In Taichung, a spider takes a break.

Haven’t had any spider pics for a while. I know that missing part of your life is now fulfilled.

Tainan is full of interesting older buildings.

What’s out there on the blogs? The devilishly handsome Erik Lundh, who broke hearts all over the eastern seaboard when he flew out here on a quixotic mission to spare me, or perhaps my readers, from blogging about economics, has a couple of good posts on China-Taiwan economic relations on his new blog: a review of the new economic plans, and an economic take on Ma’s speech. A-gu, as always, follows the legislature and its latest bills as well as the DPP’s shadow government. Mark Harrison, as always, has an excellent and well-written piece on the media and Taiwan’s democratization. I thought the first of Ma’s promises to be broken would be the promise not to import Chinese labor, but it looks like it is the promise to achieve 6% growth. And one more from A-gu, who is on a roll: the KMT wants to subsidize political parties at $NT50 a vote. ROFL. Salon commentator and Taiwanophile Andrew Leonard is not happy with the selection of Paul Wolfowitz for the US-Taiwan Business Council.

A vendor sells pineapples in Tanzi.

My good friend Fili has some beautiful shots of the cosplay hobbyists out in force at NCKU. Johnny Z goes to the Hakka districts in Meinung.

Women enjoy a morning chat in a Tainan park.

J Michael calls for aid to go to Burma, not China. Mark has a good post on an investment analyst who argues Taiwan is a great place to invest (good to see Mark’s moniker on this blog again). Save the Dolphins excoriates the outgoing DPP admin on the environment and expresses hope for the incoming.

Taichung at dusk.

Jeff Miller explains Giant’s islandwide bike rental program. My Several Worlds goes to Yangmingshan. Barking Deer has an incomplete but extremely promising list of their summer hikes. Hopefully I can hook up with them for at least one. Stephanie at Tea Masters goes to the east coast for tea.

Scooters rest in front of a Pizza Hut in Tainan.

On the lighter side, check out this video of a UFO in Taiwan. And Mormons reach their 100th congregation here. Taiwan’s new representative to Fiji is, well, different. But lest we imagine that the US is better, in the land that leads in Nobel prize winners, one in eight high school science teachers teaches the nutcase claim of creationism.

A vendor waits by the roadside in Fengyuan.

In addition to ignoring Japan, Ma Ying-jeou didn’t point to any of Taiwan’s neighbors. Yet the China-centric Ma could take a lesson from this Bangkok paper:

In the past several years, Thailand has not paid enough attention to Taiwan, unlike other Asean countries such as Singapore and Vietnam, which continue to engage the island. Doubtless, Taiwan’s investment in Thailand has dwindled greatly compared to the past decade. Instead, Taiwanese businessmen now prefer Vietnam and its favourable political environment. Today, Taiwan hosts the largest number of Thai overseas workers - 120,000 last year. Any change in the foreign labour quota would affect Thailand, particularly the Northeast. Already, Vietnamese labourers are increasing in number. The Thai government should not be complacent concerning the new dynamic in Taiwan. More attention and effort should be given to Taiwan.

Speaking of other countries, Taiwan’s relationship with the Solomons encompasses experimental farms.

Tainan in the early morn.

MEDIA: American Spectator has a piece on the fresh air in the Strait. Tom Plate loves Ma’s speech too. LOL. Our Defense minister subscribes to the nutcase belief that Chen’s assassination was staged. If you own a bicycle, backlights are mandatory, and 70% of the locals don’t know. The number of unmarrieds is increasing in Taiwan. Go East, young men! Taiwan’s new econ minister says top priority is relaxing restrictions on investment in China. CSIS offers a cautiously positive assessment of the incoming administration. Jamestown Foundation has new stuff on China’s oil (smoke and mirrors). Our Fair Island may be a pariah, but there is support for Taiwan’s journalists into the UN. Although, given the quality of the media here, perhaps the UN is wiser than we think…

Watermelon season strikes my local supermarket.

INAUG-O-RANTS: And after years of refusing to pass a stimulus bill even though the KMT claimed the island’s economy was bad, suddenly we’re going to get a big one.

Remember the nutcase claim that Mad Chen© could do anything before Ma’s inauguration? Spark a war, refuse to step down? Where’s that claim now? Having done its job, it’s down the memory hole. The gullibility of the people who repeated it is frightening.

Tainan schoolchildren start their long day.

SPECIAL: San Francisco thinks our subway kicks ass. Commonwealth Magazine has an exclusive interview with new DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen.

And don’t miss this long musing on the death of a landmark Taiwan poetry journal.

Fraud is now so common here that Post Office ATMs now carry warnings.