discovering new things that add to my appreciation of this island. In short, I’m thankful for the opportunities Taiwan has given me and the ways in which it has enriched my life. ■
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Name: Susanne Palm Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden Profession: Director / Teacher at Enspyre Academy Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
have lived in Taiwan for about eight years altogether. The first time I came to Taiwan was in 1984. A PhD student at my university told me that Taipei is a wonderful place with friendly people, delicious food and, which was important to me, very good universities. The best thing about Taiwan is the positive and friendly attitude among its people. The first time I came here, I couldn't speak any Chinese at all and didn't know anybody. The first weekend, I was sitting alone in my new apartment in Jing Mei when the neighbour's family (five people) knocked on the door. They brought grilled chicken and chocolate cakes as they were worried that I couldn't go out by myself to find food. We couldn't communicate at all, so I just sat smiling and eating until all the food was finished and they then happily returned to their own apartment. When I'm away from Taiwan, I miss my friends the most. I also miss stinky tofu, as it's almost impossible to find it anywhere else in the world. Another thing I miss, is the smell of Taiwan. To me, the smell of Taiwan is something between sweet incense, stinky tofu and car pollution. I'm not sure if it's a healthy smell but I do notice the smell as soon as I land at the airport in Taiwan; and it does make me feel at home. I really love Mei-shan in central Taiwan. It has a small park, delicious meizi (berries) and the vegetables and fruits there are amazingly tasty. The cabbage is almost sweet and the bamboo shoots are a dream. The park is full of friendly, smiling people and every time I go there, I simply wish I just could stay there - in peaceful, lovely Mei-shan. Taiwan has a great variety of food. The oyster pancake is a great dish; I eat it all the time and cannot find it anywhere else in the world. Stinky tofu is another favourite. My favourite Taiwanese singer is Hsueh Yueh, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting in 1985. I went to his concert at the Nan Jing East Road arena in 1986 and saw the birth of a Taiwanese hardrock star. Some people told me that this was the first time that Taiwan had arranged a big rock concert for a Taiwanese rock singer. He was an amazing artist and human being, who wanted everyone to be able to have the opportunity to express themselves in words, art and music. I like to describe Taiwan as a very modern island with warm-hearted and passionate people. My Taiwanese friends move me all the time by being so generous and warm. Most of all, I appreciate their ability to share. In Taiwan, people share food, share problems and joy, and also share their lives. A few of my friends even share their families with me, which makes me feel like I, too, have a family and home here. Ann Lin, my ganmeimei (god sister: someone who treats me like her own sister without being blood-related) whom I met twenty-seven years ago, has made me a part of her family. I truly feel that there are deep connections between Sweden and Taiwan and I have made Taiwan my beloved home. ■ ─ 87 ─
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Shi Hue-shou Hometown: Scheibbs, Austria Profession: Buddhist Monk Current Residence: Fo Guang Shan Temple, Kaohsiung
was born in Scheibbs, Lower-Austria in Austria. At an early age I became a Buddhist and while living in sunny South Africa I discovered a huge, beautiful branch of Fo Guang Shan Temple from Taiwan. After exploring various interesting jobs and business ventures I decided to become a Buddhist monk. For full ordination one is supposed to stay in Taiwan for a while to get acclimatized to Chinese/Taiwanese culture and the specific ‘atmosphere’ of that temple and organization. After some time in the Buddhist seminary and three years in the meditation hall I was asked to guide non-Chinese speaking guests during their stay at the temple. Most tourists tend to share their experiences with and feelings about ‘Formosa’, ‘ the Beautiful Isle’ with me. One foreign guest who didn’t know how to speak Chinese told me that he was traveling with a tour guide by pointing at the Chinese characters of his destination when he wanted to go somewhere. He ended up in Pingdong City and wanted to go to Fo Guang Shan Temple next. People tried to help him but couldn’t communicate. One lady loaded him onto her scooter and he expected to be driven to the next train or bus station. But they carried on riding and riding. He got really worried when they crossed Gao-Ping River, thinking he was getting abducted. Then he saw Fo Guang Shan and it dawned on him. She actually brought him all the way, right to the gate. Something like this can only
happen in Taiwan. To my guests’ comments I can just add, that I too have felt the friendliness of Taiwan’s people and received their helpfulness. As a monk I’m just regretting that deeper involvement with the people and exploring the many beauties of this country, especially nature, the lovely rugged mountains, mountain hiking, a ride on the Ali Shan train, frolicking on cozy, romantic beaches, and so on will just not be possible. But you can do so! By accident, I once bought a tape with songs by the singer Sun Shu-mei and despite not understanding Taiwanese, the mostly very sad love songs made my hair stand on end and I felt like crying. Only one other singer comes close to that for me - Deng Li-jun. For a while I was quite famous for my love of taro. My colleagues indulged me and always shared taro cookies from Taichung with me if they got some offerings. I’m also quite touched by the deep religiosity of Taiwan’s people. I often say: every hill – two Taoist shrines, one Buddhist temple. I wish Taiwan and her people freedom, peace and prosperity and ‘Wan Suei! Wan Suei !’ the wish traditionally reserved for the Chinese emperor: 'May you live ten thousand years! May you live ten thousand years!' ■
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didn’t choose Taiwan, Taiwan chose me – I met my Taiwanese wife when we both studied in the United States. Eventually she wanted to come back to Taiwan, and I had no objections to coming with her. Three and a half years after we came back to Taiwan, my wife passed away. Words cannot describe the horror of losing the one you love that way, but it never occurred to me to leave Taiwan. My business was here, my life was here, and my wife’s family was here. Now, many years later, I have a new wonderful girlfriend, my company is strong and thriving, and, although I plan to spend more time back in Sweden, I probably will never leave Taiwan. There is good and bad in every country. But at the end of the day, I like Taiwan because it is a place where you can make a nice living for yourself without earning a fortune. The people are nice, the food is great, and I really enjoy the weather. It is also relatively easy, as a foreigner, to do business in Taiwan. I miss the food, the warm weather, my friends, employees, and all the cool projects that I am working on, whenever I am away from Taiwan. Taipei is my favorite city in Taiwan. I spend most of my time in Taipei, and I really like it. There is every kind of food one can possibly dream of, all the urban enjoyments one wants and the hills and mountains are right next door ready to be climbed. I love to eat beef noodles and beef rolls. Especially in the winter, it is a great, warming meal. Taiwan is not Thailand, even though most people seem to confuse the two. Taiwan is the place where most of their home electronics come from – Acer, HTC, Gigabyte, and so on. Taiwan has a lot of beautiful and unique places, like Taroko Gorge in Hualien and Kenting. To stand in Taroko and look up at a whole mountain of marble is an amazing and moving experience. More people should come here and see it. I have lived in Taiwan for over eleven years now. I have seen how much Taiwan has grown during that short time. I sometimes hear Taiwanese people say things like, “Taiwanese people are not creative,” or “Young Taiwanese people are just not working hard enough anymore.” My hope for the next hundred years is that all Taiwanese will realize what I know – that Taiwan has world-class companies, an amazing health care system, and friendly, hard-working people. ■
Name: Elias Ek Hometown: Sundsvall, Sweden Profession: Co-founder and President of Enspyre Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Peng Xue-hui Hometown: New Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Diplomat’s Wife Current Residence: Beijing, China
