Page 1

No. 73, 2016

Jan & FEB

City Trip

KAOHSIUNG

Sights and New Attractions

FOOD

In Love with Hot Pot

PINGLIN

Bicycling in Tea Country

HIKING

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

Toucheng Leisure Farm Raohe Street Night Market Precious Porcelain Made in Taiwan


Let’s experience some exciting traditional Taiwan stage performances! TaipeiEYE stages shows for tourists visiting Taiwan, including folk music, aboriginal dance and music, Peking opera improved by new scenes of dances and martial arts, and much more. English subtitles are provided so that foreign visitors can easily follow the action. The performances at TaipeiEYE are a must-see for anyone interested in the amazing performing arts of Taiwan.

Performances: Mon., Wed., Fri., & Sat. at 20:00 On holiday during Chinese New Year Period from Jan. 31 to Feb. 21, 2016

Tel: +886-2-2568-2677 E-Mail: taieye@taipeieye.com Add:【Cement Hall at Taiwan Cement Building 】 113, Sec. 2, Zhongshan N. Rd., Taipei City(Jinzhou St. entrance)

www.taipeieye.com 【主辦單位】

10

off %

Not valid with any other offers Offer ends June 30, 2016

【贊助指導單位】


Welcome to Taiwan! Dear Traveler, While in this issue’s Feature we take you to bustling, self-confident Kaohsiung metropolis in Taiwan’s far south, Travel in Taiwan spends most of the rest of our time in the north and northeast, showing you places to go and things to experience in the capital, Taipei, and presenting day-trips taking you into the countryside. Sprawling Kaohsiung, with its large rural area surrounding, on three sides, an international port-focused urban core sitting on the Taiwan Strait, has been very busy over the past 15-plus years adding “center of leisure recreation + culture” to the list of descriptions commonly attached to it, intent on replacing the “industrial powerhouse” characterization that has long reigned at the top of said list. We go on a 3-day sample tour of the core area, with a focus on the many young and spanking-new attractions in the fast-changing harbor area, and also suggest places to stay, places to eat and what to eat, and places to buy iconic made-in-south-Taiwan gifts and souvenirs. In Where to Go Tonight we visit Taipei’s Raohe Commercial District, which has the colorful Raohe Street Night Market as its anchor, checking out the market’s superb traditional snack treats and the renowned retail/wholesale Wufenpu Shopping District bazaar and other area attractions. In Precious Gifts our subject is porcelain, with an introduction to three iconic Taiwan designer brands and a visit to porcelain producer FRANZ to admire its cultural-creative masterpieces. In Popular Flavors sit down to a culinary feast, with the story of Taiwan’s love affair with hotpot served up along with visits to three local restaurants where new hotpot experiences have been unveiled. On to our day-trips. Southeast of Taipei is the easy-living, tourist-popular Pinglin area; in Rail/Bus/Bike you’ll get to know all about its photogenic tea farms, fine tea museum, Old Street, pure fish-rich waters, and great biking. In Easy Hiking we explore the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail, in a picturesque valley east of Taipei. Farm Fun takes you to Toucheng Leisure Farm in northeast-coast Yilan County, the farm emphasizing hands-on learning about rice-planting and kiln-cooking. And in Tribal Experience you’ll find yourself in Yilan’s Jinyue Indigenous Village, learning about its people’s history and lifestyle and enjoying its guided-tour, DIY, and other unique experiences. Enough to keep you bee-busy? Good. Enjoy your stay with us.

David W. J. Hsieh Director General Tourism Bureau, MOTC, R.O.C.


CONTENTS Januar y ~ Februar y 2016

22

Taiwan Slang Keelung

— Seaport City of Deep Character

PUBLISHER David W. J. Hsieh Editing Consultant 

Producer Vision Creative Marketing & Media Co. Address 7F-1, 1, Sec. 4, Nanjing E. Rd., Taipei City 10595, Taiwan

Where you can pick up a copy of Travel in Taiwan

Wayne Hsi-Lin Liu

TEL: 886-2-2715-1052 Fax: 886-2-2715-0924 E-MAIL: editor@v-media.com.tw General Manager Frank K. Yen Editor in Chief Johannes Twellmann English Editor Rick Charette DIRECTOR OF PLANNING & EDITING DEPT Joe Lee MANAGING EDITOR Jade Lin EDITORS Ming-Jing Yin, Chloe Chu, Nickey Liu CONTRIBUTORS Rick Charette, Nick Kembel, Joe Henley, Owain Mckimm, Richard Saunders PHOTOGRAPHERS Chen Cheng-kuo, Maggie Song, Twelli DESIGNERS Choc Hsu, Eve Chiang, Maggie Song ui-chun Tsai, Nai-jen Liu, Xiou Mieng Jiang Administrative Dept H

Abroad

Publishing Organization

Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications CONTACT

International Division, Taiwan Tourism Bureau Add: 9F, 290 Zhongxiao E. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City, 10694, Taiwan Tel: 886-2-2717-3737   Fax: 886-2-2771-7036 E-mail: tbroc@tbroc.gov.tw Website: http://taiwan.net.tw

台 灣 觀 光 雙 月 刊 Travel in Taiwan The Official Bimonthly English Magazine of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (Advertisement) January/February, 2016 Tourism Bureau, MOTC First published Jan./Feb., 2004 ISSN: 18177964 GPN: 2009305475 Price: NT$200 www.tit.com.tw/vision/index.htm Copyright @ 2016 Tourism Bureau. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without written permission is prohibited.

MAGAZINE IS SOLD AT:

1.Wu-Nan Culture Plaza, No. 6, Zhongshan Rd., Central Dist., Taichung City 40043 886-4-2226-0330 http://www.wunanbooks.com.tw/ 2. N ational Bookstore, 1F., No. 209, Songjiang Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 10485 886-2-2518-0207 http://www.govbooks.com.tw/ This magazine was printed with soy ink. Soy ink is said to be more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based ink and to make it easier to recycle paper.

Offices of the Tourism Bureau in Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Frankfurt; Taiwan Representative Offices; Overseas Offices of the Ministry of Economic Affairs; Overseas Offices of the Central News Agency; onboard China Airlines, EVA Air, and other selected international airways; selected travel agencies in Asia, North America, and Europe; and other organizations.

10 85 Sky Tower and Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (photo by Chen Cheng-kuo)

This magazine is printed on FSC TM COC certified paper. Any product with the FSC TM logo on it comes from a forest that has been responsibly maintained and harvested in a sustainable manner.

In Taiwan

ONLINE

Tourism Bureau Visitor Center; Tourism Bureau; Taiwan Visitors Association; foreign representative offices in Taiwan; Tourism Bureau service counters at Taiwan Taoyuan Int’l Airport and Kaohsiung Int’l Airport; major tourist hotels; Taipei World Trade Center; VIP lounges of international airlines; major tourist spots in Taipei; visitor centers of cities and counties around Taiwan; offices of national scenic area administrations; public libraries

Read the online version of Travel in Taiwan or download the app for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android (smartphone/tablet) from tit.com.tw/appdownload.html . See more amazing images of Taiwan in our Travel in Taiwan app! Simply scan this QR code to reach the download page (iOS/Android).


38

26 1 Publisher’s Note 4 Taiwan Tourism Events

30 6 News & Culture 35 Talk in Taiwan

FEATURE

10 Kaohsiung

POPULAR FLAVORS

38 Taiwan and Hotpot — A Modern Love Affair

WHERE TO GO TONIGHT

42 Raohe Commercial District

— Famous Night Market, Fashion Wholesale Market, and Good Cafés

— City of Broad Shoulders, City of Culture

22 Southern Hospitality — Where to Stay, Eat, and Shop in Central Kaohsiung City

RAIL/BUS/BIKE

44 Green and Sleepy

— Pinglin – Greater Taipei Cycling and Tea Sipping Paradise

TRIBAL EXPERIENCE

26 Jinyue Indigenous Village

— A Trip to the Mountains and a Different Way of Life

EASY HIKING

48 Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

— One of the Best and Easiest Day Hikes in Northern Taiwan

FARM FUN

30 Connecting with Nature — Visiting Toucheng Leisure Farm in Yilan County

PRECIOUS GIFTS

52 Precious Porcelain

— High-Quality Ceramic Art Made in Taiwan


TA I WA N TO U R I S M E V E N T S

Spring Events Taiwan Tourism Events Calendar website

2/22

Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival 鹽水蜂炮

Photo courtesy of Tainan Yanshui Wu Temple

The history of this festival goes back to the late 19th century, when the town of Yanshui was hit hard by a cholera outbreak, decimating the population. Desperate for help, the people turned to Guan Di, the God of War, asking him for assistance in fighting the epidemic. After the people had paraded a palanquin containing an effigy of the god through the streets, using large amounts of firecrackers along the way as ordered by the god to scare off evil otherworldly actors, the epidemic was indeed contained. As a sign of appreciation for the divine help, the people decided to stage a religious ceremony each year from the 13th through 15th day of the lunar New Year period. Initially, only common firecrackers were used during the celebrations, but in the 1930s rocket-type explosives were introduced, since modified and diversified, creating the spectacular pyrotechnical event that now draws thousands of revelers each year.

Location: Yanshui Wu Temple, Yanshui District, Tainan City ( 臺南市鹽水區鹽水武廟 ) Tel: (06) 652-1264 Website: www.kcg.gov.tw

2/22 3/6

Taiwan Lantern Festival 臺灣燈會

It all started in 1990 when the Taiwan Tourism Bureau decided to create a large-scale international event by combining traditional local activities staged during the Yuanxiao Festival at the end of the Chinese New Year period. Until 2000, the Taiwan Lantern Festival took place in and around the grand plaza at Taipei’s Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall; starting with the 2001 edition, the festival has been staged by different city and county governments each year. This year this grand show of colorful lanterns will take place for the 27th time, with Taoyuan City serving as host. As with previous editions, there will be a range of different lantern areas showcasing wonderful creations of all shapes and sizes. Highlights will be the grand main lantern in the shape of a monkey – 2016 is the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese zodiac – as well as the 500-meter-long Taoyuan Story Lantern Corridor.

Location: From Taoyuan High Speed Rail Station Front Square to Qingtang Park ( 桃園高鐵站前廣場至青塘園 ) Website: www.taiwan.net.tw/2016taiwanlantern

4

Travel in Taiwan


JANUARY~MARCH

Feb. Mar.

Yangmingshan Flower Festival 陽明山花季

In the season anchored on the turn of the year, when the weather in northern Taiwan is usually at its most unpleasant, chilly and wet, the pretty blossoms of the region’s plum and cherry trees make a welcome appearance, as if to comfort residents and visitors longing for more sun and warmth. There are many locations in the greater Taipei area where cherry trees line roads and walking paths, but Yangmingshan National Park is regarded as the must-go destination for flower lovers during early spring in Taiwan. Yangming Park, within the larger park, is especially popular for its convenient access and its high density of blooming trees and bushes, among them a wide variety of azalea and camellia.

Location: Yangmingshan National Park, Beitou District, Taipei City ( 台北市北投區陽明山國家公園 ) Websites: www.facebook.com/ymsflower#!/ymsflower

4/2 4/10

Feb. Mar.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival 新北市平溪天燈節

Legend has it that in imperial days, Han Chinese immigrants who had settled in the Pingxi Valley frequently came under threat by indigenous warriors and Chinese bandits. As they approached, most villagers would escape into hiding in the forested hills surrounding the villages, leaving only the able-bodied men behind to ward off the marauders. After an attack, the brave men would send paper lanterns into the sky to signal fellow villagers that it was safe to return. After such threats had eventually disappeared, the people of Shifen village continued with the sending of paper lanterns into the sky during the Yuanxiao Festival, which marks the end of the traditional Chinese New Year period. In 1999 this tradition, to that point small in scale, was recognized by government authorities as an important cultural event, and a large annual festival was organized around it. Over the years this festival has grown significantly in size, now attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year. Locations: Shifen, Pingxi, and Jingtong, New Taipei City ( 新北市十分,平溪,菁桐 ) Website: www.ntpc.gov.tw

Song-Jiang Battle Array in Neimen, Kaohsiung 高雄內門宋江陣

The main claim to fame of Neimen, a rural district in northeastern Kaohsiung, is martial arts. More than 50 martial-arts performance troupes carry on a long tradition of performing in temple squares to honor deities on their birthdays. While steeped in tradition and religion, the performances today also have a distinct competitive character, which is especially evident during the annual gathering of martial-arts troupes as part of the Song-Jiang Battle Array festival. The festival is a grand event combining tradition and religion with exciting and often highly creative martial arts performances. This year, 25 troupes from around Taiwan are competing against each other, the winning troupe to take away a grand prize of NT$60,000.

Location: Shunxian Temple, Neimen District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市內門區順賢宮 ) Website: www.who-ha.com.tw

Travel in Taiwan

5


W H AT ' S U P

NEWS & Events around Taiwan

Northern Taiwan’s Top 10 Night Markets Visiting a night market is an indispensable part of traveling in Taiwan; and because of the large number of places to choose from, you won’t have many excuses to not go and find out why this place is regarded as one of the world’s top destinations for food lovers. But which night markets are the best of the lot? A recent online poll by local website www.yam.com revealed that for northern Taiwan no night market is more popular than Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, followed by the city’s more famous Shilin and Raohe Street tourist night markets. Ningxia is known as a veritable heaven for traditional snack foods such as pig liver soup, egg yolk taro cake, and zhi gao fan (rice with pig’s feet). The other night markets in the top 10: Garden Night Market (Xinzhuang), Miaokou Night Market (Keelung), Zhongyuan Night Market (Zhongli), Shuangcheng Street Night Market (Taipei), Linjiang Street Night Market (Taipei), Nanjichang Night Market (Taipei), and Zhongli City Night Market (Zhongli).

Hong Kong Traveler Wins Anytime for Taiwan Video Contest

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the World’s Fourth Best Photo courtesy of Taiwan Taoyuan Int'l Airport

In a recent online poll on the website www.sleepinginairports.net , Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the main gateway to Taiwan, received the fourth-highest number of votes, proof that the major efforts to upgrade the airport’s facilities in recent years have been received positively by travelers. Among the reasons for the airport’s popularity are the creatively themed waiting halls and such convenient services and amenities as unlimited free Wi-Fi access, a transit hotel, private lounges, free 15-minute showers, and an array of art and museum exhibits. Airport website: www.taoyuan-airport.com .

