“These are the times that try men’s souls.” The words of Thomas Paine (1737-1809) are still relevant if not more relevant today. Come visit Thomas Paine Cottage Museum if you are in New Rochelle, NY. The last residence of the man influential in the American Revolution could inspire you.
This mini gate is located in Pingtung City, Pingtung County, Taiwan. It is inside a small park where my mother used to take me to play and roller skate. When I was little, I never noticed it. Even my mother who grew up in the city didn’t pay attention to it. It is indeed a very old gate built in 1836, when Taiwan was part of the Qing Dynasty’s Imperial China.
The gate is called 阿猴城門, literally “Monkey Gate,” since “Monkey” was Pingtung’s old name. It belonged to a whole structure of the old town of Pingtung, but when the Japanese took over Taiwan 1895, they tore down the city walls and the main gate. The only thing left is this gate, which is the eastern gate of the old town. How do we know that? On top of the gate there are three Chinese characters, 朝陽門, which means “morning sun gate.” When a person in the old times went through this gate from the west side, he had made an exit.
This gate is the best part of my grandmother’s home town. There are very little green space and old architectures left in the city. There are shopping malls and motorcycles everywhere. The old Pingtung which I enjoyed as a child has completely disappeared. But there is this gate, which I just discovered. It sits in a park which could be noisy at times, always looking peaceful, perhaps meditating, and smiling at everything around it.