Yesterday I went to the DPP rally in Taichung to hear DPP Vice Presidential candidate Su Tseng-chang (pictured above) and Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh speak, as well as scoop up some paraphenalia and soak up some good DPP feeling. My wife went with but one goal: to shake Frank Hsieh’s hand.

Outside the rally site the betel nut stands were bracing for action.

Slowly the crowd trickled in, with people bused in from all over south-central and central Taiwan.

Slowly the place filled up.

This being Taiwan, no public event can be without vendors.

And more vendors.

Thousands of empty seats quickly got taken. We located ourselves next to the aisle where we thought Hsieh might pass on the way to the stand. My wife stood ready to grab that Presidential hand.

Plenty of old people, with a leaven of the young. It was gratifying to see a few the young people, but I wish there had been more.

The rally opened with singers.

The crowd listened, and sang along.

Cameramen from several networks were there.

As were flag waving supporters.

And airhorns aplenty.

The DPP faithful go nuts over a speech.

A women’s organization brought along their stalwart supporters.

The place was packed, with people standing out in the park and hanging on the fences.

Two legislative candidates acted as emcees for the evening.

Drums are a key presence at any political event.

Yeh Chu-lan, once mentioned as a possible Veep candidate, speaks to the crowd. She asked the young to come out and vote for Hsieh.

After her came Freddy of the metal band Chthonic, one of Taiwan’s better known international voices.

Accompanied by a group of young people.

Some real characters out there yesterday.

And plenty of loud signage.

Su came out to speak. He’s an excellent speaker.

As Su spoke, security watched.

Su gestures.

The DPP faithful wave their flags as they roar approval.

Finally, Hsieh appeared. But he foiled my wife, making an entrance from the side. When could she shake his hand?

Hsieh is also a first-rate speaker with plenty of passion.

The evening ended with candlelight.

Hsieh again frustrated my wife, taking off down the wrong aisle! Quickly we ran after him! The crush was tremendous — you can just see Hsieh caught up in it on the center-right as everyone wanted a piece. We flowed with the crowd out the gate….but couldn’t get near Hsieh. No handshake for my wife….

We stopped as the policemen rearranged the crowd to permit Hsieh’s caravan to back through — finding ourselves right at the front. Hsieh’s car came to get Hsieh and he ran up to get in, stopping to grip my hand and those of a few other nearby supporters. My wife wailed in frustration. Hsieh jumped in the black car. He looked directly at me — I smiled back and flashed him a thumbs up sign — and suddenly the window came down and his hand shot out. Alone in all the crowd my wife was ready — she reached out and shook it. And then the hand disappeared and the window rolled back up.

“He shook my hand,” she said, turning to me, immensely satisfied. “Now he’s certain to win the election.”