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Centered P u b l i c a t i o n

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S e r v i c e s

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on T A I P E I April 2012, Volume 12, Issue 7

Off the Beaten track BeIshI stream old traIl

Important announcement from the center YanshuI BeehIve fIrecrackers festIval to decant or not to decant? a chat wIth the chaIrman of the Board vegetarIanIsm glossarY the hunger games

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April 2012 volume 12 issue 7


importAnt Announcement from the center


richArd recommends nAtionAl theAter And concert hAll: April 2012


culturAl corner Education in taiwan


center GAllerY


off the BeAten trAck BEishi strEam old trail


festivAl Yanshui BEEhivE FirEcrackErs FEstival


let’s Go a housE madE oF PaPEr

14 15

communitY tas his


events At the center


profile thE art oF crEating JEwElrY


coffee corner shilin and da-an


expAt perspectives do You want to BE mY FriEnd?


tAipei uncorked to dEcant or not to dEcant


tastEs oF taiPEi


cAsuAl dininG @PEacE caFE


csc news FrEd voigtmann sPring Bazaar


9 10 16




chAritY orPhanagE cluB nEws


chinese kitchen chinEsE PancakEs


the center’s fAvorite finds


humor othEr ForEignEr awkwardnEss


courses At the center


cAsuAl dininG vEgEtarianism glossarY


events ABout town


Book review thE hungEr gamEs


GenerAtion Y is tErtiarY Education worth it?


word from the director


communitY Groups


csc Business clAssifieds worship directorY

26 Centered on Taipei is a publication of the Community services Center, 25, Lane 290, Zhongshan n. Rd., sec. 6, Tianmu, Taipei, Taiwan Tel: 02-2836-8134, fax: 02-2835-2530, e-mail: Correspondence may be sent to the editor at tw. Freelance writers, photographers and illustrators are welcome to contact the editor to discuss editorial and graphic assignments. Your talent will find a home with us!


Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner. April 2012

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An important announcement from The Center Publisher: Managing Editor: Editor: Co-editor: Advertising Manager: Tel: Fax: email:

Community Services Center, Taipei Steven Parker Kath Liu Richard Saunders Paula Lee 0926-956-844 02-2835-2530

Writing and Photography Contributors: Leat Ahrony Suzan P. Babcock Mark Caltonhill Sifen Chang Ivy Chen Aly Cooper Dylan Graves Monica Hess Aaron Hunter Katya Ilieva-Stone

Amy Liu Kath Liu Kristen Lowman David Miller Mark L. Peterson Richard Saunders Kari Schiro Ciza Srivatsa Valerie Vlasaty Fred Voigtmann

Community Services Center Editorial Panel: Siew Kang, Fred Voigtmann Printed by: Farn Mei Printing Co., Ltd. 1F, No. 102, Hou Kang Street, Shilin District, Taipei Tel: 02-2882-6748 Fax: 02-2882-6749 E-mail:

Community Services Center Director: Steven Parker Office Manager: Grace Ting Counselors: Suzan Babcock, Kris Carlson, Fawn Chang, Wendy Evans, Cerita Hsu, Perry Malcolm, Tina Oelke, Ming-I Sun, Cindy Teeters Newcomer Orientation Consultant: Accountant: Communications: Programs Coordinator: Events Coordinator: Chinese Teacher:

Amy Liu Monica Cheng Kari Schiro Rosemary Susa Bianca Russell Gloria Gwo

Volunteers: Alison Bai, Shana Garcia, Robin Looney, John McQuade, Linda Mendenhall, Gloria Peng, Ruth Reynolds, Jenni Rosen, Julia Ruggiere, Kari Schiro, Sandra Schnelle, Desta Selassie, Michelle Smith, Anita Town, Lillian Yiin Premier Sponsors: 3M Taiwan Bai Win Antiques BP Taiwan Ltd. China American Petrochemical Concordia Consulting Costco Wholesale Taiwan Crown Worldwide Movers Ltd. Four Star Int’l Grand Hyatt Hotel, Taipei HSBC ICRT Metacity Development Corp Nokia Siemens Networks ProQC San Fu Gas Co. Ltd. Smerwick Ltd Songfu Li Standard Chartered Bank

The Community Services Center (CSC) is a non-profit foundation. CSC provides outreach and early intervention through counseling, cross-cultural education and life skills programs to meet the needs of the international community in Taipei. CSC offers the opportunity to learn, volunteer, teach and meet others. Check out our website www. and drop by The Center to chat with us about our programs. You can also email us at

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Dear Friends of The Center, It is with regret, thanks and congratulations that I write to you on behalf of the Steering Committee of the Community Services Center to inform you that Steven Parker will be stepping down from his position as Director to take up a position as the Country Manager for Regus workplace solutions effective April 16th. I say with regret because he is leaving, with thanks for a job well done, and congratulations on his new position. Steven has dedicated himself over the last four years to making The Center a place where everyone is welcome. He has brought new activities and new events and new communities to The Center, and introduced systems and technology to help in its day to day running. He has made The Center a place that not only supports the International Community in many different ways but also reaches out and supports all communities when the need arises. But the question that always needs to be answered when dealing with change is “what now?” The good news is that Steven is not leaving Taiwan and we are pleased and grateful that he wants to remain involved with The Center as much as his new position will allow him. Steven has agreed to help as a voluntary advisor in the short term and, in the long term we hope, as a member of the Steering Committee. And as we work through the transition we have asked one of our Steering Committee members, Michael Boyden, to assume the mantle of temporary Acting Director and – with Steven acting in an advisory capacity where required – he will work closely with Center staff over the coming weeks and months as we look at how best to fill this gap. It is likely that we will begin doing a search very soon – and there will be announcements made when this happens – but in the meantime we are confident that with the Steering Committee actively overseeing, Steven acting as advisor, and the wonderful staff of The Center continuing to do what they do so well that The Center will be in good shape. Again we wish Steven well and we look forward to seeing you at our next activity. Regards Fredrick N. Voigtmann Chairman of the Steering Committee Community Services Center

Kath Liu Editor

Richard Saunders Co-editor

Paula Lee Advertising Manager

Centered on Taipei is printed on 50% post consumer waste content stock. We have also replaced the glossy laminated cover with a softer aqueous based resin coating which makes it easier to recycle. By committing to post consumer paper stock we support the market for recycled fibers and reduce environmental impact. Recycling paper uses 60% less energy than manufacturing paper from virgin fiber. "Every ton of recycled paper saves enough electricity to power a 3 bedroom house for an entire year." ( April 2012


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national Theater & concert hall


april 2012


NatioNal theater

taipei Symphony orchestra

RichaRd SaundeRS

returning to olympus

Music by Tchaikovsky and Korngold april 19 rr


m o n g s e v e r a l s t a n d - o u t re c i t a l s a n d c o n c e r t s at the CKS Cultural Center this month is one which goes by the unfortunate title of ‘Live Horn Show.’ Happily though it’s notable for more than a slightly dodgy name. The above-mentioned April 13th recital (in the Recital Hall) is one of two in which Ex-Berlin Philharmonic French horn player Radek Baborak plays a selection of well-loved music for his instrument. Baborak takes one of the two horn parts in Mozart’s innocent piece of fun, A Musical Joke, which was possibly intended as a satirical jibe at some of the composer’s more inept musical contemporaries. The piece is melodically as rich as you’d expect from Mozart, with a few good gags, including some (intentional) wrong notes, but it’s the famous ending, which collapses in a heap (with the six instrumental parts playing in four different keys simultaneously!) that is truly startling. On April 15th, Baborak is also soloist in the second (and best!) of Richard Strauss’s two horn concertos, in a wonderful program that also includes a pair of fabulous orchestral showpieces: Respighi’s gaudy, gory Roman Festivals, and Ravel’s magnificent Rapsodie Espagnole. Roman Festivals (Feste Romane, 1928), the third of the composer’s wonderful trilogy of symphonic poems inspired by Rome, is a Technicolor extravaganza depicting the great city at its most picturesque (an evocative depiction of a religious procession) and its most grotesque (the opening Circuses section, set in Ancient Rome, which depicts – I kid you not! – slaves being thrown to the lions). Ravel’s depiction of Spain (a country which fascinated many Frenchmen from Bizet onwards) is a rather more subtle affair, although it too gets pretty excited in its virtuoso final section. The concert’s solitary oasis of calm is provided courtesy of another work by Ravel: his much-loved Mother Goose. Originally a suite of five exquisite little pieces for piano duet, with names such as Tom Thumb and the Fairy Garden, the suite was later orchestrated by the composer and even turned into a ballet; in all three versions, it’s an absolute classic. Talking about ballets, the National Symphony Orchestra’s Stravinsky season continues this month with a highly contrasting pair of middle-period masterpieces, Les Noces (‘the wedding’) and Apollo. Although the concert appears to be targeted at a family audience (the ballet music, played live, accompanies performances by puppets and people, on stage together), a word of warning is in order! Stravinsky’s musical sensibility changed immensely in the seven or eight years separating his first ballet, The Firebird, f ro m L e s N o c e s , a n d t h e v i b r a n t R o m a n t i c o rc h e s t r a l colors of the former work give way in the latter to the gaunt, austere sounds of four pianos, percussion and a small ensemble of voices, which declaim their words in a stark, ritualized manner that’s weirdly hypnotic. Reviewing the London premiere of Les Noces, Critic Alfred Kalisch apparently went so far as to say that the work is "enough to convert intending brides and bridegrooms to celibacy." In short, although this is absolutely fascinating music, it’s not conventional family material!


Puppet theater to the ballet music of Stravinsky april 21 – 22 rr

tap Dogs The hit tap dance show returns to Taiwan april 25 – 29

NatioNal CoNCert hall Die Singphoniker … Just Songs … april 1

isabelle Perrin and Shannon Chieh Music for harp and orchestra april 2

tchaikovsky and Shostakovich The fifth symphonies april 8

Cello and Piano recital Music by Bach, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Schumann april 11

rosycloud’s Children’s Concert Classical and popular orchestral favorites april 21

Chen ts’u tse Vocal recital Various classical songs, arias and folksongs, with ensemble accompaniment april 22

tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition april 25

all and None about love Berlioz’s masterpiece Symphonie Fantastique april 26

l’ensemble de Clarinettes de Paris Music for clarinet quartet april 27

Fu ts’ong Piano recital

irina Mejoueva Piano recital

Works by Scarlatti, Schubert, Beethoven, Liszt and Debussy april 28

Music by Chopin, Debussy, Ravel and Medtner april 12

Christoph eschenbach and National Symphony orchestra

Sato Shinobu Soprano recital

Beethoven's Symphonies 5 and 7 april 29

Arias by Puccini, plus Italian and Japanese songs april 14

rapsodie d’or Orchestral showpieces by Ravel and Respighi, plus Strauss’s Horn Concerto no. 2 april 15 rr

rr: richard recommends

the Baroque Music Garden iV Music by Handel, Locatelli and others

reCital hall the Golden horn Classics for French horn by Mozart and Beethoven, plus pieces by Martinu and Turner april 13 rr

For full details, please log on to the Culture Express website at or take a copy of the monthly program from CKS Cultural Center, available from MrT stations, bookshops and ticketing offices. publication of the National Theater and Concert Hall schedule in Centered on Taipei is sponsored by Cathay life insurance.

