- I watched the World Cup. 看世界盃.
- I fled Kyrgyzstan after anti-government protests erupted in the capital. 我在首都的抵抗政府遊行發生之後離開吉爾吉斯斯坦.
- I went back to Seattle for the summer. 回去西雅圖過暑假.
- I became the 32nd member of the OECD. 我成為經濟合作暨發展組織第三十二個會員.
- I joined the Kaohsiung Marathon. 參加高雄馬拉松.
- I shelled Yeonpyeong Island. 砲擊延坪島.
- I started the First Libyan Civil War. 發起第一場利比亞內戰.
- I complained about the heat. 抱怨天氣很熱.
- I won the Eurovision Song Contest in Germany. 在德國舉辦的歐洲歌唱比賽獲得第一名.
- I completed my first orbit since discovery in 1846. 把自1846年之後的行星軌道完成.
- I began a major prisoner exchange. 開始引渡囚犯.
- I went to Dong Shan River Park in Yilan. 去宜蘭冬山河親水公園.
- I suspended all exports to Britain and France. 短暫停止外銷到英國與法國.
- I declared independence from Mali. 從馬里宣布獨立.
- I drove around eastern Pingtung County. 在屏東東部開車.
- I also wondered if Taitung building a new movie theater was necessary. 考慮台東是否需要蓋新的電影院.
- I visited the Taiwan Soya-Mixed Meat Museum in Kaohsiung. 參觀高雄的滷味博物館.
- I "soft"-landed on the moon. 軟著陸月球.
- I decided not to hang out with certain foreign friends for a while. 我決定一段時間內不要跟某些外國朋友保持聯絡.
- I annexed Crimea. 我吞併克里米亞.
- I drove from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park, camping in three different states along the way. 從西雅圖開車到黃石國家公園, 沿路在三個州露營.
- I won the World Cup. 我在世界盃獲得第一名.
- I bought a new car. 我買了一部新車.
- I opened the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. 在西半球經營最高的建築物.
- I visited the oyster-harvesting area north of Tainan City. 參觀台南北部牡蠣養殖區.
- I started using clip pedals on my road bike. 我開始騎單車時穿卡鞋.
- I released Pokemon Go. 我發佈寵物小精靈Go.
- I recovered two lost paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. 我取得二幅遺失的梵古繪畫.
- I went to Beigang to visit an old temple there. 去北港參觀媽祖廟.
- I visited Da Peng Bay in Pingtung for the first time. 第一次去屏東的大鵬灣.
The Chinese text below was taken from "Stories of the Opening of Taiwan (Southern Area) 臺灣開發故事 - 南部地區. The Chinese text was written by 趙莒玲. The English was written/translated by me. There will probably be four of these entries, all related to Pingtung County. The Southern Area book also covers Jiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung.
The Paiwan Tribe's Many Unusual Customs
牡丹社事件的主角之一, 就是排灣族. 因為該事件中, 排灣族強焊的民風, 使一般人對該族有 "蠻橫不講理" 的刻板印象: 但若經過深入了解, 將會發現, 排灣族其實是一支很懂禮數的族群, 它是九族中最講究階級的一族, 而且在日常生活的進退, 亦相當有禮數. The Paiwan Tribe were the primary actors in the Mudan Incident. Because of this incident, and also because of the close-knit nature of Paiwan society, people get the impression that they are "arrogant" or "unreasonable." After learning more about them, however, one discovers that the Paiwan Tribe is a very ceremonious group of people, and also one of the most status-conscious of Taiwan's nine tribes. They are, moreover, quite well-mannered in their daily lives.(1)
時至今日, 該族依舊維持著貴族沿襲制度, 大頭目和大頭目家族結為親家後, 其後代子孫便為大頭目的繼承人: 大頭目和平民結婚時, 其所生的孩子則降格為中頭目. To this day the tribe maintains a rigid hierarchy, with the high chief, his wife, and their close relatives handing down authority from one generation to the next. If a member of the chief's family marries outside the tribe, their children's status is reduced to that of "middle chief."
