My father grew up in a little town outside of Jiaye (Chiayi, I think is the common spelling now) called ShinKang, which is bordered by fields of rice.

On a past visit to Taiwan when I was probably around 14, we stayed a bit at the old house he grew up in. The major impression it left upon me was due to the mosquitos (their love for me has certainly been quite consistent), the heat (no a/c in Taiwan in the summer is agonizing for me), and the toilet facilities. My father was rather upset that I began to refuse food and water so I wouldn’t have to use the little room with a squat toilet frame over a repository of excrement in the ground. (It was good enough for him, he argued.) No one has really lived there, possibly for as long as I’ve been in existence, so the plumbing hasn’t been updated. We ended up being rescued by my dad’s cousin’s family, who generously extended their hospitality (and working toilet) to us.

This weekend, my aunt and uncle offered to take me there with a friend and former student of my uncle’s.

We ended up on a chase, looking at old tombs and schools to quest for history through rice paddies, and back alleyways. I visited my great-grandfather’s house and my grandfather’s house, passed through temple festivals for the birthday of Matzu, and visited a pineapple field.

More to come, after I wash off the DEET.


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Free Rice

May 2007
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