Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Required Reading for the House and Senate Members?

I ran across the article below on the Taipei Times newspaper web site. It was published last Thursday. 

The writer, Gerrit Van der Wees, was a guest on a Voice of America (VOA) program.   If I understand correctly, folks in China can tune-in to VOA  programs. They must be watching the programs on their computers, and calling-in to VOA with Skype or something similar. 

The article, "Chinese views on Taiwan's elections" can be found HERE.

You can watch a video of the VOA program, in Chinese,  HERE

It's obvious we've not heard from the folks who occupy the apartments and village homes in China before. 

It seems we only read or hear what Beijing wants us to believe.

Our independent and network news organizations have done little, if any, of their homework on reporting how the average citizen in China really feels about Taiwan, it's people and government...

The article was a fresh breath of sweet air in a field of spring flowers.

Memorial Day Ceremony in Taipei - UPDATED

As Memorial Day approached this year and I thought of the day, I was interested to know if there were any US Military Personnel resting in Taiwan soil.  There is the Foreign Cemetery in Tamsui. 

I contacted the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society  and spoke with Michael Hurst, the Director.

Mr. Hurst said there may be some very old graves of merchant seamen in the Tamsui Foreign Cemetery, but as far as he knew, no US Military Personnel rested there.

During World War II the Japanese held many Allied Military Personnel in Prisoner of War (POW) camps throughout the island of Taiwan.

Many US Military Personnel in these POW camps died and were buried in Taiwan soil.

At the close of WW II., the US Army Quartermaster Corps, Graves Commission went through Taiwan to repatriate the remains of US personnel.  If they could be identified, they were sent to their families in the US.  If the families did not claim the men, they were sent to either the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu or to the Manila American Cemetery located on the grounds of Fort William McKinley. 

One group of American POWs who were killed when the hellship Enoura Maru was bombed in Kaohsiung Harbor on January 9, 1945 were buried in a mass grave at Chijin Beach. After the war their remains were recovered and most could not be identified so they were returned to the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu and buried together in a series of graves marked as “Unknowns”.

Interest has been shown by family members of the men whom lie in those unmarked graves to have some kind of plaque erected on the site to tell the story of the men and their suffering and death on the hellship. The Punchbowl Cemetery has been approached and has basically agreed giving the parameters for building such a memorial, but so far no real action has been taken. The effort to place a plaque on this series of graves at Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu is a work, just beginning.

In my conversation with Michael Hurst of the Taiwan POW Society, I told him of my desire to visit a place in the Taipei area where I might find a grave of an American Military person.  I wanted to stop by and honor these men.

When I discovered that there was no scheduled Memorial Day gathering any place in the Taipei area, Michael said that he and I could visit the Old Taihoku Prison wall, which is the only thing remaining of the Taihoku Prison.

The Japanese Military considered those Allied flyers from the US Navy and Army Air Corps not as POWs but rather war criminals and held them in the Taihoku Prison in Taipei.  Less than 2 months before Japan surrendered at the end of WW II, Japanese military personnel took 14 of the American airmen before a military tribunal and held a mock trial, found them guilty, and subsequently executed all 14 men on June 19th, 1945.

Michael Hurst, the Director of the Taiwan POW Society, along with some friends, had a plaque made with permission from the Taipei City Government, and placed the plaque on the old stone prison wall which stands along an alleyway a short distance south of the Chiang Ki-shek Memorial. It was formally dedicated on June 20, 2009.

Today, May 30th 2011, Memorial Day, we met at the wall about 12:00 PM to hold a service for the 14 men who were murdered by the Japanese on 19 June 1945 and for all other US Military Personnel who have suffered and died, giving the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

 Below are my unedited videos, taken at the ceremony today.

Video 1

Video 2

As Michael Hurst said at the end of this video, the old stone wall, with the plaque, on the east side of the old Taihoku Prison grounds will become the gathering place for those who would come out on Memorial Day, the last Monday in the month of May each year, to honor and show our respect to all our US military personnel. 

I was not aware of the number of POW Camps the Japanese maintained in Taiwan.  If you are interested in the history of these Taiwan camps, please visit the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society, a fascinating web site.

Although the ceremony was put  together by Michael Hurst of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society, I would like to thank everyone who came out this afternoon to participate and/or observe the time of remembrance.

UPDATE - 31 May 2011..

The Taipei Times Newspaper ran an article in the print edition of the paper this morning concerning the ceremony.  You can read the article HERE. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

"Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan."

General John A. Logan's words in his   General Order No. 11 of May 5th, 1868.


