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
Brilliant photo that captures my inner state by Lotzman Katzman, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license.
Let’s face it: everyone has an opinion on the best way to make coffee. Some are downright elitist about the obvious supremacy of their method, others are looking to trade up in the world of home brewed caffeine. Others, like myself, shoot for an optimal blend, if you will, of their priorities: for me, it’s convenience, consistency, and flavor. So when I found my perfect French press coffee maker about 2.5 years ago, it stuck. And as this summer has been all about daily routines– writing routines; research at libraries, archives and doing interviews; waking up before 11am–the coffee routine has settled into a flow of shared French-pressing with my coffee-drinking roommate.
Until the day. The Coffee. Stopped. Continue reading
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.
So, Thank You, Word Press! (Click here to learn more about how blogs are chosen for Freshly Pressed each weekday). And many thanks to you, dear readers, who have supported this blog from its beginning almost a year ago, and have followed my adventures on it!
And to my new readers and subscribers, WELCOME! Continue reading
So, just kidding from last post, I do have some nice photos of scenic and cooling off stuff like beaches, coral, and snorkeling! (Disclaimer: no photos were taken during snorkeling, all the coral is from the aquarium.) So at the end of May, some Fulbright friends and I took a brief trip to the southern tip of Taiwan, Kenting National Park, where our friend and colleague Craig Voligny had his Fulbright-culmination art show– it was a show of coral-related paintings entitled Meridians and Parallels, to reference both wave and water patterns as well as energy patterns in the human body expressed by traditional Chinese medicine.
We also got to take a spin around the aquarium, where his art exhibit was held, and of course, go to the beach and go snorkeling!! Continue reading
Now that summertime in Taipei is in full swing, the thermometer has melted: the last few weeks have peaked at 37 degrees Celsius, or 98.6 F– the internal temperature of a person! Heat indexes have been as high as 43 degrees– if I remember correctly, 109 F. From an informal poll of both Taiwanese and foreign friends and local Taiwanese acquaintances, everyone deals with summer in Taipei in different ways: 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!”
This is, actually, primarily true. Continue reading
Greetings from Tainan, city of 1000 temples! This one is Confucius Temple, photographed at dusk.
I’ve spent the last two weeks…
… traveling during my break from classes– going to Chiayi, Siluo, and Tainan, getting a wretched stomach flu, recovering, and diving into a week of using Chinese intensively in my research and new private 1-on-1 Chinese class. With my tutor, I hope to eventually start READING the historical sources I’ve found which use Mandarin. Last night, I gave a 20-minute talk to Zheng Da undergraduates about doing research in college: in Chinese. (Broken Chinese, but Chinese nonetheless.)
Phew. Continue reading