TICKETING OFFICES: • NTCH: (02) 2343 1647 • ERA: (02) 2709 3788

april 2012

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2012/3/27 10:33:06 AM


Amy's ultural Corner

Education in Taiwan


was amazingly impressed when I first arrived in Taiwan to find that many of the admins in my Taipei office have a Master’s degree from America or Canada! Then I later realized it’s also true in many other multinational offices. Indeed, Ta i w a n e s e a r e t y p i c a l l y h i g h l y e duc a t ed. P r a ctic a lly ev er y o n e in Taiwanese society places great e m p h a s i s o n e d u c a t i o n, a n d evaluate an individual by his or her credentials. Confucianism has had a deep influence in the formulation and d e v e l o p m e n t o f t h e Ta i w a n e s e e d u c a t i o n s y s t e m. C o n f u c i u s established that examinations promote social status, and anyone who could survive the rigor of study and examinations would be guaranteed to follow a path of upward mobility. As a result, education has always been a major concern for the Taiwanese, and most parents pay close attention to their children’s education and enthusiastically participate in their schoolwork. Furthermore, earning advanced degrees overseas is encouraged. As a result, family expectations cause excessive competition and stress for students. Students are often well taken care of at home so that they can concentrate ‘only’ on studying, and they are not expected to participate in either house chores or sports. At present, Taiwan’s educational system begins with two to three years of preschool and kindergarten combined, followed by nine years of compulsory education, including six years of elementary school and three years of junior high school. After finishing compulsory education, students in Taiwan encounter two pivotal points in their studies that determine their future education. First, upon graduation from junior high school, students are required to take entrance examinations for s e n i o r h i g h s c h o o l. S e c o n d, t o receive post-secondary education,

students have to take the Joint College Entrance Examination or other national exam. These tests are highly competitive. Due to intense competition for good schools, parents often put children in schools or learning centers called bǔxíbān (補習班) after regular school until about 8 or 9 pm. Basically these places offer more of the same schooling after regular school hours. There, they study more math, Chinese, sciences or English to make sure they can catch up with or be ahead of their classmates. Students are also ranked, starting in first grade, according to their overall academic scores. At the end of each semester, each child is well aware of his own status in the class. Moreover, Taiwanese children do not have relaxing summer or winter breaks. Though presently there is generally less holiday work set than before, students are still required to do summer and winter homework as well as complete reports and projects during the holidays. During the months of June and July students also take entrance examinations. Although during the past ten to fifteen years the number of private universities has grown rapidly in Taiwan and the chance of entering a u n i v e r s i t y h a s i n c r e a s e d, t h e examinations remain competitive for those who want to enter prestigious public universities like National Taiwan University (NTU), the best in Taiwan. In school, students are taught to respect the teacher for his knowledge and wisdom; listening, paying close attention and completing homework are viewed as the virtues of a good s t u d e n t; m u c h o f t h e l e a r n i n g process emphasizes memorization skills, which are needed to pass examinations. As a result, Taiwanese employees respect their manager like a teacher and hold him or her in high esteem. They also expect the manager to have all the answers; they do not challenge authority nor speak

their own opinion or thoughts. The education system creates an enormously competitive atmosphere that carries into the work setting. Employees are aware of each o t h e r’s e d u c a t i o n b a c k g r o u n d and qualifications, and everyone desires to excel and climb up the career ladder. Taiwanese are grouporiented, working harmoniously together to maintain a coherent work unit; however, they are generally not good at teamwork. I have heard from numerous foreign executives who expressed that teamwork was the most interesting and tricky thing to handle when working with the Taiwanese. Indeed, Taiwanese can be group-oriented in agreeing to do what the majority desires, simply to maintain harmony and save face. However, it can be challenging to expect a hundred percent from everyone when they hail from such a competitive upbringing. Every individual is afraid that others may move ahead of them. Consequently, each worker simply gives 80% of his best, just enough to complete the task and get the job done. Thus the term chàbùduō (差不多), meaning ‘it is enough to get by’, frequently expressed in conversations, is a common attitude in the work setting. The other 20% of wisdom and effort will be held back and called upon only in situations when it is necessary to prove him or herself. Taiwanese students certainly have a strenuous time in the Taiwanese education system; facing constant competition and long studying hours with the aim of graduating from a good university. Taiwanese respect those who have made it and obtained degrees in Taiwan. Therefore to motivate employees or to praise an individual, it’s important to start by acknowledging one’s educational achievements. Hopefully in the future studying in Taiwan will become less stressful and students will enjoy more breaks and spend fewer hours studying each day. april 2012

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On the Gallery wall this month we feature beautiful paintings from asida cheng. A member of the society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Asida's paintings are elegant and childlike. she uses pastel, watercolor, acrylic, and oil to create her artworks, which provide a feeling of peace, harmony and joy for viewers. A percentage of all proceeds of items sold at the Gallery go to The Center, so please remember that by displaying and shopping here you are helping us to provide much needed services to the international community.


On the Gallery table, dianne halliday once again exhibits a variety of fashionable jewelry pieces made from semiprecious stone and metals, and vibrantly colored bags which will go with any outfit.

April 2012

On the sideboard this month, Primrose vilakati will be displaying precious jewelry and specially designed scarfs. These items make great gifts for friends and family. All items are made with a passion for fashion and beauty.

April 2012

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A pristine landscape of rock and Water at Beishi Stream Old Trail


he countryside around Pinglin (坪林), best-known as one of Taiwan’s best tea growing areas, is also among Taipei County’s best-kept secrets. Thanks to a lack of public transport hereabouts, and the general remoteness of this little corner of northern Taiwan, these enchanting wooded hills and rushing streams of deep emerald green are surprisingly little visited by the weekend day-tripping masses these days. Freeway 5 (the Taipei to Yilan freeway) makes getting to the area from Taipei quick and easy, yet there are still tons of opportunities for spending a day here in remarkably scenic and pristine countryside, while seeing barely a single soul. With a good map of the area in hand, there are plenty of hiking routes to explore, but my personal favorite is the shortish but outstandingly scenic Beishi Stream Old Trail (北勢溪古道). Although it only takes about four hours to walk the main part of the trail and return by the same route to the car, to arrive to the trailhead from Taipei by car takes about two hours in each direction, so take your time and make a full day of it. After the quick and easy cruise from Taipei to Pinglin along Freeway 5, onward progress along local route 42 (a narrow, constantly winding road) becomes much slower. The scenery, however, is magnificent! Countless neat rows of tea bushes lining improbably steep, wooded hillsides, with the blue-green strip of the Beishi River winding snake-like through the bottom of the valley far below make for a beautiful drive.

Forty minutes or so after leaving Pinglin, you reach the trailhead, marked by a small temple and a stone Earth God shrine, standing beside the confluence of the Beishi and Wantan Streams as they combine to form a wide, deep and rather lovely pool known as Sanshui Tan (三 水潭). Leaving the vehicle here turn left, following a track across the Wantan Stream. A little further and the track crosses the neighboring Beishi Stream. Turn right immediately after crossing the bridge, and you’re on the beautiful Beishi Stream Old Trail. The route is easy to follow but wonderfully scenic, sticking close to the bank of the watercourse all the way, sometimes climbing high up the wooded slopes above, but nearly always remaining within eyesight of the pure, pristine water of the stream, which tumbles over several low, natural outcrops of rock which dam the water into a series of deep, still and very lovely ‘pools’ (a bewitching feature of several streams in the Pinglin area). Especially after heavy rain, these pools are easily deep enough for swimming in (or rather they will be, when the weather finally warms up!), and make a tempting destination on a hot summer day. Be discreet though, as the Beishi Stream is one of the main sources of Feitsui Reservoir, which supplies much of New Taipei City with its drinking water! To find out more about Beishi Stream Old Trail, visit Off the Beaten Track at http://taiwandiscovery.wordpress. com/.

Richard Saunders is a trained classical musician and writer who has lived in Taipei since 1993. He has written several books (available at The Center and in bookshops around Taipei), including Yangmingshan: the Guide (a complete guide to the National Park on Taipei’s doorstep) and Taipei Escapes I and 2, which together detail sixty day trips and hikes within easy reach of Taipei city. A fourth book, a guide to Taiwan’s offshore islands, is due out in 2012. April 2012

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2012/3/27 10:35:44 AM


Fire, smoke, excitement and chaos — this must be the Yanshui Beehive Firecrackers Festival! TExT & IMAGEs: KATYA ILIEVA-sTOnE


was standing in the middle of the crowd, wearing a full-body flame- retardant suit, gloves, a bike helmet and a towel around my neck. Not only that, but I was being interviewed by a TV station reporter, asking me where I was from and how did I know about the event. For a split second I looked at myself from a distance, realizing how strange everything was — me, dressed like that, the crowd (dressed just like me) and the TV reporter and camera. But the fact that I was the one answering questions, not the one asking them, seemed like the thing that was most out of place. Where was I and why was I dressed like I was ready for a battle? PrEParation A year or so ago we watched a show on t h e Dis co v er y C h a n n e l called “The Most Dangerous Festivals in the World”. At Number 4 was featured Taiwan’s Beehive Firecrackers Festival, held every year in the town of Yanshui, close to Tainan. What we saw were thousands of fireworks being shot at once, clouds of smoke, unbelievable noise, and hundreds of people standing right in front of the shooting rockets, jumping up and


down. Some caught fire and were quickly put out by firemen. “This is seriously cool!”, we thought, “We must go!”. Unfortunately, last year’s festival was just a few days’ away, so knowing that we needed more preparation (not more convincing!), we decided that we would go the following year. We purchased fullbody flame-retardant suits, full-face helmets, gloves, and watched any video of the event we could find on YouTube. When, talking to friends, w e m e n t i o n e d t h e f e s t i v a l, t h e y thought that it was about standing in the middle of thousands of bees. Once they learned that these ‘bees’ are actually beehive-like platforms stacked with thousands of fireworks shooting at the crowd, all of them thought that we had seriously lost our minds. ForEignErs in town We were probably the only guests of the 5-star Far Eastern Hotel in Tainan who were in town for the Beehive Festival. There is little information about the event in any media, so all we knew was the date — the 15th day after the Lunar New Year — the day the festival has been held for more than a century. We made inquiries with the concierge of the hotel, who

seemed surprised to see two foreigners coming to Tainan just for the festival. After a few phone calls he told us that the event would start some time between 7 pm and midnight from one of the temples in the town of Yanshui. Our taxi driver dropped us by a beautiful temple, festively decorated, saying that this was where the event would begin. We talked with the people sitting in front of it and quickly discovered that our Mandarin wouldn’t do us much good here, as everyone spoke Taiwanese. Everyone was very nice and friendly, gave us water and tea, and I even crawled under the palanquin carrying the temple’s goddess — for good luck. Then we walked around the neighborhood, seeing firsthand the notorious beehives being stacked with thousands of fireworks by kids and adults. After going back to the temple, we started noticing that people were not gathering there. A guy came up and pointing at the red lanterns adorning the temple, motioning us to go. We assumed he was telling us to tell us to follow the lanterns, so we set off, looking for crowds of people wearing bike h e l m e t s. A f t e r m e a n d e r i n g t h e streets for some time, we got to a big

April 2012

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temple surrounded by thousands of people, all equipped with helmets, towels and whatever else they could find. That must be the place! We quickly pulled on our flame-retardant clothes, wrapped the towels around our necks, put on the helmets, and plunged into the crowd. disaPPointmEnt and Frustration The air was charged with excitement, loud music was playing and everyone was waiting, chatting t hroug h th e ir h e lm ets a n d fa c e masks. And then we heard even louder music, mixed with fireworks. A group of masked teenagers were dancing in front of a palanquin, c a r r y i n g a t e m p l e d e i t y. T h e procession went on and on, bringing what looked like all the deities from all the existing temples throughout Taiwan. Two hours later we were still standing in the middle of the crowd, hoping that the next procession w o u l d b r i n g t h e l o n g-a w a i t e d b e e h i v e s. H o t a n d t i r e d f r o m standing in full gear for so long in the warm evening, we decided to step aside from the crowd and to find a place to sit. Finally finding a quiet street, a feeling that we might not see the beehives after all started sneaking upon us. Disappointed and frustrated, we set off again, hoping to hear the noise of thousands of firecrackers.

