The Beginning of the Rainbow

My son Eli and I met up in Taiwan last week.  He was eager to visit The Rainbow Village while we were in Taichung.  Several reviews suggested it was too far off the beaten path to be worth the trip, but most people were highly enthusiastic.


I did a little research; sometimes the story of a place or object can imbue it with meaning.  This story goes way back, and knowing the story made a difference to me.  Huang Yung-Fu was born in 1924.  During the Chinese Civil War he fought for Chiang Kai-shek, and in 1949, he followed their defeated leader to Taiwan.

Hundreds of villages sprang up throughout Taiwan, providing temporary military housing for the veterans like Huang Yung-Fu and their families.  Some of the military villages had a thousand units or more. The temporary concrete houses became permanent homes for many. 


They were small and drab and time took its toll on the buildings.  Cities grew up around them, and the property became more valuable than the dwellings.  Developers started buying up the land. Residents were offered compensation and relocation if they would agree to vacate.


 Most veterans submitted, but Huang Yung-Fu resisted; he would not leave his home.


The old veterans’ community was gradually reduced to only 11 residences.


They wanted to tear down Huang Yung-Fu’s home too.  So he picked up a paintbrush and began to paint…


…and paint…


…and paint.


Bit by bit, wall by wall, his colorful murals expanded to beautify all the remaining residences.  


Local university students discovered Huang’s work and campaigned to save the village. What was left of the place became known as The Rainbow Village.  Authorities eventually agreed that it should be preserved, and it has since become a designated cultural area.


Mr. Huang, referred to by many simply as Grandpa, is now 94 years old. At a little table you can purchase post cards, magnets, and other products based on his work, the proceeds of which must surely provide a good living.


Grandpa was napping when we got there, but we’re told he often touches up his work, keeping it fresh and bright.


I am in awe. With the help from local students, through his art, a fragile old man rescued his home from destruction and urban decay.  He transformed his home into a vibrant tourist hotspot that also provides a good living.


Huang Yung-Fu has worked a kind of magic, real and powerful.  He has turned this…


…into this.


As surely as Huang Yung-Fu was going to lose his home, we are going to lose ours.  Imagine what would happen if writers and storytellers, visual and performing artists everywhere were to unleash their passion, channel their creative talents, and fearlessly use their superpowers to advocate action for environmental protection, humanitarian aid, civil rights and social justice.  Artist Favianna Rodriguez says, “Change the culture, change the world.” She quotes Abraham Lincoln, who said, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.”   It has happened before.  Sinclair Lewis, Pete Seeger, Miriam Makeba, Elie Wiesel, Anne Frank, Diego Rivera, just for starters.  It can happen again.  And it’s now or never time.

All images and words ©2016 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Magic.



    1. Thanks for stopping by, Richard.

  1. What a message. We have to fight. Hard to imagine. Glad you got to visit your son and what wonder and inspiration.

    1. Thank you, Lisa. I was so impressed with the village, more than anything because of the determination of this fragile old man who took on the authorities and won. We can’t roll over and give up.

  2. How lovely! He did great work.


    1. Thanks for the visit, Janet. He really has his own charming style–it’s a very cheerful place.

  3. F . a . s . c . i . n . a . t . i. n . g .
    Love your travel logs / journals. You’ve done it yet again. A wonderful tour and my runners aren’t pinching. 🙂 ❤ ❤

    1. Thank you, Tess. Had to laugh about the runners–been here, done that!

  4. Meg says:

    Oooooooh, so uplifting. Lovely post and the kind of magic I love. Thanks, Naomi

    1. Thanks for the visit, Meg. I love to see that magic working wonders in our world. I walked out of there so jazzed and happy for someone who found a clever and non-violent way to accomplish his goal and create a win-win situation. Sometimes the little guy DOES win.

      1. Meg says:

        Persistence, nothing succeeds so well. You really express ideas so clearly in your blog posts. A timely reminder for me. Thanks , Naomi.

  5. Carol says:

    What a colorful story, offering a feeling of cheer. I’m not sure what we are going to be able to do about our country, but we must try. Driving to town today, it occurred to me that we may well be in the midst of a civil war.

    1. Hi Carol,
      It is scary to me too. I fret and I am having trouble visualizing a happy ending, but we cannot remain silent.

  6. Wonderful message and photos. What an amazing man!! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. I appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to share your very kind response.

  7. Lucky you to get to go there. Beautiful place.
    Our soon to be son-in-laws parents are from Taiwan. An uncle came over during the revolution. We expect to get over there one day.
    I will ask Daniel if he’s heard of rainbow village.
    Have fun.

    1. Hi Carol,
      It’s in Taichung, which would be your gateway to Sun Moon Lake, if you plan to go there (also well worth the trip). I do hope you get to go soon. Taiwan was a place I’d never been to and I learned a lot. Am so glad I went, especially because I got to spend ten days with my son.

      1. My daughter and her boy friend went to Sun Moon Lake a few years ago on a trip. Daniel had never heard of Rainbow village. I suspect they will be our tour guides when we go. We will go to the ends of the earth to spend time with our kids. Lucky us to have adventourous off spring.

      2. If your kids are like ours, they do manage to stretch us out of our comfort zones, and that is something I have never regretted! I look forward to hearing all about your trip!

  8. Kathy Burklund says:

    Such an uplifting story! Love reading positive stories, especially at this time and with everything going on here.

