Thursday, August 03, 2006

Naruwan Taipei!!....納鹿彎台北!!.......

PIC ABOVE: CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL NATIONAL THEATRE/MUSIC HALL
I have posted on Penang, one of my hometowns...so now, i am going to introduce Taipei, my other hometown.....Taipei is the capital of Taiwan, an island nation situated east of the Taiwan Straits opposite China...Taiwan has a unique history having been colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese and some would argue Han Chinese. It has another name called 'Ilha Formosa' meaning 'Beautiful Island'.....

A Brief History of Taiwan:
It was colonised by the Portuguese and the Dutch and then reconquered by the Ching Dynasty forces...it remained part of Hokkien Province until the late 19th Century, when the threat of Japanese invasion prompted the Ching to change Taiwan into a province separate from Hokkien province....however, after the Russo-Japanese War in 1895, with the victory of Imperial Japan, Ching China was forced to cede Taiwan along with outlying islands to Japan. Taiwan remained a Japanese colony until the end of WW2 in 1945, for 50 yrs.

The Taiwanese were relatively passive towards Japanese colonial rule, in contrast to Korea's fierce resistance movement against Japanese colonisation (Korea was colonised by Japan 1910-1945). As with all colonies, there was a system of discrimination whereby the Japanese went to the better schools and occupied the top levels of govt and society generally. In 1937, just before the start of Japan's invasion of China, Chinese writing, which had already been severely limited in usage by the Japanese, was banned, and in 1940, the 'Kominka' movement started which was aimed at 'changing' Taiwan people into 'Japanese'. Many young Taiwanese men were enlisted into Japan's war machine and some Taiwanese women were tricked into becoming 'comfort women' (the estimated 200,000 women forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Forces during WW2) and sent to south-east Asia.

After the war, the Nationalist Forces(KMT) which was then the govt in China, reclaimed Taiwan and in 1949, when the KMT lost the civil war to the Communist Party in China, fled to Taiwan. An estimated 2 million soldiers and refugees fled to Taiwan from China in 1949 and the following yrs (my grandpa being one of them)..... In Taiwan, the KMT tried to create 'a Free China' as opposed to Communist China and Taiwan actually held the UN seat representing China until 1971. As the Taiwanese had been colonised for 50 yrs by the Japanese and with the 'Japanization' movement during the war yrs, the KMT had to start a 're-sinicisation' movement trying to 'make the Taiwanese Chinese again'. Mandarin was encouraged at all levels and Taiwanese dialect, namely Hokkien, was forbidden in schools, official ceremonies,etc...even on TV and radio, Hokkien could only be spoken a few hours a day and fines would be imposed if there was too much usage of hokkien.

From 1945-1987, Taiwan was under a dictatorship which only ended in 1987. Taiwan is thus the first and only 'Chinese' place to have achieved democracy on its own with Hong Kong having democracy due to the British and China still a dictatorship. Singapore, another arguably 'Chinese' society is clearly still also a dictatorship under the 'Lee Dynasty'.

Taiwan plays not only an important economic role, being one of 4 'dragon economies' in Asia, it is also the centre of 'Mandarin cinema and pop culture' during the yrs China was closed to the outside....indeed, Taiwan is still the centre of Chinese popular culture together with Hong Kong even now. China's entertainment industry still cannot compare with Taiwan's. In the 60s and 70s, popular films and songs from Taiwan filled through South East Asia's Chinese communities....who cannot remember Brigette Lin Ching Hsia林青霞 or Qing Han秦漢? Who doesn't know Taiwan's daughter Teresa Deng Li Jun鄧麗君? Even nowadays, ALL popular Mandarin songs come exclusively from Taiwan, with David Tao 陶哲 , Jay Chou周杰倫, A- Mei 張惠妹, all hailing from this island. Those who want to make it big in the Mandarin scene all go to Taiwan like Singapore's Sun Yan Zhi孫燕姿 and Malaysia's Zhang Dong Liang 張東樑...All famous TV shows also come from Taiwan...even in the area of food, Taiwan has created many trends, the most well known being the 'Bubble Tea' craze which is now found in China, Singapore, HK, Malaysia, and around the world.
Even in Hong Kong, the top HK actress, Shu Qi 舒淇, is from Taiwan.....the most famous Chinese model now Chi-Lin 林志玲 is also from Taiwan....hehe...Taiwanese girls are renowned in the celebrity world for their beauty....

