Wednesday, February 28, 2007

2-28 events

The Mountaineer collects events related to 2-28.

This year, the 60th anniversary of the massacre, a group of local artists is set to commemorate 2/28 Peace Memorial Day with the staging of a music concert under the theme, "With justice we cure this nation." Renowned international rocks bands such as "Plastic People of the Universe," "Strike Anywhere," "Muse," "Akiakane," "Pan Gu," and local independent rock bands "Chthonic," "Tizzy Bac," "Loh Tsui Kweh Commune" will be among the groups performing live on February 28.

In USA, there is also a commemoration march from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C for five days (2/24-2/28).

On internet, Taiwanese bloggers first held 'the 228 Show Taiwan Writing Marathon' last year. It also drew major Taiwanese media's attention. Because of the success, they hold this event again this year.

If you like music, there are some music used in the Peace Memorial Day (228 commemoration day) concert: 'Taiwan the Green,' a poem written by John Jyigiokk, adapted by Tyzen Hsiao in his '1947 Overture', Je-Lin Hsieh singing 'Taiwan Lily', music by Anjamama and lyric by Kufao, and Hui-Ju Chen singing 'The Spiritual Day of Taiwan', music by Lynn Huang and lyric by Tu-Pan F. G.

If you like drawings, you can check the print 'horrid exam-228 incident in Taiwan' by Jung-Tsan Huang (in the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama), 'Massacre in Keelung harbor on 3/8/1947' by Bing-Shyi Shih, and an oil painting by Wen Ouyang, who is also a survivor of 228 Massacre.
Via Portnoy

UPDATE: According to AP, The PRC says 2-28 was actually a democratic uprising aimed at liberation of the island, commie style. What they don't tell you is that one of the leaders of the revolt, the Communist Hsieh Hsueh-hung, fled to mainland after leading a ragtag army in central Taiwan fighting the KMT, where she was eventually executed by the Communists in 1957 (or thereabouts) for her "splittist" leanings. One of those tough-as-nails women that Formosa produces in droves, Hsieh had been arrested by the Japanese in the late 1920s after the Communists had snuck her onto the island, and packed off to prison, but got let out early due to her being in the advanced stages of tuberculosis. Despite being severely ill, she survived and led fighters against the KMT, then escaped from the island in July of 1945, according to Kerr, only to be killed by her "allies." One thing about authoritarians is the regularity with which they murder their supporters. Glad I lean toward the democracy side. UPDATE: Anon below says Hsieh died naturally in the 1970s.

Satellites and Missile Accuracy

We were just debating the accuracy of China's missiles the other day, when Defense News reported on how the Chinese are using satellite guidance to improve their capabilities:

Beijing-based China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. (CPMIEC) has revealed new details of its P12 short-range tactical surface-to-surface missile at IDEX 2007.

Launched vertically from trucks, the solid-propellant P12 can carry a 450-kilogram cluster or high-explosive warhead up to 150 kilometers, company officials said. The missile has a circular error probable (CEP) of 80 to 120 meters on inertial guidance alone, 30 to 50 meters when incorporating satellite guidance, they said.

“The Chinese improved the guidance system of the SSM [surface-to-surface missile] with GPS or using the Russian GLOSNASS,” the Russian equivalent to the U.S. Global Positioning System, said Andrei Chang, founder of the Hong Kong-based Kanwa Defense Review. “The Chinese may also be using the GPS and GLOSNASS guidance technologies to improve the PLA version of short-range SSMs like DF-11 and DF-15 aimed at Taiwan.
Think we'll see the State Department conducting a formal press conference to condemn the more accurate Chinese missile technology? What a stupid question...

Meanwhile Taiwan is also importing advanced information tech for its battlefield management systems.

(hat tip to Wandering to Tamshui)

Taiwan's Own Holocaust Revisionists

One reason that 2-28 won't go away is because right-wing elements in the Chinese community that refuse to concede that the KMT government looted the island, tanked the economy, let famine and tropical diseases reappear, and then killed the Taiwanese when they naturally violently objected to this treatment. Yesterday the Taipei Times reported on group of right-wing nutcases who still insist that it was Japan that screwed things up:

A recent official report concluded that Chiang should bear responsibility for the incident, and on Monday President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) called Chiang the "true killer" in the violence.

But Academia Sinica fellows Chu Hung-yuan (朱浤源) and Huang Chang-chien (黃彰健) and four other academics called a press conference yesterday to challenge this portrayal of Chiang.

