2012年2月28日 星期二

Pedicabs 三輪車

Popular nursery rhyme in the 1950s or thereabouts:

三輪車跑得快 [A pedicab moving kuai (fast)]
上面坐個老太太 [On it rides a lao-tai-tai (an old lady)]
要五毛給一塊 [When asked a fare of 50 cents, she pays yi-kuai ($1)]
你說奇怪不奇怪 [Wouldn't you say that is kind of chi-guai (strange)]

All kids knew it by heart.

Pedicabs with three wheels 三輪車 were once the king of the road in Taiwan. They replaced the much more labor-intensive two-wheeled rickshaws 人力車, shortly after 1945. A handful of both can still be seen today at some tourist spots.

A small number of taxicabs have long been available in Taiwan, at least since the 1920s. So when did the widely available cabs enter the scene, now ubiquitous wherever you go? Answer: 1968. This was when the law banning pedicabs was enacted. In Taipei, for example, the City Gov't bought up, at NT$3,000 apiece, and dismantled all 14,000 of them. And drivers were retrained to operate taxicabs. Some may still be on the job now.

There were three types of pedicabs: (1) stationed; (2) free-flowing; and (3) privately-owned, each had a different registration and mode of operation. Those stationed in one location could be hired out, after negotiating the price with the customers, but no fares were allowed on their return, strictly one-way. The free-flowing cabs could cruise the streets and pick up passengers anytime - if they were not too close to the cab stations. The private ones were owned by well-to-do citizens and high officials, operated by an employed "chauffeur", and the cabs were usually metallic and painted blue, not the usual wooden and green; an example is shown below:

Here is a photo showing a sea of pedicabs in front of the Presidential Palace in 1951; they seemed to be patiently waiting for the Labor Day public rally to end so they could pick up customers:

The switch from pedicabs to taxicabs was made possible when Yue-Loong began mass-producing passenger automobiles in Taiwan:

More accurately, YL imported and assembled parts made by Nissan in Japan, at least in the beginning. This model, the 1971 Green-bird 1300-cc sedan, translated from Japanese correctly, its name would have been the Blue-bird in Chinese. The Taiwanese pronunciation of blue-bird was something unmentionable, however. An alternative name was therefore chosen. Also, the taxicabs were usually painted in red and white, not yellow. Below shows taxicabs in action near the East Gate in Taipei:

By and large, pedicab runners were a hardy and reliable bunch and most of them worked in your neighborhood, rain or shine. The taxi age, on the other hand, has brought with it horror stories, such as refusal to travel short distances, questionable personal hygiene and appearances (wearing T-shirts, for example), and the occasional crimes against the passengers. Much has improved since. Cabbies these days are simply trying to make an honest living in the face of competition from private car ownership, public buses and MRTs.

All images are from http://taipics.com

2012年2月12日 星期日

History of Koxinga Temple in Tainan

延平郡王祠 [Koxinga Temple] in Tainan [address: 臺南市中西區開山路152號] is now a very popular tourist attraction.

Before reaching the temple itself, the first structure that looms into view is actually the roofed gate of the original outer walls:
And to its right, a stone marker inscribed with 開山王廟 or Temple of King Kai-Shan also can be seen:Both 開山王 and 延平郡王 refer to the one and only Koxinga國姓爺, i.e., 鄭成功 [Cheng Chen-Gong], who recovered Taiwan from the Dutch in 1661-2.

Soon after Koxinga's death in 1662, a small shrine was built on this site to memorialize him. In 1683, the Qing defeated Ming-Cheng. To avoid anti-Qing popular uprising in the name of Koxinga, his tomb was relocated to Nan-An, his hometown in Hokkien. The worship of Koxinga nonetheless continued unabated, and this shrine and all other similar ones in Taiwan were named 開山王廟 to avoid trouble since Koxinga was still regarded as a historical archenemy of the Qing state. 開山, literally mountain-opening or trail-blazing, was a hidden reference to Koxinga as the first legitimate ruler of Taiwan. It was not until 1874 when Imperial Commissioner 沈葆楨 Shen Bao-Zen, recognizing the popular sentiment, petitioned the Qing Court to rehabilitate Koxinga instead as a national hero who drove the Dutch out of Taiwan. This was at a time when foreign powers came to invade China and the success of Koxinga was cited as an example to inspire the populace. Shen's request was granted, Koxinga was even promoted from 延平王 to 延平郡王 [some sources claim that this title was to conform to the Qing nobleman ranking system rather than a promotion], and enshrined in an officially-sanctioned temple built in 1875 on the same site in Tainan.

