Friday, May 28, 2010

Dwindling Red Forests


While I loathe to see what is already happening with the ecosytem this week in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the disastrous BP oil spill, here in my own neighborhood are equally dramatic (though much slower) ecological and environmental shifts in the making.

First, this morning the students at the local junior high school were talking to me using English about the environmental pollution that is occuring in our neck of the woods as a result of pollution emanating from Formosa Plastics on the coast.

Second, when I asked my friend Roger this afternoon what differences he has noted in the local ecosystem between he was a boy and now, he cited how the land is sinking all along the western plain of south-central coastal taiwan. Because the land is sinking, beautiful “Red Forests” (actually look more like large sets of dense bushes) growing in the shallow waters have been dying out at an alarming rate over the years. The reason for this is because the sprouts you see pictured here fall so deep below the low tide they can never survive to grow in to trees.


Roger took me to see a healthy “Red Forest” not too far from his house in coastal Mouth-of-the-Lake Township this afternoon.  Above and below you can see the pics and description.

IMG_0125taizi sign

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Was I Just Visited by Gangsters?

It’s coming up on election time for mayor and local representatives, and I most likely just visited by gangsters promoting their candidate. If you’re looking for me to post a picture of the candidate which he just gave me when we shook hands, don’t look for it here!

I told them as I have other candidates and their workers who’ve come by the last two weeks that I don’t have the right to vote here, but as is usually the case I’m still politely handed the literature. Never mind that I probably wouldn’t want to vote for them even if I could as it was clear that over the noon hour they had a little too much to drink.  Not the best way to attract voters, but I guess it doesn’t matter as they have other means.

Yesterday eating lunch with coworkers at a local establishment the owner and his wife did not seem their normal talkative happy selves. We think it’s because the customers at the other table, a group of 5 or 6 men one might describe as looking a little thug-like. My coworker had seen them the previous evening eliciting a discomforting reaction from one of his neighbors. Maybe they were out  “encouraging” the voters. A couple of the same fellows were back at the same restaurant in the evening when I drove by again.

A friend from a nearby township said that votes are going for 5,000 NT per person in the election in which he is assisting. The present mayor of that place is a known gang leader. Three years ago I heard that another local acquaintance’s father (whose family used to be a prominent in the community) was coerced into stepping down from re-election after he was physically threatened. Democracy at work. But my country’s democracy has it’s own problems too.