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Monday, March 5, 2007

Rainy Sunday 雨の日曜日

Tonight as I sat down at the computer to upload some photos and update the blog, it was sounding like a war zone outside. Taiwanese don't need many excuses to set off firecrackers and shoot off fireworks, and this weekend is the Lantern Festival 元宵節/元宵. Amber got an early start last night 


and tonight we went up to the roof of our apartment building to watch all the pyrotechnics going on around us. But instead of going into T'aichung (Taijhong) たいちゅう 台中 to witness the celebrations, we spent a quiet afternoon in the Taichung County town of Wufeng (Wufong) 霧峰.

Upon arriving in Wufeng, we stopped for a quick lunch of goosemeat ガチョウ肉 over rice, beef noodles, a side dish of pork and ginger しょうが焼き and a bowl of oyster soupカキスープ.

As the rain had started coming down just as we were finishing lunch, we decided an indoor activity would be preferable, so we drove over to the 921 Earthquake Museum. This museum commemorates the Chi-Chi (Jiji) Earthquake 集集大地震, which struck central Taiwan on September 21, 1999, and resulted in the deaths of 2415 people. I actually arrived in Taiwan about three weeks after the quake, so I was fortunate in not having to experience the terror that Pamela, Steve and many other people I know had to go through that night (but I did feel a lot of the aftershocks).

The museum is located on the grounds of Kuangfu (Guangfu) High School, which was directly on the fault line and suffered extensive damage. Pictures of the school's running track which was uplifted as a result of the tremor are some of the most well-known images of the 921 quake.

The museum has preserved the track

The 921 museum is located in a quiet section of Wufeng, in a neighborhood of old homes, and surrounded by forested hills. Here's a picture of Amber outside the museum, and a photo of a cemetery 墓地 behind the parking lot.

The rain had let up somewhat, so after the museum we went to the grounds of the Taiwan Provincial Consultative Commission. Because in theory the government of the Republic of China is the government of the whole of China, it is only temporarily residing on the island of Taiwan, and Taiwan is a merely a province of China. That was the theory, according to the Kuomintang, the Chinese Nationalist Party, which ruled Taiwan from 1949 (the end of the Chinese Civil War) to 2000 (when they lost the presidential election to Chen Shui-bian of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party). The reality, of course, is that Taiwan is a de facto sovereign state, and most people now identify themselves as "Taiwanese" instead of "Chinese". But while the KMT was in power, it maintained a separate provincial government to maintain the illusion that Taiwan was a just a province, and not a state. What this government did is a mystery, and it was basically abolished in 1998. Today, the attractive grounds in Wufeng make for a nice morning or afternoon stroll.

Like with many other relics of the KMT's rule, there's a statue of Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石 in front of the provincial government building. While the KMT and DPP argue over the legacy of Chiang's rule, the local birds seemed to have passed their own judgement.


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