Suddenly we saw a street adorned with red lanterns and remembered what the guy was trying to tell us earlier. “Follow the lanterns”, he said, so we did. And then we heard a thunderous sound and seconds later we were right in the middle of it! Hardly having time to pull down our helmet visors, we were bombarded by noise, smoke and fire. We were in the front row, facing a beehive firing several thousand fireworks right at us. It was painful, and I could not breathe, nor see anything, but I was excited. This is what we had come for! thE Big PaYoFF The bombardment lasted a few minutes, and what a sight it was to see: a palanquin with a deity, carried by two guys, went through the still smoldering debris, creaking and squeaking. It was surreal and funny at the same time. The group set off, down the lantern-adorned street, and after about a hundred meters it stopped again. Another (even bigger) beehive was brought out and guys started shouting to us (in Mandarin!) to put on our helmets. Sirens blasted in the air and the shooting began again. The crowd was jumping up and down, believing that this will keep the firecrackers from hitting them. I did the same, but this did not reduce the impact. A guy next to me caught fire and was quickly ushered aside by a few strong men, who later turned out to be firemen. And then silence again, broken by the squeaking of the palanquin, dancing amidst smoke and ashes. O f f w e w e n t a g a i n, a l o n g

procession of people, stopping every 50-100 meters to voluntarily allow themselves to be pelted with fire, burned and half-suffocated. “What madness”, I thought, “But what an exciting madness!” After a few more sessions my husband pulled me aside, showing me his burned arm. One of the firecrackers had torn the sleeve of his fire-retardant clothing, leaving a rather good burn. He continued filming with the camera for awhile though, recording incredible footage of smoke, flame and piercing sound. We finally jumped in a taxi and headed back to our hotel. Still smoldering and smelling like a fire battle, we crossed the shining lobby of the hotel, attracting the curious looks of everyone there. We did not care, though, because we had just experienced one of the most amazing, exciting, scary and reckless events imaginable. We’d just witnessed the Beehive Firecrackers Festival! And no doubt we’ll be back next year....

Katya Ilieva-Stone has been in Taipei since July 2010, working for the American Institute in Taiwan. She is a former journalist who was born in Bulgaria, and has also lived in Nepal, the Ukraine and Afghanistan. April 2012

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2012/3/25 8:46:09 PM

lEt'S go

Da Mor Lee

A house made of paper TExT & IMAGEs: dYLAn GRAVEs


first read about Da Mor Lee, J o h n L a m o r i e’s p a p e r c r e t e h o u s e i n P i n g t u n g C o u n t y, i n A u g u s t l a s t y e a r. T h e article tells how John and Shelley Lamorie (who have a buxiban in the nearby town of Ligang) built living quarters and a large classroom using environmentally friendly material for the walls. By late 2011, the couple had added another building housing a café and kitchen with a wood-fired pizza oven, and a deck looking out over a pond teeming with fish and surrounded by idyllic trees. I was able to visit a few days before Christmas and again over the Chinese New Year week. thE sEcrEts oF PaPErcrEtE A paper house is obviously not made of pure paper, but uses a mixture called papercrete, which is basically used paper blended with cement and water. It’s not unique to Taiwan, nor is it something new. John got the idea from a friend who worked with it in the United

States. John had already built the foundation and roof of his school house, yet did not want to finish it with conventional materials. He wanted to use a building material that made use of waste or used materials, and this papercrete idea had John immediately hooked. Using paper and cardboard in this way is a good example of recycling — taking a used product and changing it into something else. It warranted many hours of investigation on the Internet and some experimentation, but John’s motto is “just try it”. So after successfully mixing some in a bucket (with a drill connected to a blade), he made a larger mixer from the rear axle of a small blue truck. The machine is towed by a vehicle at low speed for about 1 km to chop up the saturated paper and to blend it with the cement. Through much trial and error John found that mixing 1 kilogram of cement to 1 kilo of paper was about the right ratio. The wet papercrete mixture can be poured into moulds to make blocks, used as mortar, or as plaster (with sand and extra cement added). When the blocks are wet they weigh 5 kilos, but after naturally drying in the sun, they weigh just one, and are strangely light to handle. Papercrete has about the same R-factor (a measure of thermal resistance) as fiberglass insulation, which makes it good insulation agains t both he at and c old. It also has incredible sound-proofing properties. Furthermore, the light

weight of papercrete makes this building material highly suitable for Taiwan. In an earthquake, the lighter the building materials, the lower the likelihood the building will be damaged. So, where did all that paper used in John’s construction project come from? It was mostly collected by his students in the local community. Any paper can be used, including cardboard. thE FuturE oF PaPErcrEtE John is forever thinking of ways to improve his papercrete block design (as well as trying new eco-ideas on the farm). His eighth version incorporates hexagonal plastic juice containers inside. This means the blocks are even lighter and that the papercrete goes much further. Insulation properties are improved, as is strength, in addition to the drying time being significantly less. Educating thE nExt gEnEration John also enjoys a challenge and recently when asked to provide a practical activity for school groups to work on when they visit, he decided to build a round room which would serve as a private room for groups to book. The round room is modelled on a Mongolian yurt or Ger, as well as round houses found in parts of

Working in International Education for 7 years in London, Singapore and now Taiwan, Dylan is a keen advocate for individuals to take action to do something about greening their environment as a first step to a lifestyle change that benefits the environment. 12

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Africa. Visiting students working on this project learn about making something useful out of trash and how buildings can be built out of more sustainable materials. All groups of people and students that come to Da Mor Lee are invited to watch an educational video in the school house about the papercrete process and then are free to enjoy the farm. There is a raft for punting on the lake, an opportunity to try fishing, eat wood-fired pizza and apple pie, drink fresh coffee and tea with home baked cakes, as well as play with Sheba the playful dog. Visitors can often watch John at work on one of his many projects and are free to ask him questions.

International fame D a M o r L e e a n d i t s e n v i r o nmentally friendly buildings have been featured in a plethora of books, magazines, news articles, and TV programs (some overseas). I asked John why more houses are not built using papercrete, both in Taiwan and elsewhere around the world. His answer was quick and simple: “People are afraid of trying something different.” This is a real pity because papercrete blocks potentially could replace heavy clay bricks and cement blocks in all nonload bearing walls of buildings.

See it for yourself Weekends are the best time to visit Da Mor Lee because the pizza oven will be fired up; however, booking ahead of time is becoming necessary. Da Mor Lee (大茉莉英文環保教學園區) Ligang Township, Pingtung County (屏東縣里港鄉載興段) Tel: (08) 775-7501 or 0925-930-989 Getting there: Take a TRA train to Pingtung, then rent a scooter from a shop across the road from the station or catch bus number 8217 or 8218 to Ligang (里港). By car, head north from Pingtung train station along Route 3, and then east along Route 22 for just under 20 kilometers. At the 25.5km marker look out for the green sign on the right, just at the flashing light. Do not go over the large bridge. Finally follow the green Da Mor Lee signs for about 1 kilometer. GPS coordinates: N22.7765 E120.5453. march 2012

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Taipei American School students will represent Taiwan at the 2012 VEX Robotics World Championship in Anaheim, California from April 18-21! TexT: KrisTen Lowman

images: Tas


even Taipei American School students have earned the opportunity to compete against the best robotics teams from around the world. This is a tremendous honor and recognizes the remarkable accomplishments of the TAS ProjeXt robotics team. The TAS ProjeXt team competed in the VEX Pacific Region Championships in Hawaii last December and won the Design Award (out of 104 teams). VEX tournaments are the largest and fastest growing high school robotics contests with more than 3,500 teams from twenty countries participating. T h e Ta i p e i A m e r i c a n S c h o o l robotics program provides students w i t h d y n a m i c h a n d s -o n S T E M (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational experiences that


prepare them to meet the growing demands of the 21st century. Upper school courses include Robotics E n g i n e e r i n g Te c h n o l o g y ; 3 - D Art, Programming, and Robotics; Artificial Intelligence; and Advanced

Robotics. TAS had the privilege of hosting the Asia VEX Championship on November 18-19. Sixteen teams competed, comprised of high school students from Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

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text: AAron Hunter


Hsinchu International School practices sustainable agriculture imAges: His

Hsinchu International School (HIS) students have recently been taking an active interest and developing their knowledge in the eco-friendly system called vermicomposting. Our AP environmental science teacher, Mr Aaron Hunter, discusses the system and investigates further merits of vermicomposting.


he vermicompost system uses left-over food and yard waste, such as leaves, grass, twigs, and sticks. Worms eat the mixture, digest it, and turn it into usable fertilizer. One objective of such a system is to cut down on waste, because instead of going into land fill (where that waste normally would go), we recycle the waste and turn it into usable soil which is a healthy way to to grow plants. The school is trying to introduce students to this increasingly widespread method of sustainable farming.

Events at The Center



10.30 am - 12 noon Tuesday 17th April This month we will be discussing S.J. Wa t s o n’s B e f o r e I G o t o Sleep, a thriller which follows one woman’s struggle to unravel what is going on in her life whilst struggling against severe amnesia. For more information, please contact Kath at

A m o n g i t s m a n y a d v a n t a g e s, vermicomposting allows us to cut down on the use of oil-based fertilizers and pesticides. With its help we can also create a local food source. As we start farming on the roof of Hsinchu International School, we can collect rainwater and store it in the soil, cutting down on the water that flows into the waste water system. For the future HIS would like to further develop this project (which we just started this year) adding plant containers every week, so in

the longer term we should be able to expand into aquaponics and aquaculture systems. Benefits to students of HIS are that we will understand through a ‘hands-on’ project what makes for a sustainable agricultural system. Also it goes without saying that by cutting down on excess waste produce from our school we can assist in maintaining a healthy balance in the environment, and ultimately provide the school cafeteria with nutritious products such as carrots, broccoli, herbs and other delicious vegetables!

SPECIAL TOPIC COFFEE MORNING 10.30 am - 12 noon Thursday April 19th Exploring Northern Taiwan Join The Center for a presentation by Richard Saunders, author of three books, Taipei Escapes 1, Taipei Escapes 2, and Yangmingshan: The Guide. Richard will share his knowledge and experiences of exploring northern Taiwan with a focus on places that can be reached by public transportation. Richard will happily sign copies of his books for those who attend.

TASTES OF TAIPEI This month at Chamkar! 5.30 pm - 9.30 pm Wednesday April 25th 7, Lane 50, Zhongcheng Rd., Sec. 2 台北市忠誠路二段50巷7號 (02) 2838-3400 For more details, please see page 21 april 2012

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The Art of Creating Jewelry: Sifen Chang




ruffles are one of the world’s great luxuries. Difficult to find and impossible to cultivate, connoisseurs called them “The Diamond to the Palate”. If you want to discover this exquisite delicacy, you must search below the surface, where the real treasure awaits you. When Sifen Chang asked me to write this article for Centered on Taipei, I was delighted. Not only is she a gifted jewelry designer, she is also a geologist and gemologist. Over the years, her warm, vivacious personality has made her a favorite jewelry designer, but it is her unique talent and beautifully made jewelry that cement her success.

Ms. Chang creates statement jewelry for discerning collectors in the United States, Europe and Asia, one of which she donated to the Community Services Center Charity Auction in 2011. The donated piece was a pair of earrings m a d e f r o m 18k t w h i t e g o l d w i t h amethyst briolletes. These earrings each resembled a bunch of grapes, which in Chinese culture symbolises fertility, prosperity and abundance of good fortune. Every Sifen Chang piece is a unique work of art that embodies the timeless quality of fine jewelry. She is the first living artist whose works are featured in the Important Jewelry auctions at Sotheby’s New York. Since the year 2000, Sotheby’s has auctioned more than one hundred of her pieces. a ProFound undErstanding As a jewelry artist, scientist and naturalist, Sifen uses diamonds, gold, platinum, co lored gemstones and South Seas pearls to create one-of-a kind jewelry pieces. With academic degrees in geology and gemology, she has a profound understanding of the compositions and aesthetics of gemstones, pearls and diamonds. The first time I met Sifen, I couldn’t fail to notice her stunning ring, a large cultured pearl within pave set diamond shoulders. ‘How could such a huge ring be so perfectly sat on your small finger?” I asked her. She said that every single jewelry piece is created after making a precise calculation of the weight of the gemstones, the weight of the gold and the balance of the final jewelry piece. “Balance and equilibrium is an essential key to a


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very well made jewelry art work.” She wears this signature piece frequently and it never ceases to amaze me how it never looks dated and always complements her outfit. That is what every jewel should be — one-of-a-kind, elegant, classic and memorable. Sifen was born in Taiwan to a prominent family at the forefront of banking and property in China and Southeast Asia. Her family emigrated to Brazil when she was five and her formative years were spent in Rio de Janeiro. She studied Geology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and after her graduation she became the assistant curator at the Mineral and Gemstone Museum of Amsterdam Sauer, looking after the largest private collection of gemstones and minerals in the world. In 1992, she moved to Santa Monica, California and attained her dual qualification of Graduate Gemologist and Jewelry Designer at the Gemological Institute of America.

