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Showing posts from June, 2014

My Friend Was Assaulted in Australia

Today I'm really angry. A friend of mine just told me that she was assailed by a man, who not only robbed her, but also punched her, apparently without any reason. She is a flight attendant and was spending a day in Perth after a flight. At around 5 pm the man assaulted her, took her shopping bag and hit her. Her eye was badly injured and now it's displaced. She may need surgery to fix it. 
I feel so sorry because I cannot do anything for her. Actually, she is really brave and perhaps she doesn't even need my help. But I'm just so upset. I didn't expect something like this to happen in Australia, let alone in the afternoon. She went to the police, and they told her that such crimes usually don't happen in that area of the city. But they couldn't do anything. 
My stay in Hong Kong wouldn't have been so great if I hadn't met her. She showed me a lot of interesting places and was always very nice to me. I can't believe that someone has done this to h…

The Armed Forces Museum of the Republic of China (Taiwan)

A couple of days ago I was walking from Ximending to Taipei Main Station when suddenly I came across a number of ... cannons and bombshells - an unusual sight in the middle of the city. I took a closer look at them and, after reading an explanation label, I realised I was standing in front of the Armed Forces Museum (AFM; Chinese: 國軍歷史文物館, literally: Museum of the Historical Relics of the National Army).

Taipei Before and Now - Hengyang Road from the Qing Dynasty to the Present

At first sight Hengyang Road (衡陽路) doesn't seem to be a particularly interesting street. You are indeed unlikely to even notice it, immersed as it is in the jungle of buildings and roads in Taipei Main Station area. However, the appearance is deceptive. In fact, Hengyang Road is a fascinating example of all the changes and upheavals Taipei has gone through over the last two hundred years. 
In the late Qing era, Hengyang Road was known as "Stone Memorial Archway Street" (石坊街) because of the memorial arch that stood there. In the picture below, you can see the arch, whose name was Commonweal Memorial Arch (急公好義坊). At the end of the road, you can still see the West Gate (Ximen), which was demolished by the Japanese in 1905. The picture also shows the structure of typical Qing Dynasty streets of Taipei, with the simple two-storey buildings and the tile roofs. 


The Commonweal Memorial Arch was built on the 13th year of the reign of the Guangxu Emperor (1887) to commemorate Hong…

Taipei Police Raid Popular Nightclub 'LUXY'

On June 14 LUXY, a popular nightclub located in Taipei's Da'an District, as well as two pubs located in Zhongshan District, were the target of a massive police raid directed against drug-trafficking. Taipei District Prosecutor's Office, Taipei Police Department, units of the Criminal Police and the Police Bureaus of Zhongshan, Da'an and Wanhua districts organised the operation jointly. Furthermore, Taiwan's Customs Office lent the police 16 detection dogs. 
At midnight the police staged a fake inspection at LUXY. At 3 am three public buses stopped at Zhongxiao East Road, where the nightclub is located. But instead of normal passengers, 300 hundred policemen came out of the vehicles and raided the club, taking off guard the drug dealers and their clients. Other 380 policemen were deployed in Zhongshan District. 

A total of 90 people were detained, 4 of whom were wanted criminals. 5 people were arrested on charges of drug possession, as they carried with them ecstasy, …

Beautification by Destruction - The Demolition of Japanese Buildings in Taipei

When I first came to Taipei I didn't know much about its history. One thing I did know, though: Taiwan had been under Japanese rule for half a century and Taipei had been the capital of the colony. But when I walked around, I wondered why there were barely any Japanese buildings. If you go to Macau, for instance, you find thousands of houses from the Portuguese colonial era. But in Taipei, all the streets seemed not to be older than 60 or 70 years. I just came to the conclusion that Taipei must have been a colonial backwater, a small village, and that present-day Taipei had been entirely constructed after 1945.
It was only after reading some books and seeing old pictures that I realised the Japanese had built a lot, and that indeed many of today's roads and thoroughfares had been created during the colonial era. It's just that after 1945 most of these buildings were torn down, with the exception of  the most representative ones. 
Something similar can be seen in many cities …

Pinyin vs Wade-Giles, or China vs Taiwan

In the past I have been asked why in some of my posts I write Guomindang while in others I write Kuomintang. Both have the same meaning and pronunciation, but the different spelling is indeed confusing. The same thing can be said for other names, such as Kaohsiung vs Gaoxiong, or Taichung vs Taizhong. I must admit that I have been quite inconsistent. So far I haven't made a clear choice between the Taiwanese and the Chinese way to write these names.
But why are there different ways to write Chinese characters using Latin letters? And which one is better?


Wade-Giles, Pinyin, and the Chinese Civil War
When contacts between China and the West intensified in the 19th century, Europeans were confronted with a big issue: how to transliterate Chinese names? For instance, if a Westerner wanted to write a book about China for a Western audience, he had to mention Chinese persons and places. But how could one use the Latin alphabet to render all these exotic names?
For a while, Europeans did it…

Goldfinch Restaurant in Hong Kong

If you are a fan of Wong Kar-wai's film In the Mood for Love, you may remember the famous 'restaurant scene', in which the two protagonists find out that their spouses are having an affair. I watched that film for the first time when I was a student in Italy, and I immediately loved it. That was still the 'Blockbuster' era, when people used to borrow DVDs and then watch them at home with friends. I was preparing an exam, and I used to relax watching some films in the cold winter evenings. I was particularly interested in Asian films. I hadn't started studying Chinese, yet, and I had no plans to go to Asia, but my fascination for that part of the world was growing. Wong Kar-wai's film impressed me for its masterful style: the mysterious and delicate atmosphere, the dialogues, brief and full of allusions, and the way in which emotions were conveyed more through musical and visual techniques than through words. 




Although I had watched the 'restaurant scene&…