I'm looking forward to the release of the government-funded movie, Monga (艋舺), which according to accounts is about the gangsters and prostitution that are rampant in the neighborhood I live in. Here's a quick, cool trailer. Only one word is uttered, an oddly-pronounced "Monga", or Manka.
Note: I've been contacted by advertisers in February, 2011. They would like me to put up this link. I don't have a problem doing so as I've been posting for years out of my own pocket and time. Plus, I don't find their company troublesome in the least. If you do find this concept to the contrary, please let me know. Anyway, here goes: it's for a credit repair company.
Ian found me online at my Patrick Cowsill Wanhau Taiwan profile, where I claim to be Tuvalu-based: http://www.blogger.com/profile/12904899672214340947. For Taiwan, Tuvalu has been a good friend. The country was one of only 15 to support a UN resolution last week that Taiwan be treated more respectfully by the United Nations. Can't argue with that.
Posted by Patrick Cowsill at 19:43
On the superstitious front, the bending street also made sense. First off, I need to explain the nature of the Taiwanese ghost. The Taiwanese, more than many other cultures, have believed in ghosts. The Taiwanese version of the ghost is anything but Casper-like and cute. Ghosts in the Taiwanese imagination are not restless and forlorn spirits to be pitied. In Taiwanese mythology, the ghost is a mean, petty, cruel, terrible (恐怖) little bad-ass that has to be bought off with money and gifts of food and drink. Unappeased ghosts can cause all kinds of mischief, such as drownings, miscarriages, car or motorcycle accidents, stove-gas explosions and rabid dog bites. Ghosts in Taiwan do not respond to common sense or good deeds. It's better to bribe them with gifts and then get out of their way.
In avoiding a Taiwanese ghost, you should always remember the following: they hover in straight lines. Taiwanese ghosts do not turn corners or respond well to zig-zags of motion. That is another reason Bo Pi Liao Street curves. Ghosts, who are normally required to fly straight ahead, cannot get down it. They get log-jammed at the first turn. I remember reading an introduction to Taiwan article a couple of years back. The author was trying to explain to newcomers why Taiwanese do not walk straight, why they meander (which makes them hard to get by on a sidewalk). It seems they picked up the habit from their parents who picked it up from their parents, who picked it up from their parents. This generation believed that meandering was the safest bet to warding off ghosts. Bo Pi Liao Street lends itself to this sort of passage. It was not built for fast walkers.
The rider at "Biking in Taiwan" thinks they're not working out, that they're not suited for Taipei. I agree with the former point but am hopeful about the latter, and would like to see more. The writer's main issue is with enforcement. It seems Taipei's motorists are already taking liberties. Taxi drivers are turning the strip between Nanking East Road and Bade into a queue. People are parking in them to do errands, like the guy in the above pic. He put on his emergency blinkers. What was the emergency? He needed cash from the ATM. "Biking in Taiwan" writes:
Another point "Biking..." makes is that it's like riding on cobblestone - the lanes are not smooth. I don't know what to say about that. They seem to be the same quality as the roads. I just hope this is not a gimmick. The Deaflympics are taking place at the new stadium on the corner of Dunhua and Bade. I want to see more, but am afraid they could return to normal streets once the Deaflympics and "foreigners" are gone.
Posted by Patrick Cowsill at 11:46
My biggest issue with the security guards right now is they're afraid of teenagers. Teenagers simply love the grounds around my complex, especially the playground, when it starts to get dark. We do have beautiful new ballpark lights. Unfortunately, the security is too cheap to turn them on. So, the place is dark, yet comfortable, with benches, trees, grass, etc. With the teenagers out in the playground in the evening, many parents are afraid to take their kids to play. This is quite clear to me. We have two playgrounds. The one with the slide, which has more natural light, is less popular with the teenagers. They gravitate to the darker one with the monkey bars. You can see families playing in one, but afraid to enter the other. The teenagers that like my complex also swear, smoke, drink and act, in general, like assholes. That people are intimidated by them obviously gives them a rush. They can't even bother to keep their trash off the ground. They just chuck butts and cans into the playground.