he eight years since I left Taiwan have passed in the blink of an eye. My husband is a diplomat for the United States, and when duty called, I had to pull up my roots that for over forty years had been firmly planted in Taiwan even though my heart is still buried somewhere in Taiwan! I moved a total of fourteen times within sixteen years after I got married. Of these fourteen experiences living in different places, I have two favourites. The first is Gongguan District in Taipei, a university town that includes National Taiwan University, National Taiwan Normal University and Gongguan and Shida night markets, and there is a veritable forest of bookstores and restaurants nearby. There are lots of small, special restaurants and coffee shops around Lishui and Yongkang Streets and the neighbouring Daan Forest Park provides residents with a vast stretch of green space for leisure activities and sports. When I lived there, it was easily accessible, and now, with the MRT, getting there is even more convenient. The second is the area around Yangmingshan which is separated from the city by Yangde Boulevard. I would drive along this boulevard everyday without a care in the world; it really was one of life’s small pleasures! In the surrounding area are the Chinese Culture University and Yangmingshan National Park and behind the mountain are lots of hot spring restaurants which serve wild vegetables that grow in the mountains. These two totally different worlds are both great and worth introducing to our foreign friends so they can enjoy them too. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my favorite Taiwanese foods is the variety of fruits. For example, watermelons, mangoes, pineapples, wax apples, guavas, grapes etc. Here I would like to especially thank Taiwan’s farmers for their commitment to improving their crops: our taste buds really
are blessed! I also love the special snacks from around the island, for example, milletfish soup from Tainan, meatballs and oyster omelettes from Changhua and the meatballs and vermicelli from Hsinchu... The third are the alternative restaurants which you must book in advance. With these restaurants being located in the suburbs or atop a mountain, finding them is an adventure in itself. Everything is made from in-season ingredients and you are left at the mercy of the chefs who prepare only one or two set meals for different budgets. There are also the Buddhist restaurants which serve healthy, vegetarian food and are favourites among gluttons and epicures alike. After the economy took off in the early 1980s, Taiwanese cuisine evolved from simple aboriginal, Japanese and mainland food to a fusion of Chinese cuisine from every province in China with a Southeast Asian, European and American flair. Taiwan really lives up to its reputation as a twenty-four-hour food heaven, where the lights never go out. My favourite singer is Tsai Chin (I sound just like her!) and Julie Su and Tiger Huang are powerful singers. I’m very proud to be Taiwanese, and although I live abroad, my homeland is often in my thoughts. Taiwan was once one of the Four Asia Tigers and it has not only preserved Chinese culture and traditions intact, but it is also a leader in the semiconductor industry and in inexpensive agricultural products. Now the whole island is heading towards its goal of reducing carbon emissions, protecting the environment, developing its tourism industry and opening up to the world. No matter where I am, whenever I think of Taiwan, I always feel like saying, “Keep moving, my beloved Taiwan!” ■
— Translated by Darren Wee
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Name: Richard Smith Hometown: Liverpool, UK Profession: Co-Founder of UKEAS Current Residence : Taipei, Taiwan
his year sees my 21st year in Taiwan so this seems a good occasion to reflect on the things I like most about Taiwan and why I’ve lived here for so long. I think if I had to choose the best thing about Taiwan, I would go for the incredibly friendly and polite people. Even complete strangers can be amazingly helpful and almost everyone appears cheerful and optimistic. I always feel safe walking around even the biggest cities at night and I love the buzz that comes from shops, restaurants and bars staying open so late. Taipei has all the excitement and convenience of a big city and yet in no time at all you can be walking in the surrounding mountains or riding along the myriad cycle paths. It’s hard to choose a favourite place in Taiwan, as there are so many places I like. Taipei has all the attractions of the international city it has become but Taichung, with its more laidback atmosphere, is equally appealing. Tainan has its historic temples, Kaohsiung has transformed itself over the last ten years and it’s hard to beat Taiwan’s Central Mountains if you enjoy hiking. It’s equally hard to select a favourite food with so many delicious dishes on offer. What’s easy to say is my favourite type of meal; put me in any restaurant with a group of friends sat together around a big table with everyone ordering a different dish and you have my ideal night out. The music for such a night out could only be Wu Bai, easily my favourite Taiwanese singer. Taiwan is Asia’s best-kept secret. It has wonderful welcoming people, dynamic exciting cities, stunning mountainous scenery, a peaceful democratic society, a high quality inexpensive health care system and delicious food on every street corner. Most things work smoothly but there’s just that hint of chaos to keep things interesting. Maybe we should just keep it a secret and not spoil the way it is. ■
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Gao Xiang-kui Hometown: Fengyuan, Taichung City, Taiwan Profession: Self-employed Current Residence: Rijeka, Croatia
t was twenty years ago I married my husband and moved back to Croatia with him. In those twenty years I must have returned to Taiwan a total of around thirty times. I returned so many times because I love my family, but there are so many other things about Taiwan I miss too. I must mention Taiwanese food, clothes, accommodation and travel. Taiwanese cuisine has always been well known both at home and abroad and there is never a lack of the finest imported ingredients from Europe in the markets and cuisine from every Chinese province. There are even more unique local flavours to be found on roadsides and in narrow alleys that are sure to satisfy everyone’s appetite. As for me, I love the street vendors' dishes like oyster omelettes, rice noodle soup, intestines, egg noodles, goose meat and liver, fried rice noodles, pig blood soup, meatballs, rice cakes, four gods soup, sliced noodles, midou ice, pearl milk tea, peanut tofu pudding … and many more. They may make you go up a few dress sizes, but you won’t regret it! Taiwan has long been known as an exporter of ready-towear clothes, but French, Italian, American and Canadian branded clothes fill the shelves of department stores, simultaneously satisfying consumer needs for global trends. Of course there is more to Taiwan than this. I needn’t mention accommodation and transport. The rows of glittering skyscrapers and railways, MRT and taxis which are always at your beck and call are symbols of a vibrant society where life is convenient. The
road that links the ancient Longshan Temple in Wanhua District to the ultramodern Taipei 101, is like a timeline of social progress. Of all Taiwan’s cities and towns, Taipei City holds a special place in my heart (of course I'll always love Fengyuan too). As well as its twenty-four-hour Eslite bookstores, the city has cinemas with first- rate facilities which still offer entertainment late into the night. Afterwards there are street stalls that still serve hot porridge and side dishes. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, the mountains or the sea are a short bus or train ride away. You can also gasp in wonder at the treasures held in the National Palace Museum, look at the cherry blossoms at Mt Yangming, soak in the hot springs at Beitou, watch the sunset at Tamshui, and rub shoulders with the locals at the crowded beaches near the Hengbin Highway or around the Shilin and Keelung night markets or one of the many other night markets. To sum up, Taipei is not just a city that keeps up with the times, it is a pluralistic, modern city that has everything life has to offer. The fact is, Taiwan is beautiful from north to south and attracts people from far and wide; each place is worth visiting. Leaving aside Taiwan’s historical sites, scenic spots and special snacks, it is the people’s simple hearted hospitality that touches hearts. Taiwan has been described as a treasure island, and these are certainly not empty words. ■ — Translated by Darren Wee
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ver since I was a girl, I have dreamt about going abroad and as soon as I had gained some work experience, I applied to study overseas. After graduation, I stayed abroad to work and I lived in Beijing with my husband for five years; we live in Hong Kong now. The experiences of living and working overseas have widened my horizons and made me appreciate Taiwan all the more.
Name: Chou Dai-hui Hometown: New Taipei City, Taiwan Profession: Nurse Current Residence: Hong Kong
As a nurse, what I appreciate the most are the quality of Taiwan’s health care and its doctors and nurses. In Taiwan, we never have a problem seeing a doctor. Getting medical treatment is easy and prices are reasonable. I returned to Taiwan to give birth over a year ago and it made me realise how lucky I am to be Taiwanese. Many medical treatments abroad, like teeth cleaning, you have to pay for yourself. In Taiwan, the quality of dentistry is really high and you can pay with your health insurance! We should appreciate our health insurance and our health care resources! As well as universal health insurance, government-run institutions, like museums, performance centres and tourist attractions, are inexpensive and well-maintained. I once met an overseas Taiwanese woman living in Japan on the Maokong Gondola who told me that a similar facility and service in Japan would cost several times the price. Taiwan’s services and facilities are first rate. I can hardly believe it has already been six years since I left Taiwan. I sincerely hope that Taiwan will continue to press forward, and that our next generation will be even better, healthier and harder working than the last. ■
— Translated by Darren Wee
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Taiwan Z an!
