Wednesday, October 24, 2007

UN torch relay

Thousands gathered outside the presidential office early this morning to cheer on runners in a round-the-island torch relay - the latest in a series of publicity stunts to demonstrate the island's wish to join the UN.

President Chen Shui-Bian and Vice President Annette Lu - holding burning torches - led the runners - jogging down Ketagalan Boulevard, outside the Presidential office, to a nearby old city gate
Its the first leg of a round the island relay covering 1200 kilometres, and taking in 25 cities and counties.

Of course, the event has attracted political controversy. The Taipei authorities (the Mayor is a member of the KMT) argued it was a political not sporting event and the organisers needed to apply for special permits - almost derailing the plans.
The magistrate of Kinmen - the offshore island closer to China than Taiwan - was the most upset. He said officials there would not offer any help with the event calling it an obvious political stunt designed to boost the DPP's chances at the next presidential elections.
The DPP is pushing for a public referendum to be held on the same date as the presdiential elections, asking the public if they support Taiwan's bid to join the UN under the name Taiwan, rather than its official title, the Republic of China (this was the first year Taiwan made a bid to join the UN under its "Taiwan" name).
The KMT are proposing another referendum - asking the public to support a vote for Taiwan's membership of the UN under its name, ROC, Republic of China.
They are also launching a round the island cycling event to support their own referendum idea.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ilan hot springs

I had a great weekend sampling some hot springs in Ilan, north-east Taiwan, which was marking a hot spring cuisine festival...celebrating the hot springs and great foods in the region.
First, we let our feet be feasted upon my these tiny "doctor" fish...they feed on the skin of your feet...yeuch.
There are plenty of hotels with their own spas, but some public springs this one. Just 80 nt!! (a little less than $3 usd) - a bargain.

This is the source of the spring.

Jiaoshi is the township which has the most hot springs in Ilan.

Performers at opening for hotspring festival Cute food

thought this was funny...a sign saying no spy cameras are installed at this hotel - with a spy camera next to it. Note the unfortunate name of the hotel!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Birthday

Taiwan has been marking its National Day. And for the first time in 16 years, the official ceremony featured a military parade.

Fighter jets - American F16s, French Mirages, and Taiwan's IDFs flew overhead - while military vehicles drove past the presidential offie, carrying missile systems - including some domestically developed advanced missiles.

Some Taiwanese special combat units were also part of the event.

Of course the show of strength is laden with political symbolism. A message to China that Taiwan can defend itself against any military attack. And a message to the public to show that the island is capable of building its own defences.

Protestors - while few- were kept well away from the plaza. Barbed wire, riot police and plenty of road blocks.