Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Life and Markets in Taichung

The calm before the storm of the new semester, Moon Festival gives everyone a couple of days off to drive on crowded highways to pack into remote places to barbecue slices of meat so thin that poor people use them for window panes.

This handsome fellow is a famous Taiwan blogger and a student at NCKU with me.

My good friend Dan F., Tainan resident, now liberated from ownership of a bar.

At my university, after cleaning the rooms, the students in the Labor Education program carefully arrange the chalk in this way. In order to retain my current employment, further commentary on this practice will not be offered.

We went in to renew my son's visa the other day. My wife, forty years of experience in dealing with Taiwan's bureaucracy, came prepared with a portfolio of pictures. All in vain, for it was the Goldilocks Bureaucracy: Is this picture OK? No, too small. This one? Too big. This one? Background not white enough. This one? Can't see his ears. This one? Clothing is too light a color. How about this one? How about you go to the photography shop and have some new ones made, lady? But the service was good, as always, and they let us process the visa and mail in the photos. Taiwan is a helluva a lot more flexible than it used to be.

But I did snap these Thai workers waiting for their work permits.

[It turns out that apparently the government gives these books to everyone, foreign or not, so I deleted my previous comments.] But for foreign brides, maybe the government needs to put out a series on Who To Contact When Forced Into Prostitution, Five Minute Martial Arts for The Abused Wife, and How To Make My Fine Ethnic Cuisine So It Tastes Like Stewed Pork Over Rice.

In Wufeng one of the local neighborhoods was having some kind of development meeting.

The morning market on a holiday.

I had a lot of fun today shooting kids on motorcycles. Please, folks, don't try this at home.

Everyone knows that it is impossible to have an accident near one's own home. Anyway, it will certain be the other guy's fault, and he'll pay for it. Besides, they'll just grow out of the helmets soon....and as I shot the first cycle, a second drove into the pic there on the left, another two unhelmeted kids aboard.

One of the joys of photography is finding something in the picture you hadn't known was there when you took the shot. Like that toddler scrunched up in the front of the leading cycle....

Old ladies make the world go round.

On this bright morning I met up with the brilliant Andrew Kerslake and his beautiful wife Joyce for a trip to a Taichung landmark: the Second Market, located on the corner of San Min and Chungcheng inside the building to the left in the pic above.

This market consists of clothing shops, cloth and sewing supplies, fruit, vegetable, and butcher stands, dry goods shops that sell a lot of Japanese stuff, and of course, eateries.

This popular eatery was packed for lunch.

This fruit stand has been here for decades. Andrew told me it was once owned by the husband of the indomitable Communist revolutionary Hsieh Hsueh-hung, an early and forceful advocate of Taiwan independence under the banner of Communism.

Many of the groceries carry a range of imported Japanese goods.

The Second Market is a historical landmark. Andrew and I, seeing all the original wood construction still extant, opined that it must be Japanese period, but we talked to one of the stall owners who assured us it was all post-1945. Very little of the Japanese-period market remains, apparently.

The pillar in the previous picture stands in the center of the market, whose plan is shown here.

The government "renovation" installed these faux-historical facades.

No market is complete without a place to sit and snack.

Tofu waits for buyers.

Still has plenty of that great old Taiwan feel.

Dried shrimp. Anyone who invents a machine that will devein shrimp will be my friend forever.

A butcher hard at work.

A local stall owner spotted Andrew wearing a Mariners shirt. "Are you from Seattle?" The stall owner had lived there at one time....

Joyce looks on as Andrew and the stall owner exchange opinions about a baseball team other than the Yankees. A thing almost unheard of in the Island Kingdom of Wang Chien-ming.

A panorama of the building housing the Second Market. A composite of two pictures.

Down to Tainan for class, I panned the crowds waiting for the train at the Taichung Station. Composite of five images.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking pictures of our barbarous county (Taiwan). It is such a country of energy.

Anonymous said...

The government has thoughtfully made these books for incoming foreign brides, called Stepping Into Marriage, Building a Healthy Home, and Growing Up Children. You know, because they don't know about those things in barbarous countries like Vietnam and Indonesia...
Don't judge a book by its cover.

Anonymous said...

err...he was being sarcastic...

Cahleen @ The Alt Story said...

"But for foreign brides, maybe the government needs to put out a series on Who To Contact When Forced Into Prostitution, Five Minute Martial Arts for The Abused Wife, and How To Make My Fine Ethnic Cuisine So It Tastes Like Stewed Pork Over Rice."

Sad, but there's some truth to this. I can personally relate to the last part about making "fine ethnic cuisine taste like stewed pork over rice." Why is that?

Fotozon said...

Great Post Michael.. I enjoy every word and every picture!