Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Friday, October 29, 2010

From a Yankee Notebook " CALORIES PERSONIFIED"


Duncan Hines never had it so good.

Here in Taiwan there is the most amazing conglomeration of food items offered to folks that has ever been gathered together.

I will save the larger restaurants and more exotic foods to talk about at some other time.  For today, I want to take you where angels and the more timid natives of the island, fear to tread.

How many times have you passed through the streets at night and seen the little handcarts topped with a glass-inclosed box that has a small lamp burning inside?  And seeing this cart, at the same time your nose has become entangled with the most fragrant odors; odors that tantalize and enchant, stimulate and attract.  And having heard the little bell on the handle ringing and the attendant calling out the strange sound of his wares, have you entertained a desire to try, just once, some of the food?

Sometime, take yourself up on that dare.  Gird your loins, wave aside all thoughts of paregoric and similar antidotes for the Taiwan "curse" and launch yourself into a real adventure in good eating.

Here are a few suggestions:

"Huin tun," silk-thin strips of dough wrapped around infinitesimal dots of meat and vegetable, spiced and seasoned to the perfect degree.  Dropped into boiling, clear broth for a few moments and then lifted steaming and fragrant into a bowl that leaves them swimming in a pool of their own juices; pass the chopped onions please; just a sprinkle, and "heaven at last."

"Chao tse," second brother to the "huin tun," a heftier, solider brother and loaded with chopped meat, spices and just enough vegetables to  compliment the taste.  I  like a little vinegar with these, but  if  you prefer the saltier taste, try some "chiang yu" or as you probably know it better, "soy sauce."

If this diet seems a trifle pallid, spice it up !  There is a tray of boiled eggs, fresh from the farm and soaked in soy sauce brine until they are the color of ripe olives.  Sliced with just a touch of bean-curd, they add sparkle and zest to whatever you might have chosen before.

Supplement the first dishes with a few slices of roast beef which has been slowly browned with a constant basting of sugar and sauces.  The result;  try it and see.  For, how would you  know that the flavor, by some mysterious process known only to those who prepare this delicacy, goes through-out the meat - even to the very center.

You have to be an early riser or a late go-to-bed-er to try this one.  The little stands you see between two and eight o'clock in the morning parked along under the arcades with steaming pots of what looks like milk, but is really bean-curd whey. This is called "chang;" why I'll never know - but I don't care because I just eat it.

You can have it this two ways.  Sweet? this is very simple - two or three heaping spoons of sugar in a large bowl and in goes the "Chang."   Presto - you are served !

If you like it salty the process is more complicated.  A pinch of this, a handful of that; some crumpled slivers of dried meat, a bit of dried shrimp for flavor together with soy-sauce, red-pepper sauce and oil and there it is.  Like it ?

But the secret of eating "chang" either sweet or  salty is to eat it in the company of the first cousin to the butter-waffle, the oil slick or "yu-tiao."  These clever twists of dough are squeezed together and dropped into a vat of boiling oil which makes them puff up  like a proud French doughnut.  Brown and nutty-sweet, they  go might good with almost anything, but especially with "chang."

And the really sophisticated people never eat their first two "yu-tiao" alone.  They make a sandwich with "shao ping," a folded, browned crust of bread, the center of which is lightly sprinkled with oil and chopped, green chives.  With a "yu-tiao" folded twice and crushed between the slabs of "shao ping" you are really eating in style.  Would you like another bowl?

The cost of this feast?  I almost forgot to tell you.  If you ate some of everything I have described for you, and two men couldn't; if you asked even for seconds on the particular dish you liked best, and finally handed over a ten dollar bill, "Taiwan money that is" - you would still get a dollar back in change.

It's wonderful to eat like a gourmet for the price of a tip in a "ham-'n-egg joint back home, where you  really have to worry  about grease and ulcers and indigestion.

Let's have another "yu-tiao."

Reprinted with permission.

Let's review Joe's food suggestions, here are a few photos.


"Back in the Day" you may have been on a Taiwan street, late at night or early in the morning,  sitting at a table or standing close to a food cart having a dish or two of these tasty entrees....  Mmmm good!    Not-withstanding most food carts were "off limits" during much of our time.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another Walk on the HSA Sidewalks along Chun Shan North Road

I want to up-date everyone who has followed the on-going construction in the old HSA East and West Compounds as the opening of the Floral Exposition draws near.  Things are coming together.. 

In addition to an update, I wanted to video the US Flags atop of,  what I believe to be the new United States Floral Expo building in the East Compound.   