Three New High Speed Rail Stations Does it get any better than this – doing what you love most and getting rewarded for it? Andy Kong, from Hong Kong, most certainly had thoughts along those lines when he was notified that he was the winner of the Anytime for Taiwan video contest held in 2014~2015, organized by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau in cooperation with Google Taiwan. After a trip to Taiwan he created a 3-minute video (www. youtube.com/watch?v=WEr74uOVrs8 ), filmed mostly with a camera on a selfie stick, which had been viewed more than 140,000 times as of this writing and gained the most votes (9,840) on the Tourism Bureau’s contest website. His video shows the essence of what traveling in Taiwan is about for many if not most visitors: diverse landscapes, unique culture, myriad activities, and super-friendly and welcoming local people. As a reward for his great video, Andy was presented with an around-the-world airline ticket.

6

Travel in Taiwan

For the past nine years the Taiwan High Speed Rail service has been shuttling travelers between Taipei in the north and Kaohsiung in the south, providing a fast and convenient connection between Taiwan’s two most important cities and points in between. At the end of last year, three stations were added to the previously existing eight, giving travelers even more options for getting to places on the island’s western side. The new stations, in Miaoli, Changhua, and Yunlin counties, are served by an HSR train once every hour (trains leave Taipei and Kaohsiung about every six to ten minutes, but not all stop at every station along the way). More info at: www5.thsrc.com.tw/en .


JANUARY~MARCH

E-Visas for Foreigners Visiting Taiwan From the first day of this year, nationals of 27 countries traveling to Taiwan are able to apply for visitor visas online. With the establishment of an e-visa system by the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan has become the 24th country in the world offering online visa applications. Travelers from eligible countries (with no visa-free entry arrangement with Taiwan) who wish to make a visit for business or tourism purposes can apply for an e-visa that allows a stay of up to 30 days. The system, preliminarily open to citizens of 27 nationalities, includes Taiwan's 21 diplomatic allies as well as six other countries. For more info about visa regulations, visit the BOCA’s website at: www.boca.gov.tw .

100 Taxis for the Handicapped in Kaohsiung

The southern city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest, is busy creating a more convenient travel environment. Apart from a new light-rail system that gives travelers and commuters a new option for getting around in the city, a new taxi-service improvement has been implemented. At the end of last year, 60 large-sized taxis designed for the transportation of physically handicapped Hotel Royal Group_print ADs_EN_2015Apr.pdf 1 2015/4/7 by the 下午 city 5:15 government. The number of these passengers were put in operation vehicles, available in spots such as the airport, high-speed rail stations, and local hospitals, is expected to be increased to 100 this year.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan Taoyuan Int'l Airport

New Glass-Bottom Bridge in Nantou

Echoing the recent opening of the “Brave Men’s Bridge” glassbottom suspension bridge in mainland China’s Hunan Province, Nantou County’s Xinyi Township has unveiled its own, albeit smaller, version, the “Pinglai Glass Light Bridge.” The bridge is located in a scenic, yet rarely visited, area off Provincial Highway 21, which connects Sun Moon Lake with Alishan. Spanning a valley, the 88-meter-long bridge soars about 50 meters above a mountain stream, presenting a mild challenge to those with a fear of heights. There is an entrance fee of NT$100, and visitors must apply online in advance: http://ruri.shini.gov.tw (Chinese).


C U LT U R E S C E N E

CULTURE Concerts, Exhibitions, and Happenings

Until 2/14

National Concert Hall

VIENNA MUSIC FESTIVAL

Until 4/24

National Palace Museum Southern Branch

Photo courtesy of National Palace Museum

RADIATING HUES OF BLUE ON WHITE: MING

DYNASTY BLUE-ANDWHITE PORCELAINS IN THE NPM COLLECTION

維也納金色藝術節

藍白輝映—院藏明代青花瓷展

Established in 1978, the Strauss Festival Orchestra Vienna is an internationally acclaimed orchestra known for its authentic interpretation of Viennese music. Over the years the orchestra has repeatedly toured the world, including numerous stops in Asia, bringing the music of Johann Strauss to a global audience. It is currently led jointly by Peter Guth and Willy Büchler, who conduct with violin in hand, continuing a long tradition started by the Strauss family. More info at: npac-ntch.org.

2/25 4/17

National Theater & Concert Hall

This exhibition presents some of the finest examples of underglaze blue porcelain from the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644), produced at the famous kilns of Jingdezhen in China’s northeastern Jiangxi Province. During this period, porcelains from China became a sought-after commodity around the world, and products were exported on a large scale to other Asian countries and Europe. This type of porcelain is beloved for its translucent quality and its sophisticated decorative patterns, often incorporating exotic motifs. More info at: www.npm.gov.tw.

Until 2/14

Taipei Fine Arts Museum

TAIWAN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS

ANIMAL FARM:

台灣國際藝術節

動物莊園─ 蘇旺伸四十年繪畫展

THE PAINTINGS OF SU WONG-SHEN

C

M

Y

CM

MY

Right from its first staging in 2009, the annual Taiwan International Festival of Arts has been a huge success, with fans eagerly awaiting each new edition in spring. This year, the festival will once again present outstanding talent in theater, music, and dance from Taiwan and abroad. Among the highlights will be the music-dancetheater work Lover, a co-production by Taiwan’s U-Theatre and the Rundfunkchor Berlin composed by Berlin composer Christian Jost, and The Triplets of Belleville Cine-Concert , during which a highly acclaimed animated film is shown on a large screen while a jazz orchestra provides the live music score, establishing the key tones of humor and warmth. See the complete festival program at: tifa.npac-ntch.org/2016/en/.

8

Travel in Taiwan

CY

Dogs and cats have been featured in local artist Su Wong-shen’s paintings for the past 30 years. “Animal Farm” is a major exhibition that serves as a retrospective of Su’s work, featuring over 110 selections representative of various stages in the painter’s career, spanning the late 1970s to the present day. The scenes presented on his canvases are frequently inhabited by dogs and cats that have been abandoned by humans. Reduced to a life on the streets, they live out a social theater of survival, with human cities or towns serving as the stage where their struggles are performed. More info at: www.tfam.museum.

CMY

K


cu lture scene

2/12 &

2/13

Taipei International Convention Center

FRENCH MUSICAL GALA CONCERT

Until 4/30

National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium

TRANSPARENT FISH SECRETS 雀斯派倫特.費雪的 秘密

法式音樂劇巨 星演唱會

In 1979, after Starmania successfully debuted in Paris, French musicals quickly became an established new music genre, differing distinctively from the better known British and American styles. French musicals gained popularity well beyond the borders of francophone countries, especially by such successful works as Notre-Dame de Paris , acclaimed by some as the French equivalent to The Phantom of the Opera . This concert brings together six of the biggest stars of the French musical, including Matt Laurent (who played the hunchback in Notre-Dame de Paris), and presents 20 of the greatest musical hits.

The National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung County is a wonderful facility that introduces visitors to the fascinating world of ocean life. Close to the popular beach town of Kending, and located inside the boundaries of Kenting National Park, it is one of the main tourist attractions in the island’s far south. This special exhibition features a great number of unique transparent specimens sure to fascinate visitors. The process of creating these specimens is explained, as well as their role in academic research. Various interactive devices are also used to help visitors gain a further understanding of the fish on display. More info at: www.nmmba.gov.tw.


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

City of Broad Shoulders, City of Culture Text: Rick Charette

10

Travel in Taiwan

Photos: Chen Cheng-kuo


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

Kaohsiung City seen from the Shoushan Lover's Observatory

Travel in Taiwan

11


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

L

ocated in the far south, K a o h s i u n g i s Ta i w a n ’s industrial powerhouse. It is home to a population of hard-working can-do people who have long chafed at their home’s reputation as Taiwan’s “second city,” with first city Taipei hogging the limelight as the island’s political and cultural powerhouse. What have they done about it? In true Kaohsiung get-it-done fashion, they’ve been hard at work since the late 1990s remaking the city brand, seeking to craft a cultural destination that draws spotlight attention on the international stage. Travel in Taiwan recently rode the High Speed Rail line from our cool Taipei base down to the warm southern metropolis for a 3-day “let’s see what’s new” visit. 1. Qijin Island seen from Qihou Battery 2. Qijin Seaside Park 3. Qihou Battery 4. Rainbow Church

Day 1 Have your camera ready when boarding the fer r y to Qijin Island at Gushan Ferry Pier. Locals stream onto the lower parking-lot deck on scooters (you go to the upper deck, via a separate entrance). The ride across the narrow, ship-packed Kaohsiung Harbor is so quick that many don’t bother to get off their machines. Qijin Island is a 9km-long silt-created giant sandbar that serves as a breakwater and defines the harbor’s form. Its tourist area is on the north end, beyond the ferry pier. Directly beyond the pier is Qijin Old Street – you’re in Kaohsiung’s oldest settlement, dating back to the 1600s – lined with inexpensive, simple-décor, high-quality seafood eateries serving the freshest catch imaginable, with display tanks by entrances. Filling up the narrow streets between Old Street and the high hill at the island’s north tip are quaint old residences built of wood, granite, brick, coral and, it seems, anything else that was at hand on the day.

Tianhou (Empress of Heaven) Temple, fronted by scores of swaying, brilliantred lanterns, is Kaohsiung’s oldest temple, established in 1673. Since Qijin’s riches have always come from the sea, you’ll not be surprised that the temple is dedicated to Mazu, Goddess of the Sea, protector of seafarers. Qihou Lighthouse, a snowwhite 11-meter-high Baroque-style tower erected by the Japanese in 1916, stands at the edge of a sea-facing cliff guarding the harbor’s exceedingly narrow northend mouth. Enthralling views of the busy harbor can be enjoyed as ships squeeze by below. The old Qihou Battery, on the west side of the hill, was built by a justifiably anxious Qing Dynasty government in the 1870s, fearful of invasion by the Japanese or Western powers. It was later used by both Taiwan’s Japanese colonial masters and the Chinese Nationalist government. (Note: Temple, lighthouse, and fortress are all open to the public; but the lighthouse is closed on Mondays.)

1

1. On the way to the Mt. Xue trailhead 2. Wuling Farm Visitor Center 3. Bridge over the Qijiawan River 4. Wuling Farm tea plantation 5. Qijiawan River


2

3

4


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

Rent a bicycle or electric quadricycle (inexpensive and well-maintained) from one of the shops right outside the Qijin ferry building for a fun, breezy meander along the island’s west side, facing the Taiwan Strait. Qijin Seaside Park is stretched out along the north section. Among the new draws here is Rainbow Church, a colorful open-air chapel-like structure with an ocean backdrop that draws countless couples for wedding-photo shoots, and the Qijin Sea Pearl, a large clam-shaped amphitheater-like structure designed as a sea-viewing platform, its shape magnifying the recorded sea sounds played. A little further south is young Qijin Wind Power Park, an eco-theme park with a line of small tri-blade wind turbines that provide nighttime park illumination, a large observatory directly behind.

14

Travel in Taiwan

Kaohsiung’s Best Views In the evening, we took a shor t taxi ride from Gushan Ferr y Pier up to Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine, located on Shoushan (Mt. Longevity; elevation 365m), north of the pier. Our destination was not the shrine (which is closed at night), but Shoushan Lover’s Observatory in front, from which terrific views over the harbor and brightly lit city core are enjoyed. Photo buffs love to frame their masterpieces with the large, white steel “LOVE” sculpture in the foreground. Kaohsiung’s two other best “big picture” city-viewing spots are the 74F observation deck in the skyscraping 85 Sky Tower and the high-perch British Consulate at Takow; more on these in the main text. (Note: Shoushan is quiet at night, so if taking a taxi up, ask your driver to wait or ask if he’ll come back later, and get his number.)

1


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

Day 2 Sitting atop a Shoushan spur that comes right down to the harbor’s north-end mouth, near Gushan Ferry Pier, is The British Consulate at Takow (britishconsulate.khcc.gov.tw). The original consulate was built in 1865, after Taiwan treaty ports were opened following the Second Opium War. The current heritagesite edition, an attractive red-brick building done in late Renaissance Baroque style, dates to 1879. There are sweeping views of the harbor, harborside districts, and out to sea, the last invariably busy with containership comings and goings. The rectangular mansion, which has a breezy wraparound arcade veranda, today houses displays on 19th-century trade and the important amateur natural scientist Robert Swinhoe, who served as British consul. It also has a café/restaurant with much-in-demand outdoor seating, day and night. The young, expansive, and still-growing Pier-2 Art Center (pier-2.khcc.gov.tw), a special zone that is at the heart of the city’s cultural-creative bloom, has become one of its most popular attractions. The numerous old, renovated Kaohsiung Harbor warehouses here, long abandoned, were formerly used to store such goods as fish meal and granulated sugar. Today they are culturalcreative incubator stages for domestic and international exhibitions, festivals, live indoor and outdoor musical, theatrical, and busker performances, and large-scale outdoor installation artworks and graffitistyle/3D murals, many wonderfully quirky and whimsical, some created by artists-inresidence. There are also various culturalcreative merchandise shops and cafés/ eateries, including bistro-style Now and Then (see accompanying Stay/Eat/Buy article). What’s not to love about the Love River? On my first few visits, in the 1990s, it was a brackish “waterway” in which the water moved little, if at all. Today, thanks to dedicated eco-engineering, it is clean, the waters flow freely, and fish have returned. The landscaped banks are lined with benches, bike- and pedestrianfriendly paths, and attractive lamp lighting. The mood is best at night, when the cafés, bars, and small eateries are brightly lit up.

2

3

All provide alfresco seating. Locals affectionately call this “Taiwan’s Seine River.” We’ll call it Taiwan’s “Seine River with Taiwanese characteristics.” In the busiest section, near Zhongzheng Bridge on Zhongzheng 4th Road, you’re regaled with Chinese pop music from the cafés/bars, hawker calls from the boat-cruise ticket kiosks, and Taiwanese love songs from the gondoliers.

1. Shoushan Lover's Observatory 2. The British Consulate at Takow 3/4. Pier-2 Art Center

4 Travel in Taiwan

15


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

Love Cruising A Love River boat cruise is a veritable rite of passage for visitors to Kaohsiung. Rides on solar/diesel-powered Love Boats and gondolas are offered, with commentary provided, and with the gondoliers periodically breaking out in song. Cruises operate weekdays from 18:00~22:00 and weekends/holidays from 15:00~22:00. Check details in person at the ticket booths beside the cruise-outing piers, or with the Tourism Bureau of Kaohsiung (tourism.

kcg.gov.tw) .