Last night, four male teenagers were getting particularly rambunctious. There was only one girl, so I guess they were all trying to outdo each other. When I asked them which one lived in the complex, they answered "No, we don't live here".
"Then what are you doing here?" I asked.
The security guy was up out of his booth to enjoy the scene, so I asked him why he didn't take care of the problem. "They don't even live in the complex," I told him.
"I can't do anything about them. I can just ask them to be quiet and not to litter, appeal to their sense of morality. Sometimes, I pick up their cans and butts and show them how to throw them away." This is something I am quite curious about. Actually, I'm curious about lots of stuff: Why can't he kick them out? Is he just afraid of them or does Taiwan not have laws for trespassing? Or, are the courtyard areas inside apartment complexes considered public space? Does Taiwan have laws about loitering? I can't find the word in my dictionary, so I am guessing not.
Last night was the second time I had to kick teenagers off the playground because the security guards in my building would not. Can you imagine being that scared of a bunch of scrawny 14 and 15-year-olds? My grandpa used to say: "When I can't drive anymore, just shoot me."
I'll just say this: "When a bunch of 14-year-olds have me trembling in the knees, just shoot me." I'm going to the police station tonight to see if the cops will talk to the security guards in my building about getting the lights turned on and about doing their job.
Last year, China lent two pandas to Taiwan to keep in the Mucha Zoo. The pandas were called Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓). When we put the words together, we were surprised to get 團圓 or unification in English. For many here in Taiwan, the idea of unification with China is off-putting or absurd. After all, Taiwan was abandoned to the Japanese in 1895 by China. 1895 wasn't the first time China tried to dump Taiwan either. The great Emperor Kangshi, after trying to resell Taiwan to the Dutch in 1683, claimed Taiwan was nothing more than a blob of mud floating in the sea, a blob that would never be worthy of inclusion within the Center Kingdom. There wasn't anything in his talk about unification.
I could keep going, adding new points, but I'd rather eat my lunch. I say take the panda down.
What interested me is the store had the word "organic" removed from the bottle. Actually, it's still there. Someone had drawn over it with a black marker; I scraped it off before I took the pic. They also crossed it out on the top label. Why would advertising organic beer be a no-no in Taiwan? I don't get this: we have organic food here.
Posted by Patrick Cowsill at 10:11
My wife (right) outside the entrance to the Huwei Fort (滬尾砲台) in Danshui, Taiwan. The sign is said to have been inscribed by 1880's Taiwan Governor Liu Ming-chuan ( 劉銘傳). I don't understand it: the first two characters read "North Gate". The other two I'll have to look up some time.
We decided to visit Huwei Fort (滬尾砲台) in Danshui, Taiwan today. It's about 15 minutes down the street from Fort Santo Domingo. Huwei Fort is still obscure as Danshui sites go, I guess owing to the point it's an ongoing excavation project, and because not much is known about it. Excavation began in 1991, just 18 years ago.
Ma and Soong often point to Liu's achievements, namely 40 kilometers of railroad track laid and the moving of Taiwan's capital from Tainan in the south of Taiwan to Taipei. There's an obvious irony here. Liu was a Chinese bureaucrat. He came to Taiwan and dutifully served the government in Beijing for less than a decade before returning home.
Next to Fort Wuwei is Taiwan's first golf course, built under the supervision of the Japanese in 1919 (Taiwan was a colony of Japan from 1895, when it was deserted by China to Japan until 1945, when the Japanese surrendered to the United States closing out the Second World War). If you're interested in Taiwan's history, put this stop on your itinerary.
It didn't occur to me to ask what he's going to do with the fish. They're way too small to eat. I should have asked him what "a long time" is too. I wonder if he means since he was a little boy. I'm sure the area (this was around section three) would have looked drastically different then. But Bade (八德) itself has been around in road form for centuries. I've been been told it's the original north-south highway of Taiwan.
My family spent the evening at my in-laws. My wife picked up a tiramisu from Cafe 85 Degrees. I also received chocolates and a Gouden Carolus, a tasty Belgian beer, 8.5 percent alcohol. The label read "Mechelen Sinds 1369". I'm guessing they've been producing it for a while (see pic below).