In respect to all who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The US Floral Exhibition Building Has Left the Old HSA Area!

Yesterday as I walked down Chung Shan North Road from the Grand Hotel area, I passed along the area where the old East Compound of HSA used to stand.

A couple of months ago, the Taipei Floral Exposition was in full swing and the US Pavilion was crowded with visitors.  I took a number of photographs of the exhibition and posted them previously on this Blog.

The ground that once contained the US Exposition Building(s) has been returned to flat ground, it appears that grass will again soon cover the parcel.

Notice the tree fronting Chun Shan North Road, this photo taken from the side alley.

Here is the US Exhibit area taken from Chung Shan North Road sidewalk on 26 May 2011.

Life moves on to new beginnings for each of us.

What will next occupy this ground?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grocery Shopping in Tienmu - 2 UPDATES

Have you had a craving for a particular food recently?  It doesn't happen often, but last evening I really wanted to eat some beef enchiladas.

I could taste those warm corn tortillas rolling into my mouth;  the aroma of the sauce, onions and beef covered with the smoothness of the melted cheese exploding on my tongue and my taste buds.  You're probably swallowing just about now.  You know the feeling....

There are restaurants in Taipei that serve something resembling Mexican food, but I have never found a place offering good Tex-Mex enchiladas.

I grew up eating all types of dishes prepared in various small Mom and Pop Cafes in South Texas.  I particularly remember the "Main Grill", a small restaurant with a circular dining room.  My friends and I used to meet-up at there after we dropped off our "dates"on Friday and Saturday nights. Most of us would order the daily special which always came with a big basket of hot corn tortillas, and a couple of pads of real butter.  Those home made tortillas fresh out of the kitchen would quickly disappear into our stomachs, making the wait for our large platter of food easier.  We sat waiting, trading stories, sipping on a huge glass of South Texas Ice Tea with lime or lemon and trying to decide on desert,  a piece of fresh strawberry pie, or maybe just a big piece of pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Taiwan may be famous for tea, but the ice tea in south Texas back-in-the-day had a wonderful distinct flavor of it's own.

 UPDATE 2 - 12 June 2011: Found this old Business Card from the Main Grill in McAllen, Texas.  The photo must have been taken in the late 1950s, very early 1960s.  Note a few things from those days:
Coca Cola signs, BEER advertised on the street neon sign along with a small sign just under the MAIN GRILL sign that noted that the cafe was AIR CONDITIONED..  There is a telephone booth outside and one other note - in times before this photo, the MAIN GRILL had car service.  Note the typical outside car service windows in the front window area. It was an easy in and easy out cafe,  You parked in the fashion shown in the photo, then when leaving, you could just backup and drove around the back of the cafe and end up on the street.  An easy to visit cafe.

So, last night I made up my mind to head out to the most likely places I know of,  to see if I could find some canned sauce to help me prepare a big pan of enchiladas.

Just after noon, I caught the Taipei Metro Beitou Line heading toward Tienmu.  There are two food stores in Tienmu that have large selections of "foreign" food.

To REALLY examine each of these photos, double click on the picture...

I got off at the Zhishin Metro Station and walked a couple blocks west and 2 blocks north and soon found the newest large retail store in Tienmu, "Sogo."  Sogo smells beautiful, all the make-up counters are on the first floor, and I had to walk across the store to the escalator down to B-1 where "City Super" food market is located.  I believe City Super is headquartered in Hong Kong.  I walked around and found the Mexican food area, but they had no enchilada sauce.  I picked up some vegetables and fruit.  The only vegetable I've wanted but never located in Taipei are green zucchinis. 

 Here are my grocery bags from both City Super and Takashimaya food markets.
Leaving City Super at Sogo,  I walked to the corner, crossed the street to the BMW dealer. 

The corner of Chung Shan North Road as it heads back to Taipei, you would angle left in the center of the photo.

 This street sign was just off to my right as I stood on the corner of the previous  photo.

I believe there's an Austin Martin showroom in back, down the sidewalk on the right side of this photo.
I walked across the wide avenue just to the right of this photo

Zhongcheng Park, just north across the street from the BMW dealer.

Here's the bus stop covered waiting bench, just next to the park where I waited for a city bus to take me up the road a few blocks to Takashimaya Department Store.

  Here's the park and fountain again, just outside the Bus Stop bench.

Maybe you folks who knew and resided in Tienmu might recognize the area.  
I expect most of this area was farmer fields back in the day.

Soon the bus arrived and we headed up Zhongcheng Road.  The bus ride for "seniors" age 65 thru 69 is NT$ 8.00 = about US$ 30 cents.  When you reach 70 years, you ride the bus for FREE.

