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Oct 5, 2012

Sweeping sights, sounds and the history of Taiwan

Taiwan has diplomatic relations with only a handful of twenty-two countries, which includes Belize. Its diplomatic outreach, however, is vibrant and strong as it struggles for full recognition and to gain entry into many international organizations including the United Nations where yearly, its allies seek support for its admission. Also known as the Republic of China, it is a modern and bustling economy and since the election of Ma Ying-jeou, relations with mainland China, appear to be thawing. News Five’s Isani Cayetano files the following report on Taiwan.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The majesty of Taipei 101, a modern engineering marvel built to resemble an upright bamboo stem, is testament to Taiwan’s industrial and technological advancement.  Towering above the city’s skyline this mega structure, once the world’s tallest building, is one of many landmarks on this small South Pacific island.  Last week, along with a group of fellow journalists from near and far, I had a chance to visit this monolith, consuming its splendor in totality.  This would be the first of many lifelong experiences shared with the group during our brief stay.  To get there I had to travel halfway across the globe, beginning with a connecting flight in Miami on Independence Day.  Forty-eight hours, a severe hangover and a pair of seemingly unresponsive legs later, I arrived at my final destination.  Taipei is a concrete city teeming with people constantly in a rush to reach somewhere on time.  I would later appreciate the importance of timekeeping from Joe, our ambassadorial handler.


My purpose for calling on Taiwan was twofold.  Firstly, I was there to attend a conference organized by the International Cooperation and Development Fund, an arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Secondly, I was also there for cultural exchange.  The TaiwanICDF conference was a one-day gathering of political and economic representatives from countries with diplomatic ties to the Republic of China.  The meeting served as a platform for renewed commitment to sustainable development worldwide, using Taiwan as a fitting example of socio-economic strength.  Keynote speakers at the event included ROC President Ma Ying-jeou, as well as Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank Group.


Formalities aside, the substance of my trip was by far the Taiwan experience.  Together with my newfound friends from St. Lucia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Swaziland, we hungered for the sweeping sights and sounds and the history of Taiwan, not to mention the lavish culinary treats afforded.  …And indulge we did.  Whether on our way to a string of official meetings with Joe or relaxing after a long day of travel there was always food and drinks, often as rich as the places we visited and the cultural displays.


One such locale is Kinmen, a small archipelago of islands off the coast of Taiwan.  Quemoy, a populace of sixty thousand, is a sleepy county overflowing with military history.  It’s prominent Chinese identity was established during the ROC’s armed confrontation with the People’s Republic of China which lasted over a period of forty-years.  Quemoy is the birthplace of Maestro Wu, a small family operation dating back to 1937.  What’s unique about this business is its use of spent artillery shells in the forging of stainless steel knives.  During the crisis approximately four hundred and fifty thousand shells, including propaganda rounds, were fired at the islands.  Since then master blacksmith Wu Tseng-dong, whose father founded the venture, has been shaping cutlery from the war remains.  His work is a demonstration of Taiwanese ingenuity.


In Quemoy, like back in Taipei, we ate.  The gastronomic experience was, in one word, delectable.  Our turntables, as you can see, were filled with traditional food, staples, which included yams, cabbage and a variety of meats prepared using a collection of recipes.  And, of course, there was Taiwan Beer, a lager so light it’s comparable to our local green bottle.  Its ubiquity around our dinner table quickly made it my best friend.


Back in Taipei we visited the Huaxi Street Tourist Night Market, or Snake Alley, a singular retail experience I can only describe as interesting, where vendors from all corners of Taiwan descend on its sidewalks to peddle everything from clothing and electronics to fast food and even live snakes, as the name suggests.  Next we were off to the theater where we an audience of performing arts enthusiasts digested an hour-long drama featuring Taiwanese thespians.  We even found time for religion.  Our pilgrimage to enlightenment led us to a Buddhist shrine in the heart of the city, where devout followers genuflected in worship.  At the end of that journey there was a bit of role reversal as I found myself on the other end of the microphone detailing the experience to a local TV reporter.


And so, my week in Taiwan zoomed by with pictures and memories to last a lifetime, ever the tourist, the socialite, and now budding travel writer, forever thankful for an opportunity to experience and appreciate the glory of our Far East brothers and sisters in their home country.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Sweeping sights, sounds and the history of Taiwan”

  1. GrigaMan says:

    It is a low down shame that the GOB (both PUP and UDP) have extorted money and other resources from Taiwan for the Belizean support of Taiwan’s right to independence from China. When Belize was seeking its independence, there were a few countries (such as Cuba and Mexico) that gave their full unadulterated support for Belize’s right to independence, without any implicit quid pro quo; and those countries offered their support for our independence while continuing to offer tangible support in terms of aid. The GOB has offered its support of Taiwan’s right to independence with certain strings attached. Has there ever been a full accounting of all the aid that Taiwan has given Belize over the years? ………… It is time for Belizeans to create a real independent party; one that puts the country first, and the political party second. Currently both the PUP and UPD put their party before the country, and that is why the government is so corrupt and the country is quickly going down the toilet. Stop all this PUP/UPD bs, because neither party cares about Belize; they all put their party and themselves before Belize. Belizeans, wake up and make a change before it is too late! There is still a little time left to right the ship, but we need to move NOW!

  2. narcissiusfassy says:

    Out of order
    Low down
    Oh yeah, broke too

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