Posted by Patrick Cowsill at 05:47
Since "foreigners" are discriminated against in Taiwan when it comes to getting local credit cards (they can't get them), "foreigners" have now gone one year and six months without being able to purchase train tickets online. "Foreigners" coming from other countries as tourists are likewise unable to buy train tickets online. What I'm worried about is this: some of them will simply throw up their hands and go somewhere more sane.
The reason I originally posted on this topic was I don't accept the hypocrisy and/or incompetence behind the decision to no longer allow "foreigners" to buy train tickets online. It came less than a week after the government decided to dump $US30 million into promoting tourism abroad (and made sure every newspaper knew it). I remember writing to complain, but not getting a response other than they would look into it to make "my foreigner experience a lovely one in Taiwan".
I did eventually receive a couple of letters, but enthusiasm for fixing the problem seems to have petered out:
Dear Mr. Cowsill,
This is to acknowledge receipt of your February 25, 2008 email to President Chen Shui-bian, complaining of being unable to purchase train tickets online here with a foreign issued credit card.
We thank you for your interest in touring Taiwan and feel sorry for your unpleasant experience. As this office is not competent for matters of this kind, a copy of your email has been forwarded to our Executive Yuan, which is supposed to refer your case to related agencies for their attention. Your understanding is appreciated.
With best regards,
Office of the President
Dear Mr. Cowsill,
Thank you for your E-mail to President Chen Shui-bian, complaining about unable purchasing train tickets online here with a foreign issued credit card. Your letter has been forwarded to Transportation Department of Taiwan Railway Administration . Our department is cooperating with the online system contractor to make it improving. We apologize for your inconvenience.
Director of Transportation Department
Taiwan Railway Administration
March 20, 2008
Since March 20, 2008, nothing has been done to sort this out. I still can't use my credit card to buy tickets online.
As far as I know, there is only one way a "foreigner" can book tickets for a train now. He or she must go to this Web site and find the train number:
Then, he or she must plug it in here:
http://railway.hinet.net/etno1.htm He or she can use either a passport or an ARC. I just tried, and they both work. Here's the kicker. You only have two days to pick them up. What I do is print out the information and then go to the post office to get my tickets. I need to translate the details, as the printed copy is only in English. Plus I need to pay an extra NT$10 (about 40 cents US). I'm sure these advance tickets could also be picked up at any one of the train stations.
The reason I'm back on this topic is I just received an email from a prospective tourist to Taiwan. Here's his itinerary:
2. Keelung-Badu-Rueifang-Shihfen-Jingtong-Rueifang-Hualien (day trip on Pingshi line)
5. Chiayi-Alishan-Chiayi-Taipei (day trip on Alishan line)
He also asked me this: "I have all the trains (numbers and arrival/departure times) figured out (I think), but can't seem to make reservations. Are reservations necessary?" I think some are definitely necessary. For example, if he goes from Taipei to Hualien directly. Or for when he wants to return to Taipei from Taitung. If I were him, I'd then grab the HSR to Chiayi. Which brings up another point: does the toy train up to Alishan have assigned seating? I can't remember.
When he called the Taipei Train Administration, they had nobody on that could speak English, so he didn't receive any help. This is never going to work if Taiwan is actually serious about promoting tourism. US$30,000,000 - you'd think someone would have gotten an English class.
For some reason, the lanes are not completely barricaded off. This morning, I noticed several breaks in the railing, like near bus stops and around Pateh (八德). At these breaks, motorcyclists rode freely in the for bicycles "only" lane. I also saw a mail truck (see above picture) parked in the lane, forcing cyclists back out into the traffic. I counted a dozen violations in less than five minutes.
Can I get a ticket for parking if I'm a mail carrier? Do mail trucks ever get towed in Taipei?
After deciding my topic, I realized there was a shortage of source material. Thus, I had to collect oral histories on my weekends. My friends suggested writing a book report, but this just wasn't possible. Another logjam I encountered was a lot of people in Taiwan found my topic taboo. Simply put, China fought wars against Japan; that Taiwan joined Japan to fight in China and also took on China’s allies in Southeast Asia was an uncomfortable memory for those with an affinity to China.