The bus stop was just  in front of the Taipei Tienmu Baseball Stadium. Local television carries many games from this stadium.

This bat and the balls are huge.

We're just across the street from the Takashimaya Department Store, which opened in 1994.  

Here you see the corner as I turned to my right and took this photo, the baseball stadium to my right side up the sidewalk and the department store to my left across the street.

Let's head inside by this side entrance. I believe the steps on the right go up to an elevator bank serving the parking areas on floors 5-9.

I got a small grocery cart and spent about an hour looking around.

No enchilada sauce here either.  I settled for a few mixed cans of salsa, one Old El Paso Salsa and two cans of La Costena Salsa.  I hope between the two brands, I can get a decent flavor combination for my enchiladas.  When I fly back into Taipei on my next trip, my bag will have a dozen cans of Old El Paso enchilada green and red sauces.

After checking out of Jason's Market, I was back outside in front of the store waiting on the Takashimaya company courtesy bus which shuttles back and forth to the Taipei Metro Shilin Station.

Here's the Takashimaya Store shuttle bus.

The bus driver is cleaning up the bus, soon the door opened, I was toward the back of the line, but found a comfortable seat inside.

The Takashimaya shuttle bus dropped us just down from the Shilin Metro station.  The Metro station steps are just in the rear of that skateboard mural straight ahead.

As I walked up to the mural area, I turned around a took this shot looking back to where I got off the bus, about 30 or 40 yards back, you can see the side street way back by a cement pillar, just about out of sight.

OK, here's the Metro station steps, train arrival times can be seen on the red sign hanging from the ceiling.  There are two lines that serve this station, so the trains run in both directions about every 3 to 5 minutes, depending on time of day.

Taipei is a wonderful city, the people are friendly and the food is great.  But once in awhile you need a plate of enchiladas...

I'm off to Min Quan Metro station and a walk over to the Florida Bakery.  They have corn tortillas, but it takes 2 days to get them in, they'll call me when they arrive.  Bummer!

So, Friday evening, if the typhoon does not arrive and the corn tortillas do, I'll be eating enchiladas for the first time, in wonderful TAIWAN.

Adios friends...  I hope you enjoyed the afternoon trip.

UPDATE One- 29 May 2011:  I put all of the ingredients together yesterday, rolled up 11 beautiful chicken enchiladas topped them with the remaining onions, sauce and cheese and into the oven they went @ 420f for 15 minutes....

They tasted as good as they look.  I was surprised.  The mixture of 3 different sauces gave them a wonderful flavor.  Write me for the sauce recipe.

Lesson learned, you can prepare your own enchiladas in Taipei!

It's Memorial Day today, I'll pop three of the left-overs into the microwave for lunch, as with most dishes, they'll probably taste better today than when the came out of the oven.

Adios friends.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Afternoon Visit to Keelung

Early yesterday afternoon after picking up a couple of my shirts from the laundry, I decided it was time to get out of Taipei for a few hours.

I jumped on the Metro and rode out  to Nangang Station, got off and walked across the street to the Nangang Railroad Station.  The station is new, construction is on-going.  When entering the main doors, you travel down an escalator to B-1 where the customary ticket windows are located.  I found only one window open, with a number of folks in line.  The Keelung train was scheduled to arrive in 10 minutes,  so I chanced the ticket machine.  With the help of a security guard, I quickly had a ticket to Keelung, cost NT$ 28.00 - current rate US$ 1.00. 

The tracks are located down another 2 floors, on floor B-3. I sat down to wait for my train and was surprised by the number of trains that passed in the 10 minutes I waited. There were 2 trains that flew by three or four yards in front of my bench. They were "fast" trains with the comfortable individual seats that recline, foot  rests, etc.   The Keelung train was a newer model commuter train with side bench type seating along the walls with two rows of hand grasps hanging from a ceiling rail in the center of the car.  When the seats fill up, you have to crowd into the car and stand,  grasping a hand piece to keep your balance.  The train stopped at every small village along the route to Keelung, just enough time to let folks off and on.  As we neared Keelung, my car was packed with high school kids traveling home. 

Here's the commuter train as we arrived in Keelung, very modern equipment.
Taiwan operates a great railroad. 

I read in one of the English language newspapers recently about the Keelung Station being rebuilt and the new station being constructed underground.  I guess the reasoning for moving stations and track underground is to free up ground area for roads and parks.  It works well in Taipei; most of the old  railroad tracks are now underground.   I did see an above ground track a few days ago, it was just north of the Sun Yat-sen Museum.  When I walked by, there was a commuter train parked at spur station, the track dead-ended just by the sidewalk at the street corner.

