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

Refugee Camps, Namasia, Holy Mt Zion and Roads.

Namasia Township villagers are now being housed in two barracks. Ming Tzu, the worst hit, is with Taoyuan County villagers in Yanchao and Ming Chuan and Ming Shen villagers are in Jiuchu (九曲) in Da Shu Township.

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We were in Jiuchu  today. Simple, clean(except the toilets), and comfortable. The buildings are certainly built a lot better than their tin houses(for the most part) in the village. People were happy and well fed. Even the public announcements were in Bunun language just like in the village and I can imagine it could be disconcerting to the military personnel being unable to understand.

A group of government workers (who are required to stay up there) came down from Namasia while I was there. It was quite jolly. Everybody crowding around for information and reunions.

Everybody joked at how fat the refugees had gotten and how thin the people fresh from the mountains were. Later things  sobered up and more important things were discussed.

My second brother-in-law came down with this group. He works in the township first aid clinic, so has been up there the whole time. He said the road is rough going down, but will be much more difficult going back up. Only 4X4 little blue trucks, (Taiwanese call them ‘800 trucks’ because they are 8OOcc) nothing bigger, and lots of people with ropes and shovels in the back.

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My wife won’t let me go until she is confident the typhoon has passed. Being a responsible husband and caring father I grudgingly listen to her. It has probably kept me alive more than once.

It rains daily and the people are pretty much living on instant noodle soup and rice. There are still at least 100 people still up there now and all the government workers will go back up on Sunday or Monday. Lot’s of older people came down this trip and it seemed most of them didn’t want to, but they were hard to take care of.

The brother told me the government will take care of Ming Tzu first, before moving on to Ming Chuan and Ming Shen. He says all government workers or people with authority are not saying anything about future plans before some careful thought. When they are ready with a proposal, it will all be in writing. They are worried about losing land or being put somewhere they don’t want to be. He says now most people want to move back to their old village which was much higher up the mountain. Ming Chuan is unsafe.

He also said there were nine people killed in Holy Mount Zion. They have back roads to get out.

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One thing I heard, which has me upset, is about a TV news report early on. There was a news report showing people from Namasia trying on clothes and they were apparently quite picky. I guess the gist of the report was that these people from Namasia were greedy, selfish and ungrateful.

It turns out that the villagers in question were actually from Taoyuan.

I didn’t see the news report that made this mistake or even know what station it was. I am trying to find it. Until I see it, I really shouldn’t comment on it, but I can’t help myself.

Many of the early news reports made mistakes with people’s names and places. It was a very confusing time and the reporters obviously did not know the people or the area.

Taoyuan is a long way from Namasia. Separated by the Yushan Mountain range and probably a two to three hour drive. They did get the right race though, they are both Aboriginal villages.

As with any large group, there are always a few idiots. Everything I saw led me to believe the people are extremely grateful for all the help.

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I saw one father yelling at a kid for littering. A man who I have a very clear recollection of  littering many times in his mountain village. To me, this shows the respect he has for the military and Taiwanese housing him. After the berated child sulked away, someone said something in Bunun which had something to do with his own less than perfect habits. Everybody laughed. You had to be there, but the people have kept their  sense of humor.

As for my own house, Ming Shen was the least damaged but the road to our house suffered the worst slide(at the graveyard bend), so no one has walked in yet. Farther in from my house is Falas Campground who has a backhoe.He usually clears the road himself, providing he can get to the backhoe and it is still there.

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