Photo taken by Wang Chien-yu
Name: Thomas Sorrill Hometown: Quincy, Illinois, USA Profession: Osteopath Current Residence: London, UK
lived in Taiwan for five and a half years spread over a period from 1992 to 2000. People in Taiwan are amazingly friendly and helpful. The food is delicious, and the countryside is gorgeous. I miss it all. But I think the thing I miss the most is a cup of warm doujiang (soy milk) and a baozi (steamed buns) at six in the morning after spending the night hiking in the mountains. Taroko Gorge is one of my favourite sites. It's ruggedly beautiful with steep ravines, fast flowing rivers, and boulders bigger than houses! It's great for day long hikes ending with a long soak in the wonderful hot spring. I also like the town of San Yi for the wooden furniture and statues. My favourite Taiwanese foods are owamiswa (oyster vermicelli) and kaoji pigu (basted chicken butt). There was a vendor just down the street from me when I lived in Ximending - so delicious when you need a nibble in the middle of the night. Taiwan is a beautiful mountainous tropical island approximately the size of Holland, with amazingly friendly people, a vibrant, sometimes hectic twenty-four hour city life, and food so good you will want more and more. ■
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worked and lived in Taipei, Taiwan from 1994 to 2001. I remember Taipei as a vibrant and bustling city, fast paced and full of energy. It is a concrete jungle, which takes on a surreal quality when the dizzy neon lights come on at night. It is also a city cradled by lush green mountains of subtropical forests. I miss summer night strolls in one of the many parks in Taipei; visiting night markets and feasting on street food; watching the glittering jewel-like city lights from the quiet and cool of Yangming Mountain with the cicadas song in the background. The Taiwanese are warm, friendly, sociable and hospitable people. Eating with friends and singing a night away at a karaoke were popular pastimes when I lived there. My favourite place to hang out in Taipei was the Taida (National Taiwan University)/Gongguan area with its multitude of bookshops, coffee shops and street food stalls. There are also a number of very fine museums such as the National Palace Museum, Taipei Fine Art Museum and the National History Museum, which is situated next to the Taipei Botanical Garden – a great place to see beautiful lotus blossoms, especially just after the rain. ■
Name: Anthea Chou Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan Profession: Education Current Residence: London, UK
Photo taken by Wang Chien-yu
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Caroline Mauran Hometown: Paris, France Profession: University student Current Residence: Marseille, France
left Taiwan six years ago, and since then, I have never stopped missing this island and wanting to come back as soon as possible. My stay in Taiwan wasn’t so long (six years altogether), but this tiny island really has brought me much. There are many things I love about Taiwan, but if I had to choose three, I would say: the amazing kindness of the Taiwanese people, always ready to help you if you are lost or do not understand something; the extraordinary food – cheap, delicious, and available anywhere, at any time; and finally, the fact that living in Taipei means living both next to the city and next to nature. It is really great to be in a place where you can enjoy, in the same day, the dazzling city and the peaceful countryside. The Yangmingshan National Park, for instance, is a huge and really beautiful natural park, which provides the opportunity to rest and recharge one’s batteries when needed. But the lively part of Taipei City also thrills me. Night markets (such as Shilin, the most famous one) and 7-Elevens are perfect examples of how easy it is to find anything at any time in Taipei. Night markets are situated on big streets, which are open until late in the night, and where you can find all sorts of
original street food, clothing, toys, and even pets! There is a shopping center that only sells electronic devices; it is paradise for all computer fans! The 7-Eleven convenience stores are special in Taiwan, because besides food and daily necessities, the little shop offers many services that enable people to send packages, make photocopies, call a taxi, buy a phone card, or even pay bills. Concerning food, making a choice will be the most difficult thing you will have to face! Taiwanese food reflects Taiwan very well, as it is the result of all the island’s cultural influences: Japanese food, Chinese food, aboriginal food. Taiwanese food is highly varied, cheap, and delightful! No matter where you go, you are always able to find something that suits you. There’s always something for all tastes! I would say that what I enjoy best in Taiwan is its openmindedness. Taiwan has a rich past, with influences from the Netherlands, Portugal, Japan, and China…. I think that it is part of what makes Taiwan so special. It is a fascinating mix of cultures that still has a strong identity. Everything in Taiwan shows that it is a welcoming island, eager to reveal its best to everyone. No wonder it is also called Formosa – the beautiful Taiwan has definitely touched my heart! ■
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Name: Mark Lewis Hometown: Washington D.C., USA Profession: International Trade Consultant Current Residence: New York, USA
always tell people that the people in Taiwan are friendly, the food is good, and that there is always something interesting to do. After living in Taiwan for eighteen years and leaving in 2003, the things that I miss the most are the food, night markets, and hiking/running in the mountains with the Hash House Harriers. My favorite place in Taiwan is Taipei, especially Gongguan, Tianmu, and Yangmingshan (Yangming Mountain). Gongguan is one of my favorite places in Taipei because of the youthful atmosphere that comes from being close to two universities – Taiwan University and Taiwan Normal University. Some of the best bookstores, bars, and eateries are in the Gongguan area, which is easily accessible by affordable public transportation. As for Tianmu, it has long been a place to find things that cannot be found easily in other parts of Taipei, such as clothing for export only, authentic American eateries, and bars. Yangming Mountain is a great place to hike and eat. The alluring aspect of Yangming Mountain is the plethora of natural hot springs. The best way to fight off the damp chill of the Taipei winter is to take a sulphur bath, followed by fresh sushi and sake at one of the many Japanese-style restaurants nearby.
My favorite Taiwanese food would depend on the time of day and my state of mind. In the morning, there are few things better than a bowl of steaming mijiang (a drink made of roasted peanuts and rice) and a shaobing (a flat bread with sesame seeds) with fried egg or Taiwanese omelet. Good mijiang outside of Taiwan is nearly impossible to find. My wife will occasionally make mijiang from scratch. Yum! In the afternoon and evening, I love a good serving of fried rice noodles, or mifen (rice noodles), along with some side dishes, such as salted peanuts and seaweed. During an especially hot day, a cold Taiwan Beer goes well with just about anything. I always tell people who have never been to Taiwan that they are going to love it. I tell them that Taipei is one of the best places in the world to enjoy good food and friendly people, and that they should travel around the island (especially the east coast) if they have time. Last but not least, I would like to say to Taiwan that some of the best moments in my life – learning Chinese, meeting my wife, becoming a father (twice), appearing on television, and working at ICRT – happened in Taiwan. Thanks for being home to me and my family. ■
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Taiwan Z an!
Name: Priya Lalwani Purswaney Hometown: Indore, MP, India Profession: Simultaneous interpreter Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
fter being born in a small town in India, I lived briefly in Germany and then spent ten years in Nigeria, where my sister Prabha was born. Due to my father’s job as a university professor of mechanical engineering, my family moved to Taiwan on Saturday, February 7, 1987, and I have lived here ever since. I would describe Taiwan for those who have never been here as an island of beauty. I like everything about Taiwan, but most especially the friendly people who go out of their way to help others and make foreigners feel so much at home. The fact that I’ve been living here for so long, even though my parents left fifteen years ago, proves how much I love Taiwan. I married another Indian resident of Taiwan, and we have two beautiful children, both made in Taiwan. However, when asked to describe the things I miss most when I am away, I felt that the best person to answer that would be someone who actually had to leave. So, I asked my sister to contribute her part to this story. What she said brought tears to my eyes, as I saw in writing the deep feelings many former residents of the island have about it, as I am sure I will feel one day, if I ever have to leave….