I took a still photo of the flags high atop the new building a few days ago, you can see the photo in an earlier post farther down this page. 

To my dismay, they had removed the two flags sometime after I photographed them earlier in the week.

I open the first video talking about the location of the OLD HOUSE that served as the Linkou NCO Club back in the day, then walk north along the sidewalk along side the East Compound.....

I ran out of card space.  I put in a new card, walked across the street and started a new video, below, as I walked back down the street. .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

English Newspapers in Taiwan

I love to read newspapers.

Every day I pull out NT $30. ($15. each) to purchase print editions of -


Every morning, both papers print 20 pages on older large size presses.  It takes awhile to read through each paper; you eyeball the headlines, cruise through the articles and then begin reading.     

The third Printed Edition newspaper in English is the -    
This morning I opened the TAIWAN NEWS site to find they had a new web page, really quite unique.  Listen closely or you'll miss the English introduction.  It's certainly different, and how about the music...
If you've never paid attention to the TAIWAN NEWS, here's an opportunity to Bookmark or add a Favorite to your computer.

The Stars and Stripes is not available in Taiwan.  But, it's just a click away on the computer.
Since we're talking about newspapers, you might have missed the.. PDF Edition of STARS and STRIPES.  Here's the link is to the Japan (Okinawa) Edition.

Happy reading.......

I have no relationship with any newspaper in Taiwan.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Name From the Past - Joe Brooks

As an avid listener to our military radio station in Taipei, Armed Forces Network Taiwan (AFNT), I often heard the name Joe Brooks, the station's program director.

I remember one of his radio programs on AFNT was broadcast in the early evening on Friday or Saturday. 

Joe’s mellow voice captured my imagination  as he related stories and yarns  he remembered from his days in the US Army in China during 1946-49. I don't remember any specific stories, but I do remember how interesting they were.  How I wish those programs could be available today.

He would reminisce about incidents in this life, but more often, he would spin old ghostly stories of China, which always raised the hair on the back of my neck. He was a master of presentation. If you paid attention, you were quickly drawn into his stories. Soft Chinese music floated in background, adding realism and foundation to his words. Folks who grew up before television were familiar with storytelling on the radio and Joe’s stories quickly captured your imagination.

Fast forward to 2005. I am getting up in years and have spare time at home. I begin to explore the Internet looking for information of Taiwan and particularly the US Military in Taiwan. I find some information, but nothing on the many US Bases or MAAG Taiwan, in English.

After a number of months agonizing over whether I should begin a web site, I finally find the courage to begin work, and soon open a web page.

On Double 10 Day, 雙十節, 10 October 2005, I officially open a new Web Site, Taipei Air Station.

One of the areas in the Taipei Air Station web site is titled, AFNT Radio. I really had little to put into this area and asked if anyone could provide photographs or stories for inclusion. Unfortunately, I received little or no response. 


I understand why. Over the years, there were few military folks assigned to AFNT. 

Let’s say there were 30 military people assigned to AFNT, 30 may be too many, but we will use 30. I believe the station was opened in 1951 and closed in 1979. That is 28 years.

If 30 military folks left Taiwan every 2 years that would mean that approximately 420 people served at AFNT over the years. I am not counting civilians, many of whom were Taiwan Nationals.

So, 420 military folks, many who were in their 20’s when they arrived, others were older.

If folks were in their 20’s in the 1950’s they are in their 80’s today and many of the older folks have already passed. 

Trying to dig up history from the past is difficult no matter where you look.

 I was talking to a friend who mentioned Joe Brooks and his book, From A Yankee Notebook in Taiwan. I had not read the book. I remembered the Joe Brooks name, and I was familiar with Joe’s radio program.
As luck would have it, I found a copy on the Internet and bought it.  

After reading the book, it occurred to me that his articles, once published in the CHINA POST Newspaper would be of interest to readers of the Taipei Air Station web site and Blog.

Before I could publish his stories I needed to get permission from Joe Brooks. I had no idea where to look for him.

By chance, I ran across a new Blog, Armed Forces Radio. One of the articles was about Joe Brooks.

I left a comment on the Brooks article. Some time later, I was back on the Armed Forces Radio Blog and saw a new comment on the Brooks article, a comment from Joe’s Grandson. As it turned out, his grandson was also living in Hawaii, and to my surprise his father, one of three boys Joe had adopted, was also in Hawaii.  The three of us got together and had a wonderful time.

One thing led to another.

On a recent trip to Taipei, I stopped by the CHINA POST office where I was told another of Joe's sons, Gordon was working.