16

Travel in Taiwan

1


2

4

Iconic Modern Architecture As part of its rebranding campaign, the city is giving birth to some striking modernist architecture. The king of Kaohsiung has long been, and remains, the lofty 85 Sky Tower, which looks like a giant spacecraft propped atop two massive booster rockets, ready to launch. Two spanking-new structures, Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (www.kecc.com.tw ) and Kaohsiung Main Public Library (www.ksml.edu.tw ), are within easy walking distance of each other. The park-surrounded harborside exhibition facility looks like a paean to Beijing’s iconic Bird’s Nest. Be sure to visit the green library’s lovely 8F rooftop hanging garden, which has a fine broad view of the harbor and Qijin. Elsewhere, another young green-complex creation, the magnificent membrane-roofed Dadong Arts Center (dadongcenter.khcc.gov.tw ), has also become an artistic attraction, especially at night when lit up.

1. Love River gondola 2. Dadong Arts Center

3

3/4. Kaohsiung Main Public Library

Travel in Taiwan

17


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

Day 3 On our final day we first visited pleasant Hongmaogang Cultural Park, located on a peninsula point in the port’s south sector, opposite the south end of long Qijin Island. This has been the site of an indigenous village and, founded in imperial times, a Han Chinese fishing village. “Hongmaogang” means “Red Hairs Harbor.” Dutch ships moored here in the 1600s; the Chinese commonly called Hollanders, and Westerners in general, “Red Hairs.” The young park is built around the remains of the old Han village; there are videos and displays on the local indigenous life and on Hongmaogang’s “five major cultural properties”: lagoons, shrimp farming, black mullet fishing and fishing trawlers, neighborhood temples, and sailing rafts. Other facilities include an exhibition hall, skywalk, revolving restaurant, and gift shop. (Note: Get here from Pier 2 on a boat cruise, or from KMRT Siaogang Station via shuttle bus; for full site details, visit hongmaogang.khcc.gov.tw.)

2

1. Kaohsiung Light Rail 2. Hongmaogang Cultural Park 3. “Star of Qianzhen” bike overpass 4. E-Da World ferris wheel 5. Parade performers 6. Theme park rides

3

1

Breezy Cycling + Light Rail Rides A half-decade ago CNN Travel declared Kaohsiung one of the “5 best biking cities in Asia,” and things have only gotten better since. The central city has scores of public bike-rental stations, many at metro stations. Cycling is an attractive option for getting to most city attractions – for example, a dedicated harbor-area path runs right through Pier-2 Art Center, and there are private bike-rental outlets path-side, just off-complex. Among the newest bike-system attractions is the beautiful “Star of Qianzhen” bike overpass, a stylish work of art which flies over the busy intersection above the metro’s Kaisyuan Station. While visiting you’ll no doubt notice the light-rail trains stopping at the small station on the wide, grassy traffic island underneath. The first stage of the city’s new electric light-rail system (Taiwan’s first) is now formally in operation; lock your bike up outside the metro station and hop on one of the sleek-look light-rail trains. The full system, a loop, will be 22.1km long, and integrated with the city’s bike and pedestrian paths (it is slated for completion in 2019). The first-stage section (in operation this year) is 8.7km long and takes you past such key attractions as the Dream Mall, Kaohsiung Main Public Library, Kaohsiung Exhibition Center, and Pier-2 Art Center.

18

Travel in Taiwan


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

6

We finished up our southern inspection tour with an afternoon of rollicking good fun at the wildly successful E-Da World (www. edaworld.com.tw), located close to the city core in the Kaohsiung countryside. The young park, according to Kevin Lin, GM of EDA Development Co., was brought into existence with two foundation ideas in mind: to serve as a benchmark model of international standards and sophistication for Taiwan’s rebranding Kaohsiung/Tainan region, and to provide a destination for families, with all members’ wide-ranging needs and desires catered to.

4

The theme-park area has rides, games, and all sorts of other entertainment. The adjoining mall has scores of upscale brand-name outlets and a moderately-priced youth-oriented section. The English and Chinese 85 Sky Tower 高雄 85 大樓 Dadong Arts Center 大東文化藝術中心 E-Da World 義大遊樂世界 Gushan Ferry Pier 鼓山渡輪碼頭 Hongmaogang Cultural Park 紅毛港文化園區 Kaohsiung Exhibition Center 高雄展覽館 Kaohsiung Main Public Library 高雄市立圖書總館 Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine 高雄市忠烈祠 Kevin Lin 林俊昇 Love River 愛河 Pier-2 Art Center 駁二藝術特區 Qijin Island 旗津島

5

large upscale E-Da Royal Hotel has numerous superb restaurants, spa facilities, and many other attractions. There’s also a baseball driving range, a golf range, and many other recreational facilities. We spent our afternoon (give yourself a full day if at all possible) riding the giant rooftop ferris wheel, thrilling 55-meter-high rollercoaster, and scenic monorail, enjoying a skate on the mall’s ice rink, watching the Halloween-theme parade and show with players costumed, incongruously, a la Mad Max and The Nutcracker, snacking way too much … and much, much else that I just don’t have time to tell you about. And then we went home – back in Taipei in just 90 minutes with the High Speed Rail. The (Happy) End. Qijin Old Street 旗津老街 Qijin Sea Pearl 旗津海珍珠 Qijin Seaside Park 旗津海岸公園 Qijin Wind Power Park 旗津風車公園 Qihou Battery 旗后砲台 Qihou Lighthouse 旗後燈塔 Rainbow Church 彩虹教堂 Shoushan Lover’s Observatory 壽山情人觀景台 “Star of Qianzhen” 前鎮之星 Tianhou (Empress of Heaven) Temple 天后宮 The British Consulate at Takow 打狗英國領事館 Zhongzheng Bridge 中正大橋

Getting There & Around Kaohsiung can be reached from Taipei in about 90 minutes when taking the high-speed rail; the fastest regular-railway service takes close to five hours (there is no domestic Taipei-Kaohsiung airway connection). The high-speed rail service’s Kaohsiung terminus and metro system’s Zuoying Station are in the same complex. Most attractions mentioned in this article are close to a Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (KMRT) station. There is a regular shuttle-bus service between the high-speed rail terminus and E-Da World; English-speaking staff at the station’s visitor information counter will show you where the bus stop is.

Travel in Taiwan

19


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

City of Broad Shoulders, City of Culture Day 1

Qijin Island

Day 2

The British Consulate at Takow

Shoushan Lover’s Observatory Pier-2 Art Center 85 Sky Tower

Shoushan Lover’s Observatory

Dadong Arts Center Kaohsiung Main Public Library Love River

Day 3

Hongmaogang Cultural Park E-Da World

Love River

Ferry to Qijin Island

Formosa Boulevard

Taipei

Shoushan Lover’s Observatory

Yilan Taichung Hualien

Yanchengpu The British Consulate at Takow

Kaohsiung

Qijin Island

Google map with info

20

Travel in Taiwan

Pier-2 Art Center

Love River Sanduo Shopping District 85 Sky Tower Kaohsiung Main Public Library Kaohsiung Exhibition Center


FEATURE KAOHSIUNG

186

E-Da World 186A

10

1

Rainbow Church

THSR Zuoying Station Zuoying

E-Da World

1

“Star of Qianzhen”

Formosa Boulevard

Dadong Arts Center

Yanchengpu

Dadong

Sanduo Shopping District

Dadong Arts Center

Kaohsiung International Airport

Hongmaogang Cultural Park Kaohsiung Exhibition Center

Hongmaogang Cultural Park

Travel in Taiwan

21


STAY/EAT/BUY KAOHSIUNG

Where to Stay, Eat, and Shop in Central Kaohsiung City Text: Rick Charette

Photos: Chen Cheng-kuo

Though Kaohsiung’s warm, timeless, relaxed traditions persist, “urbane chic” is what’s hot these days in this big internationalizing city.

Music room at Just Sleep Kaohsiung Zhongzheng

22

Travel in Taiwan


STAY/EAT/BUY KAOHSIUNG

Lobby at Just Sleep

Lobby at The Tree House

Guestroom at The Tree House

Just Sleep, a young, growing Taiwan chain of moderately priced businesspersonoriented boutique hotels offering 5-star services and amenities, specializes in transforming middle-aged high-rises into bright, sparkling, stylishly modern accommodation facilities. While following a strict regime of standardized rules – the “mini-chain” has been introduced by the group that runs the upscale Regent Hotels & Resorts chain – individual owners are free to customize their properties to reflect their personalities. At Just Sleep Kaohsiung Zhongzheng, the two major personal-touch themes are music and vegetarian food. In the lobby you’re met with Western piano music played “live” by a pianola. Classical Western music is played through the day in the comfy

second-floor reading room, which can be seen from the lobby. Ease into the plush sofa seating and avail yourself of the library materials and free coffees, juices, and snacks. Adjoining this is the soundproofed music room, outfitted with sofa seating, high-end individual headphone/CD player sets, and hundreds of varied-genre CDs. The Regent group has a reputation for first-rate food, and as evidence of the quality of Just Sleep Zhongzheng’s single restaurant, Double Veggie, management says about 80% of diners are non-guests. Inter national cuisine with a mix of Southeast Asian and Italian condiments, spices, and seasonings is served. Note that meat selections are available at the breakfast buffet. (Rooms start at NT$2,800; free buffet breakfast.)

Just Sleep Kaohsiung Zhongzheng ( 捷絲旅高雄中正館 ) Add: No. 134, Zhongzheng 1st Rd., Lingya District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市苓雅區中正一路 134 號 ) Tel: (07) 972-3568 Website: www.justsleep.com.tw

Another conveniently located accommodation option is The Tree House boutique hotel. Elevators whisk guests from the small street-level foyer to the quiet, low-ceilinged lobby on the fifth floor. The hotel’s public areas feature a European postmodern/ art deco mix; the clean-line minimalist rooms come with individual postmodern, art décor, and Scandinavian motifs, some with decorative nods to such Kaohsiung themes as the old city, Love River, etc. The artistic piece de resistance is the giant stylized wood-panel tree (no, no tree house) extending from the hotel’s main to top story through floor cutouts. Sit in the comfy lounge beside the top-story outdoor pool and you sit “among” the treetop branches. (Rooms start at NT$1,700; free buffet breakfast .)

The Tree House ( 樹屋旅店 ) Add: No. 132, Liuhe 2nd Rd., Qianjin District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市前金區六合二路 132 號 ) Tel: (07) 287-8800 Website: the-tree-house.hotel.com.tw (Chinese)

Travel in Taiwan

23


STAY/EAT/BUY KAOHSIUNG

Good Day

Now and Then

Now and Then

Good Day

You’ll find newly-opened Now and Then by N.Y.B.C. in warehouse C9 of the Pier2 Art Center (see main article). Owned by Taiwan’s N.Y. Bagels Café chain, which introduced imported New York bagels to Taiwan in 1998 (the Taiwanese owner, a long-time resident of Long Island, New York, had fallen in love with the region’s delis), this is the chain’s first bistrostyle café. It’s an airy place with high windows that draw streams of sunlight into the main-level gallery and secondlevel loft. The relaxed hipster ambience is both captured and promoted by a wallmounted quote from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea : “Every day above earth is a good day.” On offer are hand24

Travel in Taiwan

Now and Then

crafted coffees, mixed alcoholic drinks and imported/local beers, smoothies, shakes, etc., plus Western-style cakes/ pastries. Notably tasty dishes on the menu are the Fried Oyster Po’ Boy, Spicy Shredded Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, and Grilled Ham Benedict. Good Day, established five years ago, sits in a quiet neighborhood behind portoverlooking 85 Sky Tower. It’s a Westernstyle café, a teahouse, a bar, a restaurant, and a “sky lounge” (i.e., on the roof ), depending on the time of day and your mood. It is also the very definition of “eclectic.” The owner has taken an old, exceedingly narrow two-story building, formerly home to two residences, and

judiciously knocked out walls and parts of walls to create a homey, open-front joint with the bar/coffee counter facing directly out over the street, fronted by a narrow patio seemingly always customerfilled. The unpretentious interior has been filled with the types of decorations one would pick up at a North American garage sale. All this, the owner says, has caught the Facebook fancy of Southeast A si a n a n d We s t e r n t r avele r s , who come in a steady stream. The menu is international: Travel in Taiwan specially recommends the ice coffee with lemon juice and cane sugar, curry udon noodles, Thai green curry seafood with rice, and chicken-skewer salad.


STAY/EAT/BUY KAOHSIUNG

In southwest Taiwan, banana popsicles and ice cream are nigh synonymous with Ki A Peng Sian. This small chain of ice-cream parlors dates to 1926 and a place called Qishan, then a rural town, now a Kaohsiung district, known as Taiwan’s “Kingdom of Bananas.” The Taiwanese name translates as “Popsicle Cheng,” the nickname bestowed on the founder. Try the outlet right across from the eslite Bookstore at the Pier-2 Art Center. Though there are many types of sweet treats and flavor options, the three long-time kings are the banana popsicles, banana ice cream, and banana shaved ice. Ki A Peng Sian popsicles

Banana-flavored egg rolls

Now and Then by N.Y.B.C. Add: Dayi Warehouse C9-19, Pier-2 Art Center; No. 2, Dayi St., Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄駁二大義倉庫 C9-19; 高雄市鹽埕區大義街 2 號 ) Tel: (07) 531-6999 Website: www.facebook.com/nowandthenbynybc

Good Day ( 好好生活館 ) Add: No. 78, Kunming St., Qianzhen District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市前鎮區崑明街 78 號 ) Tel: (07) 535-4319 Website: www.facebook.com/gooddaycafe80

THE name in Kaohsiung for cakes and pastries is Jiu Zhen Nan, established in 1890, perhaps Taiwan’s best-known name when it comes to Chinese-style xibing (engagement cakes). In recent years it has broadened the appeal of its xibing and other cake/pastry delicacies by offering lighter fillings of pineapple paste, coconut paste, mung-bean paste, and so on. The sizes of its traditionally larger-sized treats have also been shrunk so they can be finished in a single sitting, and all items are now also light in calories. The current owner, originally a realestate developer, has an eye for elegant design. Jiu Zhen Nan’s beautiful gift

packaging has brought it a prestigious iF Design Award, and each of its shop interiors is a cool statement in understated elegance. (Tip: You’ll find an outlet in Kaohsiung’s High Speed Rail station.) A not her f i ne choice is t he “Big Tree Famous Foods” shop in E-Da World theme park (see main ar ticle) “Taiwan Storyland,” which specializes in southwest-region processed foods. Buy flavorful bite-sized pineapple cakes, traditional-style pork sausages (ready-toeat and packaged), pork and beef jerky, dried, lightly sweetened fruits and veggies ( papaya, banana, ta ro… even mu ng beans), and other snack-time treats.