estiny and happiness are my two favorite Chinese words, and there is no way to describe or fully translate them; they can only be felt. After all these years, Taiwan is not my second home but my first home. It is in Taiwan that I spent my glorious years. My eighteenth birthday marked my initial experience donating blood; and on my twenty-first birthday, I got my driver’s license and rode a scooter for the first time. My family of four went to Taiwan in 1987 because of my
father’s job as a professor at the Tatung Institute of Technology. Only nine at the time, I studied Mandarin privately for six months and then started attending the second grade at Zhongshan Elementary School. My older sister was accepted at the College of Business Management. We lived in the Zhongshan area, very near Xinsheng Park. Every weekend, we walked in the park and admired the flowers. The most special part of our walk was being able to see all the airplanes taking off and landing at the domestic airport, so close that we could actually feel the burst of air as they passed over. Many years later, I had the pleasure of working for China Airlines, perhaps because of a small wish I made in my childhood. There are a lot of memories of my elementary schooling in Taiwan: the assembly in the morning with a flag-hoisting ceremony and morning exercise; the playground, dodgeball, skipping, shuttlecock, and other sports; art, paper cutting, and music lessons. My favorite idol group at that time was the
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Prabha & Priya
Name: Prabha Lalwani Jethwani Hometown: Indore, MP, India Profession: Director, Taiwan Chamber of Commerce New Delhi Current Residence: New Delhi, India
boy band Little Tigers (Xiao Hu Dui). Although they later split up, they are still my favorite. My favorite song is “Blessed” (Zhu Fu). After graduating from elementary school, I joined National Taiwan Normal University’s affiliated high school and then went on to National Taiwan University. I joined a lot of extracurricular clubs there, like the Chinese Sign Language Club and Calligraphy Club, and learned more about the beautiful Chinese language and culture. Of course, while in university, I had plenty of outings to Yangmingshan, Keelung, and Jinshan, along with evening strolls at Maokong, where we sipped tea. The night markets of Taipei – Shilin, Tonghua, Gongguan, and Shida – have our footprints. I love the Chinese sausages and stinky tofu of the Shilin night market, the fried oyster omelet and teppanyaki of Tonghua, the Chinese bun and salty fried chicken of Gongguan, and the famous marinade snacks of Shida. Oh, and not to mention the delicious hot pots! I even embarked on a graduation trip-not once, but twice.
In addition to going with my own class, I also went with my roommate’s class as an honorary member. We went to Hualien, Taroko Gorge, Green Island, and Penghu and experienced the beauty of Taiwan’s scenery. During college, I also participated in many international activities, such as the International Children’s Folklore and Folk Game Festival in Yilan, where I participated in the dragon boat races; Taiwan International Arts Festival in Tainan, where I also saw the black-faced spoonbill and the famous salt mounds; and the Golden Horse Awards and Golden Bell Awards. During the Lunar New Year, or MidAutumn Festival, I would join my classmates to return home and enjoy reunion dinners with their families, barbecuing under the full moon. It has been a decade since I have returned to India, but I still try to visit Ilha Formosa each year to see my sister, teachers, and friends. I remember the past and feel proud of the achievements Taiwan has had. What I miss the most when I am away, apart from the people of Taiwan, is the food. Taiwan is definitely a gourmet’s paradise in every sense. Even the restaurants that my friends invite me to when I am in Taiwan have very special names, like Together or Gathering. During Lunar New Year last year, the three members of the Little Tigers band came together again to perform for the first time since dissolving. My friends in Taiwan called me especially to give me this good news, saying, “Your Little Tigers are back again. When are you coming back here?” Having such special, considerate friends, how could I ever forget Taiwan; how could I not cherish and miss this beautiful island and its kind people? Destiny brought me, Prabha, to Taiwan; and happiness is exactly what I feel when in Taiwan. ■
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Taiwan Z an!
I Name: Lo Yuan-chyuan Hometown: Hualien, Taiwan Profession: Medical Physicist Current Residence: USA
was born in a beautiful city on the east coast of Taiwan called Hualien. There was a small brook right in front of our house. The water was so clear, you could see the fish swimming in it. There are high mountains (you need to raise your head to see the tops) a few miles behind the house. Almost equal distance to the east is the Pacific Ocean. My high school sat on top of a cliff, right next to the ocean. My friends and I liked to hike down to the rocky beach during school break, sit on our favorite rocks, and read a book or just listen to the waves hitting the rocks. I am blessed to have grown up in such a beautiful and peaceful place. Taiwan is a paradise for foods. Wax apple is my absolute favorite fruit. It has a unique texture – a cross between apple and watermelon. It’s not as sweet and mushy as watermelon; it’s not as tart and crisp as apple. To me, it’s the perfect fruit. I also love rice dumplings, which are steamed sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. Mochi is also delicious and is made with fresh ingredients and the ingenious creativeness of the people of Taiwan. It’s made of sticky rice pounded into paste, but it is not sticky or mushy! If you ever want to visit Taiwan, I would suggest you visit the following places: (1) Taroko National Park in Hualien is one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan. It was named after the landmark gorge of the park. The gorge itself was carved into the marble by the erosive power of the Liwu River. It’s absolutely a must-see if you’re visiting Taiwan and enjoy natural splendor, hiking, and sightseeing. (2) The National Palace Museum is the best art museum in Taipei. It has a permanent collection of over 677,687 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artwork, making it one of the largest in the world. The collection encompasses over eight thousand years of Chinese history, from the Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty. Most of the collections are high-quality pieces collected by China’s ancient emperors. (3) Fo Guang Shan is the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. Presently, it has over two hundred branch temples throughout the world, carrying out the goals of propagating Humanistic Buddhism and establishing a pure land on earth. I strongly recommend staying there overnight to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the daily life of a Buddhist monk or nun. Twenty-eight years ago, I finished my master’s degree at Tsing-Hua University, then received a full PhD scholarship from Yale University and came to America. This was the only reason I left Taiwan. In the past twenty-eight years, not one day passes that I do not miss sitting on my favorite rock in my hometown, listening to the waves from the Pacific Ocean, and tasting Four Gods soup, which my mother used to make for me. To me, Taiwan is the most beautiful place on earth. There is a good reason why it was called Formosa. The weather is sub-tropical, the people are friendly, the food is great – what more can you ask? ■
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hen I was eleven years old, my family and I left Taiwan to go to Brazil on the other side of the world. Although it has been nearly forty years since then, I still have wonderful and warm memories when I think about Taiwan, my hometown, my classmates and teachers. I have watched movies such as Fists of Fury, and enjoyed hand puppet shows, Taiwanese operas, and soap operas from my childhood. Even now I still keep up with popular music. I especially like Jody Chiang (Chiang Hui), Teresa Teng (Teng Li-chun) and Daniel Lo (Lo Shih-feng) and variety shows in Brazil. Taiwan has beautiful landscapes. I am very impressed by those in Tiansiang and Taroko around Hualien. Of particular note is the Taroko National Park where the mountain formations are so unusual and the air is particularly fresh. It is difficult to imagine just how workers were able to excavate through the mountains when building the roads there. In particular the spectacular view from the summit after climbing to the top is truly awe-inspiring. Travelling around Taiwan is very easy and even more convenient now that there is the Taiwan High Speed Rail service. Hotels can also be found everywhere you go. Every time I think about Taiwan’s night markets I start salivating. Oyster omelettes, oyster vermicelli and sweet flavoured ice have all left a lasting impression on me. Temple festivities are lively affairs and relatives extend a warm welcome to returning family members, giving one a strong feeling of belonging to the hometown, a feeling that there is always someone there to welcome you and who looks forward to seeing you again. In Brazil, I have been volunteering my services at the Tzu Chi Clinic of São Paulo every other Saturday afternoon. I also have been going to the Ru Lai Temple of Fo Guan Shan in Brazil for chanting and meditation every Sunday, which strengthens my links and contact with Taiwan. Studying Buddhism gives me a lot of pleasure and happiness. I can definitely see the growing improvement in myself as Taiwan also continues to progress. ■
Name: Lin Yu-chuang Hometown: Taoyuan County, Taiwan Profession: Doctor of Western Medicine Current Residence: São Paulo, Brazil
— Translated by Evie Chen
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Taiwan Z an!
