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

Friday, November 26, 2010

We Live in Camera


     Do you feel that Taipei is a dull place in the winter time?  Do you find time hanging heavy on your hands with your social calendar at its lowest ebb and are you willing to pay any price for something to enliven your day?  Here is a solution to the curse of “Taipei tediousness.”

     Make a safari through the “greatest show on earth,” Taipei New City Park.  And be sure to take your camera because whether you spend an afternoon, an hour or only five minutes you will see sights that will make wonder additions to the “Taiwan memory” section of your album.

     I will let you in on a little secret first.  When you are travelling around the streets of Taipei -- or anywhere in the Orient for that matter – you learn the uncomfortable feeling of being self-conscious; being the focal point for thousands of pairs of eyes.  This is true!  But remember this, anytime you get an audience you earn an unforgettable opportunity to observe mankind.  Who has more fun than the monkey in the zoo -- whose enjoyment comes from watching the silly antics of the people hanging around the cage?  And the monkey can’t take pictures.

     So now we are in the park.  We came in through any one of the dozens of little “maze” entrances which are designed for what purpose I can’t imagine.  Armed with our camera, we are on our own.

     First there are the flowers and trees.  At almost any time you will find enough flowers to keep you in a “spring-time” frame of mind.  Even in the dark depths of winter, herbiage and blooms are alive somewhere in the park.  Walk past the fountains and statues; all of these are excellent picture material.  And, if you don’t like to take pictures, either camera or mental, of statues – there are always the children.

     One thing in Taipei for sure, you can always find plenty of kids.   Kids little, kids big, kids in various stages of dress and undress.  Kids playing on swings and teeter-tooters, kids playing marbles and kids just playing, sitting, fighting or just being kids.  

     They are noisy and impolite, they stare and whisper and giggle.  And, if you are on the bulgy side, like myself, they will puff out their cheeks and giggle the louder.  They are friendly, however, and you will be surprised to find how many of them speak English in varying degrees from the limited “hello, how are you?” style to conversation that can surprise and astound the listener.

     And they do provide a lot of enjoyment for a casual wanderer who is just looking for something to fill up a dull day.

     And let me tell you something else.  When you feel that you are ready to return to the boredom of your home, don’t be surprised to find that the few minutes you intended to visit in the park have, in some mysterious way, gone into hours.  Whether you have taken pictures or not you will always have a part of the Far East, of Taiwan, and of Taipei that will never leave your mind, your memory – or your heart.

     And it’s even more fun next time!

Reprinted with permission
Joe Brooks writes of the "Taipei New City Park" as it was in the mid 1950s.  The park and atmosphere of those days has changed considerably since Joe's article, but the memories never change of Taipei and this wonderful country. 

I had an earlier Blog post discussing the park. You can read that post HERE
A Wikipedia article about the park can be seen  HERE

To better understand Joe Brooks and this series of articles, please read a previous Blog post HERE

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving in Taiwan - UPDATED

Gobble some Thanksgiving Turkey and sweets

In Taiwan, we hear little of Thanksgiving Day.  During the past couple of weeks a few small advertisements have appeared in the TAIPEI TIMES Newspaper, but that's about it. Most were for a "basket" of Thanksgiving food to be taken out.  I asked a couple of the large hotels about Turkey on Thursday and found they were serving the meal, but not advertising the fact. 

Last week I flew to Hong Kong, leaving Taiwan in order to reload my visa count-down clock with another 60 day charge of visiting time in Taiwan. It's a problem that pinches me every few weeks.  There is no solution other than finding a full-time position or marrying. 

I came across these Thanksgiving reminders in the shopping area basement floors of my Hong Kong hotel. The Turkey sign stood just inside Jasons Market.  We have a number of Jasons Markets in Taipei also.  Their headquarters is in Hong Kong.  I found Campbells Chicken Noodle soup in their Hong Kong store.  Can't find it in Taipei. 

The ad, for a prepared Turkey Dinner will set you back HK $419.00 which equates to approximately US $56.25.

 A couple of weeks ago I was in the local Costco store not far from my apartment, (there are 3 stores in Taipei, and others down-island)  to stock-up on ice cream (wonderful "real" half gallon tubs) from London UK, and my other "got to have" snack, Lays Tortilla Chips exported from the CONUS. 

Just by chance as I made my way from the fruits and vegetables toward the check-out counters,  I noticed this frozen turkey facing out of the freezer window. I never  dreamed  frozen turkeys would be available in Taiwan.  Thank you Costco...

I didn't purchase a bird; maybe next year if they have "Butterball's"

As I think back to the old days we spent in Taiwan, I'm reminded that every mess hall and military club on the island went to extraordinary lengths to provide us with the best home cooking available each Thanksgiving.

If I remember correctly, didn't the military clubs provide free dinners to club members on Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Those Taiwan days were some of finest most of us experienced in our military careers.
If you live in the right area of Taipei, you can get the Turkey Day football games on the Asian Spots Network.  It's one of the (HD) channels on the cable company serving my apartment.    

  Here is the schedule for the Turkey Day games in the CONUS , which will begin in the early hours of Friday here, live games, and they will later rebroadcast some of the games without commercials or time-outs.

Our best wishes to you and your families.

Tsi Gen from Taipei

Update a minute after I posted this Thanksgiving story:

I just noticed the "hit counter" had a unique number on the visitor count:
Bravenet Counter Stats

Visitor counting began 2 April 2008

Thank you for visiting the blog, I hope I can keep providing good things from the past and updates from today for many years to come.....  

UPDATE # 2 - Thanksgiving Evening - We had our Thanksgiving Dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel this evening.  It was wonderful.  I ate too much!