ACC AD same as Dec/Jan issue

PRACTICAL AND AESTHETIC QUALITIES Returning to Taiwan aged 26, she became a buyer for a leading jewelry company. She established her own design studio in 1997. “I started my jewelry designing business by redesigning my clients’ old, outdated jewelry. The client would come to me with her problematic and outdated jewelry and I would study them and make them into new jewelry specially created for her personal lifestyle needs.” M s. C h a n g h a n d l e s e v e r y a s p e c t o f t h e manufacturing and design business herself. A one woman powerhouse, she chooses the gemstones, creates the designs, supervises the manufacturing process, and handles marketing and sales. She travels extensively to the United States, France and Hong Kong to see her clients around the world. Ultimate privacy and discretion are assured as Sifen Chang signs confidential agreement contracts with her clients before the execution of each redesigning project or commissioned jewelry piece. A rare combination of trained geologist and certified gemologist, Sifen is in a unique position to understand and appreciate both the practical and aesthetic qualities of each gemstone she touches. To wear a piece of Sifen Chang’s jewelry is to engage with the miracle of Nature as it is expressed through art.

Valerie Vlasaty is a graduate gemologist and independent jewelry consultant. Prior to branching out on her own, she was the senior cataloguer in Sotheby’s Jewelry Department in New York where she worked on such notable collections as the Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. APRIL 2012




The best spots in Shilin and Da-an TexT & images: aly Cooper, sToCk phoTos


can say right now without a shred of sarcasm that coffee is making me smarter by the second (for the record, I resent your snickering). If I'm going to travel to it, sniff it, drink it, buy it, and most of all write about it, I should really know a little about it, no? In this process of becoming cultured in the way of the bean, I was intrigued by an article describing e n t e r t a i n i n g c o f f e e l e g en d s. I mean who wouldn't be interested in Arabian shepherds and dancing goats? I lost interest, however, at the section about brewing the beans. I started glazing over at the chemical reactions and acid breakdown details. Then I happened upon an online National Geographic article (how smart does that sound?) talking about various roasts taking anywhere from 7 to 14 minutes. It was at this point, just as I was entering the land of head bobbing and drool, that the fog lifted and the clouds parted. Now I get why I wait a lot longer at some of these places as opposed to others. Huh. See? SMARTER. Have I lost you yet? I hope not, because my intelligent coffee moment has not yet come to a close. Parting thought: whether the coffee beans are dry or oily; whether they smoke, caramelize, hiss, pop… or even if they are simply the quiet beans; it makes all the difference. You can’t deny that it's all a bit fascinating — there's power in the bean. In the midst of my ‘research’ over the past few weeks a friend of mine


asked, "so what's your criteria?" I think I may have giggled. I do not consider myself a coffee connoisseur. I just think when you know, you know… It's like finding that special someone — you k n o w when it's right. On the flip side, when it's bad… well, it can be really bad, as I’ve unfortunately found out on my coffee travels. Whenever you have to question whether your latte was made with expired milk, you just know that relationship is never going to work. Moral? Never settle for less… Black Bean House coffee 527, Zhongshan N. Rd., Sec. 5, Shilin. I have to tell you – I was torn writing about this place. Even as I'm typing now, I'm doing so with resistance. Do I really want all of you to know about it? Well, O.K. I guess I can refrain from being utterly selfish. This little coffee house is a gem which I found completely by accident. I was browsing a shop with my son when, shockingly, he had to use the restroom. Even more shocking, the salesclerk said no, we most certainly couldn't use theirs. Upon our journey to find a bathroom we had a happy accident. No, not in the way you may be thinking! We actually ended up stumbling across this place. I think I can speak for my son when I say it was a win-win. I walked in and the smell of fresh coffee beans hit me like a load of acme anvils. Heavenly. The inside? Charming. It was everything a coffee house should be; quaint, a bit eclectic, and replete with a window front full of unground beans, grinders, coffee pots and a slew of coffee gadgets. Wooden beams with billowing floral cloth overhead added softness and a homely feeling that made you want to settle in for a while. The tables that flanked the walls each had lamps and were perfect for finishing up homework, work or a really good book. Oh yes... and the coffee. Well, at the risk of sounding desperate, I

really needed an afternoon pick me up – and it did the job. You all will be proud to know that I ordered a plain, no frills black coffee: a Guatemala Huehuetenango SHB (NT$150) to be precise. The coffee was good, strong and hot and I could sip it without squinting, shuddering or involuntarily sucking in my breath. When hot there was not much of an acidic aftertaste, which I appreciated. It was exactly what I was looking for. The prices ranged from medium to high, depending on your roast (NT$100-300). They had coffee from Central and South America, A f r i c a, a n d A s i a – s e e m i n g l y something for everyone. Oh and they sell bags of beans there, which equals awesomeness. So you may ask, was my blind date with Black Bean House Coffee a love match? Indeed. uesHima coffee lounge 199, Dunhua S. Rd., Sec. 1, Da-An Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station, Exit 8 It was Saturday and my kid and I were up for an adventure. My girlfriend said she'd meet up with us for coffee – apparently she knew a place. The Lounge was packed. No seats. Wistfully forgoing the cool tin-looking mug I opted for a to-go cup and took the standing-roomonly option on the patio outside. The shop itself was quite a decent size, perhaps just not as readily available for a lounger like myself on a Saturday afternoon. The coffee options? Sesame, Strawberry or Caramel Milk Coffee. Decadent is a word that I don't throw around in casual conversation. But seriously, people: I couldn't even handle the cup in my own hand. As if that wasn't enough, I about snatched my girlfriend's cup too. Let me blameshift for a moment. It was her fault. She offered. OK she offered a sip… then relented to another sip — probably upon eyeballing my pathetic longing glances at her large sesame cup of goodness (NT$150).

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M m m m m. O h, a n d l e t u s n o t neglect the Vienna, soy or sugarfree milk coffee options. I rose to the challenge and caramel, being the sinister temptress that she is, had me from the go (NT$120). Dessert in a cup. I was tragically close to going back in and ordering another cup of coffee when I suddenly became mindful of my waistline. I needed to say “No.” I did however go back in and tell the young man behind the counter how amazing my cup of coffee was. I just couldn't help myself. He humored me and nodded and smiled in all the right places, all the while refraining from pushing the panic button under the counter. He even entertained my brief discussion of the coffee shop while confirming that all ingredients were from Japan. Poor guy. I decided to cut him some slack and ease up on the inquisition. The price point on the coffees ranges

from a low of NT$70 and goes up to NT$150 for a large cup. I'm telling you, it might not be on the food pyramid but a large sesame milk coffee is completely worthy of being your breakfast. I eat dessert for breakfast. Don't you? C o f f e e L e g e n d s: h t t p : / / w w w . National Geographic article: http:// w w w. n a t i o n a lg e o g ra p h i c . c o m / coffee/ax/frame.html Aly Cooper is an expat wife of one year who enjoys adventures with her five-year-old son, reading, eating, blogging, having A LOT of coffee with friends, volunteering and spending free weekends exploring what the island has to offer with the family.




ecently I was reading a children’s book by Eric Carle to my son, Sidharth, called Do you want to be my Friend? The book featured a mouse asking many different animals to be his friend, and reading it I was surprised at the message the book was giving to children. The fundamental point is that we can only be friends with our own kind: the mouse meets another mouse and the two instantly agree to be friends. The reality of today’s world, however is very different. The story reminded me of my own quest to find friends when I had first moved to the USA at the age of 12 and was in a similar situation. I wasn't going around asking people "Do you want to be my friend?", but I was looking for people who looked similar. Someone Indian, maybe with two pigtails and someone who looked like me; different from the rest. It was 1990 and believe it or not, there weren't many Indians around in the now-filled-with-Indians Bay area. It was real culture shock, but what made it unbearable was the way people looked at me and my sister back then. It was an odd look that said, "I don't know who you are," and if we got in anyone's way they swore at us. There were many times that both Noorie and I were told that we smelled like curry, and in one class, someone asked me whether I knew what a deodorant was. I agree that I probably looked different, and smelled different, but the way I was treated made me feel like the mouse in this book. Meek and Weak. I was upset with my parents for uprooting us from a familiar, comfortable and friendly place to a cold, mean and super-unfriendly one.

Today, I don't smell like that and definitely don't look anything like those days, but being new in Taiwan made me feel like the mouse in the book once again, even if just for a little while. When we first arrived, it brought back very similar emotions from twenty years ago, and here I am a grown woman. It's not that making friends has been difficult for me. As we get older, our tendency to be more flexible or be more adaptive lessens. It's more difficult to make friends at 30 than at 13. Your expectations are much less when you are younger, or rather, you don't know what to expect and therefore you are immune to the complications of the adult mind. Of course I have made friends in Taiwan over the last eighteen months. It's not so much the making friends part that's tough, it's just that we are all here temporarily. And we all lack the sense of belonging to this temporary home. While we all believe that we will go back home to a place where we think we belong, we will be different people when we return, and our perspectives, our ideas, our very sense of belonging may have shifted by then too. We may no longer fit into that circle of friends we left behind. The home we will return to will be a different place as well, and we may find ourselves in a similar situation of asking, "Do you 'still' want to be my friend?" Ciza Srivatsa moved from India to San Francisco when she was 12 years old. She has been in Taiwan for nearly four years now on her first overseas assignment. She is a busy mother of two and an aspiring writer. April 2012

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Expat pErSpECtivES

do you want to be my


2012/3/25 8:46:54 PM

taiPei uncorked

To Decant Or Not To Decant Mark L. Peterson


Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized. — Andre simon

friend asked me the other day, “every time I ask someone this question, I get a different answer. Tell me, which wines should one decant”? The short and probably surprising answer is: all red wines. Decanting is quite simply pouring wine from the bottle to another vessel — be it a fancy decanter, glass jug, or another clean wine bottle. I personally love to decant wine, because I love the ambiance and elegance it brings to a meal. More importantly though, it separates the liquid from the sediment of old reds, or exposes the wine to oxygen to release more flavor. Decanting generally translates into a better tasting and more aromatic wine. Vintage Port and bold reds with significant time spent in bottle (ten years or more) all throw sediment, as do unfiltered reds with only two or three years of bottle age. Sediment is a dark purple sludge or flakey bits consisting of grape skin precipitates that were once part of the solution suspended in the wine. The sediment settles to the bottom and is astringent, bitter and not particularly pleasant to drink. So, you separate it by decanting. Remove the cork ever so carefully, keeping the bottle at rest, so as not to disturb the sediment. Wipe the neck, shoulders and top of the bottle, both before and after the removal of the cork. Hold the bottle in front of an appropriate light source so that you can see through the wine at the point where the neck joins the shoulder of the bottle, and decant the wine steadily in one pour. Watch the light through the red wine, and as the bottle empties you will see the crust at the bottom of the bottle starting to come through the neck. It doesn’t matter if an odd wisp or two is decanted, but when the main body of the crust starts to move through the neck stop decanting immediately. When this operation is finished, you should have a candle-bright, crimson wine in your decanter, which should be a delight to see and a greater delight to drink. Vintage Port is, however, a special subject, especially if it is one of considerable age. You may have trouble getting your cork out in one piece, because this type of wine tends to degrade corks significantly (which is why many of the older ports have been re-corked). I use an Ah-So wine opener that slides around the cork, not through it, since a traditional corkscrew is almost a guarantee for disaster. If the cork should still break, then I advise you to use an ordinary glass jug and a very fine tea or coffee strainer and pour as though you were

pouring into the decanter. Fish out the pieces of broken cork as best you can, and transfer the wine into a serving decanter. In port you will also find a substance known as 'beeswing', which is not in itself as harmful to the wine as the very much heavier crust at the bottom of the bottle. If you are decanting straight from the bottle to the decanter, it will do no great harm if a few pieces of beeswing get in. The second reason to decant is simply to aerate the wine. It’s generally accepted among wine professionals that most reds (cheap or expensive) improve with decanting. The only red wines that probably don’t gain much from decanting are lighter-bodied wines bottled ready to drink, such as Beaujolais. So, if you ever want to improve a red or speed up its accessibility, decant it. This process allows the initial blast of ethyl alcohol to blow off and the whiff of sulphur dioxide to dissipate. You don’t need to be quite as careful in decanting young New World wines, but beware, vin de garde Bordeaux starts throwing sediment quite early in its maturing process. By the way the idea that you should uncork a wine ahead of time to let it breathe without decanting is full-on misinformation. Think about it: how much aeration do you really think happens through the nickle-sized mouth of the bottle? Finally, the shape of the decanter is important. A clear, crystal decanter allows you to see the wine at its best. Because of the fragility and shorter window of opportunity for bouquet and drinking vitality of older and rare wines which have had plenty of time to age on their own, you need to take care and open immediately before serving. For older wines I prefer a traditional teardropshaped decanter. When drinking young and/or unfiltered wines I use a ships decanter to give the wine its broadest access to aeration. Decant and let the wine sit for 20 minutes. Heavier, more complex younger wines may need 1 to 2 hours before serving, depending on varietal and wine maker. Rinse the decanter with mineral water to remove any residual chlorine odor, but never clean it with detergent. Instead, use a mixture of crushed ice and coarse salt — they'll remove any residual wine without leaving behind any aroma of their own. So see for yourself, taste any value-priced wine before and after decanting. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. A votre santé Mon Ami.