以婚姻大事來說, 該族非常講究 "門當戶對", 因而 "親上加親" 的情形比比階是. 如排灣族聚居地之一的泰武鄉平和村, 便有好幾樁兄弟娶姊妹的婚姻, 因而都是好幾代的親戚. As far as marriage is concerned, this tribe is very focused on "keeping things in the family," so having intra-familiar romantic relationships is more common. One example of this is Ping He Village, in Tai Wu Township. [In this place] several pairs of brothers and sisters have married one another, to the point where intra-familiar relationships are very complex.
在男女交往方面, 排灣族亦十分注重分寸. 從年輕人談戀愛開始, 父母親都會 "坐陪" (陪伴之意), 情侶不能完全單獨相處, 直到結婚入洞房, 抱孫心切的父母親及近親, 還會在洞房外的客廳 "陪睡" 呢! With respect to male-female relations, the Paiwan Tribe pays close attention to degrees of physical maturity. When young people begin their courtships, the parents will "sit alongside" (accompany) [the couple], and they are not allowed to spend time together alone until they've entered the bridal chamber. Even then the parents and extended family members will "sleep alongside" the couple outside the chamber during their wedding night.
由於在結婚前, 排灣族的青年都准許同時結交好幾位異性朋友, 但是在結婚前夕, 有一項不成文的習俗, 即新郎倌必須買襯衫或手帕, 贈送給每位交往過的女孩子, 以表示 "分別" 和給一個 "交代" 的意思, 免得日後見面尷尬. Before marriage, Paiwan youths are allowed to make many friends of both sexes. But on the eve of marriage it is customary for the groom to give a shirt or handkerchief to girls he's had sexual relationships with. This expresses his separation from them and serves as a confession of their previous relations. This is done to prevent embarrassment later on.
最有趣的畫面是, 在婚禮進行跳團體舞時, 新郎還可與曾經交往過的女友相擁而泣, 一副依依不捨的樣子. 不明就裡的人, 看到這種悲悽的情景, 可能會誤以為這是樁 "心不甘, 情不願" 的婚姻. The most interesting thing is the tribal dances during the wedding. During this time the groom can still hug and cry with his old girlfriends, thus expressing his reluctance to part from them. For those unfamiliar with this custom, the forlorn aspect of it can lead one to the conclusion that these ceremonies are conducted against the bride and groom's wishes.
排灣族婚禮不講究挑日子, 只要是假日或族人較多的時候, 便是 "好日子". 此觀念在同族通婚時沒有問題, 但若與漢人結婚時便有點麻煩. 該族耆老舉例, 曾有一件排灣族女孩嫁漢人的婚姻, 女方挑的日子剛好是農曆七月, 為避開 "鬼月", 雙方討論好久才定案. The date on which a Paiwan wedding occurs is not important. It only needs to be a holiday or a time when more members of the tribe are present. This time is considered "a good day." This attitude is not a problem when two members of the Paiwan Tribe marry, but it can create difficulties when a Paiwan person is marrying a Chinese person. Within the tribe there is a well-known anecdote in which a Paiwan woman marries a Chinese man. The woman's side of the family selects a day falling on the seventh month of the lunar calendar - ghost month - for the wedding. The bride and groom's family discuss this matter for a long time before reaching an agreement on the date.
當然, 排灣族也有些風俗與漢文化相類似, 像男子當兵前夕, 常會以戒指或衣裳送給女友作為訂情之物. Of course the Paiwan Tribe has many of the same customs as Chinese people. For example, when a man is about to begin his military service he'll give his girlfriend a ring or an item of clothing for a keepsake.
