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Taiwan - Day 2 - Taipei (NSYS Memorial Hall, Shilin Market)

Uncle Sam and His 4 East Asian Concubines; Feet Fetishes, Feet First & Feet as Food for Fish.

rain 10 °C

A bit of drizzle in the morning. Since we're going to the National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, and spent the time indoor, so it didn't matter so much. We got off at the namesake metro station on the Blue Line.

We were there 10:55AM, which meant the Changing of the Guard occured 5 mins after we arrived. Since we were late comers, there were already packed crowd around the area where the Guards performed their Changing routines, which occurs every hour on the hour. Since we're not that tall, we didn't get to see the action in full view. Jumping up and down wouldn't help in taking photos unless I aimed some kinda artistic, super blurry photos that might win me some world leading photography awards (that could have taken by a energetic monkey. Is there other kind?). Never fear for the shorties, I noticed that there are balconies on 2F (it's actually the mezz level) where only few people hung around. So we decided to view the Changing of the Guards thingy from the balcony an hour later after we checked out the rest of the place.

Many Yanks no doubt noticed that the statue of Dr. Sun's pose has a striking resemblence to that of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washing D.C. except for their sizes. That isn't surprising giving the influence of US on KMT, and subsequetly on Taiwan by providing them a military brolly. What is interesting is that in the main exhibition hall there's a commemorative postage stamp made in 1942 in Denver, Colorado has the images of Lincoln and Dr. Sun side by side. So it's kinda interesting that these two historical figures are being compared by the Yanks as well. After all, Dr. Sun is the Founding Father of modern China while Washington is the Founding Father of USA. Not Lincoln. But in another way, this comparison makes perfect sense. Dr. Sun was not only a founding father, but a liberator like Lincoln. Dr. Sun freed China from the feudal system, which is of course a master-slave system not unlike that in the US before the Emancipation.

If there's a historical figure that's most similar to Dr. Sun in my view, it would be Atatürk, not Lincoln. To the West, he's Dr. Sun, to the Chinese, he has always been referred to as 國父, which literally means "Nation's Father". And Atatürk means "Father of the Turks" (Ata = Ancestor). Like Dr. Sun, Atatürk is the founder of the Republic. Mustafa Kemal took presidential office in 1923, while Dr. Sun in 1911. They were therefore contemporaries of each other living through the same tumultuous years of WW1. The two founding fathers of the 2 republics are revered in their respective countries. Both historical figures are defined as the architects of creating their modern nations, and the 1st presidents of those 2 countries rising from the ashes of a fallen ancient empires. The Ottoman Empire was referring to as "Sick Man of Europe" while the last imperial Qing dynasty of China was called "Sick Man of East Asia" (東亞病夫)2. The term "Sick Man of East Asia" was intended as a parallel to "Sick Man of Europe". Indeed, these parallels in the histories of these two nations not surprisingly led to the parallel rises of these two historical personages. Replacing the old order with the new. Coincidences in histories, which there're too numerous to name, aren't really coincidences. The one important difference between the two are their backgrounds: one is military, and other is civilian. To cure the ills of the oriental Sick Man, a physician - Dr. Sun - answered the call. He returned from overseas to make the house call (yup, he'd got pretty good bedside manner too).

Apart from the main exhibition hall, there're also B&W Chinese classical landscape watercolours and paper cut Galleries.

It goes without saying that PRC and Taiwan has a complicated relationship. Well, no more complicated than the Sino-US relationship. In fact, these 3 countries are having a complicated triangle affair. First, Uncle Sam wooed Taiwan, and told China to stay away from Taiwan, "Hands off, China, she's mine! All mine! Muhahaaaaa!". And he even sent his beefiest body guard the 7th Fleet to keep an eye on this newly acquired love. But then in 1979, Uncle Sam had a change of heart, and decided to ditch ROC, and went across the strait to chase another skirt called China. Uncle Sam can be fickle at times. Love me now, love me not. He moves in mysterious ways.

Let me plagiarise myself - sue me - by pinching stuff from my previous entry Globalization of Hollywood - Part 1,

All the old enemies of Cold War are turning into gay buddies and business partners. Even Taiwan's KMT and PRC are doing business together. With the signing of ECFA, the cross-straits ties are closer than ever. I think this ECFA is PRC's tool for the eventual total Sinicization of Taiwan3. The detente of PRC and KMT is more amazing than those of USA and Russia, because with the collapse of USSR, we're dealing with a different, in fact democratic government. KMT realised that even their major political backer of USA is now hobnobbing with China, they'd better kowtowing too. In short, Uncle Sam had switched sides, and recognised PRC (instead of ROC as it did before). USA is one of the last country to switch their recognition from ROC to PRC in a domino effect. Taiwan has never been more isolated. In fact, became none-existence as a country in the eyes of the world governments. As a sign of respect, let's bow our heads for a 3 minutes silence.

Actually Uncle Sam haven't ditched Taiwan. Taiwan still gets to duck under US's umbrella - along with Japan and South Korea - to cosy up with Uncle Sam (Uncle Sam got big enough umbrella to accommodate all 3 East Asian concubines, which requires a large family budget. I've heard he's quite loaded, in fact, the biggest manor in the global village).

