Put My Fingers in My Criminal Ass

I received this very amusing, candid and thoughtful response to a letter I sent to the Taipei Times (editorial Dec. 17, "Foreigners not Welcome" or something like that). I took the guy's name out and replaced it using an XX. With Taiwan's low birthrate (second lowest in the world, I think) and one in six kids now being born to biracial or bicultural families, I wonder who's going to be welcoming whom in the future?

"Hello Patrick,
I read your article about citizenship in the Taipei Times. I truly appreciate your points of view. As a matter of fact, I am a Taiwanese, but raised elsewhere since a baby and I happen to have two wives: one Latin american wife and another Taiwanese wife. I do not have problems with both known each other since I spend 1/2 of the year in Central America andthe other half back in Taiwan. My kids were born overseas and in Taiwan. My Latin's wives kids are not Taiwanese even [though] they happened to be born in Taiwan, while my Taiwan's wife kids were born in Costa Rica and they are "Taiwanese." Then, I studied myself and I realized that I have been three people inside myself when we grow up overseas: Taiwanese – Costa Rican – American (where I studied for many years and got my PHD. In Nuclear Physics ). My American me tells me that you are definitely right and laws regarding immigration should change. My Costa Rican me tells me that Costa Rica is the best country in the world, why would we care about citizenship is Taiguan? Where's Taiguan?”My Taiwanese me tells me to shove your criminal fingers in your ass and get out of Taiwan since you are no really welcomed. Greetings, XX"

Actually, I don't give a crap whether I am welcomed or not (I think for the most part, once I get past bureaucrats, that I am). I never said I expected naked women to put grapes in my mouth either. I'm staying here because I like it here and because I want to.

WW II - Home for Xmas

Taiwan paid dearly for WW II: 75% of its infrastructure was destroyed and thousands of people died. I have never seen an exact number but I know some 200,000 Taiwanese served in the Japanese Imperial Army (including 30,000 Aborigines). Many of these individuals were left stranded in Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand as Chiang Kai-shek would have no part in their repatriation. My wife's great-aunt was among the victims here in Taiwan. She was killed by bombers in Taipei's Dong Yuan Market at the age of 19.
My grandpa, who flew on one mission to Taiwan (he always called it Formosa), didn't like to talk about the war at all. These letters are what I know about his experiences. I once asked him why he didn't attend veterans' functions as he was a pretty sociable person. He told me: "I don't want to remember that stuff."
There are some interesting accounts of the bombing raids by Jack Edwards, who was interned in Taiwan during the war for 3.5 years, in Banzai You Bastards. He watched them from the ground in a P.O.W. camp in Jiufen (九份), Taiwan:
"This ringing of the bells, sirens and guards cursing gave us the utmost joy. We rushed straight to our vantage points, yelling and shouting, 'They're off'. As we spotted the swooping, diving planes, this time the sun clearly catching their silver bodies and white stars, we cheered and shouted. Then, as we heard the bombs exploding, we shouted, 'How do you like that with your rice, you fucking bastards? Go on, lads, give it to them!' To know at last someone was hitting back for us gave us our best feeling since we had been taken prisoner. We felt that every bomb dropped was a blow in retaliation for our persecution. Then, as we heard the planes turning back for the sea, up went the cry, 'There they go, only a few thousand feet up. Free men, back to good grub and liberty (permission to quote Mr. Edwards on this blog granted by Banzai You Bastards publisher)!"


WWII- Bombing Raid on Kaohsiung

(Double-click on the text and it should enlarge automatically.)
My grandfather flew in the 90th Bombardment Squad (the Jolly Rogers) during the Second World War. On one mission, they hit the airport outside Kaohsiung. Originally, they were meant to go for Taoyuan, but they were unable to see it due to heavy cloud cover. My grandfather wrote to my grandmother pretty regularly. She re-typed his letters (above) as, I am assuming, she wasn't impressed with his handwriting. My Uncle Vincent Cowsill sent me these scans. He explained how one went about getting out of the airforce:
The points determined your eligibility to be discharged. Those with the greatest number of points were discharged first. In May 1945 the point system was one point for each month in the army; two points for each month overseas; five points for each decoration or campaign; and 12 points for each child. [My grandpa] was unhappy because he only had 38 points in May and needed 80 points to be discharged. It looks like he also earned one point for each five hours on bombing missions; and one additional point for each of the three he flew in July. By November 1945 he had 64 points and, with the war over, was eligible for discharge, which occurred after he arrived in California from Japan on December 26, 1945.
My grandpa once told me that the only time he ever supported a Democratic President was after Truman promised the troops they would be discharged within six months of the end of the war.
(Note: My grandmother retyped the date for the attack on Kaohsiung as July 7, 1945. According to airforce records I've looked at, it was July 9, 1945.)


Ta Hsin (大興) Village, Taiwan

The view outside Nainai's home in Ta Hsin (大興) Village. Nainai is one of six Atayal women left with facial tattoos. She was born in 1915 in Hsiang Bi Village (象鼻村), Taiwan. She lives with the husband of her deceased daughter-in-law, her grandson and his wife. She has outlived her husband and six of her eleven offspring.

Atayal Facial Tattoo

Ching Dynasty officials classified them as "the Branded-Face Barbarians." Not to be outdone, the Japanese colonialists would sever sections of their faces with tattoos clean off. In doing research for a paper I was writing for university, I came across Nainai (pictured above), a 90-year-old Atayal (泰雅) aborigine and one of six women still living in Taiwan with traditional facial tattooing. Actually, I had tried to find Nainai for a long time. In doing so, I met several friendly Atayal who showed me terrific pictures of grandmas or great aunts with facial tatooing, but I had yet to meet anyone who had one. Luckily, I happened to mention this to my friend Gloria, a sixty-year-old Hakka woman originally from near Miaoli. She immediately rang her mom in Hsishui Kun (洗水坑) Village.
Gloria's mother, as she would later explain, had been a mid-wife in the area for 70 years. Over time, she had delivered many Atayal babies. As the Atayal had lived in poverty, Gloria's mom had often done so free of charge. Her standing in the community was excellent as a result.
We didn't actually get out to Hsishui Kun (洗水坑) Village which is at the base of Nanshih Chiao (南勢角) Mountain for a couple of weeks on account of bad weather. When we did, it was pouring rain. The road up to the top of Nanshih Chiao and Nainai's home in Ta Hsin (大興) Village was just awful. Besides being steep, narrow and wet, it was covered with the debris of falling rock and broken trees. Our driver had a creeky 1974 Toyota. It stalled again and again, and when he fired it back up, or attempted to, it would roll back towards the edge of the mountain before first gear kicked in. Sometimes, he'd park the five of us - Gloria, Gloria's mom, myself, himself and Alex (Gloria's nephew along for the ride and a spot of English conversation) - at a seventy degree angle, hop out in the rain and press up the mountain on foot to get directions. Meanwhile, I was thinking that my stupid little obsession about getting some info firsthand was about to get four really nice people killed in a mudslide.