Mark loves to hear from you with all your questions concerning the world of wine and spirits. Feel free to email him at: or visit his informative site at 20

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or this month’s Tastes of Taipei we will be sampling the flavors of Cambodia at Chamkar, Nicolas Devaux’s vegetarian restaurant in Tianmu. While the event is sure to be a vegetable lover’s delight, let me assure the meat-lovers among us who shudder at the mere mention of a meat-free meal: the food at Chamkar is so flavorful that you won’t even miss the meat! At its heart, Chamkar – which means ‘Vegetable Garden’ in Khmer – is a Cambodian restaurant, but throughout the menu you can find hints of Nicolas’s French culinary u p b r i n g i n g a n d h i s Ta i w a n e s e influences. Originally from a small town near Lyon, Nicolas grew up surrounded by excellent cooks and great food, and it is here that he learned to appreciate food and the intricacies of flavor. After pursuing e n g i n e e r i n g f o r s e v e r a l y e a r s, Nicolas ultimately turned to a fulltime career in the culinary arts when he took over a restaurant at a ski resort in France. At first, Nicolas loved combining two of his favorite hobbies – cooking and skiing – but

after a time, he was ready for a new adventure. In particular, he grew tired of cooking meat day in and day out, so he made a break for it: he sold the restaurant, gave up meat, and headed to Cambodia. He had visited his sister in Cambodia on several occasions, and was familiar with the culture and cuisine, so it was an obvious choice for Nicolas. Soon after moving, he opened the original Chamkar, which is still in operation today in Siem Reap, near the ruins of Angkor Wat. It was also in Siem Reap that Nicolas met his wife, a native of Taiwan. Fast-forward several years, and – lucky for us who can now enjoy his culinary creations – Nicolas found himself moving to Taipei and opening the second Chamkar on October 28th, 2011, just a few blocks’ walk from The Center. A s w i t h a l l h i s r e s t a u r a n t s, Nicolas brings a commitment to freshness and flavor to Chamkar in Taipei. To ensure that the food has an authentic Cambodian flare, Nicolas sent the restaurant’s cook to Cambodia for three weeks to learn about the food culture there, and his cook from Cambodia visited Taiwan to train the restaurant’s staff and organize the kitchen during the first week of operation. Nicolas has also hunted all over Taipei to find the proper ingredients

to make such restaurant staples as fresh curry paste and to infuse his dishes with lemongrass, galangal, and other traditional flavors of Cambodia. Still, Nicolas is open to incorporating Taiwanese influences into his food as well. When he first opened the restaurant, Nicolas says he primarily used vegetables that he could also find in Cambodia, but as he becomes more familiar with Taiwanese produce, he is incorporating more local vegetables into the Cambodian dishes. The menu at Chamkar is small but seriously tasty. Nicolas explains that freshness is the key to good f l a v o r, s o h e k e e p s t h e m e n u manageable with limited items that need to be prepared ahead of time. The smaller selection also allows him to change the menu seasonally, or whenever he has a new dish idea. F or A pr il’s Tas te s of Tai pei, N i c o l a s h a s c r e a t e d a p a l a t epleasing set menu that includes a p p e t i z e r s (o n e o f w h i c h i s spring rolls that are made from his Cambodian cook’s mother’s recipe!), sweet and sour soup, a sampling of several restaurant favorites such as sweet potato curry, stir-fried mushrooms, and tofu with pumpkin, and a seasonal homemade dessert. Nicolas has graciously agreed to donate a portion of the evening’s proceeds to The Center, so come hungry and help support us!

please call chamkar directly to make your reservation and let them know that you are with the community services center.

date: wednesday, april 25th, 2012 time: 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm venue: chamkar Address: 7, lane 50, Zhongcheng road, section 2, taipei 台北市士林區忠誠路二段50巷7號1F tel: (02) 2838-3400 price: nt$540 April 2012

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casual dining

text: Suzan P. BaBcock imageS: courteSy of friendS @Peace cafe

This is the first in a series of articles about New Garden City, a small mountainside community located on the southern outskirts of New Taipei City, where a diverse population is working hard to renew its sense of community.

The Peace Café


ne of the reasons I continue to reside in N e w G a r d e n C i t y (花 園新城, Hua-yuan Xincheng), a well-worn community in the hills south of Xindian (Taipei’s southernmost suburb) is because of its quirkiness and appealing sense of community. O v e r t h i r t y y e a r s o l d, N e w Garden City boasts the architectural distinction of being Taiwan’s first gated community, but its people are also ‘special’, a reputation they seem to enjoy. Most are decent folks, striving to extend neighborly kindness to others, to provide their children with an eco-friendly environment to grow up in, to mend old feuds and to bring new concepts and community resources to residents. A b o u t t w o y e a r s a g o, s o m e neighbors got together to talk about some of the major issues facing Taiwan and the world in general. As is the way with many such conversations, local community issues of concern were soon brought up. However, this time the discussions began to take on a spirit of their own. Apparently the group’s dynamics were right, because before too long, action plans were drawn up and implemented to create a project


which would invite community members to contribute to helping our earth to regain its health, and to introduce to them the concept of eating vegan. This was how @Peace Café came into being, through the dedication and tireless efforts of a few concerned individuals who wanted to show others how they could do their part to save our planet and its inhabitants. Nestled back from the main road leading into New Garden City, the ‘Peace Café’ (as it is now affectionately called by many) hasn’t been open long, but it’s already having a pretty big impact. Delicious, healthy fooD “Our goal for starting [@Peace] café was actually quite simple,” said Andrew Nicholls, one of the initial community members involved in the café’s creation, and (together with his wife, Kelly) its first owner. “We genuinely want peace for our earth. It is our hope that all beings can live in peace, love and harmony with each other and our planet.” “We also believe that a peaceful mind comes through eating wholesome foods. If our minds are at peace, then we will feel a sense of harmony, with ourselves and with others, too,” adds Kelly Nicholls, smiling at her husband.

She continues, “Andrew is always experimenting with new food ingredients and ideas in our kitchen. Right now, he is working on some new desserts for the Café.” Intrigued, I asked what he was working on. Andrew told me that he was using raw foods to create healthy and delicious desserts. Raw foods are unprocessed vegan foods that have not lost their nutritional value due to being cooked at temperatures above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). Vegan foods are basically all raw fruits and vegetables, sprouts, root vegetables, nuts and seeds, fresh herbs, squash, raw spices, seaweed and raw chocolate. The benefits from eating a vegan diet or raw vegan foods include weight loss, improved digestion, clearer skin, more energy and better health. In fact, health benefits are the main reason why many people make the transition in their eating habits and diet. Doctors are now urging their patients to slow down and consider what they put into their mouths. However, being able to find and eat healthy foods (without large amounts of pesticides, preservatives or added chemicals) is a challenge. Imported organic foods also cost more. So, eating ‘healthy’ can be

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difficult, especially for people that are on a budget. This was another reason why the Peace Café was established, to provide people from Garden City and their friends with good, delicious and affordable food, using fresh, local ingredients from the area’s farmers.

“Suzan Lai Le!” What a warm and cheerful welcome to receive on a cold, rainy, gloomy Taipei winter day! However, such greetings are typical at the Peace Café. After getting out of my dripping parka, I happily settled back in a comfortable chair to wait for Sin-hong Lai (Walter) and his wife Yong-chen Hong (Ann), co-managers of Peace Café, to finish chatting with customers, as they prepared their orders. The Café’s atmosphere is casual and laid-back. Its corner location is an inviting and cozy spot for people to gather; a place where they are treated warmly, and new customers instantly feel like they are sitting among old friends. This is another ‘secret’ ingredient for the café’s success. My favorite table is on the outside patio. Sipping from a steaming cup of foamy latte, I have a spectacular view of distant mountains and I experience a sense of growing stillness and calm, as I slowly unwind from the frenzied pace of working in the city. Most times, I am too late to get my favorite table, but that’s OK. This reflects how popular this little

café has become. As we begin our interview, it immediately becomes apparent that Walter and Ann love their w o r k. B o t h h a v e p r o f e s s i o n a l a n d i n t e r n a t i o n a l e x p e r i e n c e; Walter worked for a well-known multinational computer company while Ann was a nurse whose travels even took her to the jungles of Myanmar. This was all before they decided to take some time out in order to reassess what they really wanted out of life. They told me that that they did a lot of soul searching about their individual values, interests, skills, personal qualities and sense of social responsibility. So when they were contacted about the possibility of becoming involved with a community project in the form of a vegan café, it caught their interest.

ConCernS Ann shared, “I am very concerned about the treatment of animals. Very few people realize that the majority of animals raised for human consumption suffer terribly from cruelty and human ignorance.” Walter is also concerned, and rightly so. He told me that the massive amount of waste that is produced by livestock is out of control. This waste is contributing t o w a t e r p o l l u t i o n; m e a n w h i l e livestock farms are getting bigger as the result of increased meat demands world-wide. But the most dangerous effect comes from the biological activities connected to livestock, which are producing a greenhouse gas called methane, an important contributor to the current greenhouse effect and shifts in climate. Both Walter and Ann stressed that

if the average person could reduce their meat consumption by eating one less meat dish a week it would have a major and positive effect on saving our planet; which brings us back to the Peace Café. The café’s menu offers a simple b u t m o u t h-w a t e r i n g a r r a y o f delicious sandwiches, pizzas, quiches, soups, salads, rice, noodles, pasta, homemade desserts, and the best smoothies this side of Hong Kong. They are open six days a week from 11:30 am to 8:30 pm (except Sunday). Vegetable deliveries are made on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from local farms offering only ‘pure’ food items, which is another wholesome community service the Café is providing for Garden City residents. Peace Cafe may be small, but they are having a big impact on the lives of many. We are lucky, here in Garden City, to have them as neighbors. Getting There Take the MrT Xindian (Green) line to MrT Xindian station, then transfer to the Green 3 bus from Wufong Junior High school on Zhongxing rd., Sec.1. alternatively a 30-minute taxi ride from Xindian MrT station will run to around NT$160. look for the second guard house and the @peace Café is immediately on the right.

