This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Snake Alley, Taipei, Taiwan

You won't find this place on any of the other Taipei military blogs or websites. It wasn't around as a tourist destination back in the 1960s or 1970s.

Instead, this area was a loose collection of houses of ill repute for Taipei working men. There were quite a number of these throughout Taipei. Outside each one literally was a red light.

This one was just north of the famous Longshan (Lungshan) Temple. Today it has become a huge tourist attraction since prostitution is officially illegal.

Turning it into a tourist attraction took some creative thinking and construction. See the temple, market and surrounding area by clicking HERE.

It is called the Taipei HuaXi Tourist Night Market. It is almost two blocks long and it is fully covered. Some of these videos can probably be called bizarre, as some of the goods and services offered are quite strange. Just click HERE.

Here's why it is called Snake Alley. Snakes skinned!

The location of the southern entrance is just a little north and west of Longshan Temple. The red line shows the length of the market.

The southern entrance

These pictures were all taken during the day. Still, the enclosed roof can be clearly seen as well as the red lanterns.

Before night falls, traffic flows along this street as though it were like any other.

Here we are about and the end of the first block. The opening toward the second block can be easily seen.

The block 2 entrance

The market begins to open. The translator does a nice job on this one! 

We are nearing the end of block 2 here.

The market ends abruptly and the next intersection looms ahead.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ball Game, 1969

On July 20, 1969, the United States successfully landed an aircraft on the surface of the moon.

About a month later, something more exciting happened. Taiwan, The Republic of China, was sending its national baseball team to the Little League World Series for the first time.

The U.S. military bought into this in a huge way. Clubs, organizations and even coin and bill collection sites were found all over the American complexes to help send the 11 and 12 year-olds to Williamsport, PA.

And, miracle of all miracles, they won! The island went crazy and the Golden Dragon World Champions were paraded around all of Taiwan.

If this were the end of the story, then that would be a great finish. However the next  decade saw a temporary tarnishing of the Taiwan legacy regarding Little League baseball.

The rest of the world (namely the U.S.) became more than suspicious of Taiwan's representative teams. It seems as though it wasn't playing by the geographical, population, residential and age rules.

By 1975, all foreign competitors were banned for a year in order to comply with the Little League rules. Other countries were sending national teams as well, but none were winning like Taiwan.

After that matter was supposedly resolved, back came Taiwan with a fury. Later the team name was changed to Chinese Taipei for political reasons. However, the fans still waved the ROC flag.

In 27 years, Taiwan won the championship 17 times. The teams were dominant and the glory each champion brought to Taiwan was a boost to national pride.

This year's team is called Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei and it was eliminated after its second loss.

One last thing about the1969 team.

 I found a July 21, 2009 article in Taiwan Culture Portal  @http:// "Age of Glory: Taiwan's Little League Hegemony of the 1970s." It said "The final roster turned out to be a genuine national all-star team, composed of the best baseballers from around the island . . .the chance of being chosen as a member of the team was so small, it is even more difficult than getting into National Taiwan University, the best school in the country.

Champions listed
And more . .


Fans waving the ROC flag was a yearly tradition at Williamsport, or so it seemed.

This baseball museum contains much of Taiwanese baseball history.

Inside this museum is an area where all of the World Championship banners hang.

Among other things in this magazine is a section honoring that first championship team from 1969.

By 1981, the official name of Chinese Taipei was adopted by Taiwan. Mainland China, the PRC, objected to the continued use of the ROC flag by teams from Taiwan in all sports.

The flag above is the Olympic Flag of Chinese Taipei.  Depending on the sport, other icons may be placed where the Olympic rings are shown in this emblem.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shimending (Ximending) Taipei, Taiwan

Just jump into a cab and give your best pronunciation of the place. The drivers knew where we wanted to go anyway, so down to Shimending we would travel.

Although my friend had introduced me to the Silver Carriage and the Barbarian previously, these two destinations were a treat for my wife and me. Just drink the lemon juice to be safe.

Then we were off to a movie. We both liked the old Chinese martial arts films from the Shaw Brothers studios in Hong Kong where over 800 films were produced.

Just read the subtitles and the plot played out. There were other brothers, but the best known is Run Run Shaw. The man is still alive at 103 as of this writing.

When Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon became such a big hit in the US, we wondered what the big deal was as we had seen this type of movie decades ago.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that Cheng Pei Pei played Jade Fox in the film. She was a favorite back in 1968-69 as was (Jimmy) Wang Yu.

The American movies in Shimending were in English with Chinese subtitles.  

Taken from a taxi, this picture may be a theater or possibly an advertisement for a movie. 

Regardless, it's on the east side of Chung Shan North Road as we are heading south toward Shimending.

This picture has been scanned at least ten times, but a bad picture can only be corrected so much.

Taken from the pedestrian bridge leading down into the district, this photo shows the buildup of traffic and the open area around the entrance.

Here we are, ready to enter the theater district.

The Ximending entrance area as it looks today

For those of you who remember the Red House Theater, it's still there.

See it by clicking HERE.

These would be some of the most popular theaters that existed back in 1968.

This may have been the Lux Theater location, even back then.

WuChang Street was the heart of the movie district back in the late 1960s.

We saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, Oliver! and Bullitt at several of the Chinese movie houses.

Just as we were getting settled in our balcony seats to watch Steve McQueen, THE chase started. If you would like to see the reality of the chase, click HERE.

Blown up, it's blurry. But in CinemaScope, this is how the screen appeared. To see a Shaw Brothers movie tribute, click HERE. 

This movie we actually saw at one of the Shimending theaters. For a movie trailer from Golden Swallowclick HERE.

In this general area as well were the dance halls. Usually several stories up by elevator, they were mostly ballroom dancing places with an orchestra.

A fire trap for sure, the one I was in had no windows and not enough exits. My friend and I left in a hurry.

Last thing----check out some Ximending magic---click HERE.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Haggler's Row, Taipei, Taiwan

Unofficially known as The China Bazaar, Haggler's Row was the place to shop and be entertained during our time in Taipei.

For us, any evening planned for Shimending always began with a walk beside the buildings on Chung Hua Road.

The 8 buildings opened in 1961 and closed in 1992. The 30 years in between provided a place to shop for tourists and citizens alike. A place to live for the shop owners was also part of the contract.

Eventually, lack of parking and the construction of more modern shopping centers nearby spelled the end for The Chung Hua Market.

Any ride down to the bazaar always took us by the train station.

This photo shows most of The Row. It must have been taken shortly before it opened. 

Left of the first building at the top of the picture is the American Embassy.

The particulars . . .

Photo by Steve Callis; courtesy of

On a hazy day, this picture still looks great. The cab driver probably pulled over to the right curb. The camera angle and the view toward Shimending are excellent.
Photo by Steve Callis; courtesy of

Looking back from the previous picture is the traffic circle leading onto Chung Hua Road.

In the center of the traffic circle is the North Gate, a remnant from Taipei's past.

The city was surrounded by a wall with entrance provided by one of 5 gates. Three exist today.

This North Gate, however, is the only one that retains its original architectural style.

Today, the North Gate stands here. However, it has been relocated to the north and east where it stands next to an overhead expressway.

Kent Mathieu was walking toward the train station when he came upon the site of the old traffic circle location. To see it and its present resting place, click HERE.

Kent's walking tours can be found at YouTube under hawaiikent.

Notice the barbed wire down the length of the median. Imagine how many pedestrians were struck before it went up. 

My flash memory is of red and green jade being sold by many vendors as were records, particularly Chinese opera.

Too bad pictures don't come with sound and smell.

Taken from the pedestrian bridge at the Shimending entrance, this photo is looking back north toward the first building of The Row.

Taken from the same bridge, this picture shows the east side of Chung Hua Road, including the First Department Store (First Company Limited).

This wall is all that remains of the Chung Hua Market.

Today, you can see the train station in the upper right. Chung Hua Road is shown as Highway 3. Road 104 is the Shimending entrance.

The little green dots to the left of the road are tops of trees planted on the Haggler's Row building sites.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Happy Birthday To Us!

One August 3rd, 2010, this blog made its first posting.

After sending some pictures to another blog for several months previously, I got this idea that the Army needed Taipei area representation.

So, the lightbulb flickered on. With the encouragement, expertise, and advice from Kent Mathieu and Don Wiggins, TSA began scanning and writing.

That we made it through the first year is heartening. That so few Stratcom Army personnel have contributed is disappointing.

However, since we're still the new guy on the block, the hope is that as time passes, it will bring contributions from USASTRATCOM and any others who are interested and so inclined.