9/09/2007

Fulong (福隆)


Fulong (福隆), Taiwan


I noticed this sign in Fulong (福隆), Taiwan. I'm wondering if the Yanliao Bikeway hooks up with (or is) the Tsaoling Trail (草嶺古道). According to the locals, Tsaoling was built in 1807 during the Yang Ting Li (楊廷理) era from Mongchia (艋舺) to Ilan (Yilan or 宜蘭). The trail is probably a lot older though, predating the Chinese by hundreds of years. There are several reasons I'm supposing this. First, the Dutch penetrated the Fulong/Ilan area in the 1640s. By the 1650s, 45 regional Kavalan (瑪蘭族) Aboriginal villages answered to Dutch administration. It's highly unlikely that Dutch sailed around the northern tip of Taiwan to get to the Ilan plain as it was a bitch to land on the northeastern Taiwan shore. Secondly, the ineptitude of the Ching Dynasty Chinese in road, rail and harbor engineering is well-documented. I mean it took them ten years to build 42 km of railroad in Taiwan before the Japanese took over.


Mother and daughter pretend to sleep after conning my wife and five-month-old baby out of seat

My wife and I decided to take our daughter to see the ocean for the first time. This was also her first trip out of Taipei. Even though I've been in Taiwan for a decade, it was still a learning experience.

My first lesson came when I went to buy a bottle of water. It was my turn to pay when someone butted in front of me, waving a NT$100-bill. When I asked him to line up, he answered: "I'm just getting change."

"I'm just getting a bottle of water. The woman behind me is just getting a steamed pork bun," I replied, realizing that all you need to do to be excused from acting like a total prick (and that goes for even if someone from your group sees you) is act like your situation is urgent or unique.

My second encounter came on the train to Fulong (福隆) twenty minutes later. We didn't have seats and we didn't care - Fulong is just an hour and change from Taipei. We would just put our five-month-old daughter in her stroller and hang on for the ride, no big deal. After we boarded the train, my wife sat down in an empty seat to change her grip on our daughter while I unfolded the stroller. No sooner had she done so than another passenger (pictured above) produced a ticket and told my wife and daughter to get out of her seat. The passenger and someone I'm assuming to be her daughter sat down. The train pulled out of Taipei Train Station and we were on our way.

At the next stop, however, another passenger boarded, showed a ticket and promptly booted the woman's daughter out of the seat that my wife had been occupying. So I realized that this woman conned a mother with a five-month-old baby out of a seat so that her own twenty-something daughter could have it.

The trip back to Taipei was even more discouraging. My daughter started to cry, so I had to pick her up and hold her in one arm, grabbing on to a window nook with my free hand to balance. Still, nobody in that carriage offered us a seat. 30 minutes later, an elderly man finally tried to make me take his. The guy had walked from the other side of the carriage, past 50 indifferent faces, to do so.

4 comments:

George said...

It is real great for me to read your new updated article about Fulong. I'm very familiar with Fulong, because I often went fishing over there before. In terms of your wondering if Yanliao Bikeway hooks up with the Tsacline Trail, I'm not quite sure. But owing to both locations being closed in the same area, there could be a possibility for you to try and find it out. I'd feel so embarrrassed when reading your unhappy experiences. They just remind me of an old local saying goes like "One kind of rice can feed hundred different people". It's true that some people still need to be educated well. Luckily, I, with good education background, would never cut in line, and always yeild the seat to women with children.

Patrick Cowsill said...

We weren't looking for the woman to yield her seat. My wife just needed a place to sit down for a second. You will notice that the two seats behind these women were unoccupied. We didn't take them because we didn't have tickets for them.

I wonder what you mean by "one kind of rice can feed hundred different people"?

George said...

I am not surprised to know that you can't catch up what I said about the Taiwanese old saying. But if you speak of it to any local man. I promise you should be understood. In short for this saying, it could be elaborated like : even though hundreds different people treat rice as their main food (or can be explained as the same living style), it can't be considered that they have the same education background, thinking, concept, hobby, habit etc. each other.

Paul Cowsill said...

George, another interpretation is that concepts ranging from common courtesy to how to be a better neighbor, raise polite children, or provide good customer service are difficult or impossible to translate into Chinese.