"The incident took place when Taiwan had just been handed over by Japan to China. As Japan was reluctant to give Taiwan over to China, it used economic measures to cause inflation and food shortages before it left," Chu said.

Chu said that Taiwan's economic situation -- which created resentment against the government from China -- was the result of Japan's premeditated economic attack on Taiwan.

The academics also criticized former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for saying that "government suppression was the main cause of the 228 Incident."

"What Ma said was contrary to the facts. The government had no choice but to send in the army to suppress the violence launched by the people," Huang said.

Yes, that's right. There are academics out there who argue that the KMT was the victim. Meanwhile former intellectual and current mainlander crackpot Li Ao said 800 people died because that's what Chen Yi, the corrupt and brutal governor of the island, had said in a telegram to Chiang Kai-shek:

In other developments, Independent Legislator Li Ao (李敖) told a press conference yesterday that the "sadness of the 228 Incident was created by politicians."

"The Democratic Progressive Party has been saying that tens of thousands of people died in the incident. Only about 800 people died at that time," he said.

He said the executive administrator of Taiwan at the time, Chen Yi (陳儀), had sent a confidential telegram to Chiang to say that the death toll in the incident was about 800.

These people are a sickness. Eyewitness accounts of the 2-28 massacre by US consul George Kerr and Allan Shackleton are online. Kerr's work is particularly powerful, for it discusses in full, knowledgeable, and minute measure the corruption, incompetence, and venality of the incoming party of thieves and looters:

By late 1946 an orderly import and export trade was no longer possible, the entire island economy lay at the mercy of newcomers who controlled the ports and were able to interpose regulations profoundly affecting the use of relief and rehabilitation supplies.

But where regulation was most needed, there was none; the Quarantine Services were neglected and the offices stripped of medical supplies and equipment. As the entire economy sickened, there was a general breakdown of the health and welfare services, most dramatically demonstrated when cholera and bubonic plague entered Formosa in epidemic proportions.
and more..........
In midyear 1946, four cases of bubonic plague were discovered at Tamsui and in the Hsinchu district. The victims had come in aboard Chinese junks and had not been quarantined.

The Formosan press broke into an uproar of protest; there had been no bubonic plague among the civil population for nearly thirty years. Here indeed was a threat, directly traceable to the collapse of the quarantine system so strictly enforced under Japanese administration. Houses which had sheltered the plague victims were burned to the ground. Some feeble steps were taken to reactivate quarantine services at the ports, but in these no one had confidence.

As summer approached cholera reappeared in Formosa. Within a few days it had spread beyond control in the southwest. It had not been known in epidemic proportions since 1919. The Director of Public Health made no move to recognize the threat, but UNRRA doctors and nurses, aided by CNRRA personnel, Formosan doctors and public health employees, promptly moved to Tainan and Kaohsiung, cut through extraordinary official red tape (deliberately spun out to embarrass them) and promptly reduced the death rate from 80 per cent to 29 per cent of all known cholera cases. After a long summer fight cool autumn weather brought relief, but by November 1 the UNRRA team had recorded 2690 cases, with 1460 dead.
2-28 commemorates and symbolizes not merely the thousands who were killed, but the Taiwanese experience of re-colonization, exploitation, and expropriation.

Don't Miss the Lunar Eclipse Mar 4

The China Post notes:

People in Taiwan can expect to see a lunar eclipse on the morning of March 4, or Lantern Festival on the Chinese lunar calendar, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday.

Sky watchers in Taiwan can witness a partial lunar eclipse, but will not be able to get a glimpse of the total eclipse which will occur after the moon has set. The lunar eclipse for Taiwan viewers will begin at 5:30 a.m. and will end out of sight at 9:30 a.m. Taiwan time. The moon will set in Taiwan around 6:20 a.m. with the total eclipse taking place at 6:44 a.m.

The next time Taiwan will see a lunar eclipse during the Lantern Festival will be on March 3, 2026.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Venusian Politics

And if he went back, there was a warrant waiting for him from the Federation Member Republic of Venus. That was standard procedure. If you got voted out of office, they indicted you for corrupt practices. There were no other kind in Venusian politics.-- H. Beam Piper, When In the Course --

The China Post, the pro-KMT paper, reported the other day on a burgeoning structural problem that Ma Ying-jeou is facing. No longer KMT Chairman Ma, he's just an ordinary jeou now....

