Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: `Walk Against the Wind' comes to an end

JOYOUS JOURNEY Participants were touched by the kindness of well-wishers who gave them encouragement, fed them and sometimes joined in

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of a group taking part in the ``Walk Against the Wind'' march to show their support for Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh yesterday set out from his campaign headquarters in Banciao City, Taipei County, yesterday. The 400-strong group left at 2:28pm to commemorate the 228 Incident.

PHOTO: HUANG LI-HSIANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Tears, excitement, warmth, friendship, tiredness and even sickness were experienced by participants in the "Walk Against the Wind" march that started in Oluanpi (鵝鸞鼻), the southernmost tip of the country, and finished yesterday in Taipei.

The march was initiated by 12 young people, including former National Youth Commission chairwoman Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) on Feb. 5 to support Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷).

Along the way, supporters gave participants high fives and hugs. Many joined them on the way, expanding the team to more than 200 people yesterday.

"[On the walk] I found Taiwan to be a very, very lovely place," Sam Lang (郎恩祺), a 23-year-old graduate student in Canada, said. "You can always find something touching everywhere in the country."

Lang said that he was especially touched to see elementary or senior high school students leaving their classrooms to cheer them on.

"When I was in high school [in Taiwan], the teachers never allowed us to show an interest in politics," he said. "But it's different now -- I see hope for the country in these young students."

Although many people lost weight during the walk, Lang gained 2kg.

"People fed us really well along the way," he said, with a big smile on his face. "During the walk today, when people lined up along the roadsides were giving us high fives, someone put a meatball into my mouth all of a sudden," Lang said. "I was surprised, but I felt touched."

A college student who wished to known only by her last name Hung (洪) and one of the original dozen, said that the spirit of some accompanying walkers made her cry.

"I remember once when we were in Changhua County, a very, very old lady who could barely walk insisted on joining us. As we were walking fast, she tried very hard to catch up." she recounted as she walked on Zhongshan N Road in Taipei towards Zhongshan Soccer Stadium, the end of the journey.

Although the walk was harder for the old lady, "she tried to show her care for us by putting a candy into my mouth," Hung said.

Henry Yen (嚴江龍), also among the original dozen, was shocked when he realized how little he knew about Taiwan.

"We visited many places where key events in Taiwan's history happened -- but I never heard of those places before," Yen told the Taipei Times during an interview at the stadium.

Yen injured his knees four days into the trip, but continued to walk regardless of the pain.

"I couldn't give up. How could I?" Yen said. "I had to carry on after all the support and good wishes we got from supporters along the way, I just couldn't give up."

Friendship among walkers was also an important support.

"Many of us started out as strangers, but became best friends along the way," Yen said. "We got together every night to share what we saw and felt during the day and give support to each other."

Besides joy, sorrow was something that Lang felt at the end of the journey.

"I feel a bit sad because I know that it will be a long time before I can run into high fives and hugs from strangers again on the streets," he said.

There was also appreciation.

"A lot of supporters along the way thanked us but actually we owe much more to them. We really want to thank them for their support and the warmth they showed us," Yen said.

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