Ki A Peng Sian ( 枝仔冰城 ) (at Pier-2 Art Center) Add: No. 8-2, Dayong Rd., Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市鹽埕區大勇路 8-2 號 ) Tel: (07) 521-1149 Website: www.kaps.com.tw (Chinese)

Jiu Zhen Nan cakes

Jiu Zhen Nan ( 舊振南 ) (Zhongzheng Flagship Store) Add: No. 84, Zhongzheng 4th Rd., District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市前金區中正四路 84 號 ) Tel: (07) 288-8202 Website: www.jzn.com.tw (Chinese)

English and Chinese Chiang Ching-kuo 蔣經國 “Big Tree Famous Foods” 大樹名產 Kingdom of Bananas 香蕉王國 “Taiwan Storyland” 台灣故事館館 xibing 喜餅

Jiu Zhen Nan cakes

Travel in Taiwan

25


TRIBAL EXPERIENCE YILAN

Jinyue Indigenous Village A Trip to the Mountains and a Different Way of Life Text: Joe Henley

Photos: Maggie Song

One of the southern outposts of Yilan County, Nan’ao, is often passed by unnoticed by travelers, locals and foreigners alike, headed further south along the coast to Hualien, where big tourist draws such as Taroko Gorge await. Perhaps more of these travelers would consider getting off the train or detouring off the highway if they knew that this is a cultureand scenery-rich area where one can experience the fascinating way of life of the Ryohen people. 1

N

estled in the mountains of Nan'ao Township is a village watched over by the spirits of the past. The village is Jinyue, and its 300 inhabitants are by and large members of the Ryohen people, a group belonging to the Atayal tribe. The Ryohen believe that when their elders die, their spirits remain on the mountain to protect and guide them. As the Ryohen work to keep their traditional ties to the land alive, they invite those from the outside world to come and experience their way of life. The group – the name Ryohen is derived from the Atayal term for “bird's nest fern” – once lived deeper in the mountains, in a village far from the reach of the outside world. However, during the Japanese colonial period (1895~1945) the Japanese coerced them to leave their ancestral home and move closer to the coast. Later, after 1949, the Nationalist government forced them to move once again. Under the Japanese, the Ryohen were subjected to the pressures of the Kominka Movement – an initiative designed to turn all inhabitants of Taiwan into loyal subjects of the Japanese

26

Travel in Taiwan


TRIBAL EXPERIENCE YILAN

3

2

emperor. As a result, many of the tribe's elders speak Japanese, in addition to their native tongue and, for some, Mandarin/ Taiwanese. The fight to keep their language alive is one of many acts of preservation the people of Jinyue have taken on since coming down from the higher mountains, finding a balance between honoring the ancestral ways and adhering to the advances of the modern world. Each year in summer they travel overland 32 kilometers to the original site of their village, crossing landslide zones, rivers, and crevices on foot so that the young of the tribe never lose touch with their roots. Those too old to make the twoday hike are flown in by helicopter so that they might look upon their old village’s overgrown homes and speak with the spirits of their ancestors once more.

1. Sayun Yawi, weaving master 2. Tree house at Jinyue Village 3. Hanging out with Ryohen elder Yugan Hayun 4. Fabric dyed with red potatoes

Upon reaching the village, guests who have arranged a tour in advance are welcomed with a traditional greeting ceremony, a member of the tribe leading them in song and dance. Next, an elder sings a song of blessing, offering cups of millet wine to the eldest visitors first, continuing on down to the youngest. From there, visitors are invited to take part in one of four tours in and around the village, each a mix of history, education on the tribe's traditional ways, outdoor adventure, and indigenous food. 4

Luckily, for visitors the journey to the modern-day site of Jinyue is far less arduous than this yearly trek. From Taipei the trip by train to the nearest station takes between two and two-and-a-half hours (followed with a taxi ride to the village). If self-driving, follow Provincial Highway 9 southbound along the eastern coastline.

Travel in Taiwan

27


TRIBAL EXPERIENCE YILAN

The first option is a history-themed tour of the village, followed by lunch and topped off with some DIY fabric dyeing. The dyeing is a good bit of fun, as guests have the opportunity to pound a red breed of potato, gathered by Ryohen hunters when out on hunts for wild boar, into dye. The potatoes are inedible for humans, but are useful when hunters try to locate boars, who love to feed on them. Guests have the chance to turn them into a paste by ramming a large wooden pounding stick into a collection vessel, carved out of the broad stump of a tree. Tied pieces of fabric are then placed in the natural dyeing solution and hung up to dry, the asymmetrical pattern that emerges dependent on the way in which the fabric was tied. If you happen to be visiting in July or August, the harvest season for millet, during the agriculture-themed tour you can learn how the grain is used in fermenting pork for traditional dishes. Hunting is essential to the traditional Ryohen way of life, and the third tour option has guests receiving a lesson in archery. According to custom, women are forbidden to touch a bow, just as men are banned from touching the base of the looms women use to weave traditional garments. But not to worry – for the purposes of the tour, women can learn to shoot just as surely as men. The fourth tour option gives visitors a chance to learn how to construct a triangle stone kiln, which used to adorn the 1

2

3

dirt floors of old Ryohen homes in times past, set between the separate beds of the husband and wife. Using the kiln, guests learn how to cook a traditional meal. An archery lesson is also part of the itinerary. If the visit takes place October through December, guests can also take part in the mushroom harvest; mushrooms are another staple of the Ryohen diet. The cost of a tour starts at NT$1,500 per day and person, and varies depending on the activities selected. A meal is included in the cost and, depending on the size of the group, will be served either buffet style or as individual sets. If you arrive without a reservation, set meals are available at a cost of NT$250. Though the Ryohen themselves do not offer river-tracing tours (they are planning to in the future), certified guides will be recommended at the village center upon inquiry; they can take visitors to Jinyue Waterfall, a short drive further up the mountain. From a small parking area, it’s a walk of just a minute or so to a narrow, rushing river. In the waterfall section, the river tumbles down over six separate stone flats on the mountainside. The water is crystal-clear and pleasantly cool and refreshing, racing over monolithic masses of stone worn smooth over the eons. River-tracing beginners stick to the lower two tiers of the falls, while more advanced visitors can venture higher up, accompanied by their guide. Back in the village, there are more interesting things to discover as well, chief among them the vitality and exuberance of the village's elders, many of whom delight in demonstrating their traditional skills to visitors.

28

Travel in Taiwan


TRIBAL EXPERIENCE YILAN

5 Getting There From Taipei the trip by train takes between two and twoand-a-half hours (NT$304 on the Tze-Chiang Limited Express; note that not all trains on the Taipei-YilanHualien route stop at Nan’ao). If you drive from Taipei, take National Freeway 5 to Yilan and then follow Provincial Highway 9 along the coast. From Nan'ao Railway Station, taxis are available for the short drive up the mountain to the village. On a recent visit the cost of the taxi ride, lasting around five minutes, was NT$130.

4

Sayun Yawi, 86 years young, laughs as she jokes that were it not for her weaving skills she would never have been married. It's only partially in jest, however, as in the past a woman's adeptness with the loom was seen as a kind of dowry. The more garments a family possessed, the richer they were considered. The old lady, who has been weaving since she was 15, now passes on her knowledge to the young of the tribe, at the village school or by having them come to watch her work her loom magic at home, sitting on the concrete floor, laughing, and telling stories as she works patiently and with good humor, stitch by stitch. Up the road from the village’s center is the home of Yugan Hayun, 81, an expert in rattan weaving. Having plied his trade from the age of 16, Yugan proudly shows off photographs of the baskets, baby carriers, hunting bags, and lunch boxes he weaves by shaping and bending the pliable reeds. At the entrance of the village stands the watchtower, where young men and women alike once stood guard, keeping a lookout for approaching enemies. Next to the tower is a replica of a traditional elevated granary. In the past, all Ryohen marriages were arranged. If the prospective bride or groom was reluctant, the couple would be locked together in the granary for a week. On coming out they would tend to agree that getting hitched was preferable to more time spent in involuntary confinement with their chosen partner. Across from the granary and tower is another replica, this of a traditional Ryohen home. Steps lead down from the doorway into the sunken level, wherein the first thing any visitor, friendly or otherwise, would have seen is the husband's bed flush against the

English and Chinese Atayal 泰雅 Jinyue 金岳 Jinyue Waterfall 金岳瀑布 Kominka Movement 皇民化運動 Nan'ao Township 南澳鄉 Ryohen 流興

right wall. Above him would hang his weapons, giving pause to any thoughts of attack should the callers be enemies rather than friends. Above the triangle stone kiln is a hanging shelf, which served as a dryer for clothing, and rattan baskets and carrying cases adorn the walls. Next to the house is a bell tower erected as a memorial to a Ryohen girl, also named Sayun like the weaver, who drowned while helping her Japanese teacher cross a river in the late 1930s. In 1943 the story was turned into a film, Sayun's Bell , which was screened throughout Taiwan and mainland China as a propaganda piece in an attempt to endear subject people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to their Japanese colonial rulers. Today the bell is still rung at a special ceremony each year, and only those young people of the tribe who have achieved academic excellence, or made some outstanding cultural contribution to the tribe, may ring it. To arrange a Jinyue tour, call the community office at (03) 9984313, or send an e-mail to alang_lopwe@hotmail.com . The tours are also arranged in cooperation with outside tour agencies, so feel free to ask if arranging your Taiwan travels with an agency. For more info about Jinyue Village, visit www.ropwe.com.tw (Chinese).

1. River near Jinyue Waterfall 2. Woven rattan items 3. Bell tower

4. Enjoying the natural environment 5. Indigenous dishes

Travel in Taiwan

29


FARM FUN TOUCHENG

g n i t c e n Con e r u t a N With

Visiting Toucheng Leisure Farm in Yilan County

Located in the northeastern corner of Yilan County, Toucheng Leisure Farm offers a great escape from the big city, introducing visitors to a rich and diverse natural environment. Among the farm’s many popular hands-on activities are rice-planting and kiln-cooking. Text: Joe Henley Photos: Chen Cheng-kuo

1

L

1. Farm experience in Yilan 2/3. Planting rice

30

Travel in Taiwan

et's assume the worst. You're not sold on leisure farms. You think they're places for soft-palmed yuppies to go and gawk at livestock and giggle at pigs rooting around in their own ... you know. For the jaded among us, and there are many in the experienced travelers' circles, the words “leisure” and “farm” used in tandem conjure up images of city folk tossing off the shackles of 9-to-5 cubicle navel-gazing for a weekend to go and play some watered-down version of a ranch hand or a homesteader. But in Yilan County, in Taiwan’s northeast, there's a place that offers the

real deal, as I found out on a recent visit. A far m that balances environmental and ecological education with handson experience. And wine. Lots and lots of wine. At Toucheng Leisure Farm, guests can hand-tailor their itinerary. Whether you want the full-grit package or something more luxurious, your handlers at this 120-hectare plot running up the side of one of Yilan’s coastal mountains can make it happen. Almost 40 years ago, the land that now comprises the farm was given as a gift to Madame Cho, the farm's founder, by


FARM FUN TOUCHENG

2

her husband, thus dooming all future birthday gifts from spouse to spouse to pale in comparison. He could hardly have picked a more beautiful spot for his wife. While in the West we may think of farms as f lat expanses of shimmering crops wavering in the autumn breeze, here on the mountainside it's a different story entirely. In addition to the cultivated plots of soil and bamboo thickets, the mountain is dotted with Taiwan banyan trees, with their multiple offshoots darting from trunk and branch into the fertile ground, weeping willows stand covered from base to canopy in narrow green leaves, and machilus trees

3

tower up to 12 meters above the ground beside Chinese elder and rose apples. In some cases farming is merely a means of exploiting the land – but here, farming involves working with the land, allowing both the farm and the natural ecosystem to thrive. Many of the activities at the farm offer visitors the chance to get up close and personal with its ecosystem. One of the highlights is learning how to transplant and har vest rice at the far m's paddy overlooking the Gengfang River. Guests are invited to kick off their shoes and step into the pleasantly cool water and soft mud

to try their hand at placing rice shoots into the rich layer of sediment. Taiwanese often speak in longing tones about spending their retirement years tending a plot of rice in the countryside. Though nowadays rice cultivation is largely done using machines, plunging one's hands into the mud and feeling it squishing between your toes, if only for a short while, provides a unique connection with nature. In times past, the water buffalo was the most important agrarian animal in Taiwan, used for, among many other things, tilling

Travel in Taiwan

31


FARM FUN TOUCHENG

the rice paddies to stir up nutrients from below. So vital were they to carrying out the varying physical tasks associated with farming that a veritable book of Mandarin proverbs on the venerated animal could be compiled. To enable visitors to learn more about the water buffalo, as well as pigs, goats, and geese, the farm has a domesticatedanimal area wherein guests can feed the animals while the farm's staff, some of whom speak English fluently, impart their considerable knowledge on the animals and on farming operations. The staff at the farm do far more than simply draw attention to the features of the place, taking time to point out all things large and small, entering into detailed asides about even the farm's smallest residents. During my late-autumn visit, Hunter Lin, the farm's Head of Environmental Education, talked at length on everything from the life cycle of the tadpoles swimming around the feet of guests as they pushed shoots of rice down into the mud, to that of rice paper butterfly golden pupae, which at the time were ensconced safely within their tiny casings, golden with flecks of black and orange. Just a shor t walk from where the pupae await their transformation into large butterflies and make their grand emergence sits the farm's terraced vegetable garden.