結婚儀式部分, 排灣族也漢化不少, 但保留該族的重要文化 -- 語言, 如信仰基督教的平和村民, 現在雖大多在教堂舉行婚禮, 新人也穿著白紗和西裝. 唯一不同處是, 婚禮進行中, 不論是唱聖詩, 祈禱, 講聖訓, 甚至新人的誓約, 都以排灣語進行, 以示不忘本. And as regards the marriage ceremony, the Paiwan are also not that different. The only difference being that that the tribe preserves its most important cultural trait - its language. The peaceful villagers are now Christians, and most weddings are held inside churches. The groom wears a white cotton shirt with a Western suit, even though the wedding ceremony involves the participants singing hymns, praying, conducting sermons and exchanging vows in the Paiwan language. This is to show that they haven't forgotten their tribal origins.
近年來, 為保留排灣族的文化, 該族有心人士不但傳承母語, 並在山地鄉的國中開課教授排灣族的雕刻和刺繡. 以這種方式扎根, 希望排灣族子弟能真正認識自己的文化. In recent years the members of the tribe haven't only tried to preserve their language, but they also learn wood sculpture and embroidery from experts in the mountain township middle schools. Through this type of activity it is hoped they can preserve and understand their own culture better.
The Rukai Tribe's Paradise: Wutai Township
數百年前, 因為台東卑南族和阿美族反目成仇, 從台東知本翻過大武山到達霧臺鄉的魯凱族, 是屏東唯一的魯凱族聚落. Hundreds of years ago in Taitung, the Beinan Tribe and the Amis Tribe turned against one another. As a result the Rukai Tribe, then living in Jer Ben, migrated to the other side of Da Wu Mountain and settled in Wutai Township. They thus became the only Rukai settlement in Pingtung.(2)
魯凱族的傳統習俗有許多與排灣族很相近, 所以一般人大多將這兩族視為同一族. 事實上, 這兩族還是有些差別, 尤其魯凱族比排灣族更保守, 且注重進退禮節. Many of the Rukai people's customs are similar to those of the Paiwan, so many people group these two tribes together. There are, however, some differences between these two tribes, especially given that the Rukai are a more conservative sort of people who stand on ceremony.
舉例來說, 進入很愛乾淨的魯凱族原住民的住宅前, 務必記得脫鞋, 否則會遭到鄙夷的眼光. 最沒面子的是, 女主人會拿著拖把, 一直盯著你的腳步後面擦地, 直到客人難為情為止. For example, before entering a Rukai person's tidy traditional house, you should remember to take off your shoes if you don't want to be the object of scorn. More shameful still, if you don't remove your shoes the lady of the house will take out a broom, and begin sweeping your path through the room until you realize your mistake.
此外, 魯凱族人的打扮與穿著亦須得體, 不然會遭到異樣的眼光. 像結過婚的婦人, 絕對不敢穿少女時代光鮮亮麗的傳統服飾, 參加族裡的典禮或活動. In addition, Rukai people must pay close attention to how they dress if they don't want to be looked down upon by other members of the tribe. Married women, for example, are forbidden from wearing the brightly colored clothes they wore when they were maidens to tribal events or ceremonies.
雖然現在的魯凱族人平日都穿現代裝, 但參加族裡的重要聚會, 必定以傳統盛裝出席, 以表示對主人的尊重; 且如果要帶朋友列席, 也要為朋友更換族裡的服飾, 才准加入慶典行列, 否則將招致族人的抗議. Although Rukai people now wear modern clothes most of the time, when taking part in important gatherings they must wear traditional costume as a way of showing respect to their hosts. If friends are brought to these gatherings, they too must change into traditional Rukai clothes before the celebration. Otherwise they will incite protests from within the tribe.
魯凱族非常注重傳統服飾的縫製. 據估計, 如果要仔細打理一頂頭飾, 不論男女, 至少得花新台幣一萬元以上, 因為成本 "貴", 所以也很 "重", 掂掂至少好幾公斤, 這或許也是該族的舞蹈無法熱情擺動, 而為簡單前進後退的八步舞的原因. The Rukai people attach great importance to how traditional clothing is sewed. It's estimated that if you want a traditional headdress made - regardless of whether you're a man or a woman - the cost will be over 10,000 NT. And because the headdress is "honorable," it is also "heavy." This weighty headdress, amounting to several kilograms, is probably the reason the Rukai dance in such a subdued manner, engaging in a simple back and forth dance that has eight steps.