I decided to take a taxi to a high point hill overlooking Keelung Harbor.  We drove up to a Buddhist Temple.

The air quality was not good when I shot this video from the temple area.

My friend Gene had told me of some old military cannons that were up on this hill area.  I asked the taxi driver and he took me to see the cannons but we ended up at a museum that had an old army tank, a navy gun and some other current weapons that had been retired and sent to the museum.  I asked about the "real old" cannons that supposedly sat on this hill.  He said the old cannons had washed out during a typhoon some years earlier.  Honest mistake.

He took me back down the hill and let me off at the Night Market Food Street. Here you can find some serious eating.  I ended up have a plate of pork curry noodles, very good.  I had NO heartburn later in the evening.  

Look at these shrimp.  You can gauge their size.  Notice the box of chopsticks on the right.

I walked farther down the street and passed another temple before making my way to the port area and back to Keelung Railroad Station.

Walked around the circle in front of the bus station.  
The old Customs House is in the rear of this building.

Time to catch another train and head back to Taipei, the sun is setting in Keelung.

It was a nice trip, a change of  pace, an opportunity to see new things along the way.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

DOD Schools in Taiwan

Happy Days again for the children!  And today, here in Taiwan, Happy Mother's Day....

School soon ends, seniors graduate and the rest of the kids are out for the summer. (If they're not stuck in a year round school.)
I recently came across a list of "DOD Schools" in Taiwan.

A couple of schools I was not aware of.  

Ping Tung had a DOD School.  
Tainan had two schools.

Claire Chennault School in Ping Tung DOD  A wonderfully appropriate school name - READ HERE
Stephen B. Luce ES/HS in Tsoying DOD
Tainan American ES in Tainan DOD
Jonathan Wainwright ES/HS in Tainan DOD
George Washington School in Chiayi DOD

Most of the assignments to Taiwan were accompanied tours.   Many of our children were enrolled in school here.  I can only imagine what memories they carry with them today, but I would guess, many would say words to the effect, " those were wonderful days, my house, my school, my days in Taiwan...." 

Can you write up a little something about your school days in Taiwan, your feeling about those times....  What did those days leave in your heart and mind..

There are many who read this blog who would like to meet up again with friends or others who once sat in one of the desks in our Taiwan DOD Schools.
Don't forget to leave a note on our "Guestbook" which is located just under the opening photo, on the right side of the page.  If you have a moment, leave a note and your email address in the Guestbook.  Someone you knew will probably see it.


Friday, May 6, 2011

MAAG in the South – Kaohsiung and Tsoying

I’ve been writing about our times in Taiwan for more than five years. For reasons unknown, folks who served at MAAG assignments in the south of the island have had little to share of their experiences, it’s been awfully quiet. 

Today the first of two or three posts on Kaohsiung and Tsoying, two of our MAAG posts in the south.

Later, reflections from a lady who’s father was the MAAG Army Sergeant Major at Kaohsiung and thoughts from a gentleman who’s Dad was a Naval Officer at Tsoying.

I found this short, but interesting piece from a US Navy Chief working at Tsoying.

       “I was transferred to the Military Assistance and Advisory Group in the Republic of China.  I arrived at MAAG China September 1965 at Kaohsiung, Taiwan,” said YNC Eldon L. Vandervort, USN in remarks he left on a USN Patrol Squadron web page in 2003.  Eldon retired in 1978.  
     "This was an accompanied tour and really interesting.  I remember upon arrival there, before the plane could land, they had to chase the goats off the runway.”

Eldon probably landed at the old Japanese airport, now the Kaohsiung Airport, you can find it on Google Earth, at these coordinates:   22.572662  120.350643 

Back in 1965 there was little air traffic to Kaohsiung, so having goats on the airport property would have been common, helping keep the green area eaten down, not to mention BBQ Cabrito…

       “This led to many more interesting experiences.  My primary job there was to release classified material to the Taiwanese Navy to support the Navy ships that the US had given them.  We made many trips up and down the island from Taipei to the southern tip of the island.  A few side trips included visits to an orphanage in a remote area inaccessible by road.  This was an orphanage run by Philippine Nuns.

       While there, my third child, or my first daughter, was born.  My wife had to travel to Taipei a couple of weeks before her due date because there were no approved facilities in the Kaohsiung area.  I enjoyed my tour so much that I had it extended for an additional six months.”