2014年8月29日 星期五

Rising Sun Petroleum

Warehouse of Douglas, Cass & Co
Very few people, not even the locals pay much attention to 鼻仔頭Pi-a-tou east of Tamsui MRT Station, largely because this site, the now defunct Seaplane Port, has always been off-limits to civilians. Through the historical preservation efforts of Taipei County, 鼻仔頭史蹟生態區 that includes the original Shell property finally was created in 2007.

As early as 1870, Pi-a-tou was already home to Jardine Matheson & Co, followed by Milisch & Co and Dodd & Co. Records show that a Mr Hankard leased from 紀化三 in 1894 the whole area complete with paddy fields, orchards, and cottages at an annual rent of 2,400 yuan.

Douglas Lapraik & Co was established in 1884 and re-organized as Lapraik, Cass & Co in 1893. In 1897, it became the agent for Shell Transport & Trading Co (established in 1902). On Sep 1, 1909, Shell leased the land in perpetuity from the gov't and joined force with Rising Sun Petroleum Co, the latter was established in Japan in 1900 with a branch office in Taiwan opened in 1910. The Shell - Rising Sun Petroleum Co started operation in Tamsui in 1911, and on May 27, 1912, the company leased its company site also in perpetuity.

The Rising Sun Petroleum Co transported its oil by train to other cities in Taiwan. There were three tanks, a 60-ton sedimentation tank, a 1,200-ton kerosene storage tank, and a 2,500-ton oil storage tank. On the company campus, there were oil pumps, warehouses, and a residence for the caretakers. Oil arrived in Tamsui via possibly oil tankers and then pumped into the tanks through steel pipelines. The operation was halted by the Japanese Colonial Gov't in April 1944 in preparation for the war then rapidly advancing from the Philippines. And on Oct 12, the site was in fact attacked by F6F Hellcats based on carrier USS Intrepid.

Source: Chih-yuan Chang, The historic preservation and rebirth of the Shell Oil Company storage in Tamsui, Taiwan. PhD Thesis, Graduate School of Design, National Yunlin Univ of Sci and Tech, 2007

2014年8月23日 星期六

Hobe Gun Fort 滬尾砲台

Caption: The distant view of Mt Kanon from the ex-battery of Tansui, the suburb of Taihoku
Marc of Taipics.com sends this rare photo of Hobe Gun Fort from the Japanese colonial era (above). Clearly, it had been abandoned and, at some point, occupied by squatters who had built a traditional residential house 三合院 in the court yard. Another photo shows the run-down house:

Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/e0/3c.html

Two years after the Battle of Fisherman's Wharf, Governor of Taiwan 劉銘傳 Liu Ming-chuan ordered the construction of this fortress [Hobe is the Taiwanese pronunciation of 滬尾, the old name of Tamsui], under the supervision of a German engineer, Lieutenant Max E Hecht. Hecht unfortunately died on the job and was buried in Tamsui Foreigners Cemetery. He was the only deceased with two headstones, one reads "In memoriam Lieut Max Hecht who died in Tamsui on the 19th August 1892 in his 39th year. Ruhe seiner asche. Erected by his friends" and the other, simply "M Hecht".

This gun fort was designed to cover the area where the French warships were deployed in 1884 (below). It was equipped with 4 rear-loaded pieces: two 8-inch Krupp, one 10-inch and another a 12-inch Armstrong.
Source: http://catalog.digitalarchives.tw/item/00/30/e0/45.html

Now fully restored, complete with a museum inside the soldiers' quarters and munition dumps that exhibits the history of the Sino-French war:

 The plague above the main gate, was presented by Liu Ming-chuan
with his calligraphic writing of 北門鎖鑰. 
The court yard with 蓮霧 trees with the barracks/museum in the background

2014年8月20日 星期三

Osaka Shipping

In April, 1896, the Japanese Colonial Gov't asked Osaka Shipping [大阪商船株式會社] to start services between Keelung and Kobe. This was the beginning of the Designated Route Policy designed to oust Douglas Shipping (i.e., Douglas, Cass & Co). Indeed, under this policy, on March 27, 1899, Osaka Shipping was given monopoly for operating all routes to China, previously run by the Douglas. By 1902, Douglas was totally out of the shipping business and became an agent for Shell Transport & Trading Co. Its docks, offices, customs area, warehouses, living quarters in Tamsui were all confiscated and nationalized in 1914. Part of the properties had been re-built into houses rented to newly arrived Japanese immigrants including school teachers, and other parts occupied by the military. After the war, these properties were once again nationalized and again occupied by the military as well as refugees arriving from China in 1949.