S u z a n B a bc o c k ha s been associated with The Center s i n c e 1 9 8 7, a s a c o u n s e l o r, l e c t u re r and contributor to Centered on Taipei. She loves living in Garden City where life is “never dull”. april 2012

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CSC newS

A Chat with Chairman of the Board

fred voigtmann TexT: KAri SChiro imAgeS: CourTeSy of The CSC

For as long as anyone can remember, Fred Voigtmann has served as Chairman of The Center’s Board of Directors, but even before taking over the chairmanship, he played an integral role at The Center. He was there at The Center’s inception – one of the few founding members who remains in Taiwan today – and surely the organization would not be the same without him. in fact, were it not for Voigtmann and other like-minded community leaders, The Center might not exist at all. Beginnings Voigtmann and his wife Paula originally came to Taiwan with the United States military in 1971. Except for a brief period back in Washington, D.C. in the late seventies/early eighties, the Voigtmanns have called Taiwan home for the last forty years. Since 1983, Paula has headed the Christian Salvation Service, an organization that helps women and children in crisis, and Fred has worked as a bilingual lawyer at his firm, Concordia Consulting. As an active member of the international community, Voigtmann has always been deeply invested in its wellbeing, and it is because of this investment that he originally got involved with The Center. After the tragic drug-related death of an expat teen in 1986, Voigtmann was part of a “spontaneous group of business people” who got together to discuss the need for crisis counseling services in the international community. He recalls, “When this first very tragic event occurred… [it] caused people to wake up… because this caused a real trauma in our community and in our schools.” early oBjectives Within a year, the Community Services Center opened its (albeit, humble) doors. In the early days, The Center consisted of an office, co-directors and husband and wife team Gale Metcalf and Joel Wallach, and a telephone, Voigtmann recalls. The Center’s main objective was to identify resources in the community that could help in crisis situations and beyond. Voigtmann, for one, agreed to establish a pro bono legal program to provide anyone with legal problems at least one free consultation. Voigtmann says, “For me as a lawyer, [the program] helped a lot in allowing people to focus on the personal issues they had [rather than their legal issues].” Connecting with resources and experts in the community like Voigtmann was of utmost importance because, Voigtmann explains, “The main thing we wanted to be able to tell people was that no one ever came to The Center, and people said ‘No, we can’t help you.’ Ever. Some way or another we would have to help them.” evolving services That credo still carries on at The Center today, but over the years the services have evolved to meet the needs of a changing international community. Voigtmann explains that 25 years ago, most families came to Taiwan


with handsome expat packages and little knowledge of Taiwan and its culture. “These were people relocating from Topeka, Kansas and… they [soon] found out that they weren’t in Kansas anymore,” says Voigtmann. So The Center established a newcomers orientation program to help expats acclimate to and thrive in their new environment. The orientation really tried to impress upon people that they can learn to operate within a culture where they are functionally illiterate, once they begin to understand a little bit about the language, the culture, and their surroundings. Voigtmann notes, however, that more and more, the international community includes returning Taiwanese who have been living abroad, and foreigners with Taiwanese spouses. Voigtmann also cites the growing number of expats who are choosing to relocate to Taiwan to start businesses or teach English. All of this has contributed to a splintering of the international community socially, geographically, and financially. Whereas the epicenter of expat life used to be Tianmu, Voigtmann explains, expats are now located throughout Taipei and Taiwan. Voigtmann says that today one of The Center’s greatest challenges is figuring out how to meet the needs of this changing and dynamic society. an organization worthy of support Voigtmann also points out that it can be difficult to find the resources and time to reevaluate the community’s needs when part of The Center’s function as a crisis counseling center is putting out fires as they come. He explains that from day one The Center has always striven to be proactive, but there will always be crises that cannot be foreseen. Voigtmann sees the job of The Center as preventing as many problems as possible before they arise, but also having resources at the ready to react in times of crisis. Ultimately, Voigtmann believes that The Center has played an invaluable role in making the international community what it is today. Because of that, he stresses, it is an organization worthy of the community’s support. “Even if you never use the services of the organization, it has still created an environment in which you can live and survive and enjoy yourself, have friends, do things and feel safe… in a comfortable and structured environment.” And it is hard to imagine – and, frankly, who wants to? – The Center without Fred Voigtmann.

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CSC newS

The Center Spring Bazaar and Luncheon TexT: Kari SChiro imageS: CourTeSy of The CSC


he Center’s Spring Bazaar and Luncheon on March 8th was a resounding success on all accounts. Over two hundred attendees came to enjoy an afternoon of shopping, lunching, and socializing, all in celebration of International Women’s D a y. E x c e e d i n g o u r e s t i m a t e s b y almost double, we raised NT$90,000 in donations for the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, an organization that provides services to women and children affected by domestic violence and human trafficking. Thanks to the many wonderful vendors who participated, shoppers had the opportunity to browse a wide selection of artisan goods from ceramics to photography, clothing to chocolates, bedding to jewelry, and more! A special thank-you to the many vendors who generously donated raffle prizes, including Lily’s Collections, B a i-Wi n A n t i q u e s, O p i u m P a l a c e, Cherry Hill Antiques, Kuma Ko, Taiwan LemonGrass House and Fusion Flame,

bubbly, which added a touch of class to a day that was already filled with style, and our deep gratitude to Allianz for their generous financial support. F i n a l l y, m a n y t h a n k s t o E v e n t Coordinator Bianca Russell and her team of volunteers who made the event such a seamless success!

Agneta Oloffson, Lihiya Clothing, Zaifu Fashions, Bonjuju Chocolates, Ostendo Projects, and Marchand de Linge. Many thanks as well to King Car for the stunning orchids that made such a colourful impact. We w o u l d a l s o l i k e t o e x t e n d a heartfelt thank you to the Regent Formosa for the splendid event venue and impeccable service. Thank you also to Pernod-Ricard for providing the

Kari Schiro is a native Californian and an adoptive Seattleite who recently relocated to Taipei. When she is not writing, you will most likely find Kari watching football/soccer on the telly.

Orphanage Club News




TexT: Jeffrey Chen (12) and Tin Tin Kao (10), oC Co-SeCreTarieS 2011-12

Flea Market Registration Registration for the Orphanage Club’s annual spring flea market (to be held on May 12th) will begin on April 24th in front of the faculty dining room between 4 and 5 pm every Tuesday and Thursday until all tables are reserved. Table numbers are on a first come, first served basis. No person can reserve more than three tables on any day. Tables inside the cafeteria are NT$1,200, while those in the hallway are NT$1,500. A mandatory deposit of NT$300 is required for each table. Everyone is welcome to the sale on May 12th, which will begin at 10 am and conclude at 3 pm.

PTA Spring Fair April 21st The annual PTA Spring Fair will be held on April 21st from 10 until 3. The Orphanage Club will be selling its TAS sweatshirts and T-shirts. As usual the club will offer a huge selection of greeting cards and gift items. Proceeds from that booth are donated to the Puli Christian Hospital to assist indigenous children. Since 1999 the club has donated more than NT$2,000,000 to that worthy project. Children, young and old, can again test their skills at the OC ring toss and bean bag throw booths in the TAS parking lot. There are some wonderful prizes. Play the games and help orphans and needy children.

Cathwel Outing April 28th The April outing for the Cathwel Orphanage Children will be on the 28th. There are three distinct groups. One is infants, another includes toddlers, and the largest group is thirty-five boys between the ages of seven and seventeen. Each of them has a different schedule of activities, but every OC member meets at 7:30 am at TAS. We return to the campus by 5 pm. We always appreciate any adults who volunteer to chaperone.

All questions or comments should be directed to One can also contact our club sponsors Mr. Arnold at 2873-9900 ext. 239 or or Ms. Koh at april 2012

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CHINESE PANCAKES text & Images: Ivy Chen

Chinese pancakes are made from wheat flour and are served by themselves or to wrap various fillings. They vary from crêpe-thin to up-to three centimeters thick. Chinese pancakes can be flavored with whole wheat, spring onion or sesame seeds, and can be served as a side dish or a snack.

TYPES OF PANCAKES Spring onion pancake (蔥油餅, Cōng yóubǐng) is made from hot water dough with spring onion and is pan- or deep-fried in vegetable oil. Hot water partially cooks the gluten in the wheat, to give the pancake a tender, less chewy consistancy. Whole wheat pancakes are also available. Spring onion pancakes vary in size and thickness; smaller, thinner ones form the wrapper of beef rolls (牛肉捲餅, Niúròu juàn bǐng). Spring onion pancake can be served with a meal or as a snack anytime during the day. Thin pancakes (單餅, Dān bǐng or 荷葉餅, Héyè bǐng) are thin and resemble the shape of a lotus leaf (荷 葉 Héyè). They are typically used for


wrapping Peking duck (北京烤鴨, Běijīng kǎoya), Jingjiang pork (京醬肉 絲, Jīng jiàng ròu sī) and Muxu pork (木須肉, Mùxū ròu). The pancake is about 12~15 centimeters in diameter and 2 millimeters in thickness. Egg pancakes (蛋餅, D à n bǐng) are spring onion pancakes fried with beaten egg, and are served for

breakfast with soy sauce. Hand rubbed pancakes (手抓餅, Shǒu zhuā bǐng) are made from cold water dough with more oil than spring onion pancakes. When panfrying the pancake, it is rotated and pushed toward to the center with two spatulas from opposite sides to separate the layers and make it fluffy. Hand rubbed pancakes can be flavored with spring onion or sesame seeds and/or with a fried egg. They are served as a street food, while a similar version (called 烙餅, Làobǐng) is served in restaurants. Taiwanese spring roll wrappers (春捲皮, C h ū nj u ǎ n p í o r 潤餅皮, Rùn bǐng pí) are un-fried spring roll (or egg roll) wrappers made from wheat flour dough. The dough is formed into a ball and is cooked on a heated steel plate. Fillings include pork, shrimp, and at least four kinds of finely chopped vegetables. Each

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ingredient should be cooked or stir-fried and seasoned separately. Additional flavors such as garlic, fermented tofu and peanut powder with sugar can be added while wrapping. Rùn bǐng are originally served during the Tomb Sweeping Festival as an offering; however, it is now also popular in night markets as a snack. thick sPring onion PancakE 厚片蔥油餅 [Hòu piàn cōng yóubǐng] Serves 3 Dough 300g all-purpose flour, shifted (中筋 麵粉 過篩) ¾ C boiling water (滾水) 2~3T cold water (冷水) 1T vegetable oil (蔬菜油) 1~2 Tbs vegetable oil, to brush (蔬菜油) Flavoring ½ Cup chopped spring onion (蔥花) 2 /3 tsp salt (鹽) Directions 1. Place flour in a big bowl, pour in the boiling water and stir with chopsticks or fork rapidly until evenly blended.

2. Add cold water to mix, and t h e n a d d o i l. K n e a d d o u g h into a smooth, soft ball (‘threeclean’, i.e. clean hands, table and dough). 3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before rolling. 4. Drizzle oil on working table. Flatten the dough and roll it into a rectangle 20 by 40 centimeters. 5. Brush oil all over the dough sheet; sprinkle spring onion and salt over it. 6. Roll up the dough from the long end, and cut it into three sections. 7. Seal both ends of each section. Stand the cylinder upright and flatten it. 8. Cover the dough with plastic film

and rest for another 10 minutes. 9. Brush oil over the dough and roll it into a round pancake one centimeter in thickness. 10. H e a t 1T b s o i l, a n d p a n-f r y t h e p a n c a k e a t m e d i u m-l o w heat until the bottom is a little browned. Turn over and cover with a lid. Continue to pan-fry until the bottom side is brown and the pancake is puffy. 11. Uncover, and place the spring onion pancake on working table. 12. P u s h t h e p a n c a k e f r o m t h e opposite edges toward to the center with the hands or spatulas to make it fluffy and lighter

The Center's Favorite Finds


If you attended The Center’s Spring Bazaar in March and perused the many booths, you’ll no doubt have seen the work of fabric artist Jennifer Chernick (Persimmon Lane). What first caught my eye were her colorful creations in silk brocade: the eponymous “persimmons”. These plump little replicas of the wellknown fruit are filled with potpourri, ready to scent any area in your home. But why relegate these beauties to a dark drawer? I display mine on tall candle holders in the living room. While I was checking out her other offerings (including silk scarves, larger sachet holders, purses with bamboo handles), Jennifer regaled me with tales of her most famous client: Hillary Clinton. While Hillary was in Hong Kong, she purchased one of Jennifer’s lovely scarves from the Persimmon Lane store at the Royal Hyatt. Apparently Hillary was so enamored of her new purchase, she sent an assistant back to pick up another one in another color! After that preamble, I knew I had to have one too! To learn more about Jennifer and her unique vision of wearable art: April 2012

