Kenny Hsieh (謝老師)

Kenny with my son Herbie, behind the bar of his pub Mexico

Had I not known Kenny Hsieh, my life may have turned out a lot different. It was in his old bar Scorpions, the only decent boozer in Miaoli at the time, that I met my dear wife a couple of months after my arrival in Taiwan in 2001.

“I want you,” she said as I squeezed past her high chair at the bar en route to the toilet. Of course she denies it but that’s what she said. She was drunk; I was marginally more of a catch then.

Last Monday morning when she called  me at work to give me the news that Teacher Kenny, as he was known, had passed away at the way-too-young age of 65, I cried in the office. He was one of two close Taiwanese friends I made in my first few and sometimes lonely months. “James Two,” he continued to call me, years after One had left. I would sneak behind the bar to try and replace the Eagles with Zeppelin. “No, James Two,” he would remonstrate. “Issa good one.”

I will miss him tremendously. Miaoli will just not be the same without him. He was an institution.

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