He had planned a series of events to commemorate the massacre of tens of thousands of innocent native islanders while he was still heading the largest opposition party.

Ma took part in a 60th anniversary memorial rally yesterday to upstage Wu Po-hsiung, acting chairman of the Kuomintang, who led opposition party leaders to commemorate the victims of the incident before the cenotaph of the February 28 Memorial Museum in the heart of Taipei.

This was two days before President Chen Shui-bian will unveil a cenotaph at the National February 28 Memorial Museum.

Wang Jin-pyng, president of the Legislative Yuan and a former vice chairman of the Kuomintang who is expected to be Ma's rival to get the party nomination for president in 2008, was not included.

Appearing in black, Ma shook the hands of members of bereaved families who attended the event in memory of the tragedy in which hundreds of innocent Chinese mainlanders were killed as well by native islanders rising in a riot six decades ago tomorrow.

In the past Ma was assured of a wide audience and access to all the Party resources and functions. Luckily for Citizen Ma the media, largely pro-Blue, still serves him.

The article also reported on the continuing rivalry of Wang and Ma:

Wang, who has yet to declare candidacy for president, is furious. Ma declared he would run next year when he announced he resigned as Kuomintang chairman.

According to his aides, Wang did not receive an invitation to attend the memorial rally.

"We received no word," said one aide. "How could Wang Jin-pyng attend, if he was not invited?"

There is a special concert in memory at the old Taipei City Hall today. Ma will speak at the concert, to which Wang was not invited, either. Ma will also hold a 2/28 incident press conference there tomorrow.

"It's apparent that Ma wants to ostracize Wang," said another aide to the parliament speaker, who, unlike Ma, is a native islander.

The paper makes a point of noting that Wang's aide is a Taiwanese, while Ma himself is a mainlander -- and refers also to "innocent Chinese mainlanders" versus "native islanders." This is a sly way of reminding readers that Wang is a Taiwanese without saying so directly -- and thus pointing out who, in the paper's view, is the good guy. And this from a paper that constantly hacks on the DPP for fomenting "ethnic tension" -- when in fact that tension is one of the key underlying issues between Ma and his support base, and a Presidential run for Wang.

The article goes on to note that if Ma is convicted of corruption -- and it is hard to see how he would not be, since the money is there in his account for all to see -- then he'd run for President anyway, even though the KMT by-laws forbid it. That by-law was added at the insistance of -- who else? -- Ma Ying-jeou. The gods love irony... A potential independence run for the Presidency was also mentioned, an idea that is constantly floated as an outside possibility. This is unlikely, since the KMT has already demonstrated that is it so committed to Ma it will suspend or change any of its Party rules. Dankwort Rustow once observed that the more the legitimacy of institutions is in question, the more it is necessary to find legitimacy in persons.

A couple of papers reported that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, Ma's rival, had pointed out that Ma may not be able to take the Presidency even if he wins the popular vote.

But Wang said Sunday the Central Election Commission may initiate litigation to deprive a successful presidential candidate of his office if he is convicted and sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.

He cited the Statute Governing the Election and Recall of the President and the Vice President as the source and called the Kuomintang's attention to the impending trial of Ma Ying-jeou.

The crime with which Ma was charged is punishable by imprisonment of at least seven years. "However," Wang said, "he was indicted as a repeat offender, and that would make the sentence longer -- to 10 years -- if he were convicted."

Wang is close to PFP Chairman James Soong, currently in self-imposed Olympian exile in the United States, brooding, watching, waiting. An alternative Wang-Soong/Soong-Wang ticket might well be a possibility if Ma manages to terminally offend Wang, and if it occurs the "southern legislators" -- the legislators who support Wang and oppose the "Ma troop" -- may become a problem for a Ma victory. Last year they feared Ma was slating them for elimination under the new legislature. With Ma gone as KMT Chairman, he has much less influence over who goes into the pot for the legislative elections. And you can be certain it won't be an overly large number of Ma supporters.

High School Students Bomb English, Chinese Exams

The China Post reports on the 150,000 students taking the college entrance exam:

More than 13,000 senior students at senior high schools got a zero score for the English-language composition in the scholastic ability test while over 2,100 of them failed to get any score for Chinese composition.

A total of over 150,000 senior high school students who are slated for graduation in June took the nationwide examination.