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other foreigner awkwardness Are you fairly new to Taipei? Still finding your bearings? Then you, like me, may be getting used to the Taiwanese phenomenon known as O.F.A., or 'Other Foreigner Awkwardness.' I'm sure even those who have been here for many years can remember the symptoms — you'll be wandering through Taipei, idly taking things in when, from nowhere, another foreigner comes into view. At this point, one of two things will happen: either you'll make eye contact then both look away faster than if you saw a dog relieving itself, or you will become fixated with the ground five feet in front of you until they have safely passed. TexT: DaviD Miller

What can this bizarre reaction be put down to? The causes of this condition are still unknown, but theories are manifold. Shattered illuSionS Some say that the presence of people from our own background ruins the 'authenticity' of our Taiwanese experience (or perhaps reminds us why we left in the first place!) Maybe we all secretly think that we are modern day Vasco de Gamas, single-handedly breaking new gro und and living a unique life, only for a cluster of frat boys chugging Coronas outside 7-Eleven on a Wednesday night to shatter our illusions once and for all. A friend of mine remarked that a decent percentage of his countrymen here are the slightly odd types that always struggled socially at home. This has lead him to ask himself a serious question: "What does that make me?!" I'm sure the condition exists elsewhere in the world, but I haven't experienced it before. In Bangkok, foreign faces are so common that they don't merit any reaction at all. In the throbbing streets of Delhi, another tourist can be

strangely comforting; a little familiarity in a sea of mayhem. In Taiwan, the reaction is closer to outrage! Conversely, a lot of these people could be friends if only you had a chance to get to know them, and in remarkably small ex-pat circles a few of them doubtlessly soon will be, but it doesn't stop that initial reflexive grudge. Protective feelingS Like any other ailment though, it does get better with time — I’m less than six months into my time in Taipei and I hardly notice it. However, it could be possible that a second, possibly more vicious stage awaits. Recently, I read an article written by an ex-pat living in Hanoi. She started by saying how much she disliked being mistaken for a tourist, constantly seeking out bars and hotspots unknown to Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor, only for a group of backpackers to see her there and pile in, "...ruining another place for me forever!" While she put this down to feelings of protectiveness of her adopted home, appalled by the promiscuous gap year kids exploiting Hanoi's best assets, "when they hardly

even know her!" (Hanoi that is, not the author!), and as amusing as her observations are, I think it highlights the crux of the matter: basic snobbery. That horrible feeling when another tourist walks into shot just as you click the picture; we have all experienced it before. But when everything in Taipei is still new to you it's happening several times a day, living and breathing and not just frozen for a moment in time... you DON'T have the place to yourself! True, in Taiwan there aren't so many backpackers to contend with, and I'm sure that's why many of us chose to come here in the first place, so until that happens I suppose we'll just have to pretend not to see each other!

At the moment, David is filling the gaps between catching every cold going round the island with eating too much and fighting a losing battle to get fit! He also teaches English at a cram school.

Courses at The Center Activity Xingtian Temple and Fortune Teller Street Tea Tasting and Walking Excursion of the Old Tea District Eco-Farm Tour Hike to Mount Datun Beginning Golf What is Acupuncture and How Does it Work? Flow Yoga II Kindermusik I-C (0-18 mos.) Kindermusik I-D, (0-18 mos.) Self-Defense for Women and Girls Level II To Blog, Or Not To Blog: Tips from an Avid Blogger NEW! Evening Survival Chinese II Mexican Fiesta Spring Roll Spectacular!


First Meeting Date Tuesday, April 17 Wednesday, April 18 Wednesday, April 25 Monday, April 30 Monday, April 16 Tuesday, April 17 Wednesday, April 18 Thursday, April 19 Thursday, April 19, 2012 Friday, April 20, 2012 Tuesday, April 24, 2012 Monday, April 16, 2012 Friday, April 20, 2012 Friday, April 27, 2012

# of Sessions 1 1 1 1 5 1 6 6 6 6 1 12 1 1

Instructor Jennifer Tong Jackson Huang Ivy Chen Richard Saunders Benjamin Lu Dr. Dustin Wu Maria Moberg Jennifer Chau Jennifer Chau Antoine Farès Kath Liu Gloria Gwo Milena Fay Ivy Chen

Time 10:00am -12noon 9:30am -12:30pm 8:30am - 3:30pm 8:15am - 2:00pm 12noon - 2:00pm 12:30pm - 2:00pm 10:30am -12noon 9:15am - 10:00am 11:15am -12noon 4:00pm - 5:00pm 12:30pm - 2:00pm 6:30pm - 8:30pm 10:00am - 12noon 10:00am - 12noon

Meet @ Xingtian Temple Sta. Exit 4 ABC Tea Shop In front of Mr. Xmas Xinbeitou MRT Sta. Miramar Driving Range The Center The Farès Academy Dojo The Center The Center The Farès Academy Dojo The Center The Center Instructor's Tianmu Home The Center

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CaSual diNiNg

navigating the language of taiwan’s vegetarianism TExT And IMAGEs: MARK CALTOnhILL AuThOR OF ThE “nOT OnLY MEATLEss MOndAY” (nOMM) BLOG

Finding a vEgEtarian rEstaurant Not as simple as you might think! There are three main words used to identify a non-meat food outlet: 卍 (wàn) – the swastika, originally a Hindu symbol, is used in Taiwan by Buddhists. Until a decade or two ago it was the main character u s e d a t v e g e t a r i a n r e s t a u r a n t s. Buddhists in other countries follow different dietary rules, but here the first precept “do not kill” is interpreted as implying vegetarianism. Neighborhoods around Buddhist temples are good places to find nonmeat food. 素 (sù) – literally ‘pure, unbleached silk,’ this is now the main word used for a religion-based diet in Taiwan. This usually implies no onions or garlic and no alcohol as well as no meat, but, unless specified otherwise, may well include eggs and dairy produce. This word is commonly seen in signs such as ‘素食可’ (‘O.K. for vegetarians’).

In this final part of his short series about vegetarianism, Mark Caltonhill offers a glossary of words used to describe the various types of vegetarian cuisine in Taiwan.

蔬食 (shū shí) – literally ‘vegetable food,’ is a term gaining in popularity, and although not necessarily so, is the outlet most likely to offer onion/ garlic-enhanced dishes. Other commonly seen words include: 齋 (z h ā i) – also meaning ‘v e g e t a r i a n,’ i s v e r y c o m m o n i n Chinese communities of Southeast Asia, and is occasionally seen in Taiwan too. 葷 (hūn) – this can be confusing, as it usually indicates meat, but very occasionally merely indicates that onion or garlic is included. tYPEs oF vEgEtarian diEt The three most commonly seen or heard types of vegetarianism are: 全 素 ( q u á n s ù) – c o m p l e t e l y vegetarian 純素 (chún sù) – pure vegetarian (likewise indicating food suitable for vegans) 蛋奶素 (d à n n ǎ i s ù) – ‘egg-milk vegetarian’ Tw o l e s s c o m m o n t y p e s o f vegetarian diet are: 五辛素 (wǔ xīn sù) – ‘five pungent vegetables vegetarian’: meaning that onions and garlic are acceptable.

環保素 (huán bǎo sù) – ‘environmental vegetarian’: indicates that the diner has a non-religious motivation, and will usually include onions and garlic in their diet. One expression that is usually h e a r d r a t h e r t h a n s e e n i s 鍋邊 素 (gu ō bi ā n s ù). Meaning ‘potside vegetarian’; this indicates a diner who compromises by picking vegetables out of a pot or plate of mixed meat and vegetables, or by eating vegetables, noodles and so forth that have been boiled in water used to cook meat. Some people call this 方便素 (fāngbiàn sù) which means ‘convenient vegetarianism.’ Readers can click ‘Glossary’ under the ‘Labels’ sidebar on the NOMM b l o g (w w w. m e a t l e s s m t w t f s s . bl og s po t . c o m) to find examples and explanations of other signage commonly seen at vegetarian restaurants.

Just a few of the things that are going on around Taipei this month... museum useum of contemporary art Until April 15th Wonderland: New Contemporary Art from Australia 39 Changan W. Rd., Taipei national Palace museum Until May 14th Western Mythology and Legends: Selected works from the Louvre Exhibition Area II, 1F, Library Building 221 Zhishan Rd., Sec. 2, Taipei national taiwan museum January 17th ~ April 15th Impressions of Taiwan Railway in 1970s

2 Siangyang Rd., Taipei taipei Fine arts museum Until June 10th Time Games: Contemporary appropriations of the past Galleries 1A and 1B Until May 13th Journey through Jiangnan: A Pivotal Moment in Chen Cheng-po’s Artistic Quest Galleries 2A and 2B 181 Zhongshan N. Rd., Sec. 3, Taipei taipei int'l children’s Film Festival March 3rd ~ April 5th More information at:

taipei story house Until July 1st Story of Paper Money Exhibition 181-1, Zhongshan N. Rd., Sec. 3 girl scouts April 21st, 10 am - 2 pm Bake Sale Stall at TAS Spring Fair. For more information: stage time and wine at the red room 6.30 pm April 21st 2F., 117, Daan Rd., Sec. 1, Taipei 台北市大安路二段117號2樓 April 2012

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Book rEviEW

Hunger Games By suzanne collins published by scholastic, published in 2008 isBn: 0439023483



omparing the world we live in now to the world fifty years ago is revealing. It both shows us how vastly different certain things are, but also, and perhaps more interestingly, how vastly unchanged many other things remain. No matter what kind of technological or political era we might find ourselves in some things stay constant – the pleasure of a hot meal, the experience of falling in love, and the willingness to do anything to save someone important to you. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen proves this point. When her beloved younger sister Prim is called up as Tribute for the Hunger Games, Katniss doesn't hesitate to volunteer to take her place. What she doesn't realise is the chain of events that this will set off as she fights to stay alive in the arena, battling 23 other tributes, in a fight to the death. She becomes a symbol of hope for all of the people of Panem, a post-apocalyptic world located where the countries of North America once were, in the face of the

oppressive government in the Capitol. Katniss has seen the harder side of life. Her father died when she was young and it was she who took over the responsibilities of the family when her mother fell into a paralysing depression following her father's death. The whole novel is narrated entirely from her point of view which keeps the reader in the midst of the action. Collins has done an excellent job of capturing the voice of a teenaged girl in Katniss, so much so that at times I found it a little claustrophobic being stuck in her head. She's angry, impulsive and ridiculously headstrong and at times the adult reader might find themselves wanting to take her aside for a firm chat, especially when it comes to her emotional naivetĂŠ, such is the believability of her character. The key strength of this novel is the plot. It's an action-packed page turner that I defy anyone not to get sucked into. This is the kind of novel that you find yourself unable to put down, unable to look away from, even when the worst of things are happening on the page. From the moment you learn what the Hunger Games are you have to find out how it will end. The

Hunger Games are reality television taken to its most horrific conclusion: the live broadcast of 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 forced to fight each other to the death. Think Lord of the Flies but within a custom-built arena with cameras shooting every angle. Although this novel is officially classified as Young Adult Fiction, those who have long ago graduated high school should not let this put them off. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read populated with engaging characters that cracks along at a near unforgiving pace, and although it doesn't dwell too deeply on the issues it raises, the echoes of a future that could be not too far away stay with you after the story has finished. As the first of the Hunger Games Tr i l o g y, t h i s n o v e l h a s e n j o y e d international smash hit success. The movie adaptation was released in Taiwan on the 23rd March. For those of you who worry about the translation of novels onto the silver screen, fear not: Suzanne Collins wrote the screenplay and was involved as Producer. I think it's safe to assume that it will stay true to it's writtenword roots.