Past Cuisine: Cannibalism in Taiwan

I came across this passage while reading Owen Rutter's account of his 1922 visit to Taiwan in Through Formosa: "The Chinese atrocities [in Taiwan], however, far exceeded any committed by the [aborigines]. The latter took heads, it is true, but the Chinese ate and even traded in their victims flesh. After killing an [aborigine], the head was commonly severed from the body and exhibited to those who were not on hand to witness the prior display of slaughter and mutilation. The body was then either divided among its captors and eaten, or sold to wealthy Chinese and even to high officials, who disposed of it in a like manner. The kidney, liver, heart, and soles of the feet were considered the most desirable portions, and were ordinarily cut up into small pieces, boiled and eaten somewhat in the form of soup. The flesh and bones were boiled, and the former made into a sort of jelly. The Chinese profess to believe, in accordance with an old superstition, that the eating of savage flesh will give them strength and courage…. During the outbreak of 1891 [aboriginal] flesh was brought in – in baskets – the same as pork, and sold like pork in the open markets of Tokoham 桃園 before the eyes of all, foreigners included; some of the flesh was even sent to Amoy 廈門 to be placed on sale there (Rutter 224-5)."
A lot of items are whitewashed from Chinese history. Still I have met a Taiwanese who can confirm this account. My friend Gloria, a sixty-year-old Hakka from near Ta Hsin (大興) atop Nanshih Chiao Mountain (南勢角山), Miaoli (see above picture), told me that her great-great uncle killed aborigines for this purpose. Her family would then boil the aboriginal flesh to make pills which were useful in bribing Ching Dynasty officials. One day, the uncle went out into the mountains never to return. His body minus a head was found a month later in a field. All of his flesh was still in tact, only decomposed a bit.


Watering down the Dust

This guy is watering down the dust from a construction site even though it has just rained and will rain again (see overcast conditions). According to my classmate Simon, Taiwanese work at an efficiency rate of 44% compared to Americans. This seems to be a good example of what he is talking about. Recently, the work week has been reduced from six days to five, with hours going from 48 to 44. Taiwan does not lack a sharp workforce. Someday, it might even be put to good use.


Strange Buildings in Wenshan 文山

A lot of buildings in our neighborhood are like this - tall and incredibly skinny. I wonder what's going to keep this one up in the next big earthquake?! Notice the powerline? That was a concern for my wife. She said that it will influence our bodily functions, our chi and that sort of thing. Having grown up next to a series of powerlines, I found this line a bit dubious. When I told her so, she replied: "Now I know why you're so retarded."

Look What I Found

This rickshaw was parked around the corner from my house.

Neighborhood Three-wheeler

Neighborhood Recycling

There seem to be a lot of these recycling five-wheelers around our place. There's a lot of construction, so I guess there are good pickings. Plus with all the new residents moving into the buildings, lots of cardboard boxes (new fridges, tables, chairs) are available. This cart belongs to our neighbor. He has another which his wife drives.

Wenshan 文山, Taiwan - New Apartment

We moved to Wenshan, on the East side of the city on November 1st. Our apartment is up top, on the right side.


Chi Yeh (七爺)

A local deity who was a general in His mortal life: as a god, Chi Yeh has the responsibility of rounding up ghosts who were criminals before dying, judging them and then sentencing them to something unpleasant in the upcoming life. People in the Wanhua (萬華) neighborhood believe that we should kneel down if we happen upon a parade like this in order to ensure peace and good luck. Chi Yeh (七爺) is tall and skinny. His counterpart Ba Yeh (八爺) is short and squat.


What Has Happened to Pots' English Section?

My wife Shufang was reading Pots', Taiwan's informative and free newspaper covering Taiwan's art scene and other stuff as well. This months' issue has some interesting articles, such as the one on how Coca Cola is using up a lot of India's water during this year's drought. According to the journalist, Coke is also foisting off Coke waste (imagine that) on farmers to use as fertilizer. It seems they don't have anywhere else to dump it. The article provides some amusing posters made by protesters/boy cotters on American campuses with slogans such as "Coke Float: Unthinkable! Undrinkable!" or "Coke Kills Trade Unionists" and "Getting Away with Murder: Killer Cola." After describing the contents to me (I was doing homework and only half-listening), she astonished me by saying:
"It's too bad Pot's doesn't publish any English articles. It's such an interesting paper."
Of course I rebutted: "They do. Just check the middle section." After having a look, however, I discovered she was right. The English section is no longer there. Whatever happened to Pot's English section? If it's gone for good, that's sad.


This Man is Not What He Seems

If you see this man at the "Depose" Chen rallies, beware! He is actually a motorcycle anarchist.

Kentucky Fried Chicken Taiwan

This kind of thing is typical in the Wanhua (萬華) neighborhood that I live in. I will go back and get a day pic later. I've heard that Starbucks recently sued a Ximending (西門町) coffee shop for a similar offense. It's only a matter of time before Starbucks takes on e-cafe.


Depose President Chen Graffiti

There have been complaints that the "Depose" protesters have been fouling up the environment. Some think it's ironic that people who want to do away with Chen "because he is hurting the country" would then turn 'round and vandalize the city with trash and grafitti. I was at Taipei Main Station (recent protest HQ) this evening, killing time before my wife got off work. In all fairness, it looked pretty clean and orderly to me. There was indeed grafitti, but it was written on plastic sheets (see above pictures) taped to outer walls.
There are some new developments. The "Depose" movement as everyone knows grew out of an organic bi-partisan coming together of citizens weary of a thoroughly corrupt government. These people longed for the past, when the ROC's leaders were all honest and humble, not corrupt. "Depose" then shifted to national identity ("we're all Chinese and none of us are Taiwanese"). A couple of protesters informed me today however the emphasis is on toppling "a low class president." By the way, I didn't see Shih Ming-teh. I wonder if he's still down south?