I took a long route to find information about Joe Brooks, but it was a journey filled with wonderful stories and a joyful beginning of meeting new friends.

Many of you folks have never heard Joe’s radio stories. During my meetings with Joe Brooks’ two sons and grandson, I asked for permission to publish some of Joe’s stories in “From A Yankee Notebook in Taiwan.” The book was published in 1955. All of the articles originally appeared in the CHINA POST  between January 1954 and 1955.

Joe worked at the CHINA POST first as a writer, later a general editor and finally City Editor.

Joe writes in the book's Preface about the stories in his book. 

“In those days the paper needed a column of some sort; something which could capture the heart of Taipei on paper and give it to the people in some sort of readable form. I have put into words for many readers, the sights, scenes and emotions they have observed and allowed to go otherwise unrecorded.”

Paul Kuo whose illustrations accompany Joe’s articles, with a few strokes of his pen, has captured the entire essence of a scene or emotion, depicting the charm and atmosphere of Taiwan as it was.

Maybe you have something to relate concerning Joe Brooks.  Please add your comments.

We will publish Joe's first story in a couple of days.  A hint to it's subject, late night snacks......

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BREAKING: Stars & Stripes Flys in HSA East Compound

 Who could imagine that the Stars and Stripes would fly high in the old HSA East Compound?

No, it's not the new  American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) compound.  Good guess though.

Here's the proof, there it is!   A photograph I took on Tuesday, 12 October 2010.   

I believe the building, under construction, is the United States' Hall for floral exhibits, a part of the Taipei Floral Exposition., opening 6  November.

Our exhibition building is located on the corner at the south end of the east side of Chung Shan North Road inside the old HSA grounds.  It would  have been close to the APO, and if you were in Taipei in the mid 1960's close to or on the site of the old Shu Linkou NCO Club, when it was operating out of an old house.  

The building in the right upper side of this photo is the, now restaurant,  a hotel building back in the day, when we pulled out,  that sits on the north east corner of Chung Shan North Road and Min Zu East Road.  

I'll keep an eye on the United States Hall and post a full update when the Floral Exposition is opened to the public in early November.

As a number of you asked, I ventured up to the Keelung River on Chung Shan North Road and attempted to walk down along the river to the area of the old USTDC Headquarters.
The road and sidewalk are closed because the area has been taken by the Floral Exposition. 

Guards have the road and sidewalk barricaded.  I tried to talk my way in.  The guard kept  pointing to a sign which apparently announced closure of the area.

I gave up and attempted to get into the area through the Museum entrance.

You can watch my walk around the area in a video.

It's posted HERE.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Double 10 Holiday Today - 10-10-2010

 How many years has it been since you were here to celebrate?

Photos from television this morning.  

Here, the Reviewing Stands just in front of the Presidential Palace.  
From this angle its hard to see the Palace. 
One of the towers is seen under the number 99 on the screen.

Look around the Presidential Palace/Office Building  HERE

We ventured out for lunch around noon.

Beautiful Taiwan Flags lined the sides of many streets.

The Howard Hotel is off in the distance.

Overcast but warm weather, a sprinkle this morning.

Yesterday we had  lunch at a restaurant close to the Main Railroad Station.
The food was tasty, you would have enjoyed these.  Center dish with spoon on left side is pork with tofu and green onions.  Directly  above are sweet potato greens with garlic.  The dish next to the greens is Kung Pao chicken, and the dish in the lower right is sliced beef with green peppers and onions.  Rice,  hot tea and fresh fruit rounded off the meal. Um mm-good!

Today is also the 5th Anniversary of the Taipei Air Station Web Page.

Please take a look at our new photograph of Taipei Air Station.

You'll want to spend a few minutes back inside the gates and walking around the area.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

School Eyes Military Dorm "UPDATED"

Part of my daily routine these days in retirement mode is reading the Taipei Times and China Post Newspapers.  This morning I found an interesting short piece concerning "former US military dormitories on Yangmingshan."

I'm wondering what type of "dormitories" they are really writing about.

Could these be old barracks or are they referring to houses used by families.  

You can find the story  HERE,  it's the second article, titled:  EDUCATION.

I would like to call every one's attention to the new TAIPEI TIMES web site.  Take a look around when you're up there on the military barracks article.

Quite a change from their old site, and it appears that they've also upgraded their servers. 

No more long waits for one of their stories to load. 


In a "Comment"  left below, someone identified the area scheduled for renovation and eventual  housing for mainland students as area "F" on this map.  .