14 April 2008

Beautiful Island

Here's a semi-interesting story about the "Last Days of Taipei." Recently, Taiwan's been getting a lot of attention because of last month's presidential elections. Many Taiwanese citizens flew in from the U.S. to vote. The ultimate result was the reinsertion of the Kuomintang (KMT) into power a few weeks ago. For those not in the know, Taiwan and China are not the same thing. Alert, the people may look similar but are not the same! When the Communists took over China, the KMT fled across the sea to Taiwan and essentially displaced the Taiwanese people and government.

So a big political schism is between those who feel Taiwan should be independent of China and those who feel China and Taiwan are one. The abbreviation usually appended after Taiwan, R.O.C., stands for "Republic of China." People feel pretty damn strongly about which side of the China-Taiwan debate they stand on. Some Taiwanese parents don't even want their children to marry Chinese. Nothing endears you the parents of a beautiful Taiwanese girl like being Taiwanese yourself.

Anyway, the article sheds less insight than the bold title declares and has the worst navigation of any article I've ever seen, but hey, it's worth a read since it contains interesting tidbits such as:

"'The Old Capital' is crowded with horticulture. I asked Chu why. When the Japanese came, she said, they planted flame trees, cherry trees, azaleas and eucalyptus all around Taipei. Later, the Chinese nationalists chopped many of these down and planted banyan trees and king palms.

When locals chafed at the way a small gang of mainlanders ran Taipei, officials began planting native camphor trees. In less than a generation, camphor-lined streets have become the picture of modern Taipei. The stout, twisting laurels grow quickly, like so much else here."
Unrelated but related. The protests during the running of the Olympic torch are ridiculous. I love how pro-Tibet supporters are agitating everyone and hope to make their point by extinguishing the Olympic flame. The whole idea of the Olympics is a peaceful arena for athletics, free from politics and violence. Of course, that conception has been shattered nearly every year the Olympics have been held in recent memory (it's hard to ignore the reach of billions of viewers I guess) so this is just more dirt on the coffin of the Olympian ideal so this really shouldn't be that surprising.

I do feel sorry for the poor saps who waited around to see the torch in SF but then were disappointed by the duping and alternate routes. Don't even get me started on the idea of a boycott. It must be horrifying to be an Olympic athlete, never knowing when events out of your control will completely torpedo your dreams and aspirations. Oh wait, that's just life. Can't wait till August to watch all these people wilt under the Beijing sun, dirt, and smog.