Tay Chiang-bo was born in Chia-yi, Taiwan in 1918 during the time of Japanese occupation. The growing up years was not easy because all Taiwanese were treated as second class citizens in their own land. Despite the oppressive environment administered by the Japanese authoritarian regime, he excelled in school academically and socially. He was well liked by both Taiwanese and Japanese students and teachers. He eventually completed pre-med education at a college in Taipei, which eventually became the Taiwan National University later on. Then he went on to complete the medical school at Kyoto University. After he graduated, Japan was in the midst of the second world war. There was no means of transportation from Japan back to Taiwan. He was assigned to a military hospital in Japan till the end of the war. At the military hospital, he witnessed the ugliness of war. The pain and suffering that wounded soldiers sustained from the war was horrendous. With lack of hospital supply and medication towards the end of the war, he was left helpless in trying to treat many wounded soldiers. The image of a patient dying of excruciating pain never left him.
After the war, he came back to Taiwan. But the country has changed. The control of Taiwan war reverted back to China. The new administrator appointed by Chinese government ruled Taiwan with iron fist. The local Taiwanese rose up against the new authoritarian government. Riots sprang up in many large cities around Taiwan. The government tried to put down the uprising with brute deadly force. Thousands died, many more injured. The country became unstable. He and his newly wed wife decided to flee. They left Taiwan in haste to Thailand.
In 1947, they arrived in Bangkok with little more than a shirt on their back. With the first child pending and no means of supporting the family, the early years in Thailand was very difficult. Thailand medical community was very protective against medical foreign graduates. They set the bar for medical licensing exam for foreign graduates so high that few have ever passed. He spent many months preparing for the medical licensing exam. Eventually he passed. However, Taiwanese community in Bangkok was so small that it could not support his medical practice. Majority of his patients were Chinese immigrants from Tei-chew region. He quickly learned a new Chinese dialect. Once he mastered the dialect, his medical practice flourished.
His wife gave birth to four children. Raising children in Taiwanese culture in Thailand was not an easy task. The Taiwanese community was so small that the Taiwanese association could not give any assistance to its members. Every Taiwanese family was on their own. As a result, most, if not all, of the Taiwanese children could no longer speak Taiwanese once they enrolled into Thai school system. With the fear of losing Taiwanese culture in his own family, he enforced a Taiwanese language only policy at family dinner time nightly. With this policy, it allowed his children to retain some proficiency of Taiwanese language, which later on was proven to be very useful.
With little social opportunity available, he buried himself in his medical practice. He worked six days a week at the his clinic from early morning till late at night. At its peak, he saw more than one hundred patients a day. On Sunday he attended the largest Tei-chew christian church in Bangkok. He served the church in many capacities including providing a free clinic to serve under privileged members at the church. He was well liked and respected in the community he served.
In 1974, Vietnam fell to communists, then Laos and Cambodia followed shortly. The fear of domino effect spread to Thailand. The situation in the Southeast Asia region became unstable and precarious. In the late 1970’s, he decided to leave the medical practice behind and immigrated to USA. After many years of living in an oppressively hot and humid tropical climate in Thailand, he found the dry temperate weather in Southern California to his liking. In addition, there was a large Taiwanese community in Los Angeles area. He, once again, had an opportunity to immerse himself into Taiwanese culture that was missing when he lived in Thailand. He attended a large Taiwanese christian church in El Monte. There, he reconnected with many people he knew while he was growing up in Taiwan. He enjoyed the friendship and companionship of the new found Taiwanese community immensely.
His life story is a story of a survivor. Every place he has been, Taiwan (when he was growing up), Japan, Taiwan (after the WWII), Thailand and eventually USA, there were obstacles and challenges. He was blessed with a unique ability to overcome them all. His life is not always a smooth sailing. During the rough patches in his life, he manages to maintain an even keel outlook because he looks hard to find a daily little blessing and relishes it fully.(Phi 4:4)