1

Here one can give planting Okinawan spinach a try, and learn about composting, natural insect and pest control, and everything else that goes into planting, nurturing, protecting, and harvesting the farm's organically grown produce. A farmer's work inevitably leads to a farmer's appetite, and in the food department the farm once again does not disappoint. If you want to find out how farmers cooked their meals in humbler times, head for the kiln area. You'll learn how they constructed cooking kilns from clay-rich reddish soil, building up the

mounds, filling them with dried stalks of bamboo, then cooking everything from chicken to eggs within the smoldering embers. It's a time-intensive mode of food preparation, but the farm offers a sped-up version which allows you to enjoy a kilncooked chicken in around 90 minutes. Then there is also the mud oven baking area, where guests can make their own oven-baked pizzas. One truly unique feature of this farm is that in everything from its own restaurant to the DIY foodpreparation areas, Muslim guests are offered a halal option. The farm's halal menu is prepared in accordance with 2

1. Explaining the farm's plants 2. Feeding a young water buffalo 3. White egret and scarecrows 4. In the farm's vegetable garden 5. Toucheng Farm scenery 6. Trying on a tradional farmer's hat 7. Grazing water buffalo 8. Mud oven baking experience

32

Travel in Taiwan


FARM FUN TOUCHENG

3

4

5

6

7

8

religious custom, separated from the other fare. In addition, meals need not be a traditional sit-down affair. In the summer, tables and chairs can be set up in the gentle trickling waters of one of the three shallow, narrow waterways running through the property, allowing you to feel the cool water running over your feet as you dine on locally produced meat, vegetables, and

fruits. Marketing manager Tina Chiang says guests have also dined high up on the mountainside, outdoors, to enjoy the sunset and sunrise views. Whichever option you choose, what is ensured is an unforgettable dining experience. If feeling soil beneath your fingernails isn't your thing, simply head straight for the top of the property, where you'll find the farm's

Cangjiu Winery, Yilan County's first winery housed within a green building. At this eco-friendly winery, guests can experience a tasting of the varieties of wine distilled, including fruit wines, whites, and reds, as well as potent fruit vinegar. For those who enjoy something a bit stronger, rice wine is made here too. The winery's restaurant offers seasonal meals for NT$600, with a 30-minute tour

Travel in Taiwan

33


FARM FUN TOUCHENG

of the facilities, including the wine cellar, thrown in. From the restaurant’s terrace you can enjoy an excellent view down the valley to the farm plots below. A visit to Toucheng Leisure Farm is quite literally what you make it, as what you do is entirely up to you. The farm now offers a working holiday option, during which visitors will put in around six hours of work per day and contribution to an English-language blog in exchange for food, accommodation. The minimum stay for this option is two weeks. Camps are also available for children in the summer. Lasting from one to two weeks, kids are taught traditional ag r icu lt u r a l sk i l ls, a nd ea ch ca mp culminates with a farmer's market wherein the junior farmers get to sell the products they've had a hand in making to the farm's

other visitors, with profits donated to various local NGOs. For those who would rather simply relax and be shown around, there are one- and two-day tours available, costing NT$1,200 and NT$2,999 per person, respectively. Toucheng Leisure Farm also has three separate accommodation buildings surrounding the central lotus pond at t he fa r m's ent ra nce, where guests can enjoy a comfortable stay at an affordable price.

Getting There From Taipei Railway Station, take a TzeChiang Limited Express train headed for Yilan and get off at Toucheng Railway Station (the ride takes about 90 minutes; NT$184 one way). From there, take a taxi to the farm (about NT$220). Alternatively, take a slower Local Train (takes about 2 hours; NT$108) to Guishan Railway Station (two stations before Toucheng) and call the farm to arrange pick-up (best arranged in advance). If you’d prefer a bus ride, take a Capital Star (www.capital-bus.com.tw ) bus from Taipei City Hall Bus Station to the Toucheng Interchange bus stop (takes about an hour; NT$90), and take a taxi from there.

Since the farm opened, it has played host for everything from yoga retreats, with guests practicing their sun salutations to the beat of the sunrise, to weddings and film shoots. For tourists looking for an informed introduction to the ways of Taiwan's farming past and future, this just might be one of the top options available.

Toucheng Leisure Farm ( 頭城農場 ) Add: No. 125, Gengxin Rd., Toucheng Township, Yilan County ( 宜蘭縣頭城鎮更新路 125 號 ) Tel: (03) 977-2222 Website: www.tcfarm.com.tw

1 2

3

English and Chinese Cangjiu Winery 藏酒酒莊 Hunter Lin 林宏達 Madame Cho 卓陳明女士 Gengfang River 梗枋溪 Tina Chiang 江富美 Tze-Chiang Limited Express 自強號 1. Cangjiu Winery 2. Dishes at the farm's restaurant 3. Kumquat wine

34

Travel in Taiwan


TALK IN TAIWAN

你 好。

Ni hao

你 們 好!

Nimen hao 吃 飯 了沒?

Ni Hao, Everyone!

Ch fàn le méi

Greetings and Goodbyes in Taiwan

你好!

慢 走~

Màn zou

再見!

Zài jiàn

Text: Vision Illustration: Choc Hsu

The first Chinese phrase you will be taught when learning Mandarin will most likely be 你 好 (ni hao), which literally means “you good,” and is the most common greeting in Taiwan. It is used as a simple “hello.” You will also learn that there is a slightly different version, 您好 (nin hao), which is used when you want to be extra polite, for example when meeting an important, higher-ranking person. Ni hao , however, is usually just fine. If you meet a group of people and you want to greet them all together, you can say 你 們 好 (nimen hao ; nimen is the plural form of ni ) or 大家好 (dà jià hao ; “everybody good”). In the morning, people greet each other with 早安 (zao an ; “early/ morning peaceful”) or just 早 . At lunchtime 午安 (wu an ; “noon peaceful”) is sometimes used, but you cannot just say 午 . The greeting 晚 安 (wan an ; “late/evening/night peaceful”) can be used to greet someone in the evening, but these words are more often used like the English “good night,” when people depart each other’s company in the evening or before going to sleep. As with 午 , you cannot use 晚 as a standalone expression.

The people of Taiwan love to eat, so it’s no surprise that at lunch and dinner time, people will ask each other 吃飯了沒 (chi fàn le méi ; “have [you] eaten yet”). This is not meant as the prelude to a lengthy conversation about food, but is simply a common greeting, to which you can reply 吃過 (chi guò ; “have eaten already”) or 還 沒 (hái méi ; “not yet”). In Taiwanese, the greeting is pronounced jia ba buei , and you would answer jia ba~a or ah buei . Upon entering a shop or restaurant you might hear 歡 迎 光 臨 (huan yíng guang lín ), which simply means “welcome.” Upon leaving the establishment, staff members will often thank you for coming with 謝光臨 (xiè guang lín ). Now – how to say “good-bye” in Chinese? The phrase 再 見 (zài jiàn ; “see [you] again”) is common and formal, while 拜拜 (bài bài ; copying the English “bye bye”) is equally common but informal, and preferred by younger people. The phrase 慢走 (màn zou ; “walk slowly”) is often added to farewells as a reminder to not be in a rush, and thus stay safe (on the way home).

Travel in Taiwan

35


DING XIAN 101

GOURMET RESTAURANT Sitting at the Top of the Taiwan Culinary World

I

nternational travelers consistently indicate that one of the key reasons they choose to come to Taiwan is the island’s reputation for superb food. The city of Taipei sits atop the Taiwan culinary world, so it is logical that the top food in the land would be found at the top of the city, wouldn’t you agree? And where might that be? Lovers of riddles have no doubt guessed correctly that the “top” of this dynamic, gastronomically blessed city is the famed Taipei 101 tower, which soars 101 stories high, touching the clouds. And perched right at the crown of this engineering marvel and key tourist attraction is Ding Xian 101 Gourmet Restaurant, undisputed king of Taiwanese cuisine, which sits at the pinnacle of Taiwan’s honor roll of elite restaurants. Winner of a continuing parade of international and domestic awards and other honors, the “Ding Xian” in the restaurant’s name literally means “top fresh.” The word “top” refers to the restaurant’s position in the statuesque Taipei 101 skyscraper. “Top fresh” expresses its philosophy of best in service, décor, and ingredient quality.

The Food The Ding Xian 101 menu is anchored on Taiwanese culinary classics, with a strong seafood emphasis, embellished with sophisticated international, mostly French, flourishes. There is as well an emphasis on premium, sustainably produced Taiwan ingredients, save for specialty items for which no substitutes will do.

The Ambience With its location on Taipei 101’s 86th floor, diners feel as though they are sitting in a palace in the sky – the key “decorative” theme, of course, are the magnificent views of city below and mountains beyond through the sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows. Matching this majesty is the interior décor, evoking the aristocratic trappings of a European palace. The restaurant is a luxurious showcase of the world’s most regal, noble-pedigree brands. The delicate china is by England’s Wedgwood. The fine silver flatware is by Christofle of Paris. The sparkling crystal glassware is by Nachtmann of Bavaria. The elegant Armani/Casa Borromini dining chairs are imported from Italy. The candelabra chandeliers are made with coruscating Egyptian crystal. The exquisite handcrafted peacock-feather wallpaper is by Taiwan’s own Rotex. The list goes on.


Advertorial

The Master Chef The creative dynamo behind the Ding Xian culinary team, which includes numerous top-flight chefs of stellar international reputation, is Chef Lin Pin-Chung. Chef Lin, whose reputation is nigh legendary in the Taiwan culinary world, serves as consultant for Ding Xian 101. In the past he led the esteemed culinary team at the Antoine Room, long proclaimed Taiwan’s best French restaurant by many critics, for two decades. Among his almost countless other laurels are periods studying with Michelin-starred Chef Roland Durand at the Hotel Sofitel Paris and Chef Bernard Noel at France’s Chateau de la Roselle. In keeping with the restaurant’s insistence on top-quality freshness, in order to guarantee continuing novel adventures for the palates of all diners, from newcomers to regulars, Chef Lin completely revamps the Ding Xian menu every six months. His most recent cultural-creative originals have brought enthusiastic accolades – here is a taste of some of the new offerings: The Evening Set Meal B (NT$2,380) features delicacies such as Eel and Foie Gras Terrine Salad, Ding Xian Shrimp Roll and Fried Calamary Ball, Tainan Dan-Zai Noodles, and Snow White Jelly Fungus Soup with Minced Orange Zest. Ding Xian’s foie gras is specially air-shipped from France. The shrimp roll and dan-zai noodles are Taiwan classics; the latter literally means “carrying pole” noodles, invented in the 1890s by a fisherman-cumhawker whose business has grown to today’s iconic Tainan Tan Tsu Mien restaurant group, Ding Xian’s parent. The soup is more a pudding, crafted with Italian white-wine cream and topped with imported French orange rind marinated in cognac. Ding Xian also has special vegetarian and Halal set menus. In Chef Lin’s new Muslim Set Meal B (NT$1,980), enjoy such flavor adventures as Taiwanese-Style Oven-

Baked Giant Grouper, Taiwanese Oyster Omelette, Polenta Cake with French Curry Sauce, and Sweet Jujube and Snow Fungus Soup with Brandy. The restaurant’s Muslim-friendly dishes are all Halalcertified by Taiwan’s Chinese Muslim Association. A number of “Michelin” dishes are also on offer a la carte, created by Chef Lin in consultation with Michelin-starred chefs. Specially recommended are the French Fois Gras with Pumpkin Soup, Italianstyle Abalone Smoked with Cherry Blossom Wood, Simmered Golden Lobster with Basmati Rice (the delectable rice is crispyfried), and Steamed Giant Grouper with Truffle Slice. When in Taiwan, the world-class Ding Xian 101 experience is a must. For more information, visit www.dingxian101.com .


POPULAR FLAVORS HOTPOT

A Modern Love Affair

Taiwan and

Hotpot

Taiwan has had a feverish passion for hotpot since the late 1990s. Shabu-shabu restaurants suddenly began sprouting up in major cities, stimulating the craze, then more traditional hotpot migrated from the private home to the restaurant biz. The latter type now dominates. In keeping with the established trend for most all hot and enduring trends in this land, Taipei is hotpot-central. Text: Rick Charette

Photos: Maggie Song

Hotpot restaurant Shanghai

38

Travel in Taiwan


H

otpot, widely eaten by Chinese speakers since the days when the horse-riding Mongols came riding uninvited into China to sit their khan down on the Chinese imperial throne in the late 13th century, was long seen exclusively as a warming winter treat. But in today’s Taiwan the “addiction to pot” means year-round demand and supply. Even at the height of summer, when humidex readings are regularly in the 40s Celsius, Taiwan’s gourmands will gather with family and friends for a boisterous round of steamy hotpot, oft accompanied with cooling rounds of Taiwan Beer. Then – to my never-ending amazement and admiration – many will top things off by heading elsewhere for a round of mistemitting shaved ice, a favorite summer confection. As my mom would say, locals seem to have all “been born with a cast-iron stomach.” Growing up, my own obsession with food caused her to christen me “the walking garbage can” – to me, the loveliest of compliments. Taiwan is my kind of place, good food always at hand, day and night.

I must here admit a small, well-intentioned white lie. Hotpot in fact penetrated into China during the Tang Dynasty (618~907 AD) – but was not well established until the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271~1368 AD). The main ingredients in Mongolian hotpot were beef, mutton, and horse. Over the centuries, as the dish spread through China regional variations emerged, notably seafood as an ingredient along China’s southern seaboard. The many regional variations are well represented in Taipei, as are variations from further afield, notably Japan and Korea. Yet though there are hundreds and hundreds of hotpot restaurants in the greater Taipei area; aficionados now have over 15 years of restaurant sampling under their belt and are constantly on the lookout for novelty, resulting in incessant bubbling and churn in the industry. We here introduce three of the hottest hotpot restaurants in the metro area at the moment, and the novelties that have piqued the palates of foodies. Hotpot vs Shabu-Shabu: What’s the Diff?

Hotpot – The Basics A metal pot is placed at the center of a dining table and filled with soup stock. In the past the pot sat atop a coal burner; today electric and gas cooking units are standard. A variety of fresh ingredients is added, sometimes all at once, most times spread out, to the continually simmered stock. Generally, these are thinly sliced meat cuts, fresh and processed seafood selections, leafy vegetables, dumplings, mushrooms, and noodles/vermicelli. The cooked items are usually eaten with a dipping sauce.

When talking hotpot, it’s important to be able to differentiate between two commonly heard terms, “hotpot” and “shabu-shabu.” Many think the two are entirely different categories. No. The latter is simply one variation of the former. Hotpot is shared by a group of people. For shabu-shabu, each person gets his or her own (much smaller) pot and an individual dish of ingredients. Shabu-shabu is Japanese, the term meaning “swish-swish,” from the sound created when swishing individual ingredients back and forth in the stock, especially meat cuts. In Japan the standard stock is made of kelp, but in Taiwan there are many other options. In Japan, after all ingredients are eaten leftover broth is combined with rice in a bowl, to make soup, and/or noodles are added to the stock. This is not de rigeuer in Taiwan.