Ancestral Farm - Tipton, Missouri

Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, Missouri

Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, between Pilot Grove and Bunceton, Missouri. It was founded as a log schoolhouse church in 1820 and then rebuilt 1856. My great great great great great grandfather Peter Woods (1762-1825) preached here.
We have a long Baptist tradition on my grandma's side. I remember my grandma recounting the horrors of her childhood, where they couldn't dance because it was the devil's movement. She proceeded to recount a list of taboos. Basically, anything that was fun was frowned upon by my great grandma.
Uncle Pat (Vincent) forwarded the picture to me. His cousin Lauri (I think that makes her my first cousin once removed) took it a couple of weeks ago.

Cowsill Geneaology

Daniel Igou (21 Aug 1795 - 6 Aug 1871) and Mary Ann Tevis Igou (1808-1884). Tipton, Missouri.

Cowsill Geneaology

This is the headstone of my great great great great grandfather, Daniel Igou (dad's side of the family). My dad's cousin found it in Missouri and took this shot. My grandma left Missouri as an infant, when her family moved to Stockton, California. Daniel Igou (who by coincidence shares my birthday) was born in 1795 and lived to a ripe age of 75. The location of the site is in Hopewell Baptist Church Cemetery, north of Tipton, Missouri.
* * * * * * * *
In Taiwan, people observe a one-day holiday in the spring called "Tomb Sweeping Day." Taiwanese do so by visiting the tomb of their ancestors to tidy it up, burn some ghost money, ghost cars, ghost sofas, ghost TVs and any other ghost goodie they can think of (which can all be used in the ghost world). Last year, we got up at dawn and went up to Beitou in the mountains north of Taipei to pay respects at the tomb of my wife's grandpa and great aunt. It wasn't what I had imagined the tomb would look like. Their ashes were held in a locker inside a mausoleum. My father-in-law climbed up a sliding ladder (like they have in old personal libraries) and opened the locker so we could see the urns for a couple of minutes. They had photos on them so we knew which one was which. It was very early in the morning, but the mountainside was still thronging with filial Taiwanese. Now that I think about it, I realize it was really "a first" for me, as I have never visited the tomb, grave, etc. of a relative.


Cowsill Genealogy - Exquisite Beauty

Maude Coleman Woods was chosen ""most representatively beautiful woman in America" at the turn of the century. A poster bearing her likeness was made for Pan American Exposition at Buffalo in 1901. I am not sure of the artist.

Looks Don't Run in the Family

My uncle Vincent Patrick Cowsill (Uncle Pat) has been researching our family genealogy. This is a picture of Maude Coleman Woods. Daughter of commonwealth prosecutor for Virginia Micajah Woods (my great great grandfather Robert Woods' fourth cousin), she was voted the most beautiful woman in America by a poll in the New York World, and subsequently chosen poster girl for the Pan American Exposition at Buffalo in 1901. Unfortunately, she came down with typhoid fever while on vacation that year and died in August 1901 at the age of 24. Two weeks after her death, President McKinlay was shot at the Buffalo Exposition.
We are all, excepting McKinlay, descended from (if I've got this straight) Michael Woods (1684-1762), who immigrated to Pennsylvania (later to Virginia) from Ireland in 1724.


To a God Unknown plays the Wall on Thursday

To a God Unknown is a well-known local band. They're playing Thursday night at the Wall. The address is No. 200, Roosevelt Road, Section 4. It's in the Basement (near the Gong Guan MRT Station and Keelung Rd.). 台北市羅斯福路四段200號B1(基隆路口,百老匯影城地下室). The phone is (02) 8935-1454. Tickets cost NT$200, including a drink. The show starts at 10:00. See this website for more information: http://www.the-wall.com.tw/schedule10.htm#1012
Note: The band has added a fourth to their 老外三人 (who writes this shit?) and sound more like the Cure than Black Sabbath.

Grandma Nittis Restaurant - Double Ten Breakfast

Even though Shufang is suffering morning sickness, the waitress at Grandma Nittis insisted she order something. I decided on the Denver Omelet and coffee and Shufang stuck to water. (The waitress dropped her demands after I growled at her.) Later Rainbow, the owner, said breakfast was on the house. This used to be a pretty mellow restaurant. Now every time I'm in there, the servers are kicking my ass.
Today is Double Ten Day in Taiwan, which strikes some of us as strange as the fall of the Ching Dynasty had no bearing on Taiwan whatsover. In 1911, Taiwan was a colony of Japan, and would remain so for another 35 years when Japan surrendered unconditionally to the US (August 14th, 1945). I have talked to Taiwanese people about this fact, and many have admitted that it never occured to them. They know that Puyi 溥儀 was the last emperor of China, all about his background and especially his grandmother. They are oblivious to what was going on in Taiwan, their own country, at this time.
The leader of Taiwan when the Ching fell was actually Governor-General Sakuma. Sakuma (a cuss of a man who murdered thousands of Taiwanese) remained the leader of Taiwan until May 1, 1915 when Tokyo (not Beijing) relieved him of his position, sending another Japanese military commander to fill the position. I remember talking to a local about this topic. He told me that when he was in school ten years ago, his teacher explained to him that some Taiwanese people organized in Taiwan in 1911 and went over to China to fight. This is horseshit.
All this aside, I am happy to have a holiday. Maybe someday when historical accuracy and objectivity are concepts people can grasp, we can change Double Ten Day to July 14th Day, to commemorate the lifting of martial law.