魯凱族的頭飾除了 "重", 繁複耀眼的頭飾中還大有 "文章" 呢! 例如插百合花的少女象徵純潔, 不是處女的未婚女子也不敢戴, 免得被族人嘲笑; 男性插百合花代表勇士, 必須獵得六頭以上公山豬的人, 才有資格佩帶. Aside from being heavy, each headdress worn by the Rukai tells a story. For example, when a girl inserts a lily into her headdress it emphasizes her purity, and unmarried women who are not virgins would never dare to wear such a flower. Were they to do so they would be laughed at by the tribe. A man who inserts a lily into his headdress declares his status as a brave, and also the fact that he has hunted at least six wild boars.
至於插羽毛則為榮譽的標誌, 必得為族裡光耀門楣的人, 或參加族中競賽且有得名次的人, 才能以羽毛展示功績. Feathers worn in one's headdress are a sign of honor. Only those who've gained esteem within the tribe or ranked in tribal competitions are allowed to wear a feather.
少女的上衣和裙子點綴物也是琳琅滿目, 零零碎碎加起來, 最保守的估算也要新臺幣一, 兩萬, 自此看出該族在傳統服裝投資相當可觀. 不過這些衣物許多是代代相傳的老骨蕫, 至今還有許多少女漂亮的傳統衣服, 是母親當新嫁娘時的禮服.Girls' tops and skirts are also dazzling, constructed as they are of many separate pieces. A lower estimate for the price of these clothing items would be from ten to twenty thousand NT. From this price one can see that the tribe's investment in traditional clothing is considerable. Even so, most of these clothing items are family heirlooms, and thus passed down from one generation to the next. The beautiful traditional clothes that many young women wear are the same clothes their mothers were married in.
魯凱族也很重視女孩的名節, 如果隨便和男人打情罵俏, 馬上會被扣上 "壞女人" 的形象, 因而女孩子言行都十分謹慎. The Rukai people also place a great importance on a girl's reputation. If a girl plays fast and loose with men, she'll be immediately labelled a "bad woman." For this reason girls are very circumspect in their words and deeds.
舉例說: 平常族人除非遭遇危險, 發出求救訊號, 否則不准在山林裡大聲吼叫; 但如果女孩子被男孩子 "吃豆腐", 包括僅口頭上的占便宜, 女孩子為保自己的名節, 都可以喊 "救命", 且這種事, 族裡還會特別召開會議處理, 並要求男方公開道歉. Another example of this emphasis on circumspection is that members of the tribe should not cry out in the mountain forests unless they've encountered danger. If, however, a young woman fears either rape or damage to her reputation from a young man, she is allowed to cry out "Save me!" The tribe will then convene a special meeting to deal with this issue. It will also ask the young man to apologize.
結交男女朋友的過程中, 魯凱族也堅守 "一對一" 和 "先來後到" 的遊戲規則. 最早大夥兒一塊兒玩, 但各自選定成為固定情侶後, 別人便不能亂插隊, 除非第一個分手, 第二順位的人才可遞補. In the matter of courtship the Rukai Tribe also adheres to "one on one" and "first come, first served" rules. Boys and girls begin by playing together, and are later considered fixed couples. Interlopers cannot come between them unless they first decide to separate. After their separation, another suitor can take up the previous suitor's claim.
魯凱族的人情味非常濃厚, 任何一家有婚喪喜慶, 全村的人都會主動去幫忙. The Rukai people are very humane people. The entire village helps with weddings, funerals and celebrations.