It is highly unlikely that the descendants of Douglas Lapriak (1818-1869), if any at all, still retain deeds and titles to these properties in Tamsui and possibly Taipei as well. In 1988, Shell actually filed a lawsuit to recover its pre-war property in Tamsui. The request was, however, denied by Taiwan Superior Court in 1995. Shell was the owner of the Rising Sun Petroleum Co at one time and was trying to reclaim a piece of land near Tamsui Station on which two large oil storage (and a smaller processing) tanks were located. These oil tanks and the neighboring seaplane port were bombed by the US Navy on Oct 12, 1944. The oil burned for 3 days and 3 nights.

2014年8月13日 星期三

Fish in Tamsui Mangrove Estuary

Not only migratory birds congregate in 淡水紅樹林生態保護區Tamsui Mangrove Estuary, fishes as well. The small fish community is dominated by the following 4 (95% of total):

(1) 70.15% Sardinella melanura (鲱科Clupeidae) or black-tailed sardines (Taiwanese: 青鱗仔, 鰮仔,沙丁魚, or 扁仔).

(2) 19.59% Stolephorus buccaneeri (鳀科Engraulidae) or anchovies:

(3) 2.96% Thryssa kammalensis (鳀科Engraulidae) also anchovies:

(4) 2.61% Gerres abbreviatus (水黽科Gerreidae), known locally as 赤翅仔 because of the color of its fins, considered a good catch because of the broad fully-fleshed body:

The remaining 5% contain 101 other species. One of them is of particular interest to amateur fishermen in Tamsui, i.e., Sillago sihama, or 沙梭whitings (only 0.27% of total), most abundant in July or the beginning of the summer vacation, anyone catching this most rare fish is congratulated by his friends:

Source of data: Tzeng WN and Wang YT: Marine Biology 113:481,1992.

2014年8月10日 星期日

Love jade

Next time when you visit Tamsui, look for this, not the limes but the yellowish jelly, known as Ai-yu愛玉, love-jade, extracted from Ai-yu seeds:

This sweet summer treat is always served chilled, nothing more refreshing than 愛玉冰. How is it made? Well,
First, the fruits are harvested and cut open.
The seeds are collected into a pouch of cheese cloth,
then placed into a pot containing an appropriate quantity of water.
Milk the pouch a few times and let sit.
The gel quickly and magically solidifies.
The final product. Addition of lime is a recent adoption.
Very few know that 愛玉子 is indigenous to Taiwan. According to 連橫's 台灣通史 published in 1921:

Essentially, its discovery was purely accidental. To quench his thirst in one hot summer, a certain Hokkien merchant was getting a drink from a stream somewhere in Jia-Yi, when he saw that the surface of water seemed frozen. After drinking from it anyway, he had found it a delightful, really hit the spot. Upon close inspection, he found some sticky seeds in the water. And, as they say, the rest is history. 愛玉 was actually the name of his lovely 15-year-old daughter who, having nothing productive to do, began selling in public this cool stuff as part of the new family business. People loved it and called it 愛玉 jelly, and the name 愛玉 stuck.

The statement in the last sentence "...按愛玉子,即薜荔..." maybe incorrect, though. In 1904, 牧野富太郎 (T. Makino) published a paper and designated 愛玉子 as Ficus awkeotsang Makino (notice the Taiwanese pronunciation of the species name). He actually collected samples in the then 嘉義廳下打貓東頂堡生毛樹庄 (now 嘉義縣梅山鄉). A British botanist Corner was of the opinion that 愛玉 was very close but not identical to 薜荔 (Ficus pu-mila L.). Since classification of the latter had preceded 愛玉, 愛玉 is therefore re-classified as a variation of 薜荔, or Ficus pumila L. var. awkeotsang (Makino) Corner. [Just to nit-pick a bit more, the pronunciation of 愛玉 as a person's name in Taiwanese is Ai-G'kio, not Aw-G'eo. 連橫 should have known.]

Such a long history of Ai-yu in Tawian, it is therefore not too surprising to see this coffee shop in Yokohama, Japan, displaying a prominent sign of 愛玉子 - with the 片假名 pronouncing in Taiwanese, aw g'eo ji,presumably not to be confused with "(I) love eggs" or even a girl's name, Ai-g'ioku-ko.


2014年8月1日 星期五

Truce after death

Source: Apple Daily 7/30/2014
The annual commemoration of the war-dead from the Sino-French war (1884) is conducted in Keelung on July 30, as part of the Taiwanese custom of placating the dead on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, known as 中元普渡.

A procession starts from the 民族英雄墓 Tombs of the National Heroes, where Qing soldiers were buried, continues on to the French Cemetery where 700 French sailors and fusiliers marins were entombed. Prayers are said and among the offerings to the French are freshly-cut flowers, various fruits, red wine, French bread, funerary foreign currencies, and a golden ship for them to sail home with (above).

It is hoped that spirits from both sides will finally rest in peace, even befriend each other in the after-life.