Written by Kuan-Ren Yun (雲冠仁), translated by Sam Robbins. When I was in Vietnam from 2016 to 2018, there was a time of immense market transformation underway that raised a very interesting question: The now-famous “Taiwanese bubble tea” had become reliant on Vietnamese tea leaves in Taiwan, and it was only after the transition to Vietnamese tea leaves was made could Taiwanese bubble tea be produced at such a scale to become a global phenomenon.
Written by Chang Yu-Hsin, Translated by Sam Robbins. After the typhoon, indigenous communities moved into new villages constructed in the lowlands through government and non-profit organisations’ funds. The new village for the people of the Taiwu township was roughly 17 kilometres from their original home, and the journey between the two locations took about 40 minutes by motorbike. The number of resources needed to take care of and manage the coffee farms increased as transport and oil costs went up. Especially for community elders who needed to go up the mountains to take care of the coffee farms, the time and energy now required to make the journey was no small burden.
Written by Angel Chao （趙于萱）, translated by Sam Robbins. In supermarkets in Thailand, you can find Thai hydroponic vegetables labelled as ‘Taiwanese greens.’ Why? Because these plants are grown in Thailand by Taiwanese businesspeople who brought Taiwanese hydroponic technology to Thailand, using Taiwanese equipment to grow crops in Thailand.
Written by Li Ching Chen, Translated by Sam Robbins. Hae works on a rice-duck farming cooperative in Yuanli. He wanted to take advantage of the fact that ducks eat rice pests and raise the ducks in the rice paddies. Although the idea was good in theory, there were many difficulties in practice. For example, he told me many of the dogs from the township started hunting the ducks. As ducks slowly waddled through the rice paddies, the dogs would start salivating.
Written by Szu-yu Lai, translated by Sam Robbins. When people in Taiwan think of indigenous communities, they think of millet, traditional clothing, and other stereotypical markers. However, from the story of Atayal tea farmers in Li Mountain, we can see that such static imaginings don’t bind indigenous peoples. Admitting to Taiwan’s rapidly changing culture and economy, cultivating tea became a way for Atayal people to reflect on their own culture and relationship with mainstream society. Although tea is not a part of the Atayal people’s traditional culture, it has slowly become a crucial part of how Atayal tribes market themselves through legal and economic changes.
Written by Yu-an Kuo 郭育安, translated by Sam Robbins. Despite being a common food in Taiwan, Taiwan’s climate makes it unsuitable for cultivating edible birds nest. Consumption of edible birds nest in Taiwan can be traced back over 200 years, but this consumption has always relied on imports. The product’s history in Taiwan is tied to the history of Dihua street in Taipei, which developed towards the end of the Qing dynasty. This street became a main sight for the selling of exported “Chinese goods” (華貨）in Taiwan, including Ginseng, Jujubees, louts seeds and shark fins. Official statistics suggest that Taiwan currently imports over 10 tonnes over birds nest each year, with over 90% being imported from Indonesia. However, this number is likely unreliable since the illegal smuggling of birds nest remains a constant problem in Taiwan.
Written by Hui-Tsen Hsiao (蕭慧岑）Translated by Sam Robbins. “They write up a sloppy official document that doesn’t even say anything meaningful, and now everything we’ve worked so hard to have has to go like that. You want us to demolish our own house, we cried and hugged as it happened. You’re a government agency, and you’re willing to let people go through this?” “And after we were forced to demolish our house, the debris from the house was even been set on fire” Ron added.
Written by Ko-yu Chiang, We received a reply confirming that the Mudan remains were indeed still stored in their collection. So, at this point, the puzzle was finally complete. This is the full story of the journey taken by these unfortunate victims. They came from a battle in Pingtung, to an anatomy lab in Yokohama, to the University of Edinburgh, where they were left in storage.
Written by Ko-yu Chiang, Under the beating sun in Taiwan’s most southern tip, Mudan Township, an indigenous Paiwanese district with a current population of 5,000, opened a public committee in May 2020. Despite being in a small township in Taiwan’s far south, this committee was an international affair. In attendance was the council of Indigenous Affairs, Bureau of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, the Pintung County government. The committee also extended to the other side of the world: Edinburgh University in the United Kingdom and the spirits of sixteen Paiwanese Mudan soldiers who have only recently returned home after 146 years abroad.
Written by Tshinn-Hun Miguel Liou. Strictly speaking, there’s nothing inherent about the connection between the people of Kaohsiung and Penghu, and the route that many people from Penghu took from Kaohsiung was often more treacherous than the path for those emigrating within Taiwan. However, the consensus linking people from these two places should give pause for thought. So, why is Kaohsiung the first choice for people from Penghu who move to Taiwan?
Written by Peijun Guo, translated by Sam Robbins. When Amber had asked Hsiao-hao what he had been doing since dropping out of high school, Hsiao-hao said he had been looking for a job but couldn’t find one, and now has nothing to do. Amber then went to talk to Mei-mei, asking her, “Hsiao-hao isn’t going to school, he’s not looking for a job, he’s not doing anything, what do you think? Do you think this is good? I’m not trying to take sides; I wanna know what you think.” Mei-mei gave Amber a thumb’s up and said, “I think it’s great; if my dad didn’t try to stop me, I’d want to do exactly what Hsiao-hao is doing”
Written by Huang Yi-Ching, Translated by Sam Robbins. Although everyone is at risk of catching COVID-19, the impact of the disease and preventative measures fall most harshly on already marginalised communities. Wanhua district of Taipei, which has a relatively high proportion of such disadvantaged groups, was also one of the first places to experience community transmission. This outbreak has dramatically increased the stigma attached to Wanhua, and many shipping companies, food delivery services and other recourses stopped servicing Wanhua. In the face of these pressures, communities in Wanhua have had to rely on their collaboration and communal work to help provide the recourses that are no longer present.