Sunday, September 04, 2005

Rice King 2005

Li Xian-long, an Amis from Chihshang, was named Taiwan's rice king last week for his Hegeng No. 2 organic rice. Chihshang is in the Eastern Rift Valley, and has won the competition three years in a row.

When Li was named the winner, he strode to the stage with both arms raised in the air shouting 'I'm an Amis! I am an Amis!' The Amis are the largest of Taiwan's officially recognized indigenous peoples and live primarily on the eastern coast. 100 kilos of Li's rice was auctioned off for 1.1 million NT$ although the China Times reports that Li will only receive about 30 percent of that. The rest goes to the local Farmer's Association.

A picture in the print version of the ChinaTimes showed Premier Frank Hsieh scarfing down a bowl of Li's rice. If my memory serves me correctly, the paper says that works out to be about NT$800 for one bowl of rice.

Chihshang itself is a kind of humdrum market town, but the surrounding countryside is beautiful. If you find yourself there you might want to visit the Chihshang Lunch Box Museum. This is in fact a moderately interesting musuem devoted to the history of Chihshang. There are some nice photographs of what Chihshang looked like 60 years ago--tree-lined streets with hundreds of people out shopping. A far cry from the barren, hot main street that runs through the town now. All the trees were cut down long ago, and the streets are empty.

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