— Photo provided by Jane Howng
have been working in Taiwan for almost four years now. I came to this beautiful island to conduct postdoctoral research right after I had completed my Ph.D. study. I came back to Taiwan because there are so many good baseball players originating from Taiwan, so I imagined that the most popular sport in Taiwan would be baseball. It took some time before I realized I was wrong and discovered Taiwanese people, especially young men, prefer basketball. As soon as I started to live in Taiwan, I liked it right away for its warm weather and the culture, similar to that of my country. What I like about Taiwan the most is the people. I think that they are very kind. On a bus or MRT, I often see young people give seats to those who are old and disabled. They are also so open-minded and friendly; it seems to me that they never hesitate to talk to strangers, especially foreigners. For example, when I have dinner in restaurants, people next to me often talk to me. Sometimes they call me “Riben Pengyou ”(“friend from Japan” in Chinese) when they recognize me as Japanese, which really moves my heart. The place I like most in Taiwan is the beautiful northeast coast. It has become one of my favorite spots for my weekend
Name: Keiichiro Ohara Hometown: Yokohama, Japan Profession: Postdoctoral Fellow Current Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
get-away in the summer, and I love the magnificent ocean landscape. I imagine that the Portuguese navigators, who named this island Formosa (“beautiful” in Portuguese) must have seen the same landscape when they passed by in the midsixteenth century. This place is also very interesting from a geological point of view. My favorite food is malahuoguo. This is a kind of Chinese hot pot – very spicy. The first time I tasted it, I could not talk, due to its extreme hot flavor. When I saw a young woman next to my table eating it and chatting with her friends, I was curious about why her sense of taste was so different from mine. After some practice, I started to love it, probably because of the evolution of my tongue, and I eat it at least once a week in the winter. Before visiting Taiwan, I would suggest that Japanese people should learn Chinese words such as “Taiwan Pengyou”(meaning “Taiwanese friends”) and “Xie-xie” (meaning “thank you”). Considering the time that it takes to go to Taiwan from Japan by airplane, it should be easy to learn these words during the flight, so they can start saying them as soon as they arrive. The final thing I would like to suggest to them is to make friends with this beautiful island. I am sure they will never regret it, as I certainly shall not. ■
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Must-Visit Places in Taiwan
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— Photo Taken by S. J. Chen Taiwan Z an!
Sun Moon Lake — Taiwan's Must-See Place
s a Taiwanese, Sun Moon Lake has always been on top of my list of the best-ten-places to visit in Taiwan. The very first time I saw the lake was back in the 1980s. It was a school outing and we stayed overnight in a small lodge in Puli which is about thirty minutes drive away to the south. I had no clear idea about the lake until 2009 when I started working as an Englishspeaking tour guide hosting visitors from all over the world. The lake lies in central Taiwan and, without a doubt, is the most popular tourism spot for visitors from China. Most Chinese visitors are lured not only by the scenic beauty but also by the mysterious story of the Chiang Kai-shek family. There was a summer pavilion by
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— Photo Taken by Lo Lan-fang
— Photo Taken by Wayne Huang
the lake for Chiang and his family to use over the weekend. However, it was torn down and rebuilt as a 5-star resort after the devastating 921 earthquake took place in 1999. There is, however, a small display room next to the resort where some household items of the Chiang family are kept. Situated at an elevation of over 700 metres, the mild weather results in an abundance of rainfall which gives the lake area a misty, poetic atmosphere all year round. Besides a typical lake cruise during the day, travelling around the lake is highly recommended by the tourism bureau. Various hiking trails are available for visitors who like workouts and to enjoy the abundant ecology at the same time. You may see pictures of the lake from different aspects and hear many stories about it but they do not do it justice! Check it out on http://www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw for details and plan your next trip to Sun Moon Lake. It really is a place you must visit once in your lifetime! ■
— Photo Taken by Wayne Huang
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Taiwan Z an!
The Epitome of Taiwan
― Translated by Yeh Yun-kai
Nightview from Wu-Geo-Tun Mountain
aoyuan County is where Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is located. It is therefore the first stop for tourists from China and other countries. The county not only has one of the largest business and industrial sectors in all of Taiwan’s administration areas, it also has a rich history and beautiful scenery. The county is equally famous for its agricultural industry. It is the largest provider of flowers on the island. Its rice has won the high-quality prize two years in a row. Its organic agricultural products, Longtan Pong-feng (Formosa Oolong) Tea, Christmas roses, tomatoes, and peaches are all nationally acclaimed. So it is fair for us to say that Taoyuan is the epitome of Taiwan.
About Taoyuan County
Taoyuan is easily accessible for tourists, due to its welldeveloped traffic network. You can find the international airport, Taiwan High Speed Rail station, train station, and city buses. A Taoyuan International Airport Access MRT System is currently under construction. It is expected to offer a high-quality transport service after completion. You can also make use of a tourist-route shuttle bus that will take you to some of the most popular destinations of the county, including the Culture Resort of the Chiangs, Shimen Reservoir, and Daxi Old Street, among others. Back Cihu was formerly known as Pi-wei. It was also known as Dongkou, meaning “tunnel opening,” as it is close to the Baiji Tunnel. Former President Chiang Kaishek loved its scenery and built a residence here in 1959,
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The divine trees in Lala Mountain Scenic Area because it reminded him of his mother and his hometown of Fenghua, back in China. The place was officially renamed Back Cihu – literally meaning “benevolent lake” – in 1962, in remembrance of his deceased mother. It is now a temporary resting place of President Chiang Kaishek and his son. The Back Cihu Mausoleum is famous for its change of guard ceremony, a widely popular tourist attraction during weekends.
Back Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park
The Back Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park, built in 1997, is situated near the Back Cihu parking lot. There are some 152 bronze statues of Chiang Kai-shek and his son, donated by various localities of Taiwan since February 29, 2000, the date the first statue arrived.
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Heping Old Street in Daxi
Lala Mountain Scenic Area
Lala Mountain is famous for its wide expanse of red cypress trees, whose ages range from five hundred to three thousand years. It is the largest red cypress trees forest in the East Asian region and home to “divine trees,” which is the name locals gave to these thousand-year-old trees. The former name of the Lala Mountain was Daguan Mountain. In the aboriginal Atayal language, Lala means “beautiful.” In addition to cloud-reaching red cypress trees, one can also find Taiwan yellow cypress trees and other color-changing trees, such as green maple trees and beech trees, in the scenic area. In the autumn, when the weather turns cooler, green leaves change into red, giving the place a poetic look and making it a tourist favorite.
Inner Cihu Area
The Inner Cihu Area was restricted to visitors for decades, until very recently. It was the place where former President Chiang Kai-shek and his wife, Madame Chiang, would enjoy a
walk and a pleasant afternoon boat ride. Its beautiful scenery and command centers, bunker, formerly restricted areas, and offices make it a must-visit for tourists.
Shimen Reservoir is one of the largest dams in Asia. You can enjoy a bike tour or take a boat trip around the lake. Some of the most widely visited spots in the reservoir area include the dam itself, the spillway, Plum Blossom Park, the wharf, SijhonPark, Maple Forest Park, and Chinese Rain Trees Park. As it is the largest dam in Taiwan, many people will come long distances just to witness the magnificent view during flood discharge in rainy seasons.
Daxi Old Street
The town of Daxi used to be a bustling hub for trading with China. Booming trade in camphor and tea made it the
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Cihu A r ea
first developed area in Taoyuan County. Daxi Old Street is comprised mainly of old stores on Heping Street. Heping Street is preserved in relatively good condition, as it was developed later than other areas. You can find diverse stores, including restaurants and woodshops along Heping Street.
Sankengzi Old Street
Known as the No. 1 Street in Longtan Township, Sankengzi is a traditional Hakka village and was one of the most prosperous wharves in Taiwan. Yong Fu Temple is the religious center of the village. Along both sides of the temple, many shops are built in a unique combination of everyday living and business activities. This one-of-a-kind view has kept Hakka traditions alive and is definitely worth a visit.
