Taiwan – A (very) brief history for us Non-Asians or Why Taiwan and China do not get along

It is fairly well known here in the US that Taiwan does not really get along with its larger sister, China, but most of us do not really know why. The common belief is that Taiwan is a renegade province of China, trying to gain its independence, while China tries to hang on. This is far from the truth. Did you know that the reality is that Taiwan (or about half the Taiwanese at least) think that it is the mother country and China is the renegade? They believe that the true rulers of China reside in exile in Taiwan and it is only a matter of time before they return in triumph to take back control of their country. Taiwan is merely a temporary home for them.

You do not have to go very far back in history to understand this belief. During World War II, China was ruled by Chiang Kai Shek and Taiwan was a province of Japan. The Taiwanese citizens had a choice to be considered Japanese citizens or to remain Taiwanese, but either way, they were treated well by the Japanese. The Chinese, however, were ruled with an iron hand by Chiang and they rebelled. Because Chiang was an ally of the US during the war, most US citizens do not know the brutality with which he ruled, but some would compare him to Stalin or even Hitler. During this period, Mao Tse Tung successfully converted enough of his countrymen to Communism that they were able to drive Chiang and his close followers further and further south, until he was forced to ask Taiwan for refuge. Taiwan does have older ties to China and being the kind and trusting people that they are, invited Chiang and his army into their country. It was not long before he took over and made himself the permanent President, declaring martial law and foregoing any proper elections.

As you can imagine, there was quite a bit of unrest amongst the Taiwanese who had so generously offered up refuge for their brothers. One example of a bone of contention that caused a stir was the fact that Chinese do not have a problem with eating dogs and cats, whereas the Taiwanese keep dogs and cats as pets. I am sure you can imagine the outrage when people's pets began disappearing and ended up in their neighbor's crock pots.

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Photo Tour of Po Kok Temple in Taichung City

One more day, and Phil will be in Taipei.  Once he gets here, we will have a packed schedule of where to eat and play.  So today, I was to fulfill a little family duty and go to Taichung to pay respects to my ancestors. I am going to spare you the boring details of the trip.  I do, however, want to share with you the history and beautiful architecture of the temple. Po Kok Temple was built by monks from Fujian in 1927, during the Japanese Era.  The temple was dedicated to Buddha, Medicine Buddha and Amitabha Buddha.  World War II left many Japanese soldiers buried on the grounds of the temple, therefore, the Po Kok Temple is a major tourist destination for Japanese visitors to Taiwan. I have been coming to the temple ever since I was a little girl.  But it has been over 8 years since my last visit.  Walking in through the gate, memories of my childhood rushed back to me.  I was glad to be visiting again, yet there was this melancholy feeling that I couldn't explain. Read More

Best Souvenir from Taiwan, Yingge Ceramic Art

Not sure if I had clarified this in the last post, I am Taiwanese. I was born and raised in Taiwan, moved to San Francisco when I was 13, then moved to San Diego for UCSD. And now I call San Diego home. My parents moved back to Taipei after Soph (my sister) and I left San Francisco for college. So every year, we go back to Taiwan to visit my parents. This is not Phil's first trip to Taiwan, but since he will only be in Taiwan for five days, we really had to pick and choose where to go while he is here. And for this trip, we had something big planned, we are going to the National Park in the middle of Taiwan. and because of this plan, I decided to go to Yingge without him. Ynigge is a town in Taipei County, known for its exquisite ceramic art. The Chinese word "Yingge" means eagle. The town got its name from the prominant rock on the outskirt of town, that resembles the head of an eangle. Its ceramic origin dates back to the Qing Dynasty. The first recorded ceramic site was established in 1805 by the Wu family, who found that the local mud fires especially well, creating strong ceramics, suitable for many applications, from plate settings to wash basins. The Wu family had to move its shop location a few times around Yingge due to feuds over land ownership, but finally settled in 1853. And the shop's final location is the root of the current "Ceramic Old Street". Read More

Hot Spring Spa Resorts, a Stone’s Throw from Taipei

March 20, 2004, Election Day in Taiwan.  Politics in Taiwan is very unlike politics in the U.S.  The little country usually draws out 85% of the eligible voters on Election Day.  Taiwanese citizens around the world fly back just to vote.  And that was the reason why I went back to Taipei a week earlier than Phil, so I could vote in the Presidential Election.

I got in early in the morning, around 6am.  As soon as I got back to my parents' house, the polls were open.  I cast my vote and went back home for a long nap...  Even for a frequent traveler, the flight was still 13 hours...  It doesn't get shorter the more often you fly...

That evening, my whole family was glued to the TV, watching the election results unfold.  To make it easier to understand for our readers, let's just say it was a Bush vs. Gore, translated to Chinese.  By then, I was tired of the election.  I just wanted to go somewhere to relax and start my vacation.  At 7pm, I finally got my whole family unglued from the TV and we drove to Wulai, just 30 minutes away from Taipei!  Immediately, I felt the political pressure and stress leaving the atmosphere.

Wulai is a small mountain right outside of Taipei, originally inhabited by the aboriginals, the Atayals.  The Atayals discovered the hot spring about 300 years ago, by following the steam coming from the river bed.  During the Japanese era, the area was developed into a hot spring destination, with low budget bath houses.  It really wasn't until the early 90's the Taipeians put some real money into the area and transformed it into the hot spring paradise it is now.  Dozens of modern boutique day spas and resorts popped up all over the mountain of Wulai.  It is now one of the most popular and accessible hot springs in Taiwan.

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