該族辦喪事的作法十分 "人性化". 在日據時期以前, 為與親人永遠在一起, 都是將死去親人的屍體埋在屋內, 擺放的位置也有規矩, 男的埋在客廳地下, 女的則埋在臥室地下. 後來日本人認為不衛生而嚴加禁止, 才抬到外面去埋葬. 但為了表示誠心幫忙, 族中年輕人都會搶著抬棺, 即使是使不上力也會刻意去觸摸. The funeral practices of this group are very "people-centric." Before the Japanese Colonial Administration, the bodies of family members were interred within the confines of the house, so that family members could reside together continually. There were rules for such burials: men were buried beneath the living room, women beneath bedrooms. The Japanese, who arrived later, considered the practice unhygienic and forbade it, encouraging the practice of burying loved ones outside the house. Yet to show their concern for the deceased, younger people will still rush to lift the coffin, and even if it's nor really helping they will struggle to touch it.
除主動弔唁喪家外, 村裡人還會輪流陪喪家守靈. 葬禮後, 為疏導喪家悲傷心情, 左鄰右舍還會常去 "陪宿", 並準備飯菜請喪家用餐. Aside from offering condolences to the bereaved, the villagers will take turns watching over the deceased's spirit. After the funeral, in order to assuage the bereaved family members' feeling of loss, everyone will "keep vigil" with them and prepare their food.
戴孝的方式也很特別, 如果是父母, 配偶或親生子女過世, 須以黑紗披頭, 為期一個月: 若是旁系親屬去世, 也要戴孝, 不過是披如深藍色等深色頭布. Funeral clothes are also unique. If one's parent or children die, this person must wear black gauze for a month. If more distant relatives die, black gauze must also be worn, but with a dark blue cloth around the head.
和漢人傳統習俗一樣, 魯凱族也相當重男輕女, 家業必定傳子不傳女, 而且長子一定得留在家鄉. 如果因職業關係無法留在家裡, 其子女必須送回老家讓父母親扶養; 倘若家中全為女兒無兒子, 則為長女招贅以繼承產業. Like the Han Chinese, the Rukai are a very patriarchal society. Family trades are passed from father to son, not from father to daughter. The eldest son is expected to remain in his village. If, for professional reasons, this son cannot remain in the village, his children must be sent back to the village to take care of their grandparents. If the family has only daughters, the oldest daughter inherits the family trade.
目前魯凱族最困擾的是, 不能使用原住民的名字. 漢名對原住民而言, 僅具代表意義, 根本無法讓人追溯家世, 因為魯凱族命名方式是採代代相傳, 因此只要聽到名字, 便可知曉出自哪個家族. In older times the difficulty for Rukai people was the fact that they couldn't use their aboriginal names. As far as Chinese names for aboriginal people are concerned, these names are useless in terms of tracing their genealogy. This is because Rukai names are passed from one generation to the next, and when you hear a Rukai name you'll be able to tell which family that person belongs to.
為新生兒取名字, 對於較為特殊的情形, 魯凱族人也和漢人一般, 取些不吉利的名字以去晦氣, 如經常流產的婦女所生的子女, 在幼年時期都被命名為nizu (可隨便丟棄的果皮) 或kalasubrla (米糠) 等乳名, 以免被惡魔嫉妒奪去性命, 直到成年後才開始叫其真正的名字. When giving names to newborns, the Rukai are like some Han Chinese in giving uncouth-sounding names as a way of avoiding bad luck. For instance, girls born to women who often miscarry are named "nizu" (meaning a fruit peel which is easily discarded), "kalasubria" (rice husk) or other similar baby names. This is done to protect them from evil spells which incorporate their true name. It isn't until they've become adults that these children are called by their real names.
族裡還有一個很特殊的命名作法, 即對族人有重大貢獻的人, 他的新生兒將由頭目和長老等人 "封名", 通常都會賜予如 "虎頭蜂" 等, 象徵孔武有力的名字. There is another special naming practice in the tribe. If someone has made a special contribution to the community, his [or her?] child will be given a special title by the tribal elders. This child will be named "Wasp" or some other fierce-sounding name.