Xiao Wulai Waterfall
The Wu-Geo-Tun Mountain
The Wu-Geo-Tun Mountain ("Five-Barrel Mountain"), located behind the Nantian Temple in Nei-zhu village, Luzhu Township, is about 150 meters above sea level. Most of the mountain path is made up of its original earth and rock. The winding trail to the mountain top will take two hours to climb. The long walk will guarantee you a workout. You can stop occasionally during the mountain climbing trip to read a book at the Nian Zu Liao, to view the beautiful scenery of the Taiwan Strait, or to simply watch the planes taking off and landing at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. There is something for everyone on the Wu-Geo-Tun Mountain, where you can exercise or simply enjoy some leisure time. It is already a famous location amongst hikers. You will find the mountain logo when you have finally climbed to the mountain top. It shows five ceramic wine barrels stacked together, referring to the mountain name of Wu-Geo-Tun. There is a mixture of different cultures in Taoyuan County, including Hakka, Southern Fujian, and the cultures of new immigrants. The county is also renowned for its traditional culture and high-tech industries. You are welcome to visit Taoyuan to experience its beautiful and various cultures. ■
This article and all the photos are provided by the Taoyuan County Government
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In the middle of everywhere
Amazing Penghu! ―
Translated by Monique Willemsen
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Sea stones piled in the shape of two hearts, a famous landmark of Cimei island.
enghu is made up of many small islands; the Penghu archipelago is located in between Taiwan and Mainland China. The ninety islands that vary in size have an incomparable natural beauty consisting of basalt columns, beautiful beaches, blue oceans and much more. Also called the Pescadores, they formed the frontline against people from the Mainland crossing the ocean, which is why during the reign of Kublai Khan (Yuan Dynasty) a patrol division was established and lasted until 1281. This division fell under the jurisdiction of former Tongan County, Fujian Province, as a result of which Penghu has a history of more than seven hundred years of development. During this development, the early ancestors left many traces that are now characteristic of the area, such as fortifications, temples, lighthouses, historical residences, honeycomb fields, stone weirs and stone tablets (for warding off evil spirits). This abundance of natural and cultural resources is what attracts tourists to this area.
Columnized Basalt Rock Formations – A Myriad of Geomorphic Wonders
Made up of black volcanic rock, the ninety islands that form Penghu are also called “Black Rock Country.” Most of the Penghu islands consist of basalt, which has a dark and majestic appearance. Wind and marine erosion have formed many different landscapes, such as the columnized basalt rock formations of Tongpan Island
About Penghu Geographic location: Southwest of Taiwan Topography: Basalt rock (mesa), coral reefs, gravel sediments Area: Approximately 127 km2, measuring some 60 km from north to south and 40 km from east to west Climate: Average annual temperature of 23°C; annual precipitation of 900 mm, 80% of which falls during summer; comfortable in spring, summer and autumn; northeast monsoon in winter Population: Approximately 96,000 Annual number of tourists: Approximately 800,000 ─ 111 ─
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The underwater world of Penghu is amazingly beautiful, attracting great numbers of diving enthusiasts.
and Daguoye Island that were created by wind erosion, and the basalt cliffs of the Whale Cave on Xiaomen and the Fenggui Cave on Magong that were formed by marine erosion.
Golden Beaches – Blue Seas and Azure Skies
The beaches of Penghu are composed of fragments of shells and coral. As they glisten in the sun, they stretch along the ocean, sometimes for hundreds of meters. There are Shanshuei Beach, Aimen Beach, Wangankou Beach, Shazui Beach on Jibei, Shazui Beach on Qingluo, and so on. Forming a sharp, beautiful contrast with the crystal blue ocean, these beautiful beaches are also called the "golden beaches of Penghu."
Twin Hearts Stone Weir – A Beautiful and Romantic Tourist Hotspot
There are currently about five hundred stone weirs throughout Penghu, the most famous of which is the twin hearts stone weir on Cimei Island. It is the only stone weir of Penghu that is made in the shape of two hearts and has been well preserved. It is not only a showpiece of the wisdom of the Penghu ancestors, but also of a most environmentally-friendly fishing method.
Honeycomb Fields – A Tour through the Characteristic Landscape of Penghu
The honeycomb fields are characteristic of Penghu. The strong northeast monsoon that blows in Penghu during the winter makes it difficult to grow crops. Early inhabitants of Penghu therefore
Tongpan Island is located to the southwest of Magong Harbor and is nicknamed Penghu Yellowstone Park.
piled stones in their fields to protect their crops. Viewed from a distance, these piles of rock form a honeycomb pattern, hence they are named “honeycomb fields.”
Lighthouses – Embrace the Mediterranean Atmosphere and Enjoy the Beautiful Scenery
For the early inhabitants of Penghu, the ocean was their field and their boat was their home. Because the entire Penghu archipelago is bristling with hidden reefs, safety at sea became a basic concern for the early inhabitants. This is why Penghu has the largest number of lighthouses in East Asia. There are a total of twenty-four lighthouses, the larger and more important of which are the lighthouse on Mudou Island (built in 1899), the lighthouse on Yuwong Island (built in 1778) and the lighthouse on Cimei Island (built in 1939).
Top Ten Must-See Tourist Attractions
To promote some of the beautiful sceneries, landscapes and cultural aspects that are characteristic of Penghu, in May 2011 the Penghu County government introduced a list of the top ten tourist attractions of Penghu, including the Shanshuei Beach of Magong, the basalt columns of Tongpan, the Guanyin Pavilion, the Kuibishan Recreation Area and Aimen Beach of Husi Township, the Jibei Island of Baisha Township, the Erkan Historical Village of Xiyu Township, the Siaomen Whale Cave, the Zhongshe Tadi-
The Xiying Rainbow Bridge and Penghu Ocean Fireworks Festival are important annual tourist attractions.
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tional Houses of Wangan Township, and the Twin Hearts Stone Weir of Cimei. Penghu has countless beautiful spots, such as the Qingwan Cactus Park (Magong), Tatsan Islet (Baisha Township), Gupo Islet (Baisha Township), the terraced fields of Dongyuping Island (Wangan Township), and so on. All these places are perfect tourist destinations.
Delicious Penghu Food – Tourists Can Explore Gourmet Heaven
As Penghu is located between the Kuroshio (warm) and Oyashio (cold) tidal fronts and surrounded by coral reefs, it has become well-known for its seafood. Popular dishes include squid balls, brown sugar cakes, salty crackers, scallop sauce, dried squid, white gourd cakes, seaweed crisps and handmade noodles.
Transportation to Penghu
By air: there are daily direct flights from Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung to Magong airport. Another option is to fly from Xiamen via Kinmen to Magong. Direct charter flights are also available. By sea: one can travel by boat to Magong Harbor from the ports of Kaohsiung and Chiayi. Charter boats are also available.
Accommodation in Penghu
Penghu currently has 46 hotels with a total of 2,194 rooms and 174 B&Bs with a total of 674 rooms, so tourists can choose from a total of 2,868 rooms.
From Budai in Chiayi you can take a boat or catch a flight to spend a minimum of three days and two nights on Penghu. The first day, after arriving in Magong City on the main island of Penghu, you can rent a scooter or car and go to the Siaomen and Siyu islets that are only thirty-five minutes away. At Siaomen you can visit the Whale Cave and Geology Hall. Going further to the
Jibei is a popular destination during the summer. The Jibei Sand Bay stretches from Xikanshan to the southeast. Blue seas, azure skies and golden beaches form a delightful contrast.
south you can visit the grand Daguoye basalt rock formations, Sanxian Pagoda, Waian Grasslands and Yuwong Lighthouse. On the second day, you can do some island hopping and visit Jibei Island, Shazui Beach, Wangan Island and Cimei Island (beware of high waves and take notice of ferry departure times). On the third day, you can stroll along the old street of Magong, savor some local snacks, visit the Tianhou Temple and Guanyin Pavilion, and go to the Aimen, Shanshuei or Shili beaches. Situated in the critical position of the Taiwan Straits, early invaders have left various cultural assets and a wealth of stories for the islands of Penghu. Tourists will be able to discover the beauty of Penghu by visiting the extraordinary columnized basalt rock formation, leaving their footprints on the amazing golden beaches and enjoying the blue ocean with all sorts of ocean activities. If you want to have an unforgettable, thrilling holiday, come to Penghu! ■ For more travel information, please log on: www.penghu.gov.tw. This article and all the photos are provided by the Penghu County Government
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A Simulated Photo of the Taiwan Pavilion at the Expo 2010 Shanghai during the day
Falling in love with the City of Wind
Translated by Yeh Yun-kai
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a king a bicycle tour in Hsinchu City is like entering the cultural path that enables you to experience the city’s former glory during the Japanese colonial
period. Hsinchu is a very ancient city and a favorite place in Taiwan of the former Japanese Crown prince. When he was still a Prince, Emperor Meiji had once visited the city and enjoyed a taste of famous Taiwanese snacks here. During his trip, the prince also set up a royal garden which has now become the oldest public zoo in Taiwan, and a cinema called Yurakucho.
