Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Monday, April 06, 2015

33. Keelung, Taiwan, China

Keelung (Jilong or Chilung), Taiwan

The first inhabitants of Taiwan, the Ketagalan people, lived around this town. The first Chinese Han settlers to this region probably approximated the sound in their Southern Min language to “Ke-Lang” which led to today's pronunciation of Keelung.
Map of Our Stops, Hong Kong to Beijing

What a history Taiwan has. Due to its very strategic position off the coast of China and close proximity to Japan and the Philippines, this large island even today, is very much wanted by all these countries. Well situated as a jump off point between the South China Sea, the Yellow Sea and the Taiwan Strait, it has been an island many countries fought over.

Taiwan calls itself the “Republic of China“. Today it pretends to be an independent country but…. According to the UN debate and vote in 1971 among all the Nations, even the U.S. considered and agreed that there is only ONE CHINA, the People's Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan, if the chips are down and China presses the issue will, ultimately, be absorbed into the mainland body of China.
Coming Into Port

But I think, similar to Hong Kong, Taiwan will be another “Special Administrative Region”. And why not? China could imitate the United States where the body of the whole is made up of individual states, each state having their own laws but also governed under the federal umbrella. China could have many special regions too.  China could set up Tibet as a special administrative area for example, and let Tibet run its own country with the understanding that Tibet is part of China. The political fate of Taiwan however, still hangs in limbo, or might always be precarious.

The island of Taiwan ( Ilha Formosa ) was first ‘ discovered ‘ by the Portuguese, then occupied by Spain, then the Dutch, the British, French and from 1895 until 1945 by Japan. Under the Japanese occupation the island changed the most. Japan looked at Taiwan as a favorite project and built roads, schools and hospitals. They made Taiwan into a showcase colony in the 50 years of their occupation
Near the Port
After World War II, especially after the civil war in 1948 within China that ended in 1949 with Mao Tse Tung occupying the mainland of China and Chiang Kai-shek retreating to Taiwan, a status quo was reached between the Chinese Communists and the Chinese Republicans.

Taiwan today, especially the area around Taipei where Keelung seems to be a suburb, is a conurbation; a huge city. The population of Taiwan is 23 million people and 98% are Han Chinese. The official language is Mandarin. Taiwan has one of the busiest ports and is among the top 7 ports in China. It is as large as Switzerland or the states of MA and CT combined.
One of the “triple religions” (Buddhism, Taoism or Confucianism) is practiced by 90% of the population and 10% believe in Folk Religion or the worship of ancestors. Ma Tsu, the goddess of seafarers is also very much revered here.

I always believed that Taiwan meant big island. Tai meaning big, and wan meaning Island. Like Tai-fun means big wind.  But according to John Friedman, one of the lecturers on board, the name might be a development from older languages. The aboriginals, the Taiouwang were pronounced Taiyowan by the Dutch which led to the British naming the area, Taiwan (Terraced Bay). You tell me which is right?
Chinese Lettering

The whole language translation of Chinese, especially the picture graph writing of Chinese to our Latin, letter-based writing, always created a problem. In 1857 Wade, a diplomat and Giles, a linguist, developed a translation system that the world adopted but which had many fine points missing. The beer Tsingtao for example, should be spelled Qingdao today. In 1958 a revision and a (better?) way of writing was used and is called the Pinyin system. Peking became Beijing. Mao Tse Tung became Mao Zedong, etc. That and the different pronunciation of Chinese speaking people will always make the Western spelling a bit wrong.

Food Shops Open to the Street
Using “pictures” to communicate, to write things down, is a much better way. The Chinese perfected this over thousands of years. We in the West use “pictures” too when it comes to numbers. No matter what language you speak, or how you pronounce it, the symbol for the number 1 for example is the same. One, Eins, Uno, Jeden, Une, all mean the same thing and you can always read it when you see the symbol or the number one “1” written. Chinese writing is just a symbol, you pronounce the symbol any way you like, it will always mean just house if your symbol is the house symbol. Or as we do in the West, we show traffic signs as "pictures' (do not enter is a red round sign with a white bar across the middle, or 'no smoking' as a picture.
Motorcycles With Windshield Wipers

We were only a short time in Keelung, some folks went on excursions to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan some 35 Miles away. I walked the streets of Keelung but since I did not exchange any money, I could not buy anything. It is actually a good way to explore without money in your pocket, a safe way to not buy anything. It was a rainy day and the temps are getting cooler, we needed jackets.
The Iron Butt Motel???


Motorcycle Parking

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