ICRT Lashes out at Former DJ

According to ICRT Content and Creativity Director Tim Berge: "a former DJ of ours, Jeff Locker, worked daily 6:30pm - 9pm. Jeff was a much more opinionated person, and often discussed politics during his show. I know his former Program Manager had reprimanded him about this behavior, because at times he went too far. Let me also note that Jeff is a foreigner himself; an American who speaks excellent Chinese."
Actually, I am not sure what he means by this. I wrote Mr. Berge a letter to complain about comments current DJ Joseph Lin made about "foreigners" having views onTaiwan politics. My beef is that I heard this DJ complain on the air that "foreigners" were supporting President Chen. Lin's comments struck me as xenophobic because I felt the jist of his argument was that "foreigners" had no right to stick their noses in Taiwan politics. I also asked what the DJ would he say if people in other countries he had visited or even lived in had tried to deny him the basic human right of expression based on the tint of his skin or color of his eyes. To my surprise, I received from Mr. Berge the response quoted above.
My main concern is that DJs are putting messages of intolerance over ICRT's airwaves. Chapter I, Article 5 of the General Provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is as follows: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China."


Wang Chien Ming Gets Post-Season Win

Even though the New York Yankees Wang Chien-ming won, nobody in the States will say that he is a 20-game winner this year. His record stands at 19-6. It's done, cemented in the record books unless they find out that he was on steroids and then they'll put an asterix next to it.
Wang's sinker wasn't so good against the Tigers tonight. (I had heard that it picked up movement and seemed heavier, harder to hit, as the summer wore on.) He gave up five doubles, a homer and four runs but escaped with a win. Jeter went 5 for 5. I think he might've set the hit record in the post-season as well. The report I read wasn't so clear.
I noticed Patrick Ewing and ex-mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the stands at Yankee Stadium, after I had settled down from a particularly sappy version of "God Bless America" which was dedicated to American servicemen and women everywhere.


Aren't Cops Supposed to Protect Citizens?

I was watching the morning news' (TVBIS) follow-up on the Taiwan police officer who received a warning after his comments (were they on a poster - I am not sure?) about the president. The police officer said: "I wish President Chen had died in 2004 when he was shot." The news coverage was providing an interesting slant. It was as follows:
"Don't police officers have a right to freedom of speech?"
I guess most people with common sense would reply "yes, but the government/country also has a right to fire police officers, regardless of their rights, for not doing their job." Police officers are responsible for safety of everyone. Cheering on murderers doesn't really fit in the job description.


The Culture of Overseas Chinese or Overseas Taiwanese

National Chengchi University in Taipei has established a department to help overseas Chinese students. I guess this means Americans, Canadians, Aussies, Brits, etc. who have parents, grandparents, etc. who were born in Taiwan or China. This is the mandate according to their website: "An independent subdivision is established to address the special needs of from overseas Chinese students pursuing higher education in their own culture. Its work covers issues arising from learning, living in Taiwan, and extracurricular activities."

I wonder what is meant by "their own culture?" Wouldn't that mean the country they were born and raised?

Taipei Graffiti

I peeked under the cardboard that someone had nailed into the concrete wall, to cover up the work. The protestors looked like Zapatistas. One was wearing a headband and the other was in a wheelchair.


Taiwan Tang-wai is Back

The photographer partially covered up by a cardboard box in this work of graffiti (outside the Chungshiao/Fuhsing MRT Station) is a police officer. He's taking pics of demonstrators. I guess the work is to remind us of the 1970s-80s, when the KMT (國民黨) was cracking down on the Tang-wai Party's (黨外) pro-democracy movement. After murder, torture, wrongful imprisonment and harassment, photography was the favored method of intimidation.

The suggestion here is that Chen's government forces are at it now, bullying Shih Ming-teh "Depose" faithful with cameras. I pass by the protests on a daily basis and from what I've been able to make out, the graffiti though evocative is misleading. Plenty of photographers are on-hand. But their purpose is to feed Taiwan's various media outlets as they serve up frenzied pro-KMT propaganda rather than to work for the cops. On this point I am quite certain because every night I am treated to an endless stream of cranky geezers and whacked out grandmas as I eat dinner in front of the TV evening news with my wife's in-laws. The protestors are easily recognizable. They're the ones wearing red t-shirts and red baseball caps. They are the ones giving the "thumbs down" sign every five seconds. We can even comprehend their rants: the reason they are pissed off is after 50 years of intimidation and indoctrination, there are still people in Taiwan who see themselves as Taiwanese. We are not amused either. We can't find any news programs outside of CNN (which nobody in the house understands anyway) willing to report anything else.


Panda Diplomacy, Not Really

I happened upon this graffiti near the Fuhsing and Chunghsiao MRT Station, across from the yucky new Sogo building. The artwork I passed at first was pretty bland, just bubble-writing about nothing much. Above is the first of the good ones.
The work is in reference to the two giant pandas China tried to donate to the Taipei Zoo earlier this year. After some hesitation, President Chen decided to reject the offer as he felt China would use the transfer to treat Taiwan not as an international partner but rather a province. I think there was also something of the attitude in the press (pan-Green anyway) that if Taipei accepted the bears, Beijing would send something else and something else until finally they were making it terms for a surrender.
About the only clever thing anyone ever heard Lien Chan say was in response to Chen's paranoia: "I don't think there's anything green or blue about these bears - it's all black and white."

Wang Must Win Another Game to Set the Record

Local media reports that New York Yankess (and native son) Chien Ming Wang's (王建民) 18th win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays today "is a new record for Asian pitchers" in Major League baseball are erroneous. In 2000, South Korea's Chan Ho Park went 18-10 with an ERA of 3.27 and 218 strikeouts. Wang is currently 18-6 with an ERA of 3.57 (this would undoubtedly be lower if Wang were playing in the National League) and 72 strikeouts. This misreporting of the facts comes as a shock to most observers, as Taiwan's media is renowned for its excellence, diligence and objectivity.


Pope Benedict's Comments

During a visit to Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian king, claiming the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things. Muslims have responded by setting five churches ablaze in the West Bank and shooting an Italian nun in Somalia.


Fort Domingo, Tamshui, Taiwan

The Spanish built this fort in Tamshui in 1626, where they remained until 1643. Illnesses, financial losses (the Spanish had been hoping to open up better trade routes to Japan and China) and attacks from the Dutch brought Spanish operations to an end. Toward the end of the 19th Century, the British Consul lived in a residence about 50 meters east. Situated on a hill at the mouth of the Tamshui River, the site has a pretty good view.