Both English language and Chinese literature were required subjects for the mandatory test for those who plan to apply for admission into colleges and universities for the coming summer.

Writing short compositions were among the major components in the language exams.

Only one student got the full score of 27 for composition while as many as 2,104 failed to win any single score for their incomprehensible writing in their mother tongue, Chinese.

The students' average performance in English, the primary foreign language in Taiwan schools, was even worse since 13,040 got the zero score for their gibberish.

Only one student obtained the full score of 20 in English composition.

For the translation section in the English-language test, there was an even higher number of 16,465 students receiving a zero score.

One teacher who supervised the examinations shook her head in disbelief about the unusually high numbers of students getting zero scores after studying both Chinese languages for almost 12 years and English for around 10 years.

To those of us who have seen the way teaching is undertaken in the junior high and high schools, this is not surprising. At my university student after student has reported receiving no training at all, in any language, in the organization of writing. In other words, my experience as a teacher of English composition consists of teaching the idea of organization itself, not simply saying, "oh, in Chinese you do X but in English we do Y. See how that works?" Most of the students I have taught have never encountered the idea that writing has to be organized in order to work.

The problems, I suspect, begin in elementary school where teachers focus on what is easily understood and corrected -- production of pretty characters -- and extend upward to junior high and high school where in both English and Chinese the emphasis is on grammar rather than organization. Essays are in highly simplistic format covering profoundly stupid ideas such as "My Worst Day" or "How I feel about my mother" that give students the chance to indulge in subjective and disjointed writing, since such essays typically do not have an obvious organization. Frequently none of the students in my first or second year writing class has ever produced an essay on a historical, political, or scientific topic during their high school years, judging from the comments they make. Too, copying is widespread and must be chronic at the high school level where undertrained teachers freqently cannot tell the difference between a copied essay and a student essay.

RAND Corporation report on China's Econ Pressure on Taiwan

Murray Scott Tanner has a new report out at RAND that discusses China's attempts to coerce Taiwan economically. Tanner says that Beijing's economic clout is a tricky weapon to use and cannot always be brought to bear. For example:

Beijing’s frustration was dramatically illustrated in the 2004 Taiwan presidential election. The elections proved that widespread forecasts that Taiwan’s business leaders and Taiwan voters -- both worried about the poor state of Taiwan’s economy and anxious for expanded cross-strait economic relations -- would combine to defeat President Chen Shui-bian were mistaken or at least badly exaggerated.

A major reason why Beijing is having trouble exploiting its economic leverage is that most Taiwan businesspeople have become highly adept at “flying below the radar” politically—keeping their true political inclinations and activities hidden from political leaders in both Taiwan and mainland China, thereby frustrating Beijing’s efforts to pressure them into forming a ready-made “lobby” for Beijing’s interests. While mainland-invested Taiwan businesspeople have been, for the most part, successful in encouraging their government to loosen economic restrictions on cross-strait ties, the business community has been unwilling or unable to use its political influence to pressure Taipei into making significant political concessions to Beijing.

Taiwan’s voters have also frustrated Beijing’s forecasters. Although the voters have largely supported candidates who favored improved cross-strait economic ties, it
has not prevented the continuous slide in support for reunification with China on terms that Beijing prefers.

Nor have Taiwan’s political leaders sat back passively as Beijing attempted to exploit its burgeoning economic might. President Chen has frequently shown himself to be fairly adept at politically disarming or counterattacking many advocates of a more rapid opening up of cross-strait relations.

Finally, China must reflect upon the potential blowback that large-scale efforts at economic coercion against Taiwan might have upon its own economy and society. Although Taiwan is, overall, more economically dependent upon mainland China than China is on Taiwan, there are key regions and sectors of China’s economy that are enormously dependent upon Taiwan investment, and these would likely suffer very badly in the event of a serious cutoff of trade and investment.

The report is 180 pages crammed full of statistics, projections, warnings, and analyses too complex and detailed to go into here. Enjoy it yourself.

(hat tip to Life, the Universe)

Monday, February 26, 2007

No Blast in the Past: How the US killed Taiwan's Nuclear Program

Here's a link I stumbled across today, with discussion and documents, telling the story of how the US snuffed out Taiwan nuclear weapons program in the 1970s.