    1. Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for the visit, and for sharing your thoughts. It is a very difficult time right now, and we need to find ways to move forward without rolling over and giving up.

    1. Thank you, Cathryn. I hope you are well!

  9. scillagrace says:

    There is magic in transformation, there is hope in beauty and truth! Thanks for sharing another wonderful and colorful story. ❤

    1. Hi Scilla,
      So true, so true! Thank you for the visit, and for sharing your thoughts–you always leave me with something to think about.

  10. Beautiful! Art sustains us.

    1. Hi Mary,
      It does, it does, it does. Where would we be without it? It is a light that shines through the darkness and often shows us the way.

  11. As usual, a lovely and thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing the story behind the village as I might have just quickly scrolled through if it was just photo.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your comment. The story is definitely the thing!

  12. Sue says:

    Great post, Naomi….a most uplifting story about an amazing person, and what a colourful place! I’m sure you are very pleased your son introduced you to this place 😀

    1. Hi Sue,
      Eli has an instinct for these things. He has written up some wonderful itineraries for the last couple of family trips. Thanks so much for the kind words, and taking the time to share your thoughts.

      1. Sue says:

        My pleasure, Naomi!

  13. Mary Brugh says:

    Thanks Mapmi, and Eli!

    1. Hi Mary! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  14. There’s nothing that brightens my day more than color. Beautiful shots, Naomi!

    1. Color can certainly lift up and brighten the spirit! Thanks for the visit, Jill.

  15. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Amazing Naomi, I bet you ‘re glad you went.

    1. So glad, Gilly! It is the things we don’t do that we more often regret.

  16. Thank you for the colour and the sentiment.

    1. Thank YOU–for reading, and for taking the time to share a kind word.

  17. Naomi says:

    What an inspiring story. It was definitely worth the visit!

    1. Hi Naomi,
      Honestly, it was just what I needed at just the right moment, when so many of us in the USA feel like we are trapped in the destructive aftermath of a train wreck we never saw coming. Expressing ourselves through our art might be the first step to starting a conversation, to inspiring someone else to speak out, or it might simply let others know they are not alone. And sometimes, especially on the local level, it is empowering, and an effective means to an end.
      Thanks so much for the visit and the kind word.

  18. What a wonderful post Naomi. I love this place. And Huang Yung-Fu. What an amazing person. We’ve long planned to visit Taiwan so I’ll make sure the Rainbow Village goes on the list.

    1. Hi Allison,
      I hope you get there soon! It was a place I knew little about, and I learned more from talking to the people than I did in any of the museums we visited!

  19. A wonderful story, Naomi, that shows the power of a creative imagination combined with committed young people! Love the colors. Thanks. –Curt

    1. Thanks, Curt. You have eloquently boiled that story into a memorable equation, from which can spring greatness and even happy endings. Goodness knows, we can use more of those!

      1. I am always a bit more optimist than pessimist, Naomi. If all else fails, I disappear into the woods. 🙂 –Curt

      2. Been tempted to do that myself lately!

  20. Mary says:

    Ah Naomi, how apt is so many ways for the Rainbow you are and bring to the world. Thank you.

    1. Hi Mary, Thank YOU for the visit, and for sharing your generous thoughts!

  21. prior.. says:

    Grandpa sure makes lively art / glad it was saved and and that they value this – interesting ending encouragement to use talents for environmental issues – hear hear!

    1. Indeed, yes! It is encouraging to think that we might actually make a difference with our art. Ruth Sawyer said that when we tell stories we touch the heart that the mind may understand. I think that is true of all the arts. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. prior.. says:

        And nice quote!

  22. Roy McCarthy says:

    Blimey you get around Naomi. This is a great story, thanks for telling it. There are a few people left that realise that worldly goods don’t bring contentment.

    1. Hi Roy,
      This is just the way things worked out. I had about a week from the time I returned from Scotland until I flew off to Taiwan, and the day after I flew home I had my sister Con fly in from Alaska and my adopted daughter Beata fly in from California for a costumed pilgrim Thanksgiving dinner. The timing could have been better, but it all went off like clockwork!
      Thanks for stopping by.

  23. This is so pretty Naomi!
    I’m back on wordpress after some years, and I just found your blog again.
    The place looks amazing. I have seen it because my brother did exchange in Taiwan and he went there, and I’m so jealous about it. The place looks so magical.
    Nice pictures!

    1. Hi Pablo,
      It’s so nice to hear from you! I remember your excellent blog and your stunning photography. I will stop by and see it. Thanks for the visit.

  24. Naomi, that is such a wonderful and inspiring story. It just goes to show that we must all keep a supply of colourful paints as part of our survival kit, just in case! That being said, I wonder if it would work in our culture where, sadly, art is often put at the bottom of the pile. I know that whenever there are government cutbacks in the UK, arts and culture are the first areas to feel the pinch, followed (shockingly) by social care.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for the visit, and for your thoughts on this. Art and social care–too true. When greedy tax dodging billionaires are put in charge of our government I hardly dare think about what will happen to our elders, our disabled, our very young and underprivileged over the next four years. Trying to have a Happy Holiday. I wish the best for you and your family now, and for the coming year.

    1. Thanks for the visit, Judith. Happy Hanukkah!

  25. Wow, that’s really a wonderful art!!! Great idea too!!! Happy New Year 🙂 !!!

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