UPDATE #3 - Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims - Rush Limbaugh's "The True Story  of Thanksgiving" can be read HERE.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Taipei Air Station and Outside the Gate - 1966

Wonderful new photos recently received from Richard Reesh.  

Richard worked in the TAS Finance Office from 1966 to 1967 before he was reassigned to CCK to assist with the huge buildup of incoming personnel in support of SEA.

I love the two photos of Taipei Air Station, these are so clean and clear after 45 years of waiting to be shown again.

Richard took slides and their quality is superb.  

Don't forget to click on each photo to see them fill your screen.

You're standing on the upper balcony of the barracks, looking down on the
pool, you can feel the coolness of the water as the warm sun bathes your body, 
all of your instincts draw you toward the cool waters.... 
327th Air Division Headquarters Building with flags flying.

Everything fit together at Taipei Air Station, it was, a fantastic assignment.

On-going construction -  photo taken from opposite side of the barracks balcony. 

I believe some of this 1966 construction still stands today.
Can anyone ID what offices these new buildings housed.

Diana Ross and the Supremes - Club 13 - October 1966

Outside the gate, across the street looking toward the traffic circle -

And here's your taxi

Cash running low, you can always negotiate with the Peddi Cab owner for a ride to the bus stop

Sometimes you end-up walking.
Enjoy your walk, lots of people passing by 

What did you say?  You can't help but love these kids...

It's tough being a youngster, but, when you gotta go, you gotta go......

Many thanks to Richard Reesh, Taipei AS and CCK Air Base.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010 - UPDATED

We honor all Veterans today, those fallen, those passed and those with us... 

To each of you who reads this, I say,  Thank you !

God Bless our country....  

Here's a video recorded at Arlington.  

and here's another that touched my heart....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CCK Finance Office Trooper Needs Help

I received a note from Richard Reesh.  Richard was assigned at Taipei Air Station from 1966 to 1967, reassigned to CCK in January 1967 and returned to CONUS in August 1967.

Richard worked in the Finance Office at Taipei AS and CCK.

One of his duties at CCK was to fly back and forth to RVN to deliver pay checks to CCK folks who were in-country on TDY from CCK.

There was a “saying” I remember from the 1960’s.  We were young, broke most of the time and  when we were lined up to cash our paychecks, you would often hear someone in the line mouth off,  “Time for the Eagle to crap.” I guess the old sayings faded as direct deposits came in.

Richard wasn’t an eagle, but he and his buddies delivered the goods in the form of a government pay check every payday, and they flew over from CCK every time.

Richard told me he had no priority on any flight to RVN,  he was just like everyone else, sit at Base Ops and wait for a C-130 heading for RVN and hope you could get on.  When you arrived in country, find something going your way and jump on.

What a life we lived back in those days, and most of us would probably do it again if given the chance...  I would.

Richard is stuck in a typical government “got cha” predicament

He has filed a VA Claim and they have asked for proof of his duty in RVN.

No problem if you were in RVN on PCS orders, but if you flew in and out on constant TDY orders nothing showed up in your personnel files, TDY was never recorded any place in your records.  You had to file a Travel Voucher on each trip to recover what ever you could for your trip, but those were temporary records that got destroyed after a short period.  And who of us kept a travel voucher?  We got a few dollars and change and threw the payment voucher in the drawer only to throw them away when we PCS’d. 

Richard is in a bind. 

His military records at St. Louis have nothing on any TDYs from CCK to RVN.  His pay records cannot be located. He has nothing in his personal files to prove the TDYs.  What do you do?

The VA told him if he could find someone who was stationed at CCK who knows of his TDYs to RVN, they would accept an affidavit attesting to his travel to RVN delivering pay checks.

Richard was at CCK from January to July 1967.  He remembers these men in the CCK Finance Office who worked with him, Tony, Alan, Carl Putman and Carl Sheply.

Can anyone help Richard?   Many of us have experienced the paperwork drill with the VA; I hope someone will remember Richard Reesh from CCK.

If you have anything that might help Richard, please email us here at the Blog: 

Must See:  A few posts farther down this page you will find 2 wonderful CCK Videos!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sungshan Airport is Now Taipei International Airport

Back in our Taiwan days, most of us arrived and departed via Sungshan Airport (TSA) military side, depending on when you were in Taiwan, you may have used the civilian side on occasion.

In 1979, after our closure and departure from Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (CKS) was opened on the west side of Taoyuan AB, a 45 minute to one hour drive southwest from Taipei.

After the Chiang Kai-shek facility opened, all international flights were moved from Sungshan, which you will remember as being close to downtown Taipei to the new international airport.

Sungshan was then converted to serve only Taiwan domestic flights.

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Ramp

Some years later, Chiang Kai-shek International Airport was renamed Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, they still carry the CKS identification.

This past weekend, Sungshan Airport, was renamed, Taipei International Airport (TSA)  and the first International Flights from and to other Asian airports began.

Here's an article from the TAIPEI TIMES on the first day of operation at the newly renamed Sungshan Airport.

 Terminal at the old Sungshan now Taipei International Airport

Those of you who resided in the FASD Hostel in the HSA East Compound must be rejoicing with me that we are no longer living in the old hostel.  The Hostel is long gone, but the area is once again experiencing  the deafening noise of large jet aircraft dropping out the sky on final approach to Taipei International Airport.

The Taipei Floral Expo opens this week.  The folks visiting the Expo areas on the old East Compound area will be thrilled and frightened the first time a lumbering jet roars over their heads..

Taipei is forever changing... for the better..