Travel in Taiwan

39


POPULAR FLAVORS HOTPOT

ChuanFu

This attractively decked-out restaurant is a two-minute walk from MRT Banqiao Station. The wife in the young ownercouple team is from Chongqing, in mainland China’s Sichuan Province; the name “ChuanFu” means “Sichuan capital.” The façade windows are filled with traditional Chinese latticework; the interior features wall-mounted Sichuan opera masks and hanging lanterns featuring intricate artwork in the style of traditional paper-cut art. ChuanFu specializes, no surprise, in authentic Sichuan mala hotpot. The key to Sichuan hotpot is called “old/aged oil,” i.e. simmered repeatedly to intensify taste, which is added to the stock. It features a dozen-plus spices, Chinese medicinal herbs, and other items. ChuanFu laboriously makes the real deal, specially importing Sichuan bean paste, fermented black beans, dried chili, and peppercorns. Its specialty is numbing-spicy “nine palaces” hotpot, featuring ingredients separated while immersed in the stock among nine tic-tac-toe sections, preventing flavor migration. Thicker meat cuts like tripe and intestines are blanched shabu-shabu style in the highest-heat middle square.

40

Travel in Taiwan

ChuanFu ( 川府重慶老火鍋 ) Add: 1F, No. 111-1, Hansheng E. Rd., Banqiao District, New Taipei City ( 新北市板橋區漢生東路 111-1 號 1 樓 ) Tel: (02) 2951-2331 Website: www.facebook.com/ChuanFuhotpot


POPULAR FLAVORS HOTPOT

Shanghai

The elegant Shanghai restaurant is just a few steps from MRT Songjiang Nanjing Station. The female owner, who hails from Shanghai, has imported a specialty hotpot to Taiwan – “four stories” hotpot. This type in fact originated in Chongqing, Sichuan. The bottom level is for regular hotpot blanching. In mainland China hotpot stock is not consumed, and the flavors are much stronger. If desired, Shanghai’s stock can be divided into two halves by a wall, one side numbing-spicy. The second level is for charcoal barbecuing – seafood, meat cuts, cong you bing (Chinese scallion pancakes, etc.). The house provides special house-made cumin powder and Japanese-style shichimi (“seven spice powder”) for seasoning. The third level is used for Shaoxing wine chicken pot, a popular delicacy. The top level is for the steaming of such goodies as fresh veggies, dim sum selections, and seafood, notably in-season Shanghai hairy crab. Almost all ingredients are sourced in-season in Taiwan; all spices/seasonings are brought in from mainland China.

Shanghai ( 沪里弄堂創意火鍋 ) Add: B1, No. 97, Sec. 2, Nanjing E. Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City ( 台北市中山區南京東路二段 97 號地下一樓 ) Tel: (02) 2521-6161 Website: www.facebook.com/shanghai97 English and Chinese cong you bing 蔥油餅 “four stories” hotpot 四層火鍋 hotpot 火鍋 mala hotpot 麻辣火鍋 “nine palaces” hotpot 九宮格火鍋 “old oil” 老油

shabu-shabu 涮涮鍋 Shaoxing wine chicken pot 花雕雞鍋 Sichuan 四川 Tang Dynasty 唐朝 Yuan Dynasty 元朝

Travel in Taiwan

41


WHERE TO GO TONIGHT TA I P E I

Raohe Commercial District Famous Night Market, Fashion Wholesale Market, and Good Cafés Text & Photos: Vision

R

aohe Commercial District, the area around the wellknown Raohe Street Night Market in Taipei, was given a new lease on life with the opening of the MRT Songshan Line at the end of 2014, and now receives more visitors than ever before. The district offers a taste of the vitality and human warmth of Taipei by night, its traditional snacks and relaxing cafés all exerting powerful charm. To experience the bustle of a Taipei evening, Raohe Commercial District is a must-visit destination.

Good Fun, Good Sightseeing Must-Try Snacks CAFES and Restaurants

Raohe Street Night Market entrance

Raohe Street Night Market

Songshan Rainbow Bridge ( 松山彩虹橋 ) Spanning the Keelung River, this bridge links Raohe Street in Songshan District and Tanmei Street in Neihu District. This eye-catching S-shaped bridge, open only to cyclists and pedestrians, is a great place from which to enjoy nighttime riverbank scenery. Location: At the end of Lane 221, Raohe St., Songshan District, Taipei City ( 台北市松山區饒河街 221 巷底 )

Chen Dong Ribs Stewed in Medicinal Herbs ( 陳董藥燉排骨 ) Ribs stewed in medicinal herbs is one of the famed snacks on offer at Raohe Street Tourist Night Market. In addition to its renowned signature dish, made by stewing large pork ribs and medicinal herbs for hours, this vendor also serves goat stewed in medicinal herbs and braised pork on rice, all warming dishes that give extra nutrition in winter. Add: In front of No. 160, Raohe St., Songshan District, Taipei City ( 台北市松山區饒河街 160 號前 ) Tel: 0910-901-933 Hours: 15:30~00:30

Songshan Gebao ( 松山割包 ) This eatery is renowned for the delicious mix of lean and fatty pork in its gebao (often referred to as a“Taiwan-style hamburger”). A steaming bun is filled with lean braisedpork strips and fatty pork that are tasty but not greasy, and then topped with preserved mustard greens, coriander, and peanut powder, in a mouthwatering combination. The restaurant also sells glutinous-rice dumplings and traditional “four spirits soup.” Add: No. 179, Songshan Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei City ( 台北市信義區松山路 179 號 ) Tel: (02) 2756-7426 Hours: 11:30~22:30

42

Travel in Taiwan


WHERE TO GO TONIGHT TA I P E I

Fuzhou Shizu Black Pepper Buns ( 福州世祖胡椒餅 )

Raohe Street Night Market ( 饒河街觀光夜市 )

The black pepper buns at this eatery are synonymous with good food. After baking, the delicious buns are slightly scorched and chewy on the outside, while the filling, made from pork and green onion marinated for 12 hours plus more than a dozen herbs and spices, oozes flavor. The black pepper gives a spicy kick.

Raohe Street Night Market is one of the most popular night markets in Taipei. Shops line both sides of the street, and in the evening two rows of stalls, more than 100 in all, line the middle of the street. With a splendid variety of tasty snacks available, along with an enticing array of styles on offer at the many clothing shops, visitors are spoiled for choice.

Add: No. 249, Raohe St., Songshan District, Taipei City ( 台北市松山區饒河街 249 號 ) Tel: 0958-126-223 Hours: 16:00~24:00

Ke

ng elu

Getting There: Take the MRT SongshanXindian Line (Green Line; Line 3) to Songshan Station, and leave via Exit 5.

Riv

er

Wufenpu Shopping District ( 五分埔商圈 )

Songshan Ciyou Temple

Wufenpu is Taipei’s largest clothing-retail market, bursting with fashionable, bargain-priced goods from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, and elsewhere, available for retail or wholesale purchase. With its great variety of trendy styles and low prices, Wufenpu attracts a steady stream of young shoppers.

Raohe St.

d. Bade R

Getting There: Take the MRT Bannan Line (Blue Line; Line 5) to Houshanpi Station, leave via Exit 4, and follow Yongji Rd. ( 永吉路 ) to Zhongpo N. Rd. ( 中坡北路 ).

Songshan Station Songshan Railway Station

Sparta Café

o gp on Zh . Rd N.

Songshan Rd.

Civic Blvd.

Pepper bun vendor

This low-price Italian restaurant is located near Wufenpu. The restaurant is clean and bright and its house special is an aromatic roast coffee series. Its extensive menu includes snacks, pasta, risotto, waffles, and handmade desserts. Add: No. 35, Zhongpo N. Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei City ( 台北市信義區中坡北路 35 號 ) Tel: (02) 2766-8604 Hours: 11:00~22:00

Yongji Rd. Houshanpi Station T&T Café Located near Exit 4 of MRT Houshanpi Station, this café serves burgers, fried foods, and beer, as well as highly popular mini donuts. It is spacious and has private booths and, on Saturday nights, live music performances are staged. T&T is a fine place to meet with friends for good conversations while enjoying a few drinks. Add: No. 544, Yongji Rd., Nangang District, Taipei City ( 台北市南港區永吉路 544 號 ) Tel: (02) 2654-6884 Hours: Sun~Thu 11:00~23:00, Fri~Sat 11:00~24:00

Wufenpu Shopping District

Travel in Taiwan

43


RAIL/BUS/BIKE PINGLIN

Green and Sleepy Pinglin – Greater Taipei Cycling and Tea Sipping Paradise Text: Nick Kembel Photos: Maggie Song

Just half an hour by bus from the dense human concentration of downtown Taipei, Pinglin is a sleepy village surrounded by verdant hills carpeted with neatly kept tea plantations, in an area traversed by pristine waterways teeming with fish. An ideal location for leisurely bike rides.

to Taipei City, Feicui Reservoir, Bagua Tea Plantation

Beishi River

Qinshui Suspension Bridge

Fish Observation Path to Jingualiao Stream

Pinglin Old Street Dong Mu He Tea House

Pinglin Tea Museum

Daiyujue River to Yilan

44

Travel in Taiwan

I

n recent years, Pinglin has emerged as a magnet for tea enthusiasts, cyclists, and day-trippers from Taipei City. The Pinglin region has always been on the radar of local weekend travelers, famous for its delicately floral Baozhong tea and known as a fine rest stop for those traveling along twisting, mountain-spanning Provincial Highway 9, roughly halfway between Taiwan’s capital and Yilan County. Why is the area’s Baozhong tea so delicious? For one, Pinglin District,


Beishi River in Pinglin

one of New Taipei City’s largest and most sparsely populated, possesses a cool, humid, frequently mist-shrouded mountainous environment ideal for cultivating tea. On top of this, since Pinglin’s main waterway, the Beishi River (and its tributaries), feeds the Feicui Reservoir, the area is protected as a special water-resource zone, meaning that its waterways and soil are remarkably clean. When National Freeway 5, connecting Taipei City with Yilan County, was opened in 2006, travelers found they could shoot

right by Pinglin if desired via a series of tunnels, whizzing to the Yilan Plain in a mere 40 minutes. Business in Pinglin plummeted. This kick-started a local initiative to transform Pinglin into an ecotourism hotspot, giving visitors more incentive to go the extra mile – i.e., take the freeway’s Pinglin Exit. The Beishi River – and Jingualiao Stream, one of its tributaries – was meticulously cleaned and manicured, over 20 kilometers of bicycle paths were created, and fishermen used their fluvial knowledge to layer sections

of Beishi River into pools teeming with fish. Their efforts have been a smashing success, and now Pinglin has acquired deserved recognition as a splendid getaway for local city folk and foreign visitors alike looking to cycle past tea plantations and sip a hot cup of tea right in the midst of where the tea is produced.

Google map with info

Travel in Taiwan

45


RAIL/BUS/BIKE PINGLIN

Qinshui Suspension Bridge

Pinglin Village

On the main highway back at the western end of the village, next to a large welcome gate, cross a small parking lot to find the 60-meter-long Qinshui Suspension Bridge, which, along with the viewing platforms on either side of it, provides visitors with an ideal vantage point for observing the high concentration of fish (in certain spots as many as 50 per cubic meter, according to one study) in the crystalclear water of the Beishi River below. The river is divided by cement blocks into sections of calm water, enabling you to easily spot the fish. Among the fish species in residence are catfish, bottom-feeding loaches, and numerous species of carp, the largest measuring up to half a meter in length. Keep your eyes peeled for the smaller shovel-jaw carp, known for its reflective scales, which sparkle in the sunlight. With the soothing sound of the river cascading between the pools, and a mountainous backdrop in every direction that you look, it is easy to forget the fact that big Taipei City is just a half-hour drive away.

The bulk of Pinglin Village lies along a one-kilometer stretch of Highway 9, running parallel to the Beishi River. Most of the shops on either side of the highway are devoted to hawking the area’s mainstay product: Baozhong tea. If you are in the market for a cup of tea, local vendors are more than happy to brew up samples of Baozhong and other varieties. Local restaurants serve up all manner of innovative tea-theme dishes, including chicken fried in tea oil, tea-flavored vermicelli, tea eggs, tea jelly, deep-fried tea leaves, and tea-flavored ice cream. Toward the eastern end of the village, just before the narrow Japanese-era Old Pinglin Bridge and a block up from the river, you can peruse more tea-related products on Pinglin Old Street. This narrow artery is the heart of the village. The stone used in many of the traditional Minnan (south Fujian)-style residences was quarried from the Beishi River riverbed. After filling up on snacks in the Old Street district, take Guozhong Road to Pinglin Junior High School at the east tip of the village. Ascend the steps behind the school to reach a hilltop 12-meter golden statue of Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy), the largest of its kind in northern Taiwan, sitting on the site of a former Japanese Shinto shrine. From here you have a grand sweeping view of the valley Pinglin village sits in, taking in the freeway, Beishi River, and the village’s tea museum.

Cycling the Fish Observation Path The Fish Observation Path, which starts at Qinshui Suspension Bridge, is best enjoyed on two wheels. Bicycles can be rented in the village (see Getting There and Around ). After crossing Qinshui Suspension Bridge from the highway side, turn right and ride along the path as it follows the Beishi River downstream. Look closely and you’ll be able to see lanky egrets perched on stones along the riverbanks, preying on the abundance of fish in the water. The path soon curves to the left, and you’ll be rewarded with a commanding view over a field with rows upon rows of tea shrubs. After crossing a small bridge, you’ll have the choice of turning right for the start of a 40-minute ride along Jingualiao Stream, or left for a shorter ride further along the Fish Observation Path as it follows a tributary, Daiyujue Creek, upstream. Choosing the latter, the further you get from the village the more idyllic the scenery becomes, with elderly farmers in conical hats tending to their tea fields on one side and turquoise pools of creek water begging to be jumped into on the other. The trail is mostly flat and it’s best to adopt an unhurried pace, breathing in the fresh mountain air and taking in the rustic scenery on this leisurely ride.