I'm interested in the idea of identity formation. Many of the older generation in Taiwan get sentimental about the Japanese, who built their infrastructure (banks, railroads, hospitals) and brought relief from the frontier chaos of incompetent Ching Dynasty rule. But I stayed away from this, instead focusing on mechanisms that allowed the Taiwanese to serve Japan's creation of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Second World War brought forth items and emotions I think some might want to not re-stir, such as Taiwanese celebrations for a Japanese "victory" in Nanking. This is what the British Consul reported in January 1938: “monster celebrations were organized to [celebrate] the fall of Nanking, in which all classes loyally participated”. Around the same time, 200 prominent Taiwanese businessmen gathered to pass a resolution supporting the provisional Japanese government in Northern China.
Anyway, I'll put up my abstract below:
With the Second World War generation and in particular the 200,000 who served both in Taiwan and overseas as volunteers and conscripts beginning to die off, the need to get their first-hand accounts recorded and preserved for posterity is pressing. In maintaining their information and stories, the interested historian can do service by adding to the historical record. Knowing this, “From Volunteerism to Conscription: The Mobilization of Taiwan for the Second World War” does not seek to score political points in plotting such a course. The thesis paper simply attempts to better comprehend the mechanisms that worked to pit Taiwan against her ancestral China and to comment on the plight of the survivors, bringing up their influence on Taiwan today. So, this paper will delve into 13 years of history, from 1932 to 1945, when Taiwan sat at the side of Japan as a colonial possession, and did its part in an unprecedented modern territorial expansion. The thesis paper wants to explain more about those who served, and why their service and its outcome might remain relevant in shaping Taiwan’s story at this very moment.
I've listened to him talk about it before. A lot of the dogs have been abandoned and have suffered abuse at the hands of their owners. Some are mutilated and scarred. They are, I guess, pretty traumatized. The other day, I had lunch Sean and another friend, who was looking to adopt a second dog. I sat there listening, half in a daze, wondering why my Vietnamese noodles and spring rolls were taking so long. It didn't really occur to me that I could also adopt. I have been planning to get a dog, but my intention had always been to wait until my daughter was a little older. I envisioned explaining responsibility and then seeing if she was up to the task by giving her extra chores, like washing the dishes, doing laundry and basically cleaning the house from top-to-bottom. I imagined myself cracking open a cold beverage and resting wisely on the sofa in front of Saturday morning MLB and someone doing work - two things I never get tired of watching.
On Thursday, Sean asked me if I could take a beagle called Luna. Sean found her at a hut in a field on the way up to Wulai (烏來). The hut is a popular dump site for people in Taipei who have grown bored of their pets. He said the dog, an eight-month-old beagle, had a scar or stain around her neck. It seems the previous owner kept her leashed with a wire noose. I told him I'd have to get back to him, that I had to talk to the wife, etc. At the time, I figured this was a good-enough brush off. For the rest of the day, I just couldn't get the scar out of my mind. Plus, why wouldn't I want to adopt this dog? My daughter is crazy about dogs. I think I know dogs (I grew up with them.) We go to the park by my home every night it's not raining - a great place for walking a dog. More importantly, we can help this dog.
By the time my wife came home from work, I had come up with a whole resume for this beagle. It wasn't necessary. She was on board from the moment I brought up the topic.
2.) He has a chip embedded in the dogs. I'm not so sure about this one. I think it has to do with controling dog populations.
3.) He has the dogs vaccinated.
4.) He house breaks the dogs.
5.) He has them fixed. I don't what Animal Taiwan's policy is here. I need to get more information.
Sean will probably bring Luna, the beagle, over in the next couple of weeks. There are some things to work out still.