雖然遠離塵囂的霧臺鄉, 至今在風俗習慣, 語言等方面, 還保留得相當完整, 仍不免因與其他族群通婚, 而有所改變, 其中以建築最為顯著. 像原本可就地取材興建的傳統石板屋, 因受漢化影響, 大部分均改為鋼筋水泥房舍, 遠望霧臺鄉, 已見不到傳統魯凱村落的風貌了. Even though Wutai Township is far from the hustle and bustle of other places, and even though the [Rukai Tribe's] customs and language have been preserved in their entirety, they've still experienced change due to intermarriage with other groups. One example of this trend is the Chinese-style, reinforced concrete houses they now inhabit. These have replaced the traditional slate houses they once called home. Looking at Wutai Township from a distance, one no longer sees the traditional Rukai way of living.
Related Entries 相關的文章:
1. If you're interested in learning about Taiwan's aboriginal tribes, the Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park 九族文化園區 in Nantou 南投 and the National Museum of Prehistory 國立史前博物館 in Taitung 台東 are worth visiting. I'd rank the other Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park 台灣原住民文化園區 a distant third behind the other two.
This is the lower part of the village. It's super quiet. While we were there I saw an activity center, a Catholic church, a Protestant church, a restaurant that looked like no one could be bothered to open it, and a single small store. Most people here probably drive down the road to Da Shi when they need things. 這是部落中比較低的地方. 這裡很安靜. 我們在那裏的時候, 我看到了活動中心, 天主教堂, 基督教堂, 隨興開的餐廳還有小雜貨店. 住這裡的人大概是去大溪買東西.
For those less familiar with Taiwan, the "big" cities are divided into districts (區), and the counties are divided into cities (市), townships (鄉), and municipalities (鎮). 給對台灣比較不熟悉的讀者: 大城市 (高雄, 台南, 台中, 新竹, 桃園, 基隆, 嘉義, 台北, 跟新北市) 以下劃分為"區", 縣 (城市外的地方)則由市, 鄉, 鎮組成.
1. Da Ren Township 達仁鄉公所
They've added three new speed cameras along the South Cross-Island Highway. Two of these cameras are in the tunnel between the counties, one other is near Da Niao (Big Bird) Village. 警方在南迴公路上安裝三個測速照相桿. 兩個在連接台東縣與屏東縣的隧道裡, 還有一個在大鳥附近.
2. Da Wu Township 大武鄉公所
New Tang Dynasty television has a video/article introducing Dawu Village. It's somewhat interesting. Be warned that aside from the trail on the hill behind the village there's not much there. 新唐人電視台有短片介紹大武村. 有興趣可以看. 除了村後面的步道, 大武村的景點不多.
An article in Chinese AND English! This one's about the old Gu Jhuang Train Station being reopened as a tourist destination. Duo Liang further north sees a lot of visitors so this makes sense. 這篇報導是中文, 還有英文翻譯喔. 這是關於重開古莊站當觀光景點. 參觀北邊多良站的觀光客非常多, 所以這是一個好主意.
3. Jin Feng Township 金峰鄉公所
The daylily flowers are blooming on Jinjen Mountain. 金針山的金針花開花了.
4. Tai Ma Li Township 太麻里鄉公所
No recent news out of Tai Ma Li. 最近太麻里沒有消息.
5. Orchid Island Township 蘭嶼鄉公所
Last Friday was Labor Day in Taiwan. During the three-day weekend about 2000 people visited Green and Orchid Islands. 上週五是臺灣的勞動節. 兩千遊客去綠島與蘭嶼.
Several homestays on Orchid Island were recently made legal. All of the land there belongs to the local tribe, and this presented legal problems for such businesses. 蘭嶼11家民宿合法立案. 因為蘭嶼都是原住民用地, 很多民宿沒辦法取得建照跟使用執照.