46

Travel in Taiwan


RAIL/BUS/BIKE PINGLIN

Pinglin Tea Museum Back in the village, don’t miss to visit the recently renovated Pinglin Tea Museum. Built in 1997, it is an elegant white-walled facility (admission free). To get to it from the Old Street area, cross the Old Pinglin Bridge and turn left. Passing through the entrance gate brings you into a Fujian-style courtyard. To the right is a multimedia hall, where you can see (and smell) 25+ varieties of tea grown in northern Taiwan, learn how to wrap Baozhong tea in its signature square packages, and observe machinery used for separating and roasting tea leaves. In the Exhibition Hall opposite the main entrance, learn everything you ever wanted to know about Pinglin and the history of Baozhong. Interactive exhibits cover traditional tea-picking clothing for men and women, information about the different tea-producing regions of New Taipei City, and much else, and also give you the chance to take a photo with your own face placed in an old-time Formosa tea advertisement. To the left of the courtyard, you’ll find a souvenir shop selling fine teas, tea soap, ceramic teaware, and other items, and past that you can ascend a flight of stairs to a calm south China-style garden. A small teashop on the outer wall of the museum just outside the entrance serves freshly brewed hot and cold tea to go. You’ll surely want to savor a cup when leaving the museum, now that you are an expert on the subject! Pinglin Tea Museum ( 坪林茶葉博物館 ) Add: No. 19-1, Songqi Keng, Shuide Borough, Pinglin District, New Taipei City ( 新北市坪林區水德里水聳淒坑 19-1 號 ) Tel: (02) 2665-6035 Website: www.tea.ntpc.gov.tw

Bike Rental

Around Pinglin

Just west of the FamilyMart convenience store on the main highway, Dong Mu He Tea House hires out quality Giant bicycles for a flat rate of NT$200 per day. Clean and modern, the shop also serves a variety of tea-oil dishes, matcha waffles, and an iced beverage that combines Taiwan Beer with local Baozhong tea.

Adventurous types seeking impressive views of tea fields overlooking the Feicui Reservoir can get off the Green 12 bus, which travels from Xindian to Pinglin, at the Shisangu bus stop. Follow the highway for a few hundred meters in the direction of Pinglin, until you see a large stone inscribed with the red Chinese characters for Yong’an Community. There, turn right and follow the small road downhill for about 2km, until you see signs to the Bagua Tea Plantation. It’s quite a bit of walking (on a road very steep in sections), but you will be rewarded with enchanting views of the tea plantation and reservoir. At the plantation you can enjoy fresh tea and light meals.

Dong Mu He Tea House ( 東木河茶莊 ) Add: No. 206, Sec. 8, Beiyi Rd., Pinglin District, New Taipei City ( 新北市坪林區北宜路八段 206 號 ) Tel: (02) 2665-6882 Website: www.facebook.com/DongMuHe/

Getting There and Around From just outside MRT Xindian Station, the southern terminus of the Green Line (Songshan-Xindian Line; Line 3), bus 923 (hourly on weekdays, halfhourly on weekends; via Freeway 5) and Green 12 (hourly; via Highway 9) travel to Pinglin. The scenic journey takes about 40 minutes on each route, and the buses run from roughly 6am to 6pm. After alighting at the terminus in Pinglin Village, the Pinglin Tea Museum, Old Street, Guanyin Statue, and Qinshui Suspension Bridge can all be easily reached on foot.

From Pinglin Village, free shuttle buses F722 and F723 head out once an hour, stopping at the Jingualiao Stream Fish & Fern Trail, which stretches alongside a lush portion of Beishi River’s main tributary popular with weekend picnickers. Another bus, F721, goes to mountaintop Nanshan Temple, from which panoramic views of the Pinglin region are enjoyed. For bus schedules and all other desired information, step into the Pinglin Visitor Center, next to the gas station at the western end of the village.

Bagua Tea Plantation

English and Chinese Bagua Tea Plantation 八卦茶園 Baozhong tea 包種茶 Beishi River 北勢溪 Daiyujue Creek 魚堀溪 Feicui Reservoir 翡翠水庫 Fish Observation Path 觀魚步道 Guozhong Road 國中路 Jingualiao Stream 金瓜寮溪 Jingualiao Stream Fish & Fern Trail 金瓜寮魚蕨步道 Nanshan Temple 南山寺 Old Pinglin Bridge 坪林舊橋 Pinglin 坪林 Pinglin Junior High School 坪林國中 Pinglin Old Street 坪林老街 Qinshui Suspension Bridge 親水吊橋 Shisangu 十三股 Yilan Plain 宜蘭平原 Yong’an Community 永安社區

Travel in Taiwan

47


EASY HIKING SANDIAOLING

SANDIAOLING WATERFALL TRAIL One of the Best and Easiest Day Hikes in Northern Taiwan Text: Richard Saunders

Photos: Twelli, Vision

There is a wide range of options when it comes to hiking in the greater Taipei area. The Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail is one of the most popular routes for casual hikers since it’s easily accessible, doesn’t present major challenges, goes through a lush natural environment and has as scenic attractions three pretty waterfalls along its way.

A

ride along the Pingxi Branch Railway Line, which runs through a picturesque valley about an hour from the Taipei City center by train, is a great way to spend a day of relaxing sightseeing, but it also provides easy access to some of northern Taiwan’s finest day walks. Hikers are truly spoilt for choice in this area: there’s enough to discover hereabouts to keep an explorer happy for a week of hikes or more. If there’s only time to do one of the easier routes, however, the choice is pretty clear. One of the finest short hikes within daytripping distance of Taipei is the stunningly scenic Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail. More good news is that nowadays the trail is suitable for families too, since several once slightly tricky stretches of the

route have been eliminated, bringing the outing within the range of most walkers. One thing to bear in mind when planning a visit to this area, it must be noted, is that it rains a lot in this corner of Taiwan. Therefore, check the weather forecast before heading out, to avoid spending a day walking in rain and on a muddy path – although the three waterfalls do, of course, look their best after a downpour! The Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail is named for three waterfalls, Hegu, Motian, and Pipa Cave, all three impressive, though the first can only be seen from a distance. It takes about two hours to get from Sandiaoling Railway Station to the last of the falls (about 2.5km). From there,

Small suspension bridge

48

Travel in Taiwan

most casual hikers will take the same route back, but for more adventurous types there are two alternative routes, one to Dahua, the next station on the Pingxi line, the other to Houtong, the station before Sandiaoling when coming from Taipei. Get ting to the t rail head is easy. Take a Local Train (NT$59 one way; ab out one hou r) f r om Ta ip ei Ma i n Station to Sandiaoling, a tiny settlement picturesquely set in the densely wooded valley of the you ng Keelu ng R iver. Leaving the station, follow the tracks away from the Taipei direction towards a tunnel. Before the tunnel, the Pingxi line splits off from the main trunk line, which heads to the northeast coast. Take the pedestrian underpass under the railway, and then follow the path beside the Pingxi line. After walking about ten minutes, the tracks enter a small settlement, passing the pale-blue building of the abandoned village elementary school across the tracks. Cross the tracks (keeping a lookout for trains!) and you have reached the trailhead, which is right beside the school building. Walk up the concrete path, passing a few houses and following the steps, to reach the wooded hillside above. After a short ascent the trail levels out, and then it’s an easy 30-minute walk th rough mixed woodland, including several attractive bamboo groves, to the first of the three waterfalls. Hegu Waterfall, 40 meters in height, plunges into a deep gorge below, and can be seen


Pipa Cave Waterfall Travel in Taiwan

49


EASY HIKING SANDIAOLING

in the distance from a flat observation area to the left of the path. Above Hegu Waterfall, the path joins the stream of the waterfalls for the first time, crosses a pair of small suspension bridges, and continues along the left bank of the stream, now through thick jungle. The trail becomes narrower, and is a little rough in places, with some slippery tree roots and small rocks to negotiate, but the scenery is beautiful. After 20 minutes the trail reaches the foot of Motian Waterfall, which falls well clear of the cliff face. A small wooden viewing platform offers great views of the waterfall from below. More adventurous walkers can follow the trail a few meters further as it starts to climb out of the gorge, then turn right at a junction and traverse a short but muddy path that leads into the overhang, where it’s possible to get right behind the waterfall. To continue the walk to the third fall, head back to the junction and turn right to continue along the main path, which climbs out of the gorge via a newly installed metal staircase. At the top, less than a hundred meters above the second

Steep wooden ladder

50

Travel in Taiwan

fall, is Pipa Cave Waterfall, a slightly smaller version of its sister below, which leaps over an overhanging cliff of golden sandstone. Both waterfalls are perfect spots for a rest or a picnic lunch, although the upper fall is generally quieter on busy weekends. From this point the trail leads out of the gorge (via a short, almost vertical wooden ladder), and a couple of meters later joins a concrete path, where there’s a choice of directions. One option is to turn right, cross the stream immediately above Pipa Cave Waterfall, and take the signposted Chailiao Historic Trail, which meanders through the wooded hills (about 6km) before descending to the famed “Cat Village,” Houtong, where several hundred cats tended by animal-loving locals walk around freely. Also worth a look is the interesting Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park. Houtong was an important coalmining center until several decades ago, and the abandoned coal-dressing plant, mine entrances (now barred for safety), dormitories, and the arched Coal Transport Bridge across the Keelung River are all passed on the walk from the end of the trail to Houtong Railway Station. From there you can take a train back to Taipei (service about once an hour).

Hegu Waterfall


Releasing a sky lantern in Shifen

Pingxi line at Shifen

Alternatively, turn left at the junction above Pipa Cave Waterfall, and in about five minutes the trail joins a quiet road. Follow this for another five minutes, then take the trail veering off to the left. This soon crosses a second narrow lane, and eventually descends by steps to the tiny settlement of Xinliao. Turn left and walk through the hamlet, then left again immediately after crossing the stream. Cross the large car park at the end of this road and take the often slippery steps opposite, climbing up the slope at the far end, then down the opposite side (take care – the trail is very slippery when wet!) to cross the Keelung River via a large red footbridge. Here the trail climbs up the far bank to join the tracks of the Pingxi line. Turn left and walk beside the tracks; Dahua Station is only a couple of minutes away. Westbound trains run around every hour to the large town of Ruifang, where a connecting train can be caught back to Taipei. To explore a little more of the Pingxi line, and maybe launch a sky lantern (for

Street cat in Houtong

which the area is renowned), take a train further up the line (i.e., headed away from Taipei/Ruifang) and spend some time exploring several of the villages along the route. In a few minutes from Dahua, the train runs straight down the main street of the quaint village of Shifen, before pulling into the village’s station. Shifen is a great place to set off a sky lantern and eat traditional Taiwanese snack foods. It’s also the jumping-off point for the famous Sh ifen Water fall, sometimes called “Taiwan’s Niagara Falls” for its great width and mini-Niagara look. The trains on the Pingxi line also stop at the villages of Wanggu, Lingjiao, and Pingxi, before the line terminates at Jingtong. From Jingtong you can either take a train back to Ruifang and then Taipei, or take bus No. 795 to Taipei’s Muzha area. Pingxi and Jingtong are popular with tourists, both having a nu mber of snack food- eater ies a nd coffee shops. There are also plenty of reminders in both places of the coalmining industry, to which the Pingxi line owes its existence and which made the

beautiful valley through which the line runs prosper in the decades before it became a magnet for both tourists and hikers.

English and Chinese Chailiao Historic Trail 柴寮古道 Coal Transport Bridge 運煤橋 Houtong 猴硐 Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park 猴硐煤礦博物園區 Hegu Waterfall 合谷瀑布 Keelung River 基隆河 Lingjiao 嶺腳 Local Train 區間車 Motian Waterfall 摩天瀑布 Muzha 木柵 Pingxi Branch Railway Line 平溪支線 Pipa Cave Waterfall 枇杷洞瀑布 Sandiaoling 三貂嶺 Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail 三貂嶺瀑布步道 Shifen 十分 Shifen Waterfall 十分瀑布 sky lantern 天燈 Wanggu 望古 Xinliao 新寮

Travel in Taiwan

51


PRECIOUS GIFTS PORCELAIN

P R EC IOUS PORCELAIN High-Quality Ceramic Art Made in Taiwan

Text: Owain Mckimm

Photos: Maggie Song, FRANZ, Tales

Taiwan porcelain works are among the high-end gift choices travelers are presented with when searching for particularly valuable and special products to take home from a trip to the island.

T

a iw a n e s e p o r c el a i n , u n l i ke its Chinese and Japanese counterparts with their millennia of tradition, is a relatively nascent industry, only really coming into its own over the last handful of decades. For much of the island’s recent history, highlevel ceramics were, for the most part, imported from abroad – from mainland China during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and then from Japan during the Japanese colonial era (1895~1945). I ndeed, up u ntil t he lat ter half of the 20th century, the only ceramics produced domestically in any quantity were crude utilitarian items made for a society that was still largely agricultural. During that time, there was very little in the way of fine ceramics produced on Taiwan, and the only “ceramic art” to be found were colored ear thenware figurines produced as temple decorations. After 1945, however, Japanese imports stopped, and after the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, which resulted in the losing side fleeing to Taiwan, imports from the mainland also stalled. After a half century of

Papillion Butterfly collection

52

Travel in Taiwan


PRECIOUS GIFTS PORCELAIN

Japanese-driven industrial advancement, and with a new spirit of self-reliance, Taiwan’s ceramics industry was spurred on to previously unknown heights. The industry found a home in Yingge, a center for ceramics production since the early 1800s, which is today a district of New Taipei City and home to the Yingge Ceramics Museum (www.ceramics. ntpc.gov.tw). As the gap between Taiwan and mainland China widened, Taiwanese ceramic artists gradually began moving away from imitating Chinese imperial ware – an early creative insecurity born from the lack of a Taiwanese tradition of high-quality ceramics before the 20th century – and began to develop a distinctly Taiwanese form of ceramic high art. This new domestic art played with Chinese roots while experimenting with inter national inf luences, a movement pioneered by masters who had been educated in Japan or the U.S. Taiwanese ceramics, then, should be seen not as a product of ancient tradition but rather as something that has developed – and is still developing – hand in hand with the island’s modernization. The traditions of Taiwanese ceramic art are being formed now, and, freed as they are from ancient conventions, the artists are experimental, adventurous, and unafraid of advancement, be it technological or stylistic.

