riding the buses into taitung city a couple times a week (and eating breakfast at breakfast place just beside a bus stop) as i do, i get to see the patterns of travel from ‘atolan into the regional center. if i take the bus after the 6:30 – 7 am high school student rush, those who share the bus are generally senior citizens. often we greet each other as waiting at the stop or getting on the bus

“going into Posong, are you?”
“yeah. what takes you to Posong?”
“going to see the doctor!”
“ah, what’s wrong?”

every morning, there is a mass movement southward from ‘atolan and the villages north of here, and nearly everyone on the bus at this time is between the ages of 60 and 80

“going to see the doctor?”

“yes…was going to go to the market, too”

i’m not the only one engaged in such conversations–paising kiso haw? are you going to see the doctor–is probably one of the most frequent phrases one hears on the bus at this time in the morning

although having to go to the doctor was a feared drain on financial resources only a few years ago, now the movement of elderly people to the city to see the doctor is one of the features of everyday life here in ‘atolan. the seniors visit the doctor, look around or buy things at the market, or eat out in taitung city (posong) on the visits; generally, the former gives an occasion for the latter. because they take the bus into the city, friends and acquaintances from adjacent and not so adjacent villages also meet on their travel. indeed, it seems that the national health service has provided more than just affordable medical care but a new means for socializing

“what’s wrong?”
“a little bit of a cold”

there is a clinic in ‘atolan, but what is the point in going there? everyone is on the bus to posong…