8/02/2008

Bali, Taiwan


I've been to Bali (八里) several times in past couple of months. I rode out there twice on my bicycle and then visited with my wife, daughter and wife's cousin. The main attraction in Bali is the Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology (十三行博物館), which focuses on the local Aboriginal people and has a Paiwan Aboriginal (排灣) exhibit running right now. As much as I enjoyed getting the history of the Shihsanhang people and also a rundown of more recent developments, after contact with the first the Chinese (contact seems to go back 2,000 years - there are some Warring-states coins being displayed to back this up) and later the Spanish and Dutch, I think I'm most impressed by the spectacular architecture of the building itself: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrick_cowsill/2663744108/
I took down a dateline of the area while I was in the museum. It is as follows:
1712 The Ching establishes a military outpost in Bali.
1731 The Bali Prefecture is established, making the port the first governmental, economic, military and sea transport area in Taiwan.
(Actually, the Spanish established Fort Santiago just across the Danshui River in 1626. The Dutch took this over in 1641. I guess this doesn't count though because they're not Chinese. I was also interested by the date, which comes right on the heels of the Zhu Yi-gui revolt, when the Taiwanese managed to kick Ching soldiers out of Taiwan for six months.)
1790 The Ching designates Bali as the official port link to Fuzhou. "With Bali a stepping-stone between China and Taiwan, Bali town becomes a bustling center."
1840 The Bali harbor, which like so many other harbors in Taiwan, begins to silt up. (I'm not sure how they specifically come up with 1840, but there it is.)
1858 Danshui and not Bali is named as one of the treaty ports in the Tianjin Treaty. Bali becomes more and more obscure over the next 150 years.


I took this shot on the ferry from Danshui to Bali. If you get there early enough, you won't have trouble loading your bike on board. You can also swipe your Taipei MRT Go Card to cover the fee. We had to pay for our 1.3 year-old-daughter though. The fare-taker told me it was for insurance reasons.

Cycling has been exploding in popularity in Taiwan. There are so many people out that one cannot ride the river routes on the weekends without encountering traffic jams like this one, especially at the far western ends, near Danshui and here in Bali. I've heard that if you want to buy a bike right now, especially a good fold-up one or something tier II and above you'll be waiting at least six months. Demand is that great. People looking to unload one of those editions can get pretty much full value for what they paid. My friend Eric, for instance, sold this one the first day he put it on Yahoo Auctions. He recovered 95 percent of the original cost: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericdiep/467982730/in/set-72157600106691045/

*******
On another note, there has been a lot of speculation on whether Vince Weiguang Li is of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He's the person from Edmonton, Canada that murdered that poor kid riding the bus in Manitoba, Canada. The name gives us a pretty good clue that he is, as do the photos. Forumosa is featuring a nasty thread right now on this topic: http://forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?p=883263&sid=eb86674914ab68c26b02155671ba183d
For example, one guy says: "Oh good, he's not white. That means the CBC et al can't blame the systemic racism of mainstream (read white) Canadian society. It's probably all America's doing anyway, damn you George Bush!" I wonder what this means. Or: "OK, just saw a bigger photo, and noted the name. He's definitely Asian. What a relief!" Where's the relief? Somebody was brutally murdered. Try to explain it this way - the murderer looks and sounds Asian - to the people that cared about the victim.

I've spent a lot of time in Canada. People who come from out-groups will hear it on a daily basis in Canada.

2 comments:

taipeimarc said...

I've been riding on the riverside bike trails for 15+ years (HsinTien, Damshui and Keelung river trails). I've seen the trials go from filthy, garbage strewn dirt/mud paths with hardly a sole on them evolve into relatively decent bike paths.

I sold both of my bikes recently because I find it impossible to enjoy the trails anymore. There are just too many people on the trials. To be honest, I've also become burned out on the same rides, not just the bike trials but elsewhere. The over crowded issue just push me enough to sell my bikes.

I may buy another bike in the future, but it depends on if Taiwan will still be a safe place to live (i.e. PRC takeover).

I was thinking about getting a tandem for my girlfriend and myself to take some early morning rides, but she didn't want any part of it. It's disappointing to a gf that's not into any type of sports or exercise. c'est la vie and all that.

fwiw, I sold my high-end KHS Westwood folding bike about 6 months ago for about 1/2 price. I shouldn't have been such a nice guy...

I use to get a lot of interesting looks and comments on my folding bike, but now this bike is mainstream here.

btw2: The last time I was in Bali some of the locals were renting out those 4 seater pedicarts that take up the entire width of the bike trail. Stupidity in action, but so goes Taiwan. Maybe they've banned them by now.

Patrick Cowsill said...

No, those four-seaters are still there. I've basically given up on the river rides as well. There are lots of good - tough routes through the mountains.

The north-west highway to Keelung is very special. There are all kinds of quirky sights along the way. A lot of bikers take the train down to Hualien on Friday morning and leave from there.