Welcome to Hsinchu

Day 2 (Sunday, 18 March)

We arrived in Hsinchu mid-morning and wandered around the city center where the Hsinchu City God Temple (新竹城隍廟) is located.

Before noon, we regrouped to meet Grandmaster Cheng’s sons and students at the younger son’s residence. The next moments of madness were a blur. I recall circling the neighborhood to find a street wide enough for our bus, sounds of drums and cymbals reverberating through my brain, a lion dance under way, Qing dynasty style hats being passed around, a large “Welcome YMAA” banner hanging over the doorway, and smiles and hugs all around.

I grew up in a small, quiet suburb in Massachusetts, raised by low key Taiwanese-born Chinese parents. This welcoming spectacle was at once exhilarating, slightly embarrassing, and yet, simply wonderful. I’m generalizing, but in Chinese culture there is a dichotomy between the quiet, industrious individuals conforming to social norms, and the boisterous celebrations honored by the community. If you’re a friend of a friend, you’re automatically like family.

(Put your mouse over the image and click on the right side arrow to see the slideshow.)

By the way, this welcoming party is not typical when visiting Taiwan.

Due to Dr. Yang’s father-son like relationship with Grandmaster Cheng and his dedication to preserving the knowledge and wisdom attained from his teacher, Dr. Yang’s visit was kind of a big deal. There was equal gratitude shared between the hosts and visitors. Originally, Dr. Yang planned for us to have lunch before the reunion. The Chengs refused. Heaps of food were prepared and required consuming. We gladly obliged. There was no way eating at a restaurant could beat having delicious, homemade 油飯 ("oily" sticky rice), fish balls, soup, daikon, and freshly made moachi 麻糍 (sweet sticky rice).

Each of us was given a custom made hat bearing the name of Grandmaster Cheng's lion dance team "武安" (Martial Peace).

Maybe a first thought was, "Nice, a new hat!" or, "Cool, I used to perform lion dance!" No, it wasn't just a hat. It was a small connection to a humble farmer whose name might have been forgotten. A man who probably had no idea how he would shape the life of Little Yang, and in turn, thousands more. Two words summarizing his way of life Our way of life "Martial Peace"

(Grandmaster Cheng (far right), Dr. Yang (back row, 3rd from right), and classmates, 1965)

As delicious as the food was, we (sort of) minded our portions and prepared for the inevitable demo to follow. Why are demos often scheduled after a delicious meal? It's beyond me.

Before departing for another location, our hosts literally stopped traffic, brought out the drums and fireworks sound producing machine, and performed lion dance again. It was awesome to be a part of this but next time, I’d be happy with just the presence of our hosts. And food :)

#travel #martialarts