Consummate (adjective) – extremely skilled and accomplished; of the highest degree

(verb)- to complete, finish; to make marital union complete by sexual intercourse

My family and I went to Anping “Tree House” when I was home in Taiwan this month. The name could be misleading for it isn’t exactly a traditional elevated house built around the branches of a tree; instead, you get a better mental image if you picture a miniature version of trees at Ta Prohm at Angkor Wat.

Anping Tree House used to be a warehouse for Tait & Company, a trading firm established in 1867. Treaty of Nanjing, signed after the end of the Second Opium War in 1858, led to the opening of four ports in Taiwan (Anping and Dagou in the south, Danshui and Keelung in the north) to foreign trading. Tait & Co. dealt tea, camphor, and opium until the Japanese government arrived on the island and eventually removed all foreign traders from Taiwan in 1911. The Tait & Co. building housed a salt company before it became a museum as it is today. After the salt industry declined after World War II, banyan trees gradually took over the abandoned warehouse. Mature banyan trees have aerial prop roots that descend to the soil below and turn into woody trunks, which then become indistinguishable from the primary trunk.

When we visited Anping Tree House, there was a couple doing an engagement shoot. Although taking engagement photos is a very common practice in Taiwan, this couple wore traditional clothing of Taiwan’s indigenous people. Upon further inquiries from my curious mother, we learned that the couple belonged to the Paiwan tribe and that the wedding garment was passed down to the bridge-to-be from her mother.

Leaving the tree house, we followed along the nearby river to Anping Harbor where there was another couple in the middle of getting their photos taken. They rolled around on the beach in their white wedding gown and suit as if they were consummating their marriage. I learned not too long ago that the word “consummate” is pronounced KON-soo-mut when used as an adjective to mean extremely skilled but KON-soo-mate when used as a verb to mean completing a marital union.

As I gazed out to the Taiwan Strait, I tried to image floating oyster racks as merchant vessels from Europe sailing into a busy port. What would they make of this beached couple in western wedding attire? What would they think of the refitted merchant house and warehouse? Most importantly, would they try their modern products such as Pickles & Beef Flavored Noodles and Crystal Sugar Pear Juice?

Cambodia 060
Ta Prohm (from when my family visited 10 years ago)
Mum chatting up a Paiwan woman, the mother of the bride-to-be
Banyan tree
Doesn’t this 90-degree tree root look like something out of a Salvador Dali’s painting?
Looking out to the Taiwan Strait from Anping Harbor

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