Posted by Patrick Cowsill at 05:19
People have been asking when I'll put up another post. I'm so busy with school right now that I can't imagine putting aside an hour for this thing. Tonight I had a few beers, so my sense of urgency on the thesis front is gone. When I get back to blogging (early July), this is what I'll be up to:
a) Interesting people and items I met collecting my thesis research
b) The historic area of Monga (艋舺), Taiwan. I've been collecting info. People have also been sending it to me - thanks for that.
c) How I'm paying NT$1700 a month (US$55) for security guards that do nothing but smoke, drink tea and occasionally piss me off. I'm really going to go to town on these guys one of these days.
Back to the toy cars:
The top of the package reads 007. I was trying to figure it out - when did James Bond have a '69 Corvette? I don't think he ever did. What on earth would James Bond want with an American car? Then it hit me: the goofy silver thing behind the label must be a Corvette too. James Bond was driving it when he had to swerve off a winding road to avoid hitting Eva Green, who played Vesper Lynd (for my money the hottest Bond girl ever) in Casino Royale (for my money the best flick in the Bond franchise). Besides killing people instead of just karate chopping them, it seems the newest James Bond also drives a Chevy.
I've often wondered about Taiwan's bike laws - is it legal to ride on the sidewalks? The bikes do not come with helmets, so be careful. The city is now enforcing helmet laws. I think it's NT$600 a pop.
The shots above are of a traditional sausage stand on the sidewalk right outside the park. The pinball machines were antique, with nail grooves and steel ball bearings. For NT$5, diners can try to win something. We played three times, accumulating points that went toward a discount on NT$10 sausages. The boy next to my wife was so engrossed that he didn't notice the vendor had given him a broken sausage. Half the meat had fallen off. She rammed it back on the stick when nobody was looking.
BTW, I found out from a taxi driver that I live in Ga La King (Taiwanese language), not Manka. Manka is over by Lungshan Temple while Ga La King accounts for the neighborhood around Youth Park. According to the taxi driver, it was named for a benevolent gangster, who had many wives and who liked to eat clams, or ga la. When the gangster died, people in Ga La King put on black T-shirts and took part in a funeral procession through the neighborhood. When I told my wife, however, she wasn't going for it. She said it's simply Ga La. That's what they call now, and way back when her grandma was a girl.
I wrote about how teenagers had taken over the playgrounds of my previous neighborhood, Wenshan, Taiwan. We've moved, but there seems to be a trend. This guy must weigh 75 kilos, but he still wants to ride a plastic seahorse on a metal coil in Youth Park (青年公園). The instructions clearly read "maximum weight 30 kilograms". So I asked him what the appeal was - if people could see him now, they'd definitely think he was a wanker. He told me "no, it's a lot of fun". My two-year-old daughter seemed to agree. She immediately ran over to the adjacent seahorse and had a bit of a competition, to see who could get theirs going "back-forth" faster.
I'll be the first to admit I don't get mechanics. To me, running off your motor as a means of remedy when it has some serious exhaust problems does not fix it. Instead, it simply pollutes the neighborhood and makes everyone uncomfortable, "foreigners" and locals alike. The simple solution is to get the scooter fixed.
Posted by Patrick Cowsill at 15:12
That very same evening, we returned to the playground. This time, an old man was splayed across both slides smoking. We played around him for a while, until I asked him: "Why don't you get off the slides?" What gives with the Wenshan playgrounds? Really, I don't get it.
Posted by Patrick Cowsill at 03:55
I took the above shot a couple of Sundays ago. Notice how teenagers have taken over the jungle gym - the kids in the picture are 14 and 15 years old . I was telling myself I'd do something about it if my daughter tried to climb the stairs. Then another two-year-old beat her to it. He didn't get far as the kid with his ass hanging out dropped a couple of rungs, oblivious to the little boy he was impeding and about to land on, and continued with his attempts to impress the young ladies inside. When I went over and asked them if they were little kids, or if they weighed 30 kilograms or less like the sign said they needed to be, he became even more sarcastic than I was being and a bit hostile. "This is not a joke," I warned him. "Get lost." After the teenagers had returned the playground to the toddlers, a mom came over and thanked me. There was a nice wimpy-looking man nearby and his face was beet red. He was the little boy's father.