Taiwan's First Governor

Koxinga (鄭成功) was not the first non-aboriginal governor of Taiwan but instead (from what I can figure) the 13th. The first was actually Maarten Snock. The list starting from 1624 when the Dutch moved their base from the Pescadores (澎湖) to Tayouan (Tainan or 台南) at the behest of the Ming government is as follows:

1. Maarten G. SNOCK 1624-5
2. Gerard Frederiksz RONG DE WITH 1625-7
3. Pieter NUYTS 1627-9
4. Hans PUTSMAN 1629-36
5. Johan VAN DER BURGH 1636-40
6. Paulus TRAUDENIUSRONG 1640-3
7. Maximiliaan LEMAIRE 1643-4
8. Francis CARON 1644-6
9. Nicolaas G. VERBURGG 1649-53
10. Cornelius CAESAR 1653-6
11. Frederick COYETT 1656-62
12. KOXINGA (鄭成功) A few months in 1662
13. CHENG Jing (鄭經) 1662-82
14. CHENG ke-Shuang (鄭克塽) 1682-83
15. SHI Lang (施琅) 1683 - ?

Shi Lang was the admiral serving under the Qing Emperor Kangxi (康熙) who finally defeated the Chengs. Kangxi is reported to have labelled Taiwan a "blob of mud in bobbing in the ocean" beyond China's domain. In 1683, China even offered to sell Taiwan back to the Dutch. Shi Lang met with Alexander van Gravenbrock to hammer out the terms. When the Dutch government in Batavia decided to pass, Kangxi wanted to then evacuate the 80,000 Chinese residents from the island, leaving it to its original masters, the aborigines. Shi Lang was able to talk Kangxi out of taking this step, arguing that Taiwan would become an outlaw base for pirates.


Foreign Baseball Players Discriminated Against in Taiwan

Over the past few years, "foreign" baseball players playing in the Chinese Baseball League (CBL) in Taiwan have been barred from participating in Taiwan's annual all-star game. When and if Taiwan's Wang Chien-ming 王建民 (17-5, 3.60), currently pitching for the New York Yankees, makes MLB's all-star game, this should make for an interesting contrast.
ICRT's (Taiwan's kind of English radio station) morning DJ Rick Monday interviewed a couple of "foreign" players a couple years back. When he brought up this topic, the players decided to refrain from making a comment. The uncomfortable silence was long enough, however, to indicate they were miffed.
The Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Chapter I: General Provisions, Article 5 states the following: "There shall be equality among the various racial groups in the Republic of China [Taiwan]." In my opinion, the "in" in this provision is interesting. If it were to read "of" then the kind of racial discrimination the Chinese Baseball League (CBL) is engaging could be interpreted as legal. As it is, the racial groups "of" Taiwan includes these players.

Tuol Sleng Rules

This list of rules was posted at Tuol Sleng (S-21), Cambodia for inmates who were being processed for the killing fields or release (although the latter was unlikely). I was wondering if it was in English and French during the 1970s as well as Cambodian or if the list had been translated after Tuol Sleng was reopened as a museum and genocide documentation center. Besides Cambodians, detainees also included Thai, Vietnamese, New Zealanders, Indians, Laotians, Canadians, Americans, Pakistanis, Australians and Brits.

The rules were often enforced by little kiddie Khmer Rouge. I was told that these children were at least 13 years of age or older. A lot of their pictures were also available at the site. I think their ages must have ranged from about 7 or 8 up.

Pol Pot Looks Like This

We only saw two pictures of Pol Pot while we were in Cambodia. This was in the S-21 Museum in Phnom Penh. There was one more of him riding a train with his comrades. He was plump and had smooth skin. I've been told that their aren't too many around. During his reign, he was able to walk the streets of Phnom Penh in anonymity as nobody knew what he looked like.

I took this photo of a photo.


Rally to Oust President Chen

Although Chen was elected in a democratic election two years ago with a majority of the vote, these people are stoked to get rid of him. Chen's son-in-law could be charged with making off with NT$90 million (US$3 million) from insider trading (which is practically legal in Taiwan anyway) and this will not do for supporters of the squeeky-clean KMT.
In my opinion, Vice-President Annette Lu is a scary option. Her particular brand of xenophobia is extreme even when compared to other leaders in the DPP. This is the woman, after all, who has spoken of exporting Taiwan's aborigines to Central America.

Taiwan Textbook

President, Dictator or just a dick?

Barricade Down

The protesters broke threw the barricades that I mentioned in yesterday's blog. Then they rushed out into traffic, stopped cars and yelled people for not thinking exactly the same thoughts.
My friend Jeff told me yesterday that he was almost hit by an old vet after he refused to take and wear a "Down with the President" t-shirt. Talk about being sentimental (martial law ended 19 years ago).

Taiwan Presidential Office

The protesters are a few blocks down the street. The police have set up steel barricades that are reinforced with barbed wire.


Depose! Shih Ming-teh tells Chen to Take a Hike

Here's the nut that sold me the oust President Chen cap for NT$100. He's covering his eyes so that nobody will recognize him. He was ducking from some cops around the corner at the Taiwan University Hospital MRT Station. He didn't have a license to sell the caps.

Talk about Coming Full Circle

This cost a hundred NT bucks at the Shih Ming-teh around the clock 23-day sit in to force President Chen to resign. After spending 25 years of his life in jail to protest the KMT's authoritarian rule, it seems like he's tossed his hat in with them.

Tuol Sleng (S-21)

Tuol Sleng was a high school (Ponhea Yat) built in 1962 in downtown Phnom Penh. 12 years later, on April 17, it was converted to an interrogation center with its classrooms serving as cells. Prisoners were processed at this 600 by 400 meter compound before either being released or transported to one of the countries 19,940 killing fields. All kinds of torture took place on the campus. Some detainees were drawn and quartered, hung by their arms, electrocuted, drowned, filled up with water and then stomped upon. Others had their fingernails extracted, genitalia stung by scorpions, nipples removed and toes smashed. Conditions were so bad that the upper floors of Tuol Sleng were in need of barbed wire - to lace the windows and balconies tight. Too many of the inmates were jumping to their deaths.

Our guide Sotha told us that the interrogators were usually children. The Khmer Rouge had great use for little boys; they felt little boys could not conceal lies well. Their pictures are on display along with those of many of the victims. On both sides, individuals range from infant-size up.

