Sunday, October 26, 2008

The 10/25 Protests

We didn't spend as much time at this (or should I say these as it was several protest points all converging later) as we did at the previous green-centric one. There happened to be a religious processional - one of those "God's Border Inspection Tours" where Qi ye, ba ye, the bajiajiang (traditionally costumed martial arts guys in face paint) Matsu's companions and lion and dragon dancers all come out. We hadn't been to one in awhile so tried to split our time between the two.

Speaking of which, if you're a traveler to Taiwan and have never seen one, if you have the chance do not miss it. Those processionals are very rare, if nonexistent, in Taiwan is your best bet and it's one of the highlights of Taiwanese cultural and folk life.

We caught the processional by Shuanglian near the small temple behind the MRT's north exit, and then headed over to Zhongshan N. Road to watch the protest go by and add our own chants of "Daiwan Ga Yu!" (台灣加油!) to the crowd. We sat by Mackay Memorial Hospital's old brick arches with all the patients with IV tubes - some also chanting pro-Taiwan slogans - and the charity ladies selling bread products at a markup (also chanting slogans).

The entire thing was...huge. More people than the last protest if what we saw was only 1/4 of the full number in attendance. More people than the 10/10 KMT rally in 2006. More people than the anti-World Bank/IMF protests on my college campus in...1999? That one resulted in cancelled classes, and still wasn't as big as the one on Saturday.

One guy from the march came up to me and said - and I quote -

Guy: "Daiwan Ga Yu!"
Me: "Yeah, Daiwan Ga Yu!"
Guy: "Taiwan Jia You!"
Me: "Taiwan Jia You!"
Guy: "Taiwan Duli!" (台灣獨立)
Me: "Taiwan Duli!"
Me: "Damn straight. Err..ah, fuck China!"

He then sauntered off to follow the van full of people with bullhorns shouting "Ma Ying-jiu xia tai!", leaving me, Brendan and the IV-tube guys bemused.


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