And don't jump the gun and call Uncle Sam a two timer either. To qualify to be a two timer, China and Taiwan has to be rival (for exclusive relationship with Uncle Sam). But the two Chinese governments are in real good vibes right now, especially in the last 2 years where they has been really getting along like a house on fire. The two Chinas happy to share Uncle Sam. The best way to describe the relationship between Uncle Sam and the two Chinese governments is the Chinese feudal polygamy household structure where Uncle Sam is the patriarch, the master of the house (obviously, he's called Uncle Sam, not Auntie Sam). Of course, Taiwan is the wife as Uncle Sam wed her first, and naturally China is the concubine (I know of girls named China, never guys. Taiwan also sounds feminine). The wife and concubine addresses each other as sisters. Sometimes, as in this case, the sisters aren't just sister-in-law, but blood sisters (not a rare occurrence). They're blood sisters because these two governments both called Dr. Sun Yat-Sen the Father of China. They're therefore both daughters were born out of of Dr. Sun's revolution. Indeed, despite the animosity between the early leaders of KMT and CCP (Chiang Kai-Shek, and Mao Zedong), they both recognised and revered Dr. Sun as the Founding Father of the Republic. A typical sibling rivalry if you ask me.

In addition to sibling rivalry, the two Chinese sisters marrying the same master would always vie for attention and affection. If you have watched any Chinese drama that deals with this feudal polygamous relationship, the master always pays more attention to the concubine while the wife has closer tie with the master, but usually stands quietly behind him. Every time Master Sam presents Taiwan with a gift - like selling advanced weapons to Taiwan - China usually chucks a tantrum at Uncle Sam out of jealousy. China would accuse Master Sam for damaging the relationship between the two sisters China.The master is, regardless being a nice guy or not, of course, usually the peacemaker who tries to keep things harmonious by balancing the power within the household, trying to please/appease all his concubines (ask Barrack Obama). The last thing the master wants is a quarrelling household. Can't recall how many times I watched this unfolds on these kinda Chinese dramas when the different women get jealous and the master cops an earful and gets a handful. Well, serve him right for being greedy. This is the price the master has to pay for having more than one wives. This kinda period drama is also known to Chinese as the Republican Era or Republican Period drama. Understandably a popular genre among Chinese audience. "Raise the Red Lantern" is the best known example. Although feudalism existed in China for millennium, it was the Republican period where this archaic system was came under attacked, and phasing out as it was way past its used-by date. Before that, feudalism wasn't questioned, so no drama.

We took the metro and got off at Taipei City Hall station (the station next to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall station), and walked to Taipei 101. We spotted the City Hall half way between the two stations. The trip from the station to Taipei 101 is about 10 minutes walk. We had lunch at the food court in Taipei 101. At the ticket counter, the sales girl told us that today is a hazy day, and also we weren't allowed to go out to the balcony of the observation deck. We decided to go there another day when the weather is better. Actually I didn't feel regret if I give it a miss. Taipei 101 is towering so high above the rest. Up there I imagine you wouldn't see much because the rest of the surrounding buildings are so low. Taipei has no skyscraper except for two. Taipei 101 is one of them. This is because reliable earthquake proof technology only came in the last decade or so.

As it turned out, there's a free bus shuttled between Taipei 101 and Taipei City Hall station. We took the free shuttle back to the station. On the bus a local girl vacate her seat for Atta, addressed her as 'da jie' (大姐 or 'big sister'). This is far better than being addressed as 'auntie'1.

Taiwanese inherited many things from Japanese after the 5 decades of occupation. Politeness is one of the good legacy. Many other contemporary Japanese influence can also be seen: business and social etiquette, electronic toilet, green movement, medical face mask, weird TV shows, and kiddie culture.

The orderliness in the metro system from the riding of the escalators through to the train reminded me of Japan5.
The Japanese electronic toilets are usually installed in hotels (including ours) that do everything except giving baby a bath (maybe I haven't located that button yet. I was too afraid if I press the wrong button, it pulls me into the vortex and I would end up in the Pacific Ocean. For people who know me, I don't like swimming). The West, on the other hand, is shy away from putting technology in the toilet. Nothing much has changed since the Industrial Revolution.

People with the medical face masks (not facial mask) could be seen in many places, especially in metro where the environment is crowded. But these face masks aren't just in medical blue or white, but in fact, quite fashionable. This leads me to think that they aren't just worn for hygienic reason. It could be a fashion statement, and since it's 10 °C today, it could also be used as face warmer. The face masks are invariably worn by females, which enforces the idea that's a fashion accessory. If a guy wears a black face mask, he maybe mistaken as a ninja.

In US, they have TV shows like "Girls Gone Wild" where girls merrily take off their tops at a drop of a hat (regardless if they wear any hat), usually under the influence of alcohol or use it as an excuse. Japanese/Taiwanese is a polite society, so instead they produce TV shows that I would call "Girls Gone Mild". Since they can't show the girls' naked tops, but showing legs are quite socially acceptable. In fact, minis are in or quite hot right now (even in the dead of winter). So the work around would be producing shows that in the guise of various kiddie games like twister or games played on odd concoctions to enable the lovely gals to show as much legs as possible on the big plasma screen6. The Westerners are at a lost when watching such shows. Just because the Japanese aren't shy about toilet technology, doesn't mean they're not shy about toplessness. Well, UK has their "Carry On" film series, the Japanese/Taiwanese have their own solutions to their social inhibitions. Carry on grrrrrrrrrls.

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Posted by FrancisQ 09:22 Archived in Taiwan

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