Kath Liu is an avid reader and a founding me mbe r of t he C S C B o ok Club who believes happiness is a good book, good coffee and good friends. Like books? Check this out:


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ost children in developed countries are lucky to have an education. When we reach a postsecondary level though, the lucky meter runs down. Education leads to higher income jobs: fact or myth? This is true to a certain degree. Searching through job postings last week, I realized most qualifications required post-secondary education and previous work experience. Competition is fierce. Is university worth the time and money in the end? The issue is that with fifty years of inflation, university is now overpriced and unaffordable for many families. Education has always been valued greatly in my family. My Jewish father and Taiwanese mother sacrificed vacations, makeup, and miscellaneous shopping to assure their children received the best education. They only allowed me this luxury on one condition: I must appreciate each day and be a diligent student. I was spending about NT$2,000 every day at Taipei American School for tuition. My public elementary education had cost NT$3,000 for a whole semester. Many Europeans pay high taxes, but receive free public education, including university. As an international student studying in Canada, I pay almost triple the amount my Canadian friends do. Public education in Canada is free until university level. Canadians pay citizen prices no matter where in Canada they receive post-secondary education. For Americans though, attending an out-of-state university means paying similar prices to international students. Schooling costs rise every year like a fashion trend. Yet despite higher prices, enrollments are increasing. Why is it that in 1986, 9.5 per cent of Canadians had a university degree, and this increased to 24 per cent in 2006? We now pay ten times more in education costs than our parents did forty years ago. We’re told achieving a higher education is a bridge to unlimited options and opportunities. Is this really true though? The average debt of new graduates in British Columbia is $27,000. In addition to this, a student loan accumulates $7,000 in interest in ten years. Surprisingly, we often go back to school to earn a Master’s degree or PhD, only to run ourselves into more debt. Are students doing this for fun? Do we enjoy waking up every morning worrying about our financial debts? Many factors are in play here, and it is difficult to decide whether attaining higher education is worth it in the end. Companies and employers are raising the bar for academic requirements. This automatically excludes the group that did not finish high school or go to university. With more B.A.s competing against each other, the value of the degree decreases. For fresh graduates, a lower income means less money to pay off their burden of debt. Universities are not what they used to be.

gENEratioN y

with tuition rising, is it worth it? TExT: LEAT AhROnY

Most universities now run like bureaucracies. It used to be about quality but it’s now often about quantity. Capital accumulation is achieved through efficiency. For example, many classes at the University of Victoria (Uvic) contain up to or more than a hundred students. Small collective classes provide better communication and intimacy amongst students and professors, but are not efficient revenue generators. Whether a class holds a hundred or just twenty students, it only requires one professor: more students equal more profits. Marketing and society infuse students with the idea that completing post-secondary education opens doors for future work. The reality is far from creating opportunities for students. B.A holders’ incomes are falling. The median income in 2000 was $33,950, over $3,000 more than a few years later in 2005. Similarly, post-graduate degrees were earning $35,861 in 2000, dropping to $32,365 five years later. These numbers are alarming, and if the trend continues, families may want to reconsider if university is really worth it. A high-school graduate pursuing a post-secondary education could be forgoing an income of $100,000 (at the rate of $12 an hour) over four years. The accumulated debt and interest over these four years would take much longer to pay back, and even longer if the student ends up unemployed for a while or gets paid below the average. What about the students who aren’t chasing that illusive higher income they’ve been promised, and are true scholars, here for study? Education should be accessible for all people. The world promotes education, but at the same time haunts students with large piles of debt. Students receiving diplomas want to focus on a brighter future, not the large debt waiting for them after graduation. Some people are here because research papers and textbooks bring them joy and pleasure, but most people are in it for the prospect of a high and steady income. But we are not getting this; we are moving backwards, earning less. I c a m e t o U Vi c b e c a u s e I w a n t e d a u n i v e r s i t y experience, but must admit I wish I could make money every day rather than calculate how much a lecture and a textbook is costing me. Students often go through university having a vague idea of their future career path. It is hard to decide when you are 18, and textbooks only complete half the picture. It is a tough world out there. If employers disregarded academic credentials, I probably would not be working on a Math or English assignment in the library. I would be out there working and saving instead of accumulating debt. Inevitably, I am trapped by societies’ expectations and will follow through my four years of university.

Leat Ahrony is a business undergraduate student at the University of Victoria (UVic) in Canada. She began her journalism career in high school writing for the Centered on Taipei magazine. She has a weekly online column for the UVic newspaper, The Martlet, and regularly writes print news and culture articles. She plans to earn her B.A in Commerce and continue a side career in Journalism. April 2012

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Word from the Director This is, in all likelihood, my last “Word” from the Director. I remember four years ago, when I took this job, being interviewed in this very magazine and talking about my life, what I had done and what I wanted to do. I remember telling everyone how it was my mother’s desire for travel ( unfortunately her slight stature precluded her from becoming a flight attendant) that first inspired me to want to leave Australia’s sunny shores and find my other place in the sun so that I could take her places that she had never been. And now four years later I am moving again. Not moving countries anymore but certainly moving on to a new phase in my life. The announcement of my leaving is in the front of the magazine and in various Center media and I don’t want to repeat what has already been written. Rather I would like to reflect on four years with The Center and what that has meant to me. In those four years I have lost 9 kilograms training for and running in four half Marathons for fundraising, and spent probably one third of my income on supporting Center programs and other charities and organizations that deserve it. I have attended on average four events per week, slept less than six hours a night, and served on four community boards and eight working committees.


As a representative of The Center I have poured coffee for money, driven cars for lovers, been a butler for ambassadors, and played golf for charity. I have auctioned off over 12 million dollars worth of items for both The Center and other charities. I have helped open a new office in Hsinchu, learnt about ‘Droopal’ so that we could upgrade our database and website, and embraced all kinds of new media so we could communicate better with you. I have attended dinners for animals and ambassadors. I have been blessed with meeting and spending time in orphanages and at schools all around the country. I have also had the opportunity to work with a dedicated group of people; The Center office staff, the counselors, and the volunteers that make up the heart of what we do. Truly amazing people all of them. But mainly I have just met people. People like you. And that has made it all worthwhile. Thank you and see you around.

Steven Parker Director, Community Services Center

April 2012

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COMMUNITY GROUPS Organization Telephone Website/Email Address

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Alliance Française de Taiwan 2364-8833/ 2364-1919 American Chamber of Commerce 2718-8226 American Club in China 2885-8260 American Institute in Taiwan 2162-2000 Amnesty International 2709-4162 Australia & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (ANZCham) 7701-0818/ 0922-109-089 British Chamber of Commerce 2720-1919 Canadian Society 2757-6977 Christian Salvation Service 2729-0265 Community Services Center 2836-8134 Democrats Abroad (Tammy Turner) Dutch Speaking Association (VNT) East West Culture Project European Chamber of Commerce 2740-0236 East West Culture Project (EWCP) 0983-339-901 Gateway 2833-7444 German Institute 2501-6188 German Trade Office 8758-5800 Goethe-Institut Taipei 2506-9028 Indians' Association of Taipei 2542-8091 2533-4272 International Community Choir La Leche League (Breastfeeding Support) lé the francophone Lions Downtown Club Taipei, English speaking (Peter Wu) 2701-1811 Oasis Youth Group 2831-0299 Overseas Trailing Talent in Taiwan Paradyme Youth Group 2833-7444 POW Camps Memorial Society (Michael Hurst) 8660-8438 Republicans Abroad Taiwan Shilin District Office 2882-6200 a commercial office and ) 2518-4901~3 Spanish Chamber Of Commerce ( a Spanish consulate Tagalog Hotline 2834-4127 Taipei International Women’s Club 2331-9403 TYPA (Taipei Youth Program Association) 2873-1815 SCHOOLS Dominican International School Grace Christian Academy Morrison Academy Taipei Adventist American School Taipei American School Taipei European School Taipei Japanese School

2533-8451 2785-7233 2365-9691 2861-6400 2873-9900 8145-9007 2872-3833

SPORTS Biking Site in Taiwan Hash House Harriers 0952-025-116 International Golf Society of Taipei This is a non-profit group. Participants only pay for their gear and court fees. K3 Squash Club ( Free coaching is also provided for those who have never played before. ) 0987-275-919 Scottish Country Dancing (May Chen) 2706-3179 Taipei Women’s International Golf Group (TWIGG) 2691-5912 Tai Tai’s Women’s Touch Rugby 0981-180-020 Taipei Baboons Rugby Club - Taiwan 0952 67 1995 Taipei Shebabs Women’s Touch Rugby 0913-602-071, , Facebook: K3 Squash Club Taipei


Argentina Australia Austria Belgium Belize Bolivia Brazil Britain Brunei Burkina Faso Canada Chad Chile Costa Rica Czech Republic Denmark Dominican Republic El Salvador Fiji Finland France

2757-6556 8725-4100 2712-8597 2715-1215 2876-0894 2723-8721 2835-7388 8758-2088 2506-3767 2873-3096 8723-3000 2874-2943 2723-0329 2875-2964 2722-5100 2718-2101 2875-1357 2876-3509 2757-9596 2722-0764 3518-5151



Haiti Honduras Hungary India Indonesia Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jordan Korea Malaysia Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Nigeria Norway

2876-6718 2875-5512 8501-1200 2757-6112 8752-6179 2725-1691 2757-9692 2725-1542 2713-8000 2871-7712 2725-2324 2713-2626 2757-6566 2713-5760 2757-6725 2874-9034 2757-6987 2543-5484

German Institute Guatemala

2501-6188 2875-6952

Oman Panama Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Russia Saudi Arabia Senegal Singapore Slovak Republic South Africa Spain Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Thailand Turkey United States Vietnam

2722-0684 2509-9189 2873-6310 2757-7017 2723-2527 7718-3300 8780-3011 2876-1444 2876-6519 2772-1940 8780-3231 2715-3251 2518-4901 2872-5934 2757-6573 2720-1001 2723-1800 2757-7318 2162-2000 2516-6626 APRIL 2012

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csc Business clAssified movEr


wEB consultant

hair drEssEr

#14 Tienmu E. Road

| Telephone 2871-1515 |

worship directory (for full details of services please refer to taipei living or contact the church organization directly)

agape 3f, 21 changchun road, taipei, taiwan tel: 2598-1009 (office) anglican Episcopal church church of the Good shepherd 509 Zhongcheng rd., shilin tel: 2873-8104, 2882-2462 calvary international Baptist church 21, Yangde Blvd., sec. 2, Yangmingshan tel: 2831-3458 fax: 2838-5792 church of Jesus christ of latter-day saints 5, lane 183, Jinhua street tel: 2321-9195, 0939-687-178 city revival church B1, 210, Zhongxiao e. rd., sec. 4 tel: 8921-8250 fax: 8921-8272 Friendship Presbyterian church 5, lane 269, roosevelt rd., sec. 3 tel: 2362-1395 grace Baptist church 90 xinsheng s. rd., sec. 3 tel: 2362-5321 ext. 135 34

Jewish community for information call Ahrony Yoram on 0939763-135 living word church B1, 304, shidong road, shilin tel: 2834-6549 mother of god catholic church 171 Zhongshan n. rd., sec. 7, tianmu tel: 2871-5168 fax: 2871-7972 new apostolic church 2f, no. 5, lane 39, keelung rd, sec. 2, taipei, new life international seventh-day adventist church 4th fl. health center- taipei Adventist hospital 424 Ba de rd. sec. 2, taipei 105 pr. robbie Berghan 0958-732-704 email: oasis Bread of life christian church 10f, #55, Zhongcheng rd, sec. 2 (daYeh takashimaya, tian mu) tel: 28310299 fax: 28317214 email:

English ministry @suang-lien Presbyterian church 111 Zhong-shan n road, sec 2, taipei tel: 2541-5390 fax: 2523-1361 email: taipei holiness church (charismatic international service) every sunday morning at 10.45am with pastor sandra ee 5f, 107 nanking east road section 4, taipei te: 27123242 taipei international church meets at the taipei American school 800 Zhongshan n. rd., sec. 6, tianmu tel: 2833-7444 fax: 2835-2778 gateway.htm taiPEi JEwish sErvicEs sheraton taipei hotel 12, Zhongxiao east road, section 1, taipei tel: 2592-2840, fax: 2594-3892 e-mail: transforming Faith church (f.k.a. Bread of life christian church) 5f, 295 Zhongxiao e. rd., sec. 4 tel: 8772-2207 fax: 8772-2210

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Centered on Taipei April 2012  
Centered on Taipei April 2012  

An English language lifestyle magazine produced for the International Community in Taiwan.