FRANZ

Enter FRANZ (www.franzcollection.com) – one of Taiwan’s premier manufacturers of porcelain art. Established in 2001 as the brainchild of ceramics pioneer Franz Chen, the company has won a slew of international awards and has established itself as the producer of the gift-of-choice for dignitaries and world leaders: a vase from FRANZ’s Joyful Magpie collection was selected by Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou as an inaugural gift for Pope Francis, and former Chinese President Hu Jintao chose FRANZ products as gifts for Barack Obama, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Other customers of note include Barbra Streisand, Elton John, and more than a few royals. As representative Taiwanese ceramic art, the porcelain products produced by FRANZ certainly do capture the spirit of the country’s young, exciting, and inventive ceramics industry. Looking at the pieces, one feels that they cannot easily be defined. The designs are effortlessly fluid, flowing easily between Eastern and Western aesthetics, but all with one common theme: nature. “Nature connects everyone, no matter where they are in the world,” says Sara Huang, director of international sales a t t h e f i r m ’s headquarters in Ta ip ei. “ F R A NZ

designs try to express that unity, not only by using natural subject matter but also by combining Western styles, such as the bold curves and asymmetry of Art Nouveau, with classical Eastern aesthetics – our fondness for f lowing lines, for example, is inspired by the flying Apsara paintings in the caves of Dunhuang in China.” This complementary symbiosis of East and West is perhaps best encapsulated in what has become the signature FRANZ porcelain set, the Papillion Butterf ly collection, winner of the Best in Show Award at the 2002 New York International Gift Show. It is a startlingly beautiful set. In contrast to most Chinese ceramics, which have their natural designs painted on in two-dimension form, the butterflies in the FRANZ set perch delicately on the handles of teacups, on the edges of saucers, and on the borders of plates and vases. Again, there is a hint of the European about the collection, with its cool pastel-colors palette, but the large Oriental butterflies stand as a vibrant reminder of the exotic. For those looking for something more obviously characteristic of the Far East, however, there certainly is plenty of choice. The Bamboo Song Bird collection presents a calming bamboo forest complete with the multicolored East Asian fairy pitta and giant panda, while the Island Beauty Hibiscus , Joyful Magpie , and Phoenix in Flight collections combine

Island Beauty Hibiscus collection

Travel in Taiwan

53


PRECIOUS GIFTS PORCELAIN

Dragon-theme FRANZ vases

the traditional Chinese fondness for bold reds with other distinctly Far Eastern motifs, built, throughout, on a background of whiplash curves and lopsided shapes that hint at contemporary Western styles. As a 21st-century company, FRANZ does not shy away from using the latest technology to create its wares. In June 2015 it collaborated with the piano company Steinway to create a grand piano complete with 3D-printed ceramic components. “We’ve in fact been using 3D-printing technology for over a decade,” says Huang. “However, while we do see ourselves as

a very modern workshop, it’s also very important to us to retain that personal touch of individual craftsmanship when creating our products.” D u r i n g a t o u r o f t h e Ta i p e i headquarters, Huang led us through the design and production process. First, a team of artists comes up with a concept or design. Then the company’s team of expert sculptors builds the threedimensional butterflies, storks, fish, and other decorations in wax-based clay upon a base – say a vase, saucer, or teapot. These base shapes are sometimes printed in resin using a 3D printer; however, to maintain

the integrity and artistry of the final works, the “living” elements of the pieces are always carved by hand. A plaster mold is then created using this prototype, from which multiple copies can be made. Each piece is then fired once, painstakingly painted by hand, and then fired again at 1,200°C to complete the vitrification. For some of the more complex pieces – which can have 50 or more separate parts – the process from conception to final firing can take up to nine months. With such an exacting creative process, the end products, it must be admitted, aren’t cheap. Prices range from NT$3,000~$4,500 for smaller, simpler pieces such as a milk jug or tea cup to NT$50,000 for some of the grander vases. FRANZ stores can be found all over Taiwan, and indeed, all over the world (it has outlets in over 56 countries). Shops are located in most major department stores, including the Taipei 101 Mall (5F), and international shipping options are available for shoppers from overseas. A full list of FRANZ stores can be found on the firm’s website.

Plates painted by Lily Yang

54

Travel in Taiwan


Tales Those with more minimalist tastes in porcelain should make their way to Tales (www.talescasa.com ), which has products that tend towards the white, clean, and modern, but again with subtle nods to classical forms. The inspiration for the Rhythm of Lattice collection, for example, is from the ornate latticed windows found in Chinese gardens. However, there is no ostentation here. The shape of each bowl, plate, and teacup mimics the simple outline of a window frame, while the latticework pattern is raised in secret low-relief on the base.

Tales also works in partnership with Taiwan’s National Palace Museum to produce pieces based on artworks in the museum’s world-famous collection of porcelains, such as zun vessels from the Song Dynasty, dou serving vessels from the Zhou Dynasty, and moonflasks and teapots from the reign of the famed Emperor Qianlong. True to its design philosophy, Tales reinterprets the imperial grandeur of the NPM’s pieces in chic modern crockery, often with a dash of color to remind you of its parent piece. Store locations can be found on the company’s website; the flagship store, located in the Taipei 101 Mall (5F), is easy to find.

Lili Yang

Lili Yang (www.liliyang.com.tw ; Chinese) – known in the Taiwanese art world as the “Empress of Blue-and-White Porcelain” – has been painting ceramics since 1979. Once a humble production-line painter at the China Pottery Arts Company, she now creates stunning blue-and-white ware that expertly balances the artistic with the commercial. Though classically trained – she studied traditional Chinese birdand-flower painting under the renowned artist Yu Zhong-lin – Yang has set about redefining the art of blue-and-white ware, making it relevant to contemporary Taiwan. Her designs are inspired by

Lily Yang at work

English and Chinese dou 豆 FRANZ 法藍瓷 Lili Yang 楊莉莉 Sara Huang 黃舒君 Tales 神話言

Rhythm of Lattice collection

Taiwan’s domestic and religious life – her infant son, Taiwan’s temple fairs, and nature walks, for instance; though in order to preserve something of the classic flavor of blue-and-white ware, Yang converts these into fairytale-like tableaus that brim with imagination and character. You’ll notice, too, that Yang’s designs have more hints of grey and turquoise than those of other blueand-white-ware artists. This is because she uses a pigment of her own devising, known among porcelain artists as “Lili Yang cobalt blue.” Her main store can be found in Yingge, in an alley just opposite the train station – though many other stores around Taiwan carry her goods. Yingge 鶯歌 Yingge Ceramics Museum 鶯歌陶瓷博物館 Yu Zhong-lin 喻仲林 zun 尊

Travel in Taiwan

55


OHYA‧ALL YOUR CHAIN BOUTIQUE MOTEL

Hotels of Taiwan

歐 悅。歐 遊 國 際 連 鎖 精 品 旅 館

Visitors to Taiwan have a wide range of choice when it comes to accommodation. From five-star luxury hotels that meet the highest international standards, to affordable business hotels, to hot-spring and beach resort hotels, to privately-run homestays located in the countryside there is a place to stay that satisfies every traveler’s needs. What all hotels of Taiwan — small and big, expensive and affordable — have in common is that serve and hospitality are always of the highest standards. The room rates in the following list have been checked for each hotel, but are subject to change without notice. Room rates at the hotels apply.

*Hotel list in alphabetical order from Northern to Southern Taiwan.

HOTEL ÉCLAT 怡亨酒店

Taipei 台 北

MIRAMAR HOTEL HSINCHU

美麗信花園酒店

新竹美麗信酒店

No. of Rooms: 20~98

No. of Rooms: 203

Room Rates: Superior Titanium Flagship VIP Presidential

Room Rates: Deluxe Room Business Room Executive Deluxe Room Boss Suite Premier Suite

Suite Suite Suite Suite Suite

NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

3,500 - 4,300 3,800 - 4,500 5,000 - 6,000 6,000 - 7,200 8,800-12,000

Taipei 台 北

NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

8,000 10,000 11,000 17,000 21,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Chinese

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, and Chinese

RestauRaNts: Breakfast Buffet

RestauRaNts: Rain Forest, Garden Terrace, Lounge 81, Tic-Tac-Toe Café

sPecial featuRes: Parking lot, free internet access, private bathroom with separate shower & bath tub, pool, massage chair

sPecial featuRes: Business Center, Multifunctional Room, Fitness Club, Outdoor Pool, Sauna, Spa, Aromatherapy, Car Park

Room Rates: CORNER 8 COMFY ZONE D ROOM QUEENS KINGS STUDIO M

sPecial featuRes: Gym, Sky Lounge, Sky Garden

Yilan County, Hualien County, Taitung County, Linkou (New Taipei City), Taoyuan City, Hsinchu County, Taichung City, Changhua City, Nantou County, Yunlin County, Chiayi City, Tainan City, Kaohsiung City, PingtungCounty Tel: 886.5.551.5555 Fax: 886.5.551.7755

83 Civic Boulevard, Sec. 3, Taipei City, 104 10 4台北市市民大道三段8 3號 Tel: 02.8772.8800 Fax: 02.8772.1010 E-mail: info@miramargarden.com.tw

111, Sec. 2, Gongdao 5th Rd., East Dist., Hsinchu City 300, Taiwan 3 0 0 新 竹 市 公 道 五 路二 段111號 Tel: 03.623.1188 Fax: 03.623.1199 E-mail: info@miramar-hsinchu.com

www.ohyamotel.com

www.miramargarden.com.tw

www.miramar-hsinchu.com

SAN WANT HOTEL TAIPEI

GLORIA PRINCE HOTEL TAIPEI

HOTEL SENSE

台北神旺大飯店

華 泰 王子大 飯 店

伸適商旅

Taipei 台 北

Taipei 台 北

No. of Rooms: 220

No. of Rooms: 79

Room Rates: Superior Room Deluxe Room Deluxe Suite Executive Room San Want Suite

Room Rates: Deluxe / Single / Twin & Double NT$ 7,800-8,500 Suite NT$ 9,500-20,000

Room Rates: Superior Room Business Room Deluxe Room Executive Deluxe Room Executive Suite Sense Suite

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Cantonese RestauRaNts: Éclat Lounge, George Bar sPecial featuRes: Member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World; strategically located in the most fashionable and prestigious district of Taipei; offers guests great convenience for business and entertainment; Wi-Fi connectivity and in-room business facilities; variety of meeting rooms providing the ideal venue for professional meetings, corporate functions, and social gatherings.

Single/ Twin Single/ Twin Single/ Twin Single/ Twin

NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

6,000 / 6,800 7,000 / 7,800 8,000 / 8,800 8,800 / 9,600 16,800

Desk Personnel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese restaurants: French All Day Dining (Buffet), Bon Amis Steak Room, Chao Ping Ji (Cantonese & Dim-Sum), Sumie Nouvelle Japonaise Cuisine (Japanese), Sumie SHABU (Hot pot), Pozzo Bakery, Zorro Bar sPecial Features: Two minutes walk from MRT ZhongXiao Dunhua Station. Business Center, Fitness Center, Conference Room, Banquet Room for 500 people, Free Parking for Room Guests, Free Broadband Internet Access in Guestrooms, In-Room Safe, Express/Dry Cleaning Service, Fine East and West Art Collections on Display

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: Chinese, English, Japanese RestauRaNts: L’IDIOT RESTAURANT & BAKERY (Western), Chiou Hwa (Chinese) sPecial featuRes: Coffee Shop, Fitness Center, Business Center, laundry service, meeting and banquet facilities, non-smoking floor, parking lot, airport transfer service

370, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Da-an District, Taipei City 106 106 台 北 市 敦 化 南 路 一 段 370 號 Tel: 02.2784.8888 Fax: 02.2784.7888 Res. Hotline: 02.2784.8118

172 ZhongXiao East Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City, 106 106台北市忠孝東路四段172號 Tel: 02.2772.2121 Fax: 02.2721.0302 E-mail: reservation@sanwant.com

369, Lin-sen (Linsen) N. Rd., Taipei City, 104 104 台 北 市 林 森 北 路 369 號 Tel: 02.2581.8111 Fax: 02.2581.5811, 2568-2924

www.eclathotels.com

www.sanwant.com

www.gloriahotel.com

Travel in Taiwan

6,000 7,000 8,000 9,000 12,000 20,000

RestauRaNts: The Zone Bar & Restaurant

No. of Rooms: 268 12,000 12,500 13,000 15,000 35,000

NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, and Chinese

Room Rates: Deluxe Room Grand Deluxe Room Premier Room Premier 9 Éclat Suite

NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

Hsinchu 新 竹

No. of Rooms: 141

No. of Rooms: 60

(All rates are exclusive of 5% VAT and 10% service charge)

56

MIRAMAR GARDEN TAIPEI

Taipei 台 北

NT$ 7,500 NT$ 8,500 NT$ 9,500 NT$ 9,000 NT$ 10,000 NT$ 15,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese sPecial featuRes: Business center, fitness center, meeting rooms, Club House with luxury furniture and advanced media facilities for private meetings and gatherings, wood-floored openair Sky Garden, parking tower, close to the MRT system near Zhongshan Elemen tary school MRT station and key commercial and entertainment districts.

477 , Linsen N. Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City 104 104 台 北 市 林 森 北 路 477 號 3 minutes by foot from Exit 2 of MRT Zhongshan Elementary School Station

Tel: 02.7743.1000 Fax: 02.7743.1100 E-mail: info@hotelsense.com.tw

www.hotelsense.com.tw


TAIPEI GALA HOTEL 慶泰大飯店

Taipei 台 北

THE GRAND HOTEL 圓山大飯店

Taipei 台 北

TAIPEI WESTGATE HOTEL

53 HOTEL

永安棧

寶島53行館

Taipei 台 北

No. of Rooms: 160

No. of Rooms: 500 (Suites: 57)

No. of Rooms: 121

Room Rates: Single Room Deluxe Single Room Deluxe Twin Room Suite Room

Room Rates: Single/DBL Suite

Room Rates:

NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

6,200 6,800 7,600 11,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese RestauRaNts: Golden Ear Restaurant (Western semi buffet); Golden Pot (Chinese Cuisine) sPecial featuRes: Business Center, meeting rooms, airport transfer service, parking lot, laundry service, free Internet access, LCD TV, DVD player, personal safety box, mini bar, private bathroom with separate shower & bath tub, hair dryer

NT$ 8,200-13,000 NT$ 18,000-30,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, French, Spanish, and Japanese RestauRaNts: Western, Cantonese, Northern China Style Dumplings, tea house, coffee shop, steak house sPecial featuRes: Grand Ballroom, conference rooms for 399 people, 10 breakout rooms, business center, fitness center, sauna, Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, billiards

186 Songjiang Rd., Taipei City,104 104 台 北 市 松 江 路 186 號

Cozy Deluxe Premier Premier City View Dual Queen Premier Dual Queen Executive Suite Grand Suite

Taichung 台 中

No. of Rooms: 70 NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

7,200 7,800 8,500 8,800 10,800 