I go to this park almost every evening after I pick my daughter up from the babysitter's. The teenagers are always there. It has more or less the same crew; sometimes it swells to ten or even 15, and then there are some new faces. On occasion, the teenagers borrow my cell phone to call up more buddies to come over. I'm starting to get to know a few, like Andy, who's 14, and his chain-smoking girlfriend Amy. I once asked Andy if he had to study or something. He said he did from time to time. "Come on," I prodded, "you're not that diligent" and he agreed.
Actually, I'm finding when I talk to Andy and a few of his pals that I like them. I hear a lot of talk about how this generation, labeled the Strawberry Generation (actually they're post Strawberries as they were born from 1993-96 - Strawberries are the 1980s), is pretty useless. According to people my age (I'm 38), they're selfish, lazy, wasteful, unfilial and what have you. Taiwan's birthrate, which is less than one now combined with a high divorce rate, 35% and increasing last I heard, are the main culprits for spawning these non-Confucian mutants. Parents do one of the three: spoil them as they're only children, neglect them as they have to work 24/7 to keep up with the country's high cost of living or simply ignore them as they're divorced and back in the dating game. The tag Strawberry speaks to the character of this generation. It's easy to bruise.
The reason I think I might kind of like post Strawberries is they seem less inhibited, freer and a lot more fun. They can be pretty friendly, in a real way. I see this in Andy, the before-mentioned ringleader of the park invaders. He often comes over to talk to me, between smokes, and not just to bum my cell phone. He plays with my daughter and even scolds me for not teaching her better English.
When I mix new Taiwanese like my daughter (20% of Taiwanese babies have at least one "foreign" parent) in with the Strawberries and post-Strawberries, I can see that Taiwan is soon going to be a radically different place. That's more than OK by me. In a way, the presence of such a generation is "sweet" and satisfying, so long as it's not in my local playground.
The reason I find this so offputting is the pandas are named Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓). When you put the words together, you get 團圓 or reunification in English. To suggest that Taiwan and the PRC are being reunified is disingenuous, especially since the PRC didn't even exist until 54 years after China threw Taiwan to Japan. That's just part of it. In 1683, China tried to sell Taiwan back to the Dutch. Around the same time, the Emperor Kangshi said that Taiwan was nothing more than a blob of mud floating in the sea, a blob that would never be worthy of inclusion within the Center Kingdom. Historically speaking, the Taiwanese have never shown an interest in being a part of China either. The numbers speak for themselves: during 212 years of Ching rule, they revolted 159 times. When I showed my wife the stub, she gave her usual spit of disgust: "We don't want to see any damned pandas!" My wife blames President Ma for all of this and even calls him a traitor or a mole, like Matt Damon in The Deceased. Personally, I'm not one to take sides when it comes to politics. The last eight years have proven to me that no matter who's in power, I'm still going to be labeled as an outsider (I'm white) and have my rights limited for this reason.
I'm really not picking sides when it comes to President Ma and the previous administration. I can't stress this enough. After all, it was Chen who scapegoated "foreign" laborers as the reason for Taiwan's escalating unemployment rate, who went off on a xenophobic tirade about having an American grandson, who did nothing to overturn some pretty racial immigration laws, etc. But I am noticing a pattern with Ma, that perhaps my wife is right when she says he playing Matt Damon to a Jack Nicholson Beijing. In The Deceased, Matt Damon is groomed by Boston gangsters to infiltrate the police department. When he gets older, he goes through the police academy, enters the police department, moves up the chain of command. All the while he's feeding the gangster organization he truly works for anything they want. For me, this whole panda thing shows something about Ma's intentions.
Ma's maneuvers also remind of something I saw seven years ago, when I was at the 2002 Asian Championships for Women's Soccer at the old stadium on the corner of Dunhua and Nanking in Taipei. China was playing the Philippines and it wasn't a great game. She had already scored ten goals and was now controling the ball to run out the clock. I was there with a couple of American friends. We had a chest of beer, so we weren't about to leave even though the game was out of reach for the Filipinas. I remember there were some Taiwanese patriots in the stands waving Taiwan flags. A few had banners, reminding the Chinese about Tibet and Tianamen, and anything else they could think of. Suddenly, the cops showed up and started confiscating flags and banners. My friends and I were stunned. We couldn't imagine someone having their country's flag confiscated by their own police. So we started to shout down to some people directly below us who had a flag, giving them words of encouragement.