However much more needs to be learned, these documents provide a telling picture of U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy at work. In particular, they offer an interesting contrast to the U.S.'s planning earlier in the 1960s to impede, even "take out," the PRC's emerging nuclear capability. Although President Kennedy had been interested in using force against Chinese nuclear facilities, his successor, Lyndon Johnson, concluded that military force was too risky. Johnson and his advisers would also find that that economic embargoes were unavailing when an adversary was determined to mobilize the resources needed to create a nuclear deterrent. By contrast, Taiwan was generally responsive to U.S. pressures, although Washington would have to exert them repeatedly. What made Taiwan responsive, of course, was not only that it was a U.S. ally, it was a relatively dependent one. Not surprisingly, Washington had substantially greater capability to discourage the nuclear ambitions of a dependent ally than it had to check those of a strong adversary.

A significant advantage that Washington had in its dealing with Taipei on nuclear issues was that the ROC was relatively transparent both to U.S. and international authorities. Both foreign government officials, e.g., West German diplomats, and elements of the ROC elite were willing to pass on significant intelligence about Taiwan's nuclear plans Important clandestine sources increased the degree of transparency. One such source was the alleged Central Intelligence Agency agent, Col. Chang Hsien-yi, a key INER official, who became famous after he fled Taiwan in 1987. Whether Chang provided intelligence information relevant to the controversies of the early 1970s remains to be seen
The ROC eventually promised to give up nuclear weapons because it didn't want to kill other Chinese.

Daily Links, Feb 25, 2007

Seen on the streets of Taiwan blogs....

  • Thoth Harris rips the State Department a new one over its treatment of Taiwan tourists and general pro-China standpoint.

  • Jason breaks down the legislative elections with posts on TSU candidates and hot babes. Great, detailed information here.

  • Kerim goes to Kerala.

  • Taoyuan nights goes to town on cheap money.

  • Hai Tien goes to the most photogenic town in Taiwan, Keelung.

  • Patrick Cowsill blogs on a US newspaper article from 1946 on the looting of Formosa during the period 1945-7 by the Chiang regime.

  • Taiwan Airpower lists aviation open houses during 2007.
  • Marketing and Singing Pics

    On Saturday, after geocaching on Friday, The Bushman and I headed off to the Taichung Fish Market, women and children in tow.

    The only thing new since my last visit was this shaded walkway...

    Sugar cane for juicing.

    The Bushman, my wife, and Sheridan

    The vendors were setting the food out for lunch, sumptuous colors illuminated by bright flourescent light.

    Pick a fish, any fish.

    Jurassic Park: the closest we'll ever get.

    Lots of big pots of delicious soup.

    Cod is not cheap, but it is a lot cheaper here. We also bought a ton of sashimi.

    As evening came we went up to Hukou to the Barrio Fiesta to meet friends, eat fried food, drink Red Horse Beer (shouldn't it be Ma Ying-jeou's personal favorite?) and sing like madmen.

    Here I sing with one of my closest friends, Jeff.

    Michael performs to everyone's amusement. I have to admit I've become a convert to beer and KTV. Hope to see you there soon!

    Sunday, February 25, 2007

    KMT: Nobody wants the job

    Ma Ying-jeou's resignation as Chairman has left some big shoes to fill. Taiwan News reports on the problems the KMT is having finding a replacement:

    No one within the Kuomintang has shown any willingness to run for the party chairman post in a by-election tentatively slated for mid-April or early May, not even acting Chairman Wu Po-hsiung, KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday.

    Wu Po-hsiung is a Hakka from a faction in Taoyuan. Wu Den-yih is the former mayor of Kaohsiung, whom DPP stalwart and likely Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh sent scurrying from office before taking over to make large-scale improvements in the city. The article then goes on to give the reactions from the two major sides in the struggle, the Party Machine represented by Lien Chan and his protege Wang Jin-pyng, and the forces of former Chairman Ma Ying-jeou.

    KMT Lawmaker Wu Chih-yang, Wu Po-hsiung's son, categorically denied the media rumors that his father is gearing up to run for the party's chair.

    Wu Chih-yang said that "the top priority for my father now is building party unity and pushing Ma and Wang to discuss their presidential rivalry."

    According to lawmaker Hsu Shu-po, "it would be best" if Lien were to be handed the KMT chairmanship without having to take part in the by-election, and he called for members of the KMT to support this idea.

    Wu Po-hsiung has yet to make public any intention to run for the KMT chairmanship, and Ma's aides had better not to speculate over the issue, Hsu said.

