Thursday, April 19, 2007

Keelung & Family: Today and Yesterday

Schoolgirls getting class for lunch. On Sunday.

My busy last weekend saw me in Keelung on Sunday morning for my wife's third uncle's 70th birthday party. Of course I came early and walked around, but I let the kids take most of the shots.

We had lunch at a famous seafood place in the Hsinyi District of Keelung, the Keelung Harbor Seafood Restaurant. Here is the announcement of our party.

The restaurant was huge, and the main hall was playing host to a wedding.

Keelung is the island's most photogenic city, combining an old Taiwan feel of cramped streets and innumerable shops with a fantastic setting of harbor and caldera.

The city is in the midst of a by-election to feel the post of its previous mayor, hugely corrupt, who died suddenly. Here lovely light blue banners of the KMT candidate line a canal.

The streets rising toward hills make for many photo ops. I didn't take a shot I was satisfied with, but this one was acceptable enough.

The office of the KMT mayoral candidate.

A closeup of the banner. Note how visual representation of the party affiliation is downplayed. The familiar KMT star appears ghosted beyond the candidate's head, and the color is light, not dark, blue. The candidate's party is not listed. Is it because the KMT is formally allied with the PFP for this election, and is downplaying party identity? Or is it the usual downplaying of party identity for local election purposes?

The candidate's promises listed on the wall.

Dad grabs campaign literature.

A police poster containing pics of mostly former KMT officials, now on the most wanted list, and most hiding in China. The reward is NT$10 million.

We went back thirty years in history to visit my wife's old family home. It shares a wall with this building, which once housed the local CID. My wife still shudders when she recalls the screams that emanated from the building at night.

The old home, now unrecognizable.

My wife's family is a little microcosm of Taiwan, with the factory owner who runs plants in Taoyuan and China, the uncle still hiding out in southern Taiwan because he owes gangsters gambling debts, the uncle who was adopted out as a baby and never returns for reunions, the aunt who owned factories, smokes cigars, and lived with a Japanese woman her whole life, the uncle who has never left Keelung, the teasing aunt, the uncle who wanted to be a gangter but never made it, the shop owner, the clothing store owner who struck it rich and retired at 45, the bevy of big-hair women, the kid with Down's syndrome who is fiercely loved by his family, the mainlander who married in, the daughter who married a foreigner.....they are fantastic people whom I love and who accepted me 100% from the get-go. Lois McMaster Bujold once said that all true wealth is biological, and she was absolutely right.

I'll drink to that.


Anonymous said...

You are one very lucky guy Michael to have a beautiful family like that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing.

yves said...

i lived in keelung for 12 years; reminds me of home. good shots michael.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I discovered your blog. As a former insider now outsider looking in, this is a refreshingly candid commentary on the life and culture of Taiwan. Thank you.m