Tag Archives: Taiwan News

Happy Chinese New Year’s Eve 2018!

What a beautiful dawn and sunrise this morning, viewed from the 8th floor of St. James’ Church, Taichung!  The start of a day of gorgeous weather!

One of the great traditions of Chinese New Year is catching up with old friends, often those not seen for a whole year or even longer.  I’ve been riding around Taichung on a u-bike all week doing this – and today was special, because I visited Fr. Toon Maes, CICM, at St. Paul’s RC Church, Taichung, where he is enjoying the sun after all those cold, wet and windy years up near us on the northern coast in Jinshan!  He’s 86, and in charge of a church which has about 120 people in the mass on Sunday.  His church is beautifully decorated for Chinese New Year…

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On Tuesday I visited another RC priest friend, Fr. Joy, MM, based at Tanzi Migrant Church, just north of Taichung and working with the Filipino migrant workers, who are mostly employed in the nearby export processing zone.   He has a huge church of thousands, and lots of outreach and social programmes….

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In case you’re wondering, both Fr. Joy and Fr. Maes did actually hold small Ash Wednesday services yesterday.   But in fact, Joy told me that Lent has been postponed in the local RC Churches, due to Chinese New Year coming this week.  After all, it’s really quite extraordinary to have Ash Wednesday – all that fasting and ashes – one day, followed the next day (tonight, Chinese New Year’s Eve) by the biggest family feast of the whole year!  So I think it really makes good sense to delay Lent for a week.  Not just delay Ash Wednesday, but actually Lent itself.   I know it’s supposed to be 40 days, but hey, a few less really won’t make much difference.  Otherwise people won’t know whether they’re supposed to be piously fasting, thus annoying all their family or friends by not participating in the New Year celebrations, or the alternative – eat, drink and be merry and then feel guilty afterwards! And we really don’t need any more guilt in this world and in the church, in my humble view at least.  In the Taiwan Episcopal Church, it’s been left to individual churches to decide, and in St. James, the church council decided not to hold a service – as everyone was so busy getting ready and travelling.

And of course, having no Ash Wednesday left us all free to focus on Valentine’s Day instead ~ and in connection with Valentine’s Day, you must read this BBC News report about how some of Taiwan’s little green traffic light men down in Pingtung have got girlfriends in time for February 14….

Taiwan’s pedestrian crossing men get girlfriends – BBC News

Isn’t that wonderful?!

Red is the colour of Chinese New Year ~ and isn’t this doorway beautiful?  Saw it in Taichung yesterday.  And so, wishing you all a very Happy Chinese New Year!

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Have good celebrations, wherever you are – we’re off on a little trip ourselves tomorrow.  See you in a few days ~ but for now I’m off for Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner ~ yippee!

Hualien Earthquake, Taiwan’s East Coast

Please pray for Hualien on the Taiwan’s east coast, battered by a legion of earthquakes, starting with a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Sunday February 4 that peaked with the main quake, magnitude 6.4 (registered as 7 in downtown Hualien) at 11:50 pm, last night, Tuesday February 6. Between those 2 major earthquakes, 94 shocks were recorded, with five of them reaching magnitude 5.0 or higher. Since last night, there have been seemingly non-stop aftershocks. Many of these have been felt throughout Taiwan. So although last night’s earthquake was not totally unexpected, the fact that 4 major high-rise buildings in Hualien collapsed as a result is a huge shock and major disaster, with the death toll rising by the hour and many still missing. The weather has been very cold, with snow on the mountains, but now there is heavy rain, which together with the instability of the tilting buildings is hampering rescue efforts.

The Taiwan Episcopal Church has one church in Hualien, St. Luke’s Church, and the vicar, Rev. Joseph M. L. Wu posted photos of the damage to the building (see below – click on each photo to enlarge). The church altar table, made of glass, was completely destroyed in the earthquake. Like many church buildings in Taiwan, the church is actually the ground floor of a high building, with apartments above. Fortunately, the building did not sustain any structural damage.

Bishop David J. H. Lai has today transferred an initial NT$ 200,000 (US$ 6,850 / GB£ 4,915) to St. Luke’s Church for repair work, and is encouraging all our church members throughout Taiwan to donate to St. Luke’s Church for relief and repairs. All church members are reported as safe, but many with damage to their homes and businesses, and of course shock and concern about ongoing aftershocks. Mr. Yang, chair of the St. Luke’s Church council, runs a guest house in Hualien directly opposite the multi-story Marshal Hotel, which collapsed in the earthquake, yet his building only sustained minor damage in comparison. Power and water cuts are an ongoing problem, and drinking water is in very short supply. Hualien has a high number of people belong to the indigenous people groups, and many are Christians, belonging particularly to the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Churches. Their faith and church community support will be a great source of strength to them at this time.

