Children of Orchid

A debrief on Orchid Island, and the People who call themselves Tao.

Just before nightfall in Green Green Grassland (青青草原), on Orchid Island.

Where orchids bloom

A map of Orchid Island. Note the evergreen centre of the island.
Goats make up the second most populous demographic after humans. They are considered assets for different elders by earmarking. Seniority between elders are based on the number of goats owned.

Whom the orchids bloom for

Beyond the cursory

HeiNiu’s electric blue gazebo. Image courtesy of Google and reviewer 邢瑞蘭.

HeiNiu: the seed

HeiNiu, Alssa, and I posing for the obligatory selfie.
A Tao warrior as found stenciled in HeiNiu’s home. The diamond above its head representing the spirit.
Here I am, rocking the traditional Tao bamboo helmet, cured fish skin armour, and combat knives.
Orchid Island’s resplendent Halloween-orange Pandan fruit.
Image courtesy of Newtalk, showcasing a traditional underground house. Centred in the picture are the storytelling rocks whereupon elders would recline on, surrounded by attendees, to regal traditions and stories.
A look inside HeiNiu’s traditional underground house from the first level. Note the window like doorways and the three rising levels.

When do we awake from these nightmares?

The lounging gazebos typically attached to every house. Note the extremely low overhang, built to withstand typhoons.
A ray of positivity.

The invisible threat

A quick aside: I knew coming into Orchid Island of the nuclear ordeal. It is by far the most pressing and controversial issue for the residents of the island, and any cursory research on the web would net you infinite results about the Lanyu nuclear waste facility. Despite this fact, I was still in disbelief when I saw in the town of Ivalino a large geiger counter, with big red buzzing numbers like a radio alarm clock. It hangs off the side of a building, as if an afterthought, steadily measuring and broadcasting for all to see the radioactivity within the nearby atmosphere. A stark, constant reminder of this invisible danger.

You will find these posters scattered about everywhere on Orchid Island. The words read: “Nuclear waste must leave Lanyu. The body may be destroyed, but the anti-nuclear spirit must never waver.”
This beautiful tropical paradise is in political purgatory, with the nuclear shadow looming over its very existence.
Photographs of protesters against the nuclear threat. Taken from the Lanyu Anti-Nuclear Bar.

Salu: instructing on a slipping culture

Video: Although this was not nighttime, Iraraley during the day still provides ample island peace and serenity.
Here I am, lounging in an Iraraley gazebo with Tao children. They wondered curiously where we were from. One of our most treasured memories on Orchid was engaging with a group of children in the night market, awkwardly dancing together while beaming smiles and enthusiasm at each other.
After dropping off our contributions to Kasiboan (咖希部灣), a non-profit recycling centre built by the Tao and run by volunteers.

Echo: of family business

Photographs of anti-nuclear protests as found in Auntie Echo’s Lanyu Anti-Nuclear Bar.
The patio area of the Lanyu Anti-Nuclear Bar, draped in fabrics and overlooking the Pacific.
After the seniors of Echo’s family left the party, the space was backfilled by the juniors and their family friends. All were extremely lovely, hospitable, fun people.
Video: Echo’s husband performing for the family.


The sun may set on the island, but it will never set on the spirit of the Tao.

A giant THANK YOU must first and foremost be given to Alssa. She is my partner, my human hard drive, my translator, and my enthusiasm machine. Without her, none of this would have been possible, including all of our interactions with the Tao. Second, to the wonderful folks on Orchid — ayoy. Your island is a blessing. Continue to fight the good fight. I hope that I have given your island the full justice it deserves, and that I did not misspoke, misrepresented, or misled in any way, shape, or form. If I did, I sincerely apologize. And finally, to Milly. The pup that never gave up.

If you like this content, please consider buying me a coffee!



I write for the future of web3. Comms at ChainSafe.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store