12 February 2007

Taichung HSR (High Speed Railway) Station; Please View the Disclaimer Below!

A Disclaimer: It appears this post is listed among the most viewed/most popular among my posts. I wrote this quite a long, long time ago. That said, there might be some things I said back then I still agree with. A great deal of the politics I spouted back then, however, was based on lack of experience, naivete, and my tendency to be a loudmouth and express my opinions too quickly. I think and I hope I am much different now. I repeat, my politics (regarding many things), and my opinions have changed a lot. Please do not take the things I said here too seriously. They were said in the past. (Disclaimer, dated 1 July 2011).

The outside plaza.

The platform area seen from the plaza.

More of the plaza.

The indoor concourse. There is a Starbucks, a magazine store, and a Yamazaki. I think a Starbucks is predictable here. Why don't the Taiwanese authorities, both within the HSR encourage more international tourists and investment by putting other Western shops. I am kind of sick of seeing just Starbucks, Burger Kings, Subways, etc. Also get the locals curious about the international flavour. Make an interational pot-pourri, since HSRs, airports, and even normal trains are ideally mixing-grounds, and one expects to find more international awareness and atmosphere in them. Taiwan must change faster in these respects. If it doesn't, then it will indeed become a forgotten outpost of Mainland China (which it is not and never has been, contrary to even the respected news outlets).
I am not saying that Taiwan's HSR should be more English. On the contrary, Taiwanese have to realise that Foreigner does not equal Anglo. There are Arabs (of different nationalities), French, Italians, Russians, Venezuelans, Chileans, etc. The lack of geographical knowledge among the youth or anyone, for that matter here in Taiwan is appalling. I spent, at most, one quarter of the time that most Taiwanese do in school (par for the course for their workaholic dispositions, perhaps). But I, and most Canadians, are fully aware of where my country stands in relation to the rest of the world, politically and geographically. It is not a matter of arrogance or humility. Where do the kids' twelve or more hours of school go?! I know, certainly, that learning Chinese writing is difficult. Perhaps less time should be taken with perfection in that, and more in encouraging creativity and just a little bit of play. Kids (particularly when they become more mature, and reach their teenage years, they should be taught much more about geography and history (with modern politics integrated in their Chinese classes, as certainly Canadian and internation politics are very much integrated with my Grade 10 - 12 English classes when I was in high school.
In the Mainland Chinese society, there exist a similar, and ridiculous set of prejudices and stereotypes that exist here in Taiwan (see Jerome Cole's brilliant blog, Fried Lice now renamed Capitalist Running Dog). Democracy and freedom (more like anarchy here, although there's nothing wrong with a little of that, WITHIN REASON) don't seem to have changed that. Education has to come from above, below, within, and from the pressures without. I guess that's where a cantankerous lughead like myself comes in.
So, you see, I am not simply talking about internationalizing food or language here in the would-be tourist areas. That is and would be simplistic. It is a matter of a pull and push from within, to modernize, truly. That means modernizing the mindset. This will help Taiwan grow up, politically speaking? "What am I?" and "Who and where are the others and what are they in relation to me?" Check out, for example, this Letters to the Editor section in the Taipei Times. Many Taiwanese in Taiwan don't have enough of an explicit sense of being not Chinese. Having a sense of Taiwanese-ness, just like Canadians need to have a sense of Canadian-ness as opposed to being American is essential for the nations to survive. This is how Quebec has an upper hand in on respect. One of the letters in the Johnny Neihu section above, mentioned CBC's ignorance of the Taipei 101 and it being in Taipei, Taiwan and not Hong Kong. Let us prevent such wholesale dumbing down be it in Taiwan or in Canada. Canada and Taiwan (and Quebec, for that matter) have similar problems with this lingering question: "Who are we?" Taiwan must throw out Confucianism and the traditional over-dominance of the family. Maybe not completely, since family helps keep people off the street here, something I can't say for my country, Canada, nor can one say, for that matter about capitalist/communist/schizophrenic Mainland China.
Interaction and dialogue of cultures, political voices, languages, goods, and resources need to be addressed much more throroughly and speedily in the Beautiful Isle. That is this Foreign Curmudgeon response, yours truly.

The view outside looks not a whole lot different from the view of the outside roads, overpasses, etc. at the Toronto Airport. But the Taiwan HSR is much better built. The architecture is a little less boring. And stronger, too. The Pearson Airport in Toronto is a joke. When I was sitting, wandering etc. at the latter, the whole airport area, at least in the Northwest Airlines Gates areas was swaying. It was not terrifically windy outside. And the air traffic is nothing compared to other airports I've seen, from Hong Kong, Taipei, to Osaka. It has to be the crappiest airport I've even seen or heard of. Not only that, there were only about 5 shops in the whole Northwestern Airlines Gates area. This is really pathetic for a supposedly international airport. So, you see, the Canadians have a long way to go too. More on this, later. Indeed, much more.

Long live Traditional Chinese writing!

The ticket sale area and the gates. The woman and men who guard the gates look so young and professional in their white shirts. They look more like models than intimidating guards. Sure, they should encourage visitors. But what if there are criminals or terrorists, or for that matter, spies from Mainland Chinese government with malicious intent? This is another silly habit that bosses here have: hiring people based on appearance, rather than experience or personality. It is particularly difficult if you are a woman. I know. I have chatted with people about this.

Just one small area near the HSR you can park your scooter. There are others, I think. There is a lot of space.

The bus area. I don't know how frequent the buses are. There was only one bus the fifteen minutes I was there, taking pictures and wandering around. I definitely think Taichung City needs an MRT, and one that goes all the way out to Wu-Er, right where the HSR is. Go right there, not 10 blocks away, for goodness sakes!

More of the outside of the HSR building from the road and scooter park/"sidewalk" area.

More random pictures of the above-described places.

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