Taiwan’s Peace Fest 2009 Review

This year’s Peace Fest was set in the village of Sanzhan in beautiful Taroko National Park. Now in its 5th consecutive year, Peace Fest 2009 was the best yet for many reasons. First, the location was unbeatable. With lush green mountains draped with wispy clouds and an azure stream as backdrop, the music and good vibrations filled the valley with the message of peace. The intimate atmosphere of the stage area seemed to make the music more enjoyable as well. There was an impressive variety of delicious foods made by local East Coasters. The most memorable thing from this year’s Peace fest for me, though, has to be the people from the village of Sanzhan (Pratan in the Taroko language), especially the children.

As we drove from sunny Taipei over the mountain passes toward Hualien, the sky became dark and chances of rain were looking quite high. Luckily, the rain held back as we ascended the windy mountain road to the village of Sanzhan, giving us plenty of time to admire the majestic scenery. I couldn’t stop admiring the layers and layers of mountains on all sides of us as we set up our tent. Although it did eventually rain for a while, the rain made everyone cozy up together on the benches.

I really enjoyed all the performances this year. The stage area gave the setting an intimate feeling. I have a feeling it was the beautiful green mountains. There was a nice variety of music this year that included rock (New Hong Kong Hair City), blues-rock (Tyler Dakin and the Long Naked Bottles), hip hop (THC), rock with a raggae/ska beat (Admissionaries, High Tide), aboriginal, and Godswounds, an Australian band in a category all their own.

The food seemed to taste better in this beautiful setting too. One of the most impressive things I saw walking by the food stalls was the image of a man chopping wood. I stopped and realized he was chopping wood for the home-made, wood-burning pizza oven that was welded to a traditional Taiwanese tricycle trailer. The guy introduced his business as Pizzatopia. Most nights he can be found in the Meilun area of Hualien selling delicious wood-fired pizzas on whole wheat crust. A guy wearing a “Fuck China” t-shirt walked by. I decided I HAD to take a photo of him in his fashion statement. He told me it would cost $200NT for the photo, so instead I bought some Jamaican Jerk Chicken from the stand he was running.

At dusk, the peace circle began. As I was busy shooting away with my camera at the people holding hands and bowing their heads, a man suddenly pulled me into the circle. He introduced himself as one of the local representatives who helped to bring Peace Fest to Sanzhan. At first I just wanted to be left alone to find the perfect shot of the peace circle. But being in the circle really changes your perspective. You let yourself become one with everyone and everything around you, including the chanting that transcended all language to bless the earth and everyone around us.

By now, the party was really hopping. Taxis pulled up one after another dropping off more Peace Festers. Locals from the village, young and old, also came out in droves and danced to the music. Even the local policeman grooved to the music with his lit baton! The children, too, formed a peace circle and danced an aboriginal style circle dance.

The party went strong until midnight, when the music stopped and the party moved to the camp area, where a drum circle started. I couldn’t sleep so I got up to join the merriment and got there just in time to get photos of more fire dancing. A friendly young guy with a strong Australian accent started chatting to me about the virtues of bringing a flashlight to the outdoors and informed me that everyone was high on mushrooms.

This is a village where all the kids run free and can truly be kids, a village where the older kids took care of the younger kids and everyone looked out for each other. In the morning, several young girls from the village took my 3-year-old daughter by the hand and led her to the playground to play. Someone’s grandparent walked by to keep an eye on all the children. From here it’s clear that it truly takes a village to bring up the children. The sense of community here really showed the spirit of Peace Fest.

I heard that turnout was lower this year compared to years past. This is possibly due to it being far away from the populous west coast. Still, I think it was a good turnout, and the setting just could not be more beautiful. I hope we’ll be back again next year.

About the Author

Chieni was born in Taiwan and moved to the States permanently when she was 12. This means she grew up both in Taiwan and in the US. Now she looks at Taiwan both as an insider and an outsider. She is an insider because she speaks the language and knows some of the customs. She is an outsider because she doesn’t always understand the customs. She has a beautiful little girl now to show off to her family and the locals.

3 Responses to “ Taiwan’s Peace Fest 2009 Review ”

  1. wow nice Pictures, the place it looks fun.

  2.  日本から小林隆二郎さんが風来と参加したと聞きました。小林さんは日本のフォーク界に於いて,唯一無二の貴重な反戦平和シンガーです。長い間、一貫してその唄うスタイルを変える事無くメッセージを唄い続けている貴重なシンガーです。恐らく彼のメッセージは言葉の壁で伝わらなかったと思います。とても残念です。出来れば彼の歌っている写真家、動画を載せてください。日本でもかなり多くのファンがいて、期待しています。お願いします載せてください。

  3. 日本の反戦平和歌手として貴重な存在。

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