    Lawmaker Wu Yu-shen, a protege of Ma, argued that Lien should have to run in the by-election in accordance with the party's mechanism if he is interested in assuming the KMT chairmanship.

    "Whoever wants to become KMT chairman must follow the party's system and get elected through the by-election in line with the party's reform efforts," he said.

    If Lien Chan ascends to the position, which seems likely, his prospects for a third presidential run will improve markedly, and so will those of legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng. Traditionally the Chairmanship of the KMT is enormously powerful, a key position for placing supporters in key posts in the party, and for gaining access to party resources.

    Note that the Ma side prefers elections, the Lien side wants him to simply ascend to the post. Because of longstanding cultural habits of deference to older authority -- in this case, Lien Chan, the honorary chairman of the KMT and a party elder and insider -- it is likely that no one will declare until Lien himself makes clear his position.

    Shih Betrays Again

    Former DPP Chairman and turncoat Shih Ming-te, who recently led the anti-Chen protests in Taiwan, is off to the US, going back on his promise to remain in isolation....

    Some of the remaining members of the self-styled "Million Voices Against Corruption" campaign were outraged to discover that their headquarters on Chongqing S Road has been closed without warning and that their erstwhile leader has left the country, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday.

    About 10 protesters gathered outside the locked metal door to protest on Wednesday, but were dispersed after campaign leaders called the police.

    The office was closed just days after former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德), who had pledged to "imprison" himself in his apartment until President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) left office, traveled to the US on Feb. 15, reportedly for medical treatment.

    Campaign spokesperson Chang Fu-chung (張富忠) said yesterday that Shih had undergone surgery for liver cancer.

    Shih also plans to stop in Japan for media interviews on his way home early next month.

    Who didn't predict this would happen? Everyone but the dupes who forked over $100.

    Jim Mann in Seattle for Booksigning

    Perry at Taiwan Focus passed around this book signing news for the Seattle Area:


    For those in Seattle Washington USA Jim Mann will stop in Seattle on Monday, March 5 for a discussion and book signing at the University Book Store..If you want more information you can call the book store at (206) 634-3400.

    Here's the information:

    Monday • March 5 • 7pm
    James Mann
    The China Fantasy: How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression (VIKING)
    Discussion & Book Signing
    University District Store
    What if, after all the talk of capitalist free markets bringing open, free democracy to China, it doesn't happen? What if instead it remains an unyielding Leninist system unwilling to stop its abuse of human rights and hold free elections? James Mann follows this provocative line of thought in his newest book.

    Weekend Fun

    What good things could we find on our weekend?

    I spent this weekend hanging out with The Bushman in Taichung and Hukou. So expect more pics tomorrow....

    Explosives are an important component of a fun Taiwan weekend...

    Fireworks arrayed on a roadside table.

    A local alley.

    Taichung, Taiyuan Rd.

    Michael's friend and my wife enjoy a hearty laugh. We had originally planned to go geocaching on Tatu Mountain on the west side of Taichung, but when Michael fired up his GPS receiver, it showed a geocache less than 1 km away, near the famous Wind Moving Stone in Ta-ken. The stone no longer moves, thanks to the government's decision to "return the stone to its natural state" by cementing it in place. But the cache was there. So we headed up the hill...

    Slowly we made our way up the hellish log steps...

    Michael heads up.

    Michael and Hui-chen take a break.

    It was a crowded day at the top. My son attempts to locate the geocache with Michael's GPS.

    Sheridan looks on.

    Michael shows the kids how the GPS works.

    I won't show you where the cache was. Here my daughter inspects its contents. You're supposed to leave a trinket, and take something out.

    Each cache has a book and a pencil so that visitors can leave a record of their names, the date, and what was put in and taken out. Here is an entry from those who have gone before.

    Carefully we re-wrap the plastic box in the plastic bags so it will be safe from the elements.

    Returning back down the hill, we ponder this oddity: a crossbow bolt impaled on a tree. I thought crossbows were illegal here.....

    At the base of the hill are several country KTVs. On a Saturday they were going full blast and the road was lined with cars. You can here them for at least a kilometer in any direction. So much for fantasies of bucolic quiet.

    Some enthusiasts had even erected an outdoor system with absolutely gigantic speakers.

    In the evening, it was out to the local restaurant, where we ordered way too much food...

    But ate it anyway....

    UPDATE: The Bushman's account of our journey, with excellent pics.