Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson

Updates on Morakot

We’ve moved into the eighth day of  Ghost Month here in Taiwan.  Twenty days since the first slide in Namasia’s Ming Chuan (now Maya) Village and 19 days since Shiao Lin Village was all but buried. CNN placed death tolls at 376 two days ago and added a gruesome “….60 human limbs had been found, separately from the number of dead and wounded”.  The dead from my wife’s township haven’t yet been dug up.2

Incense burns on the first day of ghost month in Tainan’s God of War Temple (picture has nothing to do with post, but who wants to read a post without any pictures?)

We were down in Chishan today visiting relatives and doing other things (our household is registered in Namasia so we have to do all government things in Chishan, KHH’s county seat, which is a pain these days because Chishan is a bit of a mess). The refugees are now being processed out of  the monastery. Refugees from Namasia will be the last batch to go. They should be out tomorrow.

Here is a link to a picture of Nangisaluo Village (was Ming Tsu). You can see the Township Office (where we used to be able to do some government stuff) in the lower right. My brother in law spent an evening there listening to the rocks pounding the building, the story here. There used to be some more buildings and a large park to the right of the building and above the Farmers Co-op you can just make out some rooftops under the mud.

The government is supplying them with three options with, my wife says, vaguely worded Chinese. All written Chinese is vague to me. Basically:

1. Rent on your own. Dahu, a brother in law has three in his family; himself and two kids so he would get up to 6000nt/month for rent (max 2yrs) and a monthly living expense of  3000-15000 per month per household  for half a year. It’s not clear how this is decided though. In my opinion,  if he gets 15000 he could comfortably support his two kids and himself assuming he adjusts alright to city life. But if you knew Dahu……1

Pu Du preparations in ChiaYi’s Cheng  Huang Temple the day before ghost month

2. Buy your own house.  Government will help you get a 20yr mortgage (max 3500000NT), no interest for 5yrs and I’m guessing pretty good rates after that. Plus the same ambiguous living stipend as in number one. I don’t really understand bank loans in English, so this translation is pretty loose. No one we know is going for this option. Doesn’t seem like a good time for someone without a job to be taking out a loan, no matter how attractive.

And the third option and the one that most of my wife’s family seem to be opting for is letting the government house them and wait for the roads to be fixed.

In Shanlin there are houses being built for this purpose but until they are ready they will live in the army barracks. Each household will get 15 ping of space. They will also get a living stipend for half a year.3

A Taoist priest and his students recite sutras  in ChiaYi’s Cheng  Huang Temple the day before ghost month

They don’t know when the road will be ready. This number fluctuates daily from less than a year for over two years to never.  If they use the same route from Jiashen there are three crossings of the NanTsuHsien river and lots of tributary crossings. A quick estimate I count 7 taking the lower Guanshan road (less bridges that route).

Shanlin won’t have lot’s of job opportunities and they have no vehicles.

None of the options are ideal, but they are being taken care of. Some villagers are satisfied, some aren’t.

There is still a lot of confusion. Some villagers are still in Namasia and afraid that if they leave they may never be allowed back. Alternately they are afraid they will get no help from the government if they don’t leave. Already there is unrest at the uneven distribution of relief supplies and money between villagers, as some get and some don’t.4

Incense burns at Tainan’s Martial Temple on the first day of ghost month

AP reports the Dalai Lama’s visa has been approved. The Dalai Lama is highly regarded by Taiwanese and will hopefully help alleviate suffering. He is also very politically sensitive because China disapproves of him.  His visit will be a media circus, blues saying one thing and greens saying the opposite. Regardless, Taiwan’s Morakot victimswill be dragged into the international spotlight along with Taiwan’s politics. That is good.

The TV news just reported that 5 more cases of the H1N1 Virus were reported today bringing Taiwan’s total to 52

Maidal, my five year old niece who is staying in the gymnasium at Fo Guang Shan, was wearing a mask (some of the time) because she was feverish. Her Dad said he wasn’t worried.5

A temple caretaker collects incense sticks from urn at Tainan’s Matsu Temple on the first day of ghost month

An ambulance passed us and I overheard this strange conversation.

“Oh, that is (a young boy).”

“Why are they taking him away?”

“They say he has bad habits. He was sweating buckets and really feverish and he snuck out of quarantine into the air conditioning, they couldn’t control him so they are taking him to the hospital”

Strangely, no one seemed very worried.6

A sixteen year old taking part in Kailung Temple’s Coming of Age ritual in Tainan that I have just finished writing about. Hmmm, these pictures really don’t complement the blog well.

My ghost month article was published by the China Post here.


One response

  1. Pingback: the art of war

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