Taipei’s Little Burma and the legacy of the KMT ‘jungle generals’

The distinctive red and yellow paving of Huaxin Street has been uprooted since my last visit. It’s one of those head-scratchers that define local government decision-making in Taiwan. “Why would they do that?” asks my younger son. Why, indeed? The design gave the road a pedestrian-friendly feel, a refreshing contrast with the rest of New Taipei City’s Zhonghe District – one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

It gets worse: My favorite buffet joint is out of my favorite spicy, dried deer meat. A triple whammy: “No pink drink!” declares the elder lad in disgust. He’s referring to this restaurant’s version of Falooda – or Indian ice, as it’s known in Chinese – gelatinous odds-and-ends swimming in a bright-pink, condensed-milk gloop. The grub is still decent, mind, if you can handle the oiliness of the curries; and the conversation alone is worth the trip from town.

Like most of the 40,000-plus residents of Little Burma, as the area is known, Audrey Chen ended up in Taiwan as part of the Nationalist government’s drive to “repatriate” Chinese-Burmese, most of whom had never set foot in Taiwan before. “I came here as a student in the 1970s,” she says. “The ROC government paid for everything. I was actually born in Guangdong, but my family went to Burma during the Chinese Civil War. When I arrived in Taipei, I already spoke Cantonese, Burmese and some English, but not a word of Mandarin.”

[Read the full article at The News Lens, here]

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