One of the nicest bookstores is also in Taiwan, being 誠品書店 Eslite Bookstore which has a 24 hr store on Dun Hua Nan Lu which opens 24hrs every day with a cafe, and music area attached...This bookstore has branches throughout Taiwan and is extremely popular with Taiwanese and tourist alike. The Dun Hua store even has a lecture hall and small theatre as well for talks held on a variety of issues such as gay and lesbian, taiwanese culture, women's rights, modern architecture,etc...

I personally love Taiwanese food and think its THE BEST in the world...it far surpasses China's food...even Shanghai Xiao Long Bao 小龍包 is more delicious in Taiwan than it is in Shanghai!! Believe me, i've tried it at both places and Taiwan's is MUCH BETTER....too bad everyone nowadays think that Chinese food must be the most delicious in China and go there in hords without trying out Taiwan first....believe me, when u've had Taiwan's food, China's food is just not as nice....anyone visiting Taiwan MUST and i mean MUST try the world famous Din Tai-Fung 鼎泰豐..it serves like the best Chinese dishes i've EVER had...definitely better than anything i had in Shanghai...it has branches in Singapore and Japan and other places so do give it a go if u haven't yet....be sure to order the Xiao Long Bao and Chicken Soup Noodles and Sticky Rice Zhung Zhi....

So please do visit Taiwan, Ilha Formosa, if u have the chance...of cos, it doesn't have the uncountable historical temples and places that China offers nor does its natural scenery overshadow China's natural places...but it does have some qualities that China simply cannot compete with:.....the warmth and friendliness of the Taiwanese people 台灣人的人情味 and the delicious Taiwanese streetside food 台灣美食小吃 ( the best thing about Taiwan is that u can get all the regional food as in China brought by the mainlanders whom fled to Taiwan in 1949 AND local taiwanese food AS WELL AS cheap japanese food, a remnant of japanese occupation!!) PS: For those of u whom wanna see sexy air-hostess in chinese dresses (like me!!), try China Airlines, Taiwan's national airline, where the uniform is a blue or maroon coloured qipao/cheongsam!!...hehe couldn't resist mentioning the qipao as usual....

So......Naruwan Taiwan!! Naruwan Taipei!!(Taiwan's Aboriginal language: Welcome to Taiwan!!Welcome to Taipei!!)

6 comments:

The Searcher said...

I disagree, I think Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) is NOT an ideal democratic society. Instead, it is a arguably a chaotic democractic system, taking the worst of western democracy and putting it into a Chinese context!

hcpen 彭皓全 said...

the searcher: I do not think so and i am proud of the democracy of Taiwan. It may not be the ideal and indeed has alot of flaws BUT it is still the most democratic system compared to HK and China. But u r entitled to ur own opinion.

legalmate said...

Taipei is a lovely city.

hcpen 彭皓全 said...

legalmate: I am glad you like it:) Hope u are enjoying urself and ate all the lovely food!! Also waiting to hear about ur fantastic experiences in Taipei!!

小黑子 said...

Taiwan's system is chaotic. But it is one of the best in Asia. One of the things you see is competition between different parties , which may seem chaotic. What you are seeing is the natural process of finding the system that works. Taiwan has been democratic for less than 20 years, and as Sir Winston Churchill said

"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

Speech in the House of Commons (11 November 1947)

hcpen 彭皓全 said...

小黑子: i agree. thanks:)