Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On the route 21

Namasia, the name resonates in my ears, it might sound meaningless to outsiders but the exotic phonetics of the name intrigues me. Located in the mountainous area of Kaohsiung, Namasia district is part of the Yushan range (the jade mountain) with two rivers, Cishan or Nanzihsian river and Laonong river, running through. The demographics of the area is mostly Bunun, with Tsou and Paiwan as substantial minorities. The bureaucratic old name "Sanmin", taken from Sun Yat-Sen's "Three Principle of People", was re-placed with Namasia in 2008, as it is the name of the Nanzihsian river in the Tsou language, meaning "better and better" in Bunun.

My first visit to Namasia was following Rich's lead, participating in one of the Bunun tribal festivals, Malatangia: Coming of Age,  in 2012. I was amazed by the majestic scenery when driving on the temporary roads and bridges. The devastating typhoon Morakot in 2009 brought rainfall that equaled the annual amount in 3 days and destroyed the major access road, route 21, and mountains in the area. The most heart breaking news was that the whole Hsiaolin village, 169 households, was engulfed by a landslide, causing 398 lives lost. Driving along the river bank on these temporary roads and bridges that were built on fallen rock debris, with the crumbling mountains in sight, the impression could humble the most proud man by the presence of mother nature.

I visited Rich in Namasia during the 2013 lunar new year's holiday, the route 21 was partially fixed and survivors from Hsiaolin village were translocated to a newly built modern community. A memorial park was built at the original site of Hsiaolin village, where all 169 households were labeled in miniature. It all seems like a bright future awaits, sad still but hopeful. The road in between the memorial park and Namasia is still a mess, it's even worse than I remember from my last visit. Apparently a rage water washed away these temporary bridges and foundations. Hopefully they will repair the roads so other people can enjoy the rugged beauty of its nature.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mt. Zion

The word Zion makes people think of the Bible, Jerusalem, novels, or maybe movies like the "Matrix". In the mountainous area of the Hsiaolin District in Kaohsiung, a mountain was crowned "Holy Mt. Zion", and for believers, the mountain there is as sacred as Jerusalem or even more. "Holy Mt. Zion" engraved on a colossal rock, cherub statues watch over the visitors at the entrance, well maintained infrastructures and the stupendous scenery, Mt. Zion stands out from its neighbors: the crumbling mountains and roads that were destroyed by the devastating typhoon Morakot in 2009. I didn't know what to expect in the Mt. Zion, but the last thing I expected was the hatred that ruled/rooted in this Eden. Posters, TV, and preaching were all about the evil nature of the Kuomintang Party (KMT) and how the prophet and his followers were persecuted in the past. I had the feeling that I was walking into a Falundafa's protest venue. To get to know the history better I went to their museum and talked to a guide. Here is the brief of their story.

Elijah Hong, the prophet as they claimed to be, came to this mountain known originally as Shuanglianku in 1963 and started to practice a living style as a farmer and worshiped Jesus Christ. In 1980, the KMT plundered the land and ousted the people as this land was chosen as the graveyard for the president, Jingguo Jiang. In the following 7 years, they camped on the river side at the feet of the mountain trying to fight KMT under the martial law and finally they won the battle and returned to Zion. They rebuilt their homestead and started organic agricultue transforming Zion into Eden.

I sympathize with what happened to them 30 years ago and I admire their courage and perseverance but what I can't understand is that in the name of God these people can't let go of the past and allow hatred to overshadow the central idea of what the prophet was told, turning the Holy Mt. Zion into an outpost against the KMT. During my brief stay, all I saw and heard was how they focused on demonizing the KMT instead of preaching their beliefs regardless of the time that has moved forward more than 3 decades. The past can not be forgotten but could be forgiven, in the name of God, I hope they find their inner peace.

cherub statues 
City of David

Holy temple

Tree house