6. Green Island Township 綠島鄉公所
No recent news out of Green Island. 最近綠島沒有消息.
7. Taitung City 台東市公所
A monkey recently wandered into Bao Sang Elementary School. Conservation workers brought it down with a tranquilizer dart and took it away. 寶桑國小有猴子出現. 保育員吹箭之後帶走了.
Work continues on the new road along the Tai Ping River between Taitung City and Beinan Township. 在太平溪旁邊, 台東市與卑南鄉間的道路還在施工.
A homestay along Jeng Chi Road was recently defaced. Police are investigating this act of vandalism. 最近正氣路上的一棟民宿受到破壞. 警方目前正在偵辦中.
8. Beinan Township 卑南鄉公所
Beinan Junior High School recently won a baseball championship. 卑南國中在全國青少棒賽奪冠.
9. Dong He Township 東河鄉公所
A junior high school student almost drowned after playing with friends in the ocean. 四個國中生去海邊戲水, 一個溺水獲救命危.
10. Cheng Gong Municipality 成功鎮公所
The ashes stored in a Cheng Gong cemetery tower were disturbed by a recent earthquake. 最近的地震將成功公墓塔的部分骨灰甕震落摔破.
An aluminum shack in Cheng Gong caught fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 成功鐵皮屋發生火警, 原因待查.
11. Chang Bin Township 長濱鄉公所
12. Lu Ye Township 鹿野鄉公所
This is how little news there is in Taitung. There's an actual news article about people seeing clouds in Lu Ye. 台東真是沒有消息. 有報導介紹鹿野天空的雲.
The Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon Festival will start on July 11 this year. 台灣國際熱氣球嘉年華今年七月十一日開幕.
13. Yan Ping Township 延平鄉公所
14. Guanshan Municipality 關山鎮公所
No recent news out of Guanshan. 最近關山沒有消息.
15. Hai Duan Township 海端鄉公所
No recent news out of Hai Duan. 最近海端沒有消息.
16. Chr Shang Township 池上鄉公所
Despite a virus-related downturn in rice exports, one brand of rice in Chr Shang is still seeing a surge in demand. 台東農產外銷受到武漢肺炎疫情影響, 可是池上米品牌卻是逆勢成長.
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I’d like to post an update about my current situation in Taiwan regarding the coronavirus as many of my friends and family on the outside are perhaps unaware of it. I think they might find this interesting, especially as Taiwan is not often in the global spotlight and many of us here believe there are clear and present forces at work to keep our story silent and hidden from the rest of the world.
I have been critical of friends who have flaunted success stories coming from this island because I’m skeptical of prematurely claiming victory over something as unpredictable and insuppressible as a global pandemic. But now that enough time has passed, I feel more confident in stating the obvious and openly joining friends of Taiwan in their optimism. Simply put, Taiwan has been kicking some serious coronavirus ass!
While America's economy has been plummeting, I have not experienced any economic or social disruptions since the onset of this pandemic. Not a single business, restaurant, or public place I frequent has closed its doors to me. Not a single class has been canceled at my school. Not one. In fact, I have even experienced several benefits from this situation. I’ve filled up my gas tank a few times recently and been pleasantly surprised at how low the price has dropped (yes, we can drive here!). Some of the places I visit have been less crowded due to there being fewer tourists and travelers. Also, although I am missing out on watching my Dodger games, baseball is alive and well in Taiwan. We are currently hosting the one and only active professional baseball league in the entire world at this time. And they have cheerleaders, too!
Specifically in Taitung, life is good. As of now, Taitung County has reported a grand total of ZERO coronavirus cases, and there are currently ZERO people undergoing quarantine here as well. Everything has remained open. We can go to the beaches and mountains unabatedly, and we can even go out to bars and enjoy live music here. Some friends claim Taitung is one of the safest places on Earth right now. I have to agree, they are probably right.
