Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Fort In Tainan: Respite from the Failed WHO Bid

This cute little fellow hopped up on my finger for a better look at me.

Taiwan vows to fight on as WHO fails to even place a vote on Taiwan's membership on the agenda (The Guardian reports). I don't feel like kvetching about our incompetent advertizing or unprofessional and disconnected promotion effort. If there is one universal complaint among us DPP-watchers, it is that Taipei simply has no clue about how to deal with the West in its quest for independence and recognition. I must have a thing for lost causes run by incompetents -- I'm a Cleveland Browns fan too. Watching Taiwan trying to enter the WHO is like some nightmare replay of watching Sam Rutigliano call an end around to Mike Pruitt on 3rd and 15......maybe the DPP will draft Mike Phipps one of these days.....

So instead of an exasperated post on the WHO issue, here are some pictures of one of my favorite places on the island, Erkunshen fort in Tainan. It's not particularly amazing as far as forts go, but it reminds me of my childhood visits to forts in the US. And unlike so many historical sites in Taiwan, it is usually uncrowded, and there is no night market-style cacophony of vendors bottling up the street in front of it. It's just a pleasant, tree-filled site with reminders of the Qing and Japanese colonial periods in Taiwan.

My friend Michael Klein came down to Tainan today on business, so we took the afternoon off to enjoy a seafood lunch and the fort. Erkunshen fort was constructed in 1874 as the Qing tightened their hold over Taiwan. Prior to the 1860s Qing control over Taiwan had been loose -- the highlands were not under Qing sovereignty at all -- and several Powers had angled for the island. As outside powers started sniffing around, the Qing rulers began incorporating Taiwan more fully into the empire, sending expeditions into the mountains to subdue the aborigines, and constructing fortifications and other monuments to Qing control.

Erkunshen was proposed by a local official, designed by a Frenchman, and supplied with British cannon, 250cm Armstrongs. The original guns had long since disappeared when the 100th anniversary of its construction took place in 1974, so the city put in the replica cannon now visible today at that time. Just one cannon remains from the original complement of the fort. I'd sure like to know how it survived (my son and I went last year too).

A view of the moat.

The grounds are well-kept.

Michael inspects some of the brickwork. We had a lot of fun figuring where the Qing left off and the Japanese work began.

The only real weapon at the fort. The others are all replicas. The barrel is original, but the carriage is a modern reproduction.

Unlike the fake weapons, this one retains its rifling.

Wish I could get great pics of birds like Formosa Birding

There. Wasn't that better than contemplating yet another failed WHO bid?


cfimages said...

Nice pics and good weather. I'm going to have to make another trip to the fort - last time I was there (last summer), I was exhausted from wandering around Tainan all day and didn't spend too much time at the fort.

About the birds, have you tried gaomei wetland (I think that's what it's called - near 大甲), or Dadu (大肚), or the one near Lugang? (I'm thinking of heading to one of them soon and keen for some tips about them)

Michael Turton said...

I don't know a thing about those places, but if you come down, let me know. I'd love to go with you.


cfimages said...

i live in Changhua, so I'm already down here. From pictures I've seen, the one near Lugang looks the most interesting as there's a small beach with some cool petrified wood in the same area.

Ed en Vadrouille said...

Hi Michael,
Seeing that you apparently love local birds (no pun intended), you should have a look at the excellent: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/Stuart78043