Night View at Gangnan Coastal Scenic Area The Gangnan Coastal Scenic Area is one of the newlydeveloped scenic spots along the western coastline in Hsinchu. The city government has been making tremendous efforts to give the area a new look in order to attract visitors. The Area has been redeveloped as a multifunctional visitor destination, with scenic areas, picnic sites and recreational facilities for children. Now the area has become a widely popular dating place for young people to enjoy a romantic night while listening to the waves and enjoying the gentle breezes from the sea.
About Hsinchu City Administrative districts: The city is divided into the North District, the East District, and the Xiangshan District Area: Around 100 km2 Climate: Average temperature around 23°C Renowned for its windy weather Population: Around 410,000 Annual visitors: Around 800,000 A Simulated Photo of the Taiwan Pavilion of Expo 2010 Shanghai at night
The Sea Viewing Park
Located on the north side of the Environmental Education Building, the beautiful Sea Viewing Park was transformed from a dump and turned into a perfect place to enjoy the sea view. It is mainly covered by grass and is a great location for holding musical events. It is also a perfect place for families to fly kites, play Frisbee and fly remote-controlled planes. The government has built a bike trail in the park that leads to the Nanliao Fishing Port.
The Horizon and Sea Viewing Area
The Horizon and Sea Viewing Area was originally a garbage dump. At twenty meters above sea level this has now been transformed into a recreation area with a great view of the ocean. From the Sea Viewing Area, one can also observe the magnificent building of the Environmental Protection Bureau, designed by the world-renowned Chinese architect I.M. Pei. What makes the Horizon and Sea Viewing Area different from the Sea Viewing Park is that the former is designed with
lawns. Grasses were planted on different slopes so that visitors can enjoy widely different views when sitting or lying on each lawn. Such a place lures visitors to lie on the grass, and enjoy the sea view at night time. Swinging in the wind on the west side of the park, the beautiful Carp Windsocks — gifts from Hsinchu’s sister city in Japan — warmly greet visitors.
Very few people know that, aside from the famous mangrove marshland in the New Taipei City’s Tamsui district, there is also a mangrove forest in Hsinchu. Along the coastline of the Keya River, and next to the exit of the West Coastal Expressway, the mangrove forest covers an area of 0.26 hect-
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ares and enriches it with numerous fauna and flora. To make the forest more easily accessible and promote better understanding of mangrove ecology, the city government built a 7,702-square meter park with facilities such as a biking trail, a bird-watching footpath, and an area for sand carving and rock-climbing. One of the must-sees when you visit the park is the wide variety of sea birds that are frequently resting in the area. More than forty types of birds, mostly winter migrants, have been spotted in the vicinity of the park. The top three most frequently spotted birds here are Blackcrowned Night Herons, Dunlins, and Yellow Wagtails. The mangrove plays a pivotal role in the coastal eco-system. The falling mangrove leaves become a major source of nutrition for marine organisms. The mangrove forest serves as a habitat and resting place for marine animals. You can definitely experience the beauty of Mother Nature when visiting the park.
The Splendid Coastline Scenic Area
The Splendid Coastline Scenic Area adjoins the largest marsh of northern Taiwan, the Siangshan Marsh, where the
18 Peaks Mountain
beauty of its sunset has been considered one of the “Top Eight Scenes of Hsinchu” since the Qing Dynasty. In recent years, the coastline area has become a midway resting place for travelers on the West Coast Expressway. The wetland in the coastal area is the home to many seashore creatures. It is also an area of rich ecology that allows people to be close to nature within the city. For these reasons, the city government has designated the marsh as a wildlife reservation area. A stone carved with the words “Splendid Coastline,” named by former Vice President Annette Lu, is also to be found here. The deserted military pillboxes have been turned into public restrooms. This area is a perfect model of sustainable city development.
The Haishan Port Sea View Platform
The Haishan Port is one of the two fishing ports of the Hsinchu City. But due to the tidal restriction, the fishing business of the Haishan port was not as booming as the Nanliao Fishing Port.
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To promote tourism, the Hsinchu City government has constructed recreational facilities, including a sea view platform at the northern tip of the port. The one-story-high platform is a great location for visitors to enjoy a view of the Siangshan Marsh; and the unique oyster farming business in the marsh can also be observed from here.
Hsinchu City is easily accessible for tourists with its welldeveloped traffic network. Highway: Take Highway No.1 to visit Hsinchu City via the Hsinchu System Interchange or take Highway No. 3 to Hsinchu via the Jiadong Interchange. Railway: Take the Taiwan railway train to Hsinchu Train
Station, or take the Taiwan High Speed Rail and exit at the Hsinchu High Speed Rail Station. Accommodations: A total of sixty hotels are registered in the city. Three of them are international hotels and fifty-seven of them are business hotels. A new tourism attraction of the city is the Taiwan Pavillion previously exhibited at the Expo 2010 Shanghai. The city government won the bid to buy the Taiwan Pavilion. In the near future, the Pavilion will be open to general visitors. Not only is this Pavilion expected to make Hsinchu an even more international city, it is also hoped to make Hsinchu become the window that will show Taiwan to the world. ■ This article and all the photos are provided by the Hsinchu City Government
City God Temple (Cheng Huang Temple) and Beimen Street
Green Grass Lake
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Acknowledgements ― Translated by Darren Wee and Wu Jie
never realised how fantastic Taiwan is until I finished writing up nine articles from my interviews; until I read forty short articles written by friends from eighteen countries across five continents and until the list of people I wished to thank was growing longer each day. I would like to thank secretary-general to the president, Mr Timothy Yang; former minister of education, Mr Wu Ching-ji; chairman of Straits Exchange Foundation, Mr Chiang Ping-kun; minister of the council for Hakka Affairs, Executive Yuan, Minister Huang Yu-cheng; minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, Minister Sun Ta-chuan; minister of the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission, Minister Wu Ying-yih; director-general of the National Immigration Agency, Ministry of the Interior, Director-General Hsieh Li-kung and the deputy director of the China Post, Mr Daniel Huang, who were willing to endorse the first edition of Taiwan Zan!. My gratitude also goes to all of the brilliant people from Taiwan who accepted my interviews for this book, and I need to thank my boss, Alice Chao and all the volunteers; they include Janet Phipps, Derek Marsh, Alison Devine, Graham Pickering, Deborah Lu, Darren Wee, Rita Lee, Han Jia-ling, Gracie Chou, Vivien Sun, Clare Lear, Mary Chen, Yoshiko Kurotsu, Yeh Yun-kai, Grace Soong, Lin Yuting, Enru Lin, Mark Lewis, Min Chao, Akie Ang, Maria Flores, Anny Lin and David Chuang, as well as all the spokespersons for Taiwan from eighteen countries and my team members whom I cannot pay in full (due to the limited space, I cannot list their names here, please refer to the copyright page). I would like to thank the following people whom I have yet to meet but who were willing to let me use the photos they took for free. They are Yang Ya-tang, Wayne Huang, S.J. Chen, Sun Zi Hua, Laurent Boissin and Lou Boissin. Special thanks also go to Jenny Su from Taipei Medical University; Mayor Jason Hu, Jean Shih and Chen Xiou-lan from Taichung City government; Mayor Lai Ching-te and Lin Hui-mei from Tainan City government; Magistrate Wang Chien-fa and Lin Li-qing from the Penghu County government; Mayor Wu Chih-yang and Wu Shu-jing from the Taoyuan County government; Mayor Hsu Ming-tsai and Yu Shi-ying from the Hsinchu City government; Mayor Hau Lung-bin,
When I was 44.
