I dearly wanted to ask this kid whether his choice of t-shirt was intentional or not; and also, whether his parents understood it!
Well, now that I’m finally back in good old New York and my last silly t-shirt gift has been posted to its recipient, it’s time to collate my best photos– of the best silly t-shirts with broken English (or, Chinglish) spotted in Taiwan.
Given to a friend and former roommate, we puzzled about what the intended meaning might have been. Perhaps, "Every setback is a hidden opportunity?" What do you think??
So although these shirts are not brought to you BY the Ministry of Silly Walks, they were photographed in the same gently-poking fun spirit. Other amazingly silly captions spotted over the year (but lacking in pics) are listed below, in order of remembered hilarity: Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, my friend and I went out to Cihu Mausoleum Park, in Taoyuan County, to see Chiang Kai-Shek’s preserved remains and the garden of abandoned Chiangs. I would say, without exaggeration, that this is the most surreal place in Taiwan that I’ve been to all year.
I had wanted to go see the Generalissimo’s former summer home after my professor at Zheng Da explained to me that Chiang Kai-Shek has never been buried. Instead, his preserved body waits in his former home for the day that the “Republic of China” reclaims the China mainland from the “Communist rebels,” at which point it will be given a traditional burial in his hometown. However, the “Republic of China” retreated to Taiwan in 1949, more than 60 years ago, and Taiwan has not had a seat in the United Nations for 40 years. So the pickled body of Chiang may be waiting for quite a while. Continue reading →
Yesterday morning, I returned to a familiar spot to witness environmental awareness in action: Fuyang Eco Park, for a Scavenger Hunt organized by Ideal Day. It was 11 am, and the heat was just beginning to rise, but it was moist and shady until the umbrella of trees enveloping the entrance to the park. Participants in the scavenger hunt gathered in loose groups– the teams that they brought or formed on the spot– and Taiwanese and foreigners, students and professionals and families, all mingled together happily. Excited anticipation hung in the air.
“I’m so afraid to speak Chinese, afraid that people will laugh at me,” said an American student to a Taiwanese girl. “Don’t worry, we feel that way about speaking English!” her new friend replied. “We won’t laugh,” they all agreed. “Let’s practice both languages today.”
My new friend Dan is part of Ideal Day, a group for social action, philosophical discussions, and the promotion of social change through raising money and awareness about various causes. In May, they had their first event to raise money for a few different charities– and this weekend, the cause was the environment. Continue reading →
One of the lanterns at the Keelung Hungry Ghost Festival.
This month in Taiwan is Ghost Month. Like an extended Halloween or Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Ghost Month is the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Apparently during this time, the gates of the underworld fly open and the ghosts are unleashed into the land of the living.
Sound morbid or spooky? Luckily in Taiwan, Ghost Month is quite raucous, loud, full of bonfires, parties in front of temples, festivals, and sacrificial offerings of food, paper money, and treats for one’s ancestors– who are just on an extended visit. Like a summer holiday with the in-laws, if you will. Continue reading →
Click here to check out more of Crowd Lu (盧廣仲, Lu Guang-Zhong)'s songs!
So everyone I know is, has, is about to, or is starting to think about leaving Taiwan. WHY is expat life sometimes like living in a freaking train station?!?! Okay, rant over. It’s just I’ve been doing a lot of saying goodbye to lovely people who I adore, for say, the last few weeks (and also, 2-6 months), and sometimes, words are just not enough.
This weekend, Girl Meets Formosa was Freshly Pressed. Now I’m steeped in juicy pulp. (Just kidding. I know, that was terrible.)
To explain “Freshly Pressed”: WordPress.com is the location and also the blogging software that I use to host this humble site. Word Press is a very popular blog interface, and needless to say, gets lots of traffic on its homepage. Each weekday, the content editors at Word Press choose 10 posts to feature in a special section on the wordpress.com homepage called “Freshly Pressed” (with a feed to which you can subscribe). This Friday, Girl Meets Formosa was featured in that section for my post “The Fantasy Treehouse.” Thus, my site traffic has increased by an embarrassingly large number of page views in the past two days.
The view of Silai from Yanping Historic Street, a road that runs through the middle of town and showcases preserved and reconstructed traditional Taiwanese architecture.
In May, I went back to my grandfather Thomas Liao’s hometown of Silai, to meet people, conduct oral history interviews, and look for documents about Thomas’s life, family, and political career.
This was my second trip– the first was a somewhat ill-advised round trip scooter ride from Chiayi City that I did in one day and took 5+ hours. But this time, I had made contact with a very kind host, Stella Chen, who introduced me to everyone she knew in the greater Silai area (between Taichung and Chiayi), and everyone I met introduced me to everyone THEY knew, who might know something about the Liao family, or remember a funny anecdote, share a photo, or take me walking around a historical part of the town.
To introduce a series of posts about visiting my grandfather’s hometown of Silai (in Mandarin Siluo, Xiluo, 西螺), here’s a sweet song and video slide show, made by the town’s historical society!! It’s called the Luoyang Culture and Education Foundation, or: 螺陽文教基金會.
So I hope you’ll give it a watch if you want to see how the town looks now– in Silai itself, there are some beautiful historically preserved old buildings, collections of old photographs and books at the historical society, and a traditional soy sauce museum and factory. Continue reading →
Since I’ve begun to talk more about my history research, here’s a story of where travel and history combine: on Green Island.
The other day, I was talking to some friends about cool places to go on vacation in Taiwan, and mentioned that I went to Green Island earlier in the month over a long weekend with some fellow Fulbrighters. I was listing off fun things to do and see there, and came to the infamous Green Island Prison, which now stands in ruins (with one wing fixed up as a museum) and has a Memorial built on the nearby cliffs. My uncle Suho, who currently lives in Taipei, also spent time there, and I found his name on the Memorial–they list all of the prisoners’ names and dates spent there. It was there that I learned that he was imprisoned on Green Island– for his political actions supporting the Taiwan Independence Movement– for 8 years in the 1950s.
I actually can’t imagine doing ANY single thing for 8 years, let alone being in an incredibly brutal, hard labor camp on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
At hearing this, my friend commented, “Man, your family has been everywhere! All of your vacations in Taiwan always have history research component to them!”