The police were making their way toward us and flag bearers were anxious. "Come sit with us," they pleaded. "The police will be afraid of you." That was a bit hard for us to believe. It probably would've been within the powers of the police to take our beer and write us up for public drunkeness. Plus our message to them was "Stand up for yourselves!" After the cops had made off with their flags, we walked down to find out what had transpired. It seems the cops weren't that happy about the task, but were acting on the orders of then Taipei Mayor, Mr. Ma.
At the end of the day, I can't understand why two pandas in Taiwan with a combined name that seems to undermine the country's sovereignty is not offensive but free speech, which is protected by Taiwan's constitution, or the Taiwan flag are.
Posted by Patrick Cowsill at 00:42
When I read something like this, I wonder why the government doesn't encourage Taiwanese people to plant mushrooms and then work on the Atayal (泰雅) Aborigines to open shops and become prosperous. It's like when Chen was targeting Filipino and Indonesian workers, saying they were stealing labor jobs from Aborigines. He never said, "let them have them, because I'm going make sure every Aborigine goes to university to ensure he or she can make more than NT$16,000 per month, maybe less with forced days of unpaid leave off."
Anyway, Wulai (烏來), though crowded, is great place to visit especially if you're like me, even on a busy holiday like this (see above pic - I think there must have been three times the average for visitors, amazing for a town with a population around 2,000). First of all, it's right up the road from Wenshan (文山) where I live. Second, they've got a lot of cheap, tasty dishes. It's also in the mountains and the scenery is beautiful. Finally, they've got hot springs everywhere; it can be quite relaxing (although we ended up paying NT$1800 or US$60 for a 1.5-hour soak). The waters and fresh air are a nice way to recover from any new year-party hangover.
Normally in the Wulai (烏來), the shopkeepers will do anything to attract your attention. They'll wave at you, talk broken English or stick food samples on toothpicks in your way. This Indian restaurant was different. If it hadn't been for the Indian guy working the upside-down woks, where they heat up Indian springroll shells, I never would've noticed. According to the owner, an Indian man from the Punjab, they've been in business for a year. That means I've walked by this place on several occasions without taking the slightest notice.
Wulai is actually supposed to be Atayal (泰雅), the name given to Aborigines of similar traits and a shared language some 101 years ago by Japanese anthropologists. In truth, it's a hodgepodge. The last I heard, the town was 98+ percent Taiwanese owned. The Aborigines who work in the shops for the gratifiction of Aborigine-seeking tourists come from all over, though most of them do come from from a town just beyond river. The owners have asked them to bring stuff from home, to make the shops look more authentic. That's why you can seen pictures of Bunun (布農) Aborigines on the walls singing in religious ceremonies or clothes that might be Kavalan (噶瑪蘭). There's a really good variety.
I had this after the Indian spring rolls. It was supposed to boar meat, but when was the last time you saw a boar in Taiwan? Whatever it was, I couldn't complain. Fried with chilis and lots of onions, a serving only costs NT$100 (US$3) and really hits the spot.
This line, which stretched out on to the bridge with Taiwan flags, was for sausages . (See the sign? They contain boar meat!). There were about ten stands selling sausages in Wulai, but this was the only place you had to wait for a half an hour to get one. I asked my wife what was so special about the sausages. She couldn't really be brought to believe that the sausages were that much better or worth a thirty-minute wait. She hadn't seen anything about this place on the news, etc. "The thing that is special," she explained, "is there are a lot of people waiting to get a sausage. If you stand in this line, you could get something other people can't and that makes you special. Plus, these people are bored." I didn't have anything to do either. That was why I was in Wulai. But I wasn't about to wait this long unless they were giving the things away. And even then, I 'd still probably decline. I do know that if I ever open a food stand, I'm going to get my friends to stand out front. Or, I'm going to organize 10 to 15 food stand owners, so that we take turns rotating from stand to stand to drum up business.