This earthquake comes exactly two years to the very day since Taiwan’s last major earthquake, in which another high-rise apartment building collapsed in the southern city of Tainan resulting in 117 deaths. That earthquake occurred during the Chinese New Year festival. This earthquake occurs one week before Chinese New Year, and people are obviously busy in preparations. Hualien is a major tourist city, due to the nearby scenic beauty of Taroko Gorge and the east coast, plus the indigenous cultures. Roads, infrastructure, hotels and scenic spots are badly damaged. Many people will now be putting their travel plans on hold, and sadly this will have a major effect on the economy of the region.

Your prayers are much appreciated. Thank you.

Updated on Thursday February 8: For latest news, check out these 2 reports both from the Taipei Times website:

Seven dead, hundreds injured in temblor

Building rescue efforts continue – about the way the leaning angles of one of the tilted buildings increased from 30° to 45° through the day, then at 3 pm, the building “visibly moved 4 cm within 10 minutes”….

Update from Bishop Lai’s office: The Rev. Joseph Wu reports today that the church is already cleaned up, and repairs are starting.  Joseph has sent these 2 photos of the church today.  Doesn’t it look different from yesterday?!

He also says that money donated by our churches in Taiwan or overseas will be used in possible relief work in the local community, but all relief will be done in and through cooperation with the Chinese Christian Relief Association (中華基督教救助協會) in Hualien, who are on the ground with experts and resources in place, and are coordinating relief ministry in that area. Joseph is still in the process of getting in touch with them and offering his help.

Updated on Monday February 12: Rescue work ends as quake toll hits 17

Updated on Wednesday February 14: Article from the Anglican Communion News Service: Church aids relief effort after 6.4 Magnitude earthquake strikes Taiwan’s Hualien county

Thank you all for your concern and prayers.

Taipei Transforms Subway Cars to Mimic Sporting Venues for Upcoming Summer Universiade | Colossal

To spark interest for the upcoming 2017 Summer Universiade, the city of Taipei has employed a fantastic marketing strategy that sees the city’s subway cars turned into realistic backdrops of several popular sporting venues. The floors of each car have been replaced by laminate overlays of track lane, grass turf, basketball courts, and baseball fields—though by far the most popular car is the swimming pool. The Universiade begins August 19th and involves 22 different sports across 70 venues. ….

Source: Taipei Transforms Subway Cars to Mimic Sporting Venues for Upcoming Summer Universiade | Colossal

Update on July 24, 2017:  I found this train today (greatly helped by staff at one of the stations) and here we are!

Fun eh?!

Rainageddon Hits Taiwan

And it was quite some weekend….

644 mm of rain fell on Sanzhi on Friday from about 2:00 – 11:00 am. That was the start of it all.  This was the scene on the coastal road on Friday morning from inside my bus….

Fridays’s report about the situation from the Taipei Times is here….

The local river at Sanzhi on Friday afternoon ….

The rains spread south over the weekend.  Tons and tons of rain.  2 dead, several missing, homes and businesses washed away or flooded. Terrible damage to infrastructure, agriculture and businesses.  This is today’s Taipei Times report here

Yesterday I went round the coastal road to Keelung.  The road passes along by some of the worst hit areas.  In Keelung, an area of the town along by the river had been flooded, and the army was helping clear up. This was the scene outside a dentists, they’re all there clearing up.  The whole road looked like this. People everywhere.

The road round the coast is open for one lane only each way.  Landslides everywhere cos the mountains there are steep.  This was the scene near the nuclear power station…  see all that mud?

This is not a typhoon. It’s the Plum Rainy Season.  Never normally like this.  Tragic.

Fortunately, the rains are expected to stop today, and repairing the damage can begin in earnest.

On Saturday I spent the morning writing a CMS newsletter.  I had decided early last week that Saturday was to be the day, but I had no idea at that point what my theme was going to be.  Events last Friday kinda of decided for me.  Am sending it off today to CMS for processing.  Check back in a few weeks time!

And finally, the reason for going to Keelung was to attend the Pentecost service at Trinity Church.  This is the back wall of the church….

Pentecost greetings to you all!  May the fire, passion and love of the Holy Spirit bring healing, grace and mercy in this dark, broken and suffering world.

Taichung Train Station ~ The Old and the New!

Yes, there’s a brand new Taichung Train Station, built right behind the old one, at high level rather than ground level ~ and opened last month by President Tsai Ing-Wen.

The original one was built in the Japanese Colonial era, about 1905….

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And we now walk through the old station to get to the new one at the back.  The new station complex is not yet finished, and there’s tons of construction going on all around, but so far so good!

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Today it was absolutely packed out, Sunday is a huge traveling day, and the weather was wonderful.  This is what it looks like inside…

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Amazing eh?!