Hsin-ping Chao and Emily Wang from the Taipei City government; Curt Huang from Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission; Yann Ravel, Cynthia Xia, Karen Zhuang, Lillian Huang and Youra Ravel from Eurocentre; also my colleagues: Morgan Lin, Willa Ni, Tu Li-ling, Isabella Chen, Polly Wang, Dimitri Bruyas; my second uncle’s wife and youngest uncle; Lo Yuan-fa, my aunt; Lo Lan-fang, Venerable Master Hsin Yun and Venerable Chueh Pei from Fo Guang Shan (FGS). Without your support and assistance, Taiwan Zan! would never have been possible.
I must not forget to thank my beloved family, supportive friends and people who have either helped me or inspired me or made an impact on my life: Dr Jarrett Schimitt, Jeff Coat, Mrs Yoko Beard, Mr Li Dong and his wife Tien, Dr Phil Carter, my sister, Sara Wu, Sir Alan Collins, Monica Wu, Mark Walmsley, Chris Macdonald, Yuko Ibaragi, Frank Fong, Michel Mauran, Gavin Phipps, Iain Benady, Ross Dyer, Ada Ong, Mike Wester, Jasper Becker, Graham Pickering, Shammon Wu, Sun Herfeng, Rita Lee, Wang Yu-tung, Pamela Wang, Dionne Chi, Jiang Shou-yun, Wendy Ying, Jean Hsieh, Joyce Fu, Alan Li, Denise Chou, Fellicia Deng, Winnie Xiong, Amanda Ma, Polly Lo, Zhuang Ying, Amarni Zhang, Jeff Warrington and my sister in Manchuria, Wu Shouling whom my father never stopped thinking about (right from the day he left China until he passed away in Taiwan). Even more so, I would like to thank my uncle Dr Lo Yuan-chyuan and my teacher Ms Han Jia-ling, who after all these years, still patiently guide me towards the answer every time I meet with a difficulty. Last but not least, I want to thank my 94-year-old uncle Mr Duan Jia-zheng, who, since I was a little girl, would tie my hair into plaits and take me to school on his bike. I did not like him during my rebellious teenage years as he used to tell me he would break my legs (he never hit me even once though). Although he is too old to scold me now and he cannot recognise me any more, I will never forget how he waited for me countless times outside my classroom with my raincoat whenever it rained unexpectedly. I certainly will never forget his familiar and faithful shadow. Never ever...■
April,2012 in Taipei, Taiwan
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Taken in May, 2013
aving not done any promotional activities for the first edition of Taiwan Zan!, I am quite surprised to find myself writing the afterword for the third edition. I wish I could find words to express my gratitude to Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Ven. Chueh Pei, Ven. Man Mu, Ven. Ru Bin and Lai Chia-hsuan from FGS; the secretary-general to the president, Mr Timothy Yang; former minister of education, Mr Wu Ching-ji; my sub-editor, Janet Phipps; the director of the British Council in Taipei, Alison Devine; the assistant professor in the department of English at National Taiwan Normal University, Aaron Deveson; the co-founder and CEO of UKEAS, Richard Smith; Gracie Chou; Julia Lin; Fan Reixin; Evie Chen; Grace Soong; Enru Lin; Mark Lewis; and Graham Pickering for their continuous support and assistance with Taiwan Zan!. I would also like to thank the chairman and a member of the board of trustees of Taipei Medical University, Dr Tsu-der Lee; Chairman of United Daily News Group, Mr Duncan Wang; MP for Pandan Malaysia, Mr Ong Tee-keat; Vice-Provost of University College London (UCL), Professor Michael Worton; former MP from South Africa, Ms Sherry Chen and chief-editor of the Student Post, Ciaran Madden for endorsing the second and third editions of Taiwan Zan!. I am extremely thankful for all the support and assistance from my mother, Wu Lo Hong-mei; my sister, Irene Wu; my niece, Wu Yu-ting; Felicity Bloor; Keiichiro Hara; Louis Allen; Wenyi Lee; Finch Tsai; Antoine Laurent; Wang Chien-yu; Jane Howng; Guo Guei-chuan; Sasha Ho; Arsene Lo; Daniel Spiller; Hans Hung-
yuan Chen, Gavin Phipps, Vivian Lee and the CreateSpace editing team and support team as well as my publishing consultant, Katherine Davis and whoever is (or was) involved with Taiwan Zan!, if I have overlooked mentioning your name here, please do forgive me. Special thanks must go to the president of Enspyre, Elias Ek who has built the website for Taiwan Zan! for free and that American tourist who bought thirty copies at Fo Guang Shan last October. Their generosity and support have given me the confidence to move forward. When I left Taiwan for the first time in 1989, I never thought I would move back. I thought the Taiwan I knew was a joke, and I was looking for flaws in everyone else, without looking at my own flaws. It has taken me thirty years to realise that the so called “ Utopia” just does not exist. There is no such thing as a perfect place, a perfect person or a perfect thing. I used to think I knew everything, but my interview with Venerable Master Hsing Yun has made me realise that, in fact, I know nothing at all! For now, the only thing I do know is this: even though Taiwan has many unsolved problems and is, like the rest of the world, far from perfect, still, I think, Taiwan is fantastic! ■
31 May,2013 in Taipei, Taiwan ─ 119 ─
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Taiwan Zan! Author/Managing Editor: Wu Jie Email: email@example.com Sub-editor: Janet Phipps Consulting Editors: Derek Marsh, Alison Devine, Graham Pickering, Aaron Deveson, Clare Lear, Mary S. Chen, Yoshiko Kurotsu, Min Chao, Mark Lewis, Lin Yuting, Enru Lin, Louis Allen, Daniel Spiller and Ciaran Madden Contributors: Lai Ching-te, Gilles Porte, Hsu Ming-tsai, Aaron Deveson, Wu Chihyang, Graham Pickering, Hau Lung-bin, Clare Lear, Wang Chien-fa, Hugues Mignot, Felicia Deng, Derek Marsh, Don Shapiro, Alison Devine, Mary Shao-mei Chen, Tsui Young, Monique Willemsen, Joagni Pare, Lin Jing-fen, Fabian Föh, Molly Huang, Liu Mei-chi, Brian Foden, Susanne Palm, Shi Hue-shou, Elias Ek, Peng Xue-hui, Richard Smith, Gao Xiangkuei, Thomas Sorrill, Anthea Chou, Denise Chou, Caroline Mauran, Priya Lalwani Purswaney, Prabha Lalwani Jethwani, Mark Lewis, Lo Yuan-chyuan, Lin Yu-chuang, Rita Lee,Deborah Lu, Darren Wee, Vivien Sun, Gracie Chou, Chang Huiling, Min Lo, Akie Ang,Han Jia-ling, Felicity Bloor, Keiichiro Ohara, Doris Pan, Antoine Laurent, Yeh Yun-kai, Grace Soong, Evie Chen, Lin Yuting, Enru Lin, Min Chao, Nancy Lee, Wenyi Lee, Wang Cian-yu, Hans Hung-yuan Chen, Gavin Phipps and Vivian Lee Art Designers: Julia Lin, Fan Ruixin, Iv y Chen and Maria Floers Published by: Chengjie Creative/ 誠杰媒體創意廣告有限公司 (www.chengjiecreative.com) 1st printing, May 2012 2nd printing, May 2013 3rd printing: printed and distributed by: CreateSpace (w w w.createspace.com) in the United States of America in August 2013
Copyright© Wu Yi-xuan , 2013. All rights reserved
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