Before attending the Pasta’ay in Wufeng I spent the day in Qingquan village (清泉). I met Sandy early in the morning in Zhudong and she drove me up to Qingquan. Sandy is my classmate at NCCU and she is a teacher at the Taoshan Primary School (桃山國小) in Qingquan.
Qingquan is an Atayal village located in Wufeng District, Hsinchu County at an altitude of around 600 metres. It is the last major village on the road. Beyond it is the Shei-pa National Park (雪霸國家公園) and the Syakaro Historic Trail (霞喀羅古道).
After a brief tour of the Taoshan Primary School I crossed the river to the Catholic Church. There I met Father Barry Martinson (丁神父). I have read Father Barry’s book Songs of Orchid Island and it was very interesting to meet him in person. I purchased another two of his books, Chingchuan Story and an illustrated bi-lingual children’s book The Fish Boy of Orchid Island (蘭嶼的魚男孩). He also showed me another book he was working on that will be published soon. It is about San Mao (三毛; Echo Chen) who was a friend of Father Barry and often spent time in Qingquan.
I asked Father Barry to describe some of the changes he had seen in Qingquan over the past 33 years. He said that one of the major changes was communication. When he first came to Qingquan there were no phones and the road was very poor. Now people have mobile phones and cars or motorbikes. This has lead to people being more individual in their way of life rather than centred on community. Another point he noted was the people no longer suffer as greatly from poverty. The National Health Insurance scheme has relieved people of a lot of burden.
Wandering around the village there were a number of interesting things to see. The Yawee Stained Glass Studio makes stained glass windows for churches in Taiwan and also as artwork. A lot of the designs are done by Father Barry including the Atayal man and woman in the circular frame pictured above.
At lunch time I watched some of the students in the primary school practice their music. They have recorded a CD titled “Lawkah! Momoyama!” (桃山小學的夏天音樂課). The music is very beautiful and the recording is of professional standard. The students have also travelled to the USA to perform.
The students also love to play with this spinning toy. I don’t even know what it is called. [Update: Tim Maddog informs me that they are called diabolos.]
There was a lot of work going on in the village associated with the Zhang Xueliang (張學良) Memorial Hall. The hall is set to officially open next month. Zhang Xueliang is a famous figure in the history of China. He kidnapped Chiang Kai-shek in 1936 to convince him to join with the Communists to fight the Japanese. Later Chiang Kai-shek arrested Zhang. He spent 50 years as a political prisoner coming to Taiwan with the KMT in 1949. He was held in Qingquan during the 1950s.
San Mao’s home is currently undergoing renovations. Once completed it will be open to the public.
The photo above shows some damage done to the retaining wall by Typhoon Jangmi. Qingquan suffered very serious damage from Typhoon Aere in 2004 which killed 20 people.
The day in Qingquan passed so quickly. It was such an amazing place with so much to experience and discover. I hope to go back there again soon.