Shufang asked Sotha how the Khmer Rouge could massacre its own people, he replied that he didn't know about that stuff. He only knew how to talk about Tuol Sleng. But he emphasized a Chinese hand in the matter. When I told Sotha about one of my friends from France of Chinese background who had suffered as a child in Cambodia during this time, he was even more adamant: "I am 35 years old," he said, "so I can remember when the Khmer Rouge emptied Phnom Penh. They had guns and vehicles from the Chinese. Actually, I traveled to the countryside in big ugly Chinese truck!"


Cambodia Killing Fields

The leaves were cut off this tree and used as execution machetes at killing fields across Cambodia. They didn't feel sharp at all. Our guide told us that the leaves used to be sharp, but had been dulled by all the visitors that touched them every day.


Chinese Grave in Cambodian Killing Fields

We noticed this tombstone in the middle of the killing fields of Cheung Ke, outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Chinese characters explain it is for a woman who died November, 1969 (six years prior to the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror). According to our guide Kasol, the Khmer Rouge plunked their killing fields down in the middle of a Chinese graveyard. The stones were probably knocked over and buried during the 70s and then dug out more recently.


Cheung Ke Killing Fields

Cheung Ke, one of the many identified killing fields from around Cambodia, is located 14 kilometers from Phnom Penh. Of the up to 2,500,000 people killed by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-78, it is estimated that 20,000 perished at this site.
Shufang and I repeatedly asked our guide Kosal why the Khmer Rouge why would kill its own people. Each time he was evasive. First he said the Germans did the same thing during World War II. He also quoted Pol Pot: "Man can make religion. Religion cannot make man.¨ Then he told us that the Chinese had taught Pol Pot to do this. We thought that it seemed a bit unfair. But we knew from history how the Chinese had tried to invade Vietnam in order to protect Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge government after the Vietnamese army had crossed the border into Cambodia on Christmas Day, 1978. The Chinese failed miserably, losing 60,000 soldiers (two thousand more than the total Americans lost during the Vietnam War a.k.a. American War).
Kosal pointed out several things about the Cheung Ke killing fields: Although the remains of 8985 victims have been at least partially exhumed, another 12,000 remain in the 43 unopened mass graves. Many of these graves are now under an encroaching lake. So far, 129 mass graves have been located at Cheung Ke. One Australian, two French and six American journalists are amongst these victims.
According to Kosal, the skulls stacked up in the Memorial Charnel Pavilion (see above picture) are to be used as evidence against Pol Pot. When I asked what good it would do, seeing that Pol Pot had died almost a decade ago, Kosal explained that many of Pot's commanders were still alive. I pressed Kosal about why Pol Pot would kill his own people once again. He answered it was hard to deal with the question as most people did not know who Pol Pot was:
"Was he ugly?" I asked, wondering if it was psychological.
"Most Cambodians didn't know what he looked like. Take me for example. I had heard the name Pol Pot - it was terrible. But I had never seen a picture of him because there were not any available. Pol Pot was secretive. He was probably walking amongst us all the time and we didn't even know it. Recently, I have seen a picture of Pol Pot, of when he was around 50 years old. He was handsome."
"Who were his parents?"
"Farmers, but Pol Pot was a top student. He won a scholarship to study in France. He could speak French, Chinese and maybe English. Still, he hated intellectuals. He tricked them into coming back to Cambodia, sending out word that the country was now democratic. When they arrived at the Phnom Pehn Airport, he had them executed immediately. The Khmer Rouge wanted to kill anyone who was a doctor, teacher, lawyer or journalist. They wanted to get anyone who was related to doctors, teachers, lawyers or journalists as well."
"So farmers were safe."
"No, they were killed for stealing their own food. They were only given two ladles of rice soup per day. Then they had to work 12 or 14 hours. Anyway, after the students came home, the Khmer Rouge sealed the borders. The only planes that could fly here were from China, the friends of the Khmer Rouge."
"Does Pol Pot have kids?" I asked.
"One: She's about 14 years old."
"Where is she?"
"Thailand, or perhaps China."


Cambodian-style Gas Station

This is actually petrol – one liter for one dollar US: on sale at the country's roadside beverage and snack stands.

Cambodian currency, the riel, seems to be a lot less popular than the greenback. When an item includes cents in its price tag, the change is paid in riel (R4000 = US$1). I've been given lots of R1000 bills and the occasional R5000. Last night, I got my first R10,000 and I've been told that there are R$100. Riel are handy for tips and also for getting rid of persistent kids.

Swallowed by Jungle

Ta Prohm, meaning “old Brahma” was built in 1186 by (or rather for) Jayavarman VII who consecrated the statue Prajnaparamita meaning the Goddess of Wisdom inside. The sign outside says that Jayavarman associated the goddess with his mother.

Situated at least a kilometer into the woods from the road, Ta Prohm is one of the most popular and beautiful of the Angkor sites. Everywhere one looks, one can see trees breaking down the temple walls, dislodging the stone and putting whole walls at impossible angles. Massive and muscular roots stretch from the high points of the monastery into the ground. The walls are green with grass and moss, giving the place a cool damp feeling.

We spent a lot of time at Ta Prohm, more than any other temple except Bayon (which we visited twice), because we first took the wrong path out. We also had some trouble trying to navigate back through the monastery. It was a maze of courtyards and connecting corridors.


Pre Rup's Nian

Pre Rup

Built by Rajendravarman II in 961, this is one of the oldest temples in the region (much older than Angkor Wat). According to one of the locals named Nian, who I found perched up top of the highest of Pre Rup's turrets, the temple is seven kilometers away from Angkor Wat. (I could see the one of Angkor's spires poking out from the top of the tree line after he pointed it out.) Nian explained that the stones for Pre Rup came from Kuulain Mountain (Lychee Mountain), some 56 kilometers off. They were hauled to the site by elephant. I asked Nian why so many of temples carvings were broken. It seems that the Khmers in 961 still used stucco instead of sturdier sandstone for this work at that time. Nian asked if I understood the word stucco. "It's my language," I told him. (It's the dreadful pokey stuff that people in the 1970s used to plaster their ceilings.) The spires in the picture were partly reconstructed by an Italian arm of UNESCO five years ago.