This was the front gate 三川門 leading into the courtyard of the temple:
And the Hokkien-style temple itself is shown below [picture was taken during the Japanese era, hence the two out-of-place ishidoros]:
When Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895, this temple was preserved and re-named 開山神社 to demonstrate the Japanese affinity toward Koxinga - because his mother was Japanese, and to placate the Taiwanese. In 1914, a worship pavilion and other accessory buildings were also added (with a traditional Japanese torii planted outside of the main gate):
[The worship pavilion in the courtyard. Source: http://taipics.com, under Cities-Tainan-Japanese shrine]

After the KMT takeover of Taiwan in 1945, most Japanese jinjas were either destroyed or altered, the Koxinga Shrine/Jinja was no exception. The temple itself was saved although the Japanese structures were all removed and the temple name 延平郡王祠 restored. This time, Koxinga became a national hero again, credited for his efforts in trying to recover mainland China for the Ming while his Japanese heritage was downplayed at the same time.

In 1963, the old Hokkien-style temple was demolished and replaced with a Chinese palace-style building constructed with concrete and steel:
And a sculpture of Koxinga by a modern-day Taiwanese artist Mr Yang Yin-Feng was installed [the original statue remains at the Cheng Family Temple]:
The Japanese torii was also modified into a Chinese-style monument complete with a KMT emblem:
And the horizontal portion of the original Japanese torii has been recovered and is now kind of on display in an obscure corner on the temple grounds:
Over a span of 300 years, the Koxinga Temple has gone through four iterations - a reflection of not only the times but also the politics.

Needless to say, whichever way the wind blows, exploitation or otherwise, Koxinga will always remain a folk hero to the Taiwanese.

2012年2月6日 星期一

2012年2月4日 星期六

More on French war dead - Oct 8 1884

[Above: Insignia on the beret of a fusilier marin. In the morning of Oct 8, 1884, the French fusiliers marins landed at the beaches in northwest Tamsui to mount an attack and were beaten back severely by the defending Hunan Braves.]

A few notes taken from two Sino-French war contemporary sources are posted below. The two authors, Alexander Frater and John Dodd were both in Tamsui at the time of French invasion. Frater in particular had dealt directly over the French war dead issue with Gen Sun Kai-Hua, commander of Qing Army in Tamsui, and Liu Min-Chuan, the Imperial Commissioner then stationed in Manga (now Wanhua). One of John Dodd's household staff was also accused of spying for the French and had implicated the "Three-Legged" Dodd [who walked with a cane]. The staff member was later executed for treason; although Dodd emerged from the bad situation unscathed and who eventually went back home to Scotland to live out the rest of his life.

Source 1:

Alexander Frater, British Consul, in Volume 3: 1881-1885, Taiwan : political and economic reports, 1861-1960 (10 v.) Editor: Robert L Jarman, Publisher: Cambridge Archive Editions, 1997.

10/9/1884: …The above narrative has to be accepted with the reservation that we have no account from the French side. 14 Frenchmen’s heads were brought into the town [Tamsui] in the afternoon and it is said that four more were carried along yesterday morning. The Chinese make their own loss out to be 200 killed and wounded. The Missionary Hospital [the Mackay Clinic] has been crowded with injured soldiers, and it is noticeable that most of them have been wounded in two or three places. All day yesterday, the troops were engaged in burying their dead. Three of General Suns [Sun Kai-Hua] officers were killed.

P 458 Oct 13/ 1884: … It proceeds to say that the portion referring to the cutting off of heads applies only to cases of actual fighting; that the production of the head of an enemy as a proof of a deed of bravery was sanctioned by the law of the country; that the Imperial Commissioner [Liu Ming-Chuan] was just the man to follow the guidance of the law; and that General Sun and the TaoTai had issued similar notices. After stating that the heads after they had been produced for inspection were buried at once – about which I may remark that it is known that some of them were sent up to Bangka, probably to be shown to the Imperial Commissioner, who I find is still there – Li goes on to say that care was taken…

P 463: A friend of Li, the International Officer, states that the latter two days ago [Oct 11] buried thirteen bodies of Frenchmen at a cost of $4 each.

Source 2:

John Dodd: Journal of a Blockaded Resident in Northern Formosa, The Daily Press, Hong Kong,1888.

P 51 10/9/1884: 14 French heads, 6 in the market place [near MaZu Temple] and 8 at the camp [near the Hobe Gun Fort] were exhibited. “Fourteen left their bodies on shore…”

P 55 10/13/1884: It is said the Chinese buried the dead bodies of the Frenchmen after the engagement on 8th instant by order of General Soon [Gen Sun Kai-Hua].

P 112 2/24/1885: It is reported that the Chinese have found the head of the French officer who fell on the Downs in the engagement of the 8th October last [Lt Fontaine]. The head was buried at Banca; the body on the Downs, it is supposed.