Don't get me wrong, some major changes have taken place here in Taiwan. An astounding number of flights have been canceled. The airline and tourism industries are definitely suffering. Arrivals are being quarantined and visas are being compulsorily extended - a real bureaucratic nightmare. Those who’ve been infected or exposed to the covid have undergone strict quarantine, including a few people I know. Some public transportation schedules have been altered. And various mass gatherings have been postponed. But again, very little (if any) of this has affected me directly. The most notable change I’ve experienced is being encouraged to wear a surgical mask and have my temperature checked and hands sanitized when entering public areas. But after having lived here for over 5 years, all that is really no big deal to me. In truth, the biggest headache I’ve had to endure is witnessing what’s been going on in the media - it’s taxing and exhausting. Even the memes just don't seem so funny anymore.
That being said, to this day, Taiwan - an island of over 23 million people - has recorded fewer than 500 cases of coronavirus. The vast majority of those cases have been imported through ports of entry (mainly the airport) and effectively been quarantined and cut off from the surrounding community. A mere 6 deaths have been credited to COVID-19. If you can fathom the close proximity of relations between Taiwan and China, let alone the rest of the world, these results are undeniably outstanding.
So, what do people here attribute this success to? As I understand it: a functional public health care system and a benevolent government that is swift, efficient, and transparent about issues regarding public health and safety. Also, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center has become more prepared for pandemic counteraction than most other countries due to previous experiences with health scares, most notably the SARS epidemic a few years back. Needless to say, most folks here keep the government in good faith and are feeling relatively safe right now, much more so than in other parts of the globe.
Now, why does it seem that most of the world is oblivious to Taiwan’s ongoing success with the coronavirus? And why aren’t other governments and media outlets promoting Taiwan's exemplary handling of this pandemic or even asking for their advice? In a word, politics. More specifically, politics regarding China. It's undeniable that the Chinese Communist Party has a large influence in global affairs. And they do NOT want the world to know that Taiwan is, indeed, independent from them in so many ways. Giving any acknowledgment whatsoever to any achievement by Taiwan is contradictory to their agenda. And it's for that reason that the World Health Organization has continually ignored warnings and advice coming from Taiwan – information that could have potentially been critically helpful to many other countries, including the United States where so many of my family and friends are currently suffering from restrictions, lock-downs, economic losses, and even illness and death from the virus itself.
The way I see it, most people here are quite unsatisfied with the WHO's handling of this pandemic and the lack of recognition Taiwan is receiving. Despite their frustration, Taiwan is still sending out massive shipments of surgical masks and medical supplies to countries in need, including the USA. Check out the hashtag #TaiwanCanHelp if you'd like to see for yourself.
As for me, I'm pretty sure many of my friends and family have questioned my decision to move to Taiwan when I did all those years ago. To tell the truth, I've questioned myself countless times for making that decision, trust me. But lately I have been feeling very grateful for being here where I am now, and our situation regarding the coronavirus has increasingly helped to validate that decision. Furthermore, an ongoing theme I continue to encounter during my time here is the wonderful privilege of living in a society that provides affordable health care for its people. It's not perfect, and I wouldn't dare say it could be identically implemented in the States. But seriously, how can the so-called greatest nation on Earth not provide adequate health care for its own citizens? Call me an idealist, but I just don't think I'm ever going to be able to get past that question.
Ultimately, there's no guarantee Taiwan will continue to enjoy the success against the coronavirus we've been experiencing thus far. Things have a way of changing. The world can suddenly find itself turned upside down. So I encourage my friends both in and out of Taiwan to stay vigilant. Keep washing your hands and wearing those masks. I'm optimistic we'll all get through this eventually.
And dang, I sure do wish I could stream a Dodger game right now, or at least listen to a live radio broadcast. But hey, Taiwan’s got baseball. So I guess public health is not the only lesson the world can learn from Taiwan. I'll leave a photo of the cheerleaders in the comments.