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My Blog:

 

This is an ongoing blog documenting events and observations from my time living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

 

I may also throw in the occasion post on the challenges, and of course joys, of being a first time father.

 

I try to avoid writing about politics or football on here. But sometimes I just can’t help myself!

 

Comments are open to all, but please be nice if you can!

 

Please contact me if you would like to use any of the content of this blog elsewhere.

 

DS

 

By DS, Feb 15 2015 03:49PM

I haven’t written much about places I’ve visited so far on this blog. Mostly because Molly has meant we haven’t done all that much vising in recent months. That is all going to change in the months ahead (I hope) so I am going to try and write a bit more about the myriad of interesting things to see in do in Kaohsiung and Taiwan more generally.



Cijin Lighthouse


To start with I want to write about Cijin, the district of Kaohsiung located on a long, thin, island in the harbour. But as our planned visit was postponed, I am instead linking to this very interesting Taipei Times profile of Cijin to whet your appetites.


Hopefully we will make it there this week and there will be more to follow…



By DS, Feb 15 2015 05:48AM

So last night saw my first proper earthquake. Something when I lived in Camden shook a few things on shelves, but this was proper earth moving back and forth, car alarms going off, Richter Scale type stuff.


The US Geological Survey reported it to be a 5.9 magnitude quake with its epicentre just off the east coast of Taiwan near to Taitung. The Taiwan Central Weather Bureau measured it at 6.1. It was a very shallow quake, taking place only 15.7 miles below the seabed, which means the effects are intensified.



Details of the Quake from the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau


Fortunately the movement was primarily side to side rather than up and down, and therefore although a 5.9 magnitude quake can cause considerable damage, there appears to have been no major damage caused this time.


Although it happened at 4.06am, we were both up anyway with Molly, but it did wake most other people as well, which tells you something about the force of the movement.


Now I have done the earthquake simulator in the Science Museum in London which is supposed to replicate the effects of the quake which devastated Kobe, Japan in 1995 which measured 6.8 and was located at roughly the same depth. Trust me that is more like a fairground cakewalk than the real thing. The sensation of everything around you moving back and forth as well as you is very difficult to describe, and although rather nerve racking at the time, a very interesting experience.


Molly seemed to be totally oblivious to it of course, but then she is still pretty used to being rocked back and forth at the moment!




By DS, Feb 12 2015 07:17AM

All go here at the moment isn’t it!


This time drama at Kaohsiung Prison in the Daliao district of the city as six prisoners managed to access the prison armoury and stole automatic weapons and significant amounts of ammunition and took two members of the prison staff, Prison Warden Chen Shih-chih(陳世志)and Wang Shih-tsang (王世倉), the head guard of the prison, who happens to be a friend of Sally’s Dad, hostage.




The prisoners, who were all serving long sentences for crimes linked to gang violence and the triads, made various demands during the course of the 14 hour long incident, including getaway cars, but most were refused. They were however issued with palm-held TV sets and Kinmen Water (a VERY strong liquor).


One hostage was released after their list of five demands was read out on TV.


During the night, shots were fired on several occasions, including attempting to shoot down a camera drone flown over the prison by local media, who showed the usual levels of restraint and common sense while lives were at risk!


At 5.40am, the siege ended. It is thought they knew they had little chance of escape, and after this incident had little chance of ever being released and would quite possibly face the death penalty, and all six shot themselves. The remaining hostage was unharmed.


Needless to say the media frenzy has exploded again, but no-one seems to be asking the obvious question which surely has to be, why on earth is there such a thing as a prison armoury?


In the UK, prison officers do not carry guns and incidents on this scale are rare. If they do happen, the prisoners have little chance of getting hold of guns or any weapons beyond those they might be improvising. Such sieges do happen, but rarely end as bloodily as this.


Having guns in prisons is frankly asking for trouble, and it is a surprise such incidents are not a lot more common. Whilst those who have died were career criminals and no great loss to society, any deaths in such circumstances are tragic, and I would hope the policy of arming prison guards comes under very serious scrutiny now, along with the death penalty which I am fundamentally opposed to and undoubtedly played a factor in the tragic ending to this grim affair.



By DS, Aug 1 2014 05:45AM


Well, I had expected to be writing little more than whimsical musings, and posting funny pictures on this blog, but sadly I find myself writing again about tragedy, as the second major incident to impact Kaohsiung in a week, occurred last night.


Following the TransAsia Plane crash in Penghu, which departed from Kaohsiung and cost many citizens lives, a series of explosions rocked the City yesterday evening.


The impact of the explosions has been devastating in some areas, with whole streets collapsing, buildings severely damaged and cars overturned. Fires burned in some areas throughout the night.

Tragically, 22 people are so far confirmed dead, 4 of whom were firemen, and 292 are confirmed injured, with many people still missing.


An estimated thirteen major blasts occurred, along with scores more small ones, as what was initially reported to be a ruptured gas main leaking into the sewer system ignited. It is subsequently being reported that the cause of the explosions was a Petrochemical plant pipe leak, but nevertheless much of Kaohsiung finds itself without a gas supply this morning as quite sensible precautions are being taken.



The broadcast media here has once again been its macabre, voyeuristic, norm with some extremely graphic, personal footage being aired.


Many companies in the area have, disgracefully, insisted on employees going into work, despite the local Government declaring an emergency in the area, and advising people not to.


There will of course be investigations and recriminations. The KMT are likely to try and pin responsibility on the DPP Mayor of Kaohsiung, whilst if it does turn out to be a petrochemical plant pipe the ramifications for the company involved could, and should, be extremely severe. Some locals are even attributing the event to Ghost Month, which began last week, in which the spirits of the ancestors return to the world of the living.


For now, Kaohsiung is an unusually quiet and subdued city, as people nervously go about their business, and Cianjhen District begins to pick up the pieces and the search for the missing goes on.









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