Baphoun Cambodia

In 1908, a team of French archeologists started to clear away the vegetation covering the outer surrounding wall and three levels of a pyramid. They also built a drainage system to protect provisional sand embankments. Underneath, they discovered a 71 meter long sleeping Buddha (the monument depicted Him laying on his side). In 1918 a series of collapses occurred including the fall of half the southeast angle turret on the second level. In 1943, half of the east part of the north half of the second and third level collapsed on the first level. Nine years later, all this work was washed away in torrential rains. Civil war brought all work came to a halt in 1970. The design plans and the plans for the thousands of dismantled bricks, which had been set down in an adjacent field, were destroyed and/or lost.

Cambodian Kings

Jayarvarman II (802 – 50) Founder of Cambodian Empire
Indravarman I (877 – 89) First reservoir and Preah Ko and Bakong as well
Yasovarman I (889 -910) Moves Cambodian capital to Angkor
Jayarvarman IV (928 – 42) Usurps power, then moves capital to Koh Ker
Rajendravarman II (944 – 68) E. Mebon, Pre Rup & Phimeanakas
Jayarvarman V (968 – 1001) Ta Keo & Banteay Srei
Suryavarman (1002 – 49) Expands empire
Udayedityavarman 11 (1049 -65) Builder of Baphuan pyramid & W. Mebon
Suryavarman II (1112 – 52) Builder of Angkor Wat & Beng Mealea
Jayarvarman VII (1181 – 1219) Khmer Ozymandius: Builds Ta Prohm & Angkor Thom


Baksei Cham Krong

Baksei Cham Krong is located outside the gates of Angkor Thom in Siem Reap, Cambodia. In 948, King Rajendravarman chose this monument to hold the official list of Khmer kings dating back to Cambodia’s (mythical) creation. According to the text, which is carved in Sanskrit (and translated for tourists into Cambodian, English or French), the kingdom was founded by an ascetic named Kambu, who was “born from himself” and a nymph named Mera.


Fine Litterers - Sounds Nice

Starting in September, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) will fine those who do not keep their homes and businesses tidy within a four meter radius. The fines will be up to NT$6,000 (US$183). The EPA will also (or so it promises) pay out 30 to 50 percent of the fines it receives from litterers as reward money for those who report the crime. The biggest payouts will be NT$3,000. I wonder who's going to receive the reward money? And if the cash does actually go to people other than EPA family-members and friends, how long will this last before the program fizzles out?


Did Someone Say that Taiwan was Chinese?

I read in the Taipei Times Taiwan's birth rate marked a new low of 0.91 percent in 2005 ("It's Time to Reform the Minimum Wage Policy" - June 1st, 2006). According to the report, the figure is only higher than that of Germany, 0.85 percent, but lower than Japan, Britain and France, which recorded rates of 1.29 percent, 1.27 percent, and 1.2 percent respectively. Today, one-seventh of Taiwan's babies are born of foreign women married to Taiwanese men. Factor in foreign men married to Taiwanese women and it drops to one-sixth. Without the high birth rate of 13 percent among our foreign brides, the nation's birth rate would drop drastically to 0.78 percent, the lowest in the world.

Foreign Laborers in Taiwan

This article on foreign workers is interesting "Government urged to prolong work visas for abused laborers". The website is http://english.www.gov.tw/TaiwanHeadlines/index.jsp?categid=10&recordid=98458
Taiwan's President Chen promised in 2000 to reduce the number of foreign workers by 20,000 per year. He also asked his cabinet to study the feasibility of imposing different minimum wages for domestic and foreign workers. It seems the president has had enough of these carpet-bagging laborers who make a starting wage of around NT$16,000 (US$480) per month and usually forfeit two months' salary to an employment broker in order to dig ditches and push the wheelchairs of discarded senior citizens around.


Give It Back to Whom?

There seems to be a pattern here in Taiwan concerning Taiwan's history. If you're a DPP crackpot, you distort it by minimizing Japanese influence after 50 years of colonization and completely ignoring the role of Taiwan's various aboriginal groups. Then you pretend that all white people are American and that they only showed up here to help Chiang Kai-shek do bad things to the locals. It's not advisable to talk about the Dutch, unless it is to accuse them of wiping out the deer fields in Taiwan or something along those lines. (Records show 1670 and 1672 to be the two biggest years for deer extermination. Traders operating under the Cheng ke-Shuang (鄭克塽) regime exported 200,o00 pelts in each of those two years, four times greater than any Dutch haul). If you are a KMT crackpot, Taiwan simply has no history and that's "her biggest sadness," etc. In recent papers we are treated to more of the same in the on-going KMT/DPP asset squabble.

According to the article (Taipei Times Aug. 21 - KMT to Release its Asset Report), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said "Given that these party assets are stolen, the KMT should return the remaining assets to the country and people and return the money for assets it has sold to third parties." http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2006/08/21/2003324052 . Yeh said the KMT should fork over 144.51 hectares of real estate (market value of NT$21.9 billion). Thus far, the KMT has come up with 1.86 hectares or 1.29 percent of the total. Maybe he has a point if it comes to general greed and corruption within the KMT. But still, what's this guy talking about? It's not like those assets ever belonged to "the country and people" unless he's talking about aborigines.

The chronology of landownership in Taiwan is as follows. For thousands of years, aborigines from various tribes had free reign. From 1624-61, part of Taiwan's territory was also held under the Dutch Crown. In the early part of the 18th century, in order to prevent official and military officers from gaining a monopoly over the land, the Ching Dynasty decreed that all land be held under private ownership (see From Landlords to Local Strongmen: The Transformation of Local Elites in Mid-Ch'ing Taiwan by Chen Chiuken). From here a complicated system developed where original settlers and aborigines did not engage directly in farming but rather collected rents from tenants. Following a period of unrest culminating in the Chu Yi-kuei rebellion in Tainan (1721), the process kicked into high gear. Those from China willing to take a chance would first make their way across the strait. After obtaining land rights, they would then return to ancestral homes in China to round up interested parties as settlers and tenants for their new properties. Over the next 80 years, a landlord class developed with tenants paying a part of their harvest as rent to a proprietor who ran these properties for these deed-holders, who were in most cases absentee. Tenants in turn rented out sections of their already leased acres becoming landlords themselves on a smaller scale. By the time the Japanese arrived in Taiwan, the country was controlled in this way by a few very wealthy families, such as the Lins of Panchiao or Wufeng or the Chens of Kaohsiung. These families organized their own militias to protect their interests from mandarins as well as Taiwanese - in other words, the "country and people."
In 1895, the Japanese began to gather up some of this land for public works. Prior to this, for 400 years going back, the assets have never really belonged to the "people" but rather "some people." Yeh is right to call for the KMT to clean itself up, but it is irresponsible of him to misrepresent history, even if it does make for dramatic political speeches.


Kinkaseki (金瓜石), Taiwan Prisoner of War Camp Survivors

Many pictures like this one exist of prisoners of war that were freed August 16th, 1945 from Taiwan's 15 prisoner of war camps. Without exaggeration, we can say the inmates looked similar to those who also emerged from Nazi concentration camps that same year. For 3.5 years, the stick-like figures of Kinkaseki, Taiwan (金瓜石) hobbled around on three teacups of watery rice stew per day. The cooks supplemented this with seaweed or perhaps a rotten vegetable or two. Japanese rice, polished and white, maggoty and mixed with all kinds of filth spelt a poor diet leading to all sorts of dieseases. These included beriberi, dysentry, pellagra, rickets, scurvy and what came to be known as "disinclinitis," meaning "no more inclination to live."

Jack Edwards - Hellhole of Kinkaseki (金瓜石)

Englishman Jack Edwards who survived 3.5 years of internment at a prisoner of war camp located in Kinkaseki, Taiwan (金瓜石) passed away on August 13, 2006.
In his book, Banzai You Bastards, Mr. Edwards described conditions at the Kinkaseki(金瓜石) camp and mine, where prisoners slaved at depths Taiwanese miners refused to go, and where they were maimed and killed in droves. According to his account, POWs were marched out at 7:00 each morning to the brow of the mountain overlooking the Taiwan Strait. They then ascended 831 steps to the entrance of the mine. From there, they went down from an altitude of 800 feet to below sea level. Picking and scraping to the light of weak carbine lamps attached to cardboard hats, POWs worked 12-hour days for stretches of 10 days at a time. Temperatures inside hovered around 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius). In some chutes, air quality was so bad (the mines were not ventilated) that POWs could only work five to six minutes before passing out.
"We would try to finish five baskets of ore each. By the time you reached the fifth basket your head would be drumming as you gasped for breath, sweat streaming from your body. You then flung down your chunkel and your basket and staggered to the ladder to be replaced by your two mates. With your heart pounding, your one thought was to get at the wat that fill the drain along the bogie rail. Here you sat, scooping up this filthy, sulfurous water and pouring it over your trunk as the steam rose from your body. You used the filthy sweat rag, now dyed yellow by constant immersion in the acid impregnated water, to wipe your face (Edwards 95-6)."

Japanese and Taiwanese guards separated the prisoners into teams of four. Each day, the guards pushed for the production of twenty-four bogeys (trolleys around three shopping carts deep) of good copper-ore. Determining the quality of the copper-ore was left to the discretion of a Taiwanese checker. Any team missing this quota would be lined up and beaten with the handle of a sledgehammer. Even worse, if imaginable, slackers were put on half-rations.

As provided for in Article 50 of the Geneva Conventions (those which Japan ratified in 1926) "POWs may be compelled to do only such work as is included in the following classes.... Industries connected with the production or the extraction of raw materials, and manufacturing industries, with the exception of metallurgical." In the extraction of copper, the inmates of Kinkaseki (金瓜石) specifically engaged in the "metallurgical." Furthermore, for the three years POWs worked the mines, medical attention was not permitted inside the premises once. Without exception, POWs were barred from departing before 6:00pm, even in cases of illness, injury of death.

It seems that multinational corporations such as Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Nippon Steel and Sumitomo in Japan, Ford, General Electric and Boeing in the United States or Volkswagen in Germany profited from WWII. At Kinkesaki, the main culprit was (besides the Japanese government and military) Nippon Kogyo Copper Mine Company, later purchased by one of Japan's largest mineral firms, the Japan Energy Corporation. Japan Energy's company profile is vague today on the details of the transaction. Although the date appears to be sometime in the mid-eighties, the company has yet to compensate anyone. Following the Second World War up until his passing on August 13, 2006, Jack Edwards fought for compensation and to expose these slave-traders.
Patrick Cowsill


Huang Chu-jen Residence (黃舉人宅)

Th Huang Chu-jen residence (黃舉人宅), home to a prominent 19th Century scholar from Ilan named Huang Zan-syu, is an example of the U-shaped Chinese building with a courtyard. This building was originally constructed in 1871 for Huang's fourth wife.

Casteel Zeelandia at Tainan

The Dutch started to build Zeelandia in 1624 (it would take eight years to complete) after being invited by Peking to take Taiwan in exchange for leaving the Pescadores (澎湖). Zeelandia was built on a peninsula so that the fort would be able to withstand attacks originating from Taiwan itself. Surrounded by two walls, it was fortified by bulwarks and redoubts around its outer rim. From the fort on the far side of the peninsula's arm, a town called Tayouan spread southeast to northwest. Two an a half leagues in length and a quarter of a league in breadth, it was arranged as follows: Church, Weights' Official, Armaments/Blacksmith, Gallows, Slaughterhouse, Market, Prison & Alleys. The main Wharf seems to run along the tip of the far side all the way to fort walls, facing toward the inner-bay. A barren expanse of sand, Tayouan produced only pineapple trees and few other wild trees. Over 10,000 Chinese, 1,200 Dutch and number of Taiwanese aborigines called Tayouan home. A Blockhouse known as Utrecht was just above the arm of the peninsula on the near-side of Zeelandia. Described as being "a bow's shot distance from Zeelandia," it was 16 feet high and protected by stone palisades. It cut off all land access from Taiwan.

Dutch Influence on Taiwan Agriculture

During the 17th Century, the Dutch introduced the following items to Taiwan from abroad:
Breadfruit (above)
Jackfruit (波羅密)
Custard Apples (釋迦)
In addition to providing seeds and a market for the newly arrived Chinese settlers in Taiwan, Dutch ships also imported oxen from India to work on frontier farms.