#Taiwan Journal 6: Color of Money

April 24th, 2014, 11am

Money is weird. That’s how I feel every time I travel to a foreign country. Foreign money evokes discomfort. Colors are wrong, texture strange, and weight too heavy or too light. It doesn’t quite feel like real money, but plastic tokens at a roulette table in Las Vegas.

It was the same in Taiwan. The yuan (currency used in Taiwan) felt even weirder because every 100 yuan bill had a face of Sun Yat-sen (1868-1925), founding father of the Republic of China. As a middle school student, I read his biography, which left a lasting impression. He was born in Guangdong as the son of a farmer, moved to Hawaii as a student, and then worked in Hong Kong and Macao as a doctor. Many Japanese often forget this, but he was in exile in Tokyo from 1913-1916.

His face on the yuan compounded my discomfort. Every time I paid for something, I saw his face. To exchange 100 yuan (about 300 yen, 2 dollars) for a cheap bowl of noodle soup seemed wrong and indecent. On the high speed railway to Kaohsiung from Tainan, I looked at one of the bills carefully. He has a trimmed mustache and gentle eyes: “Huh, he’s kind’a cute.”

Sanna, Yiling, Ragini, Philippe and 7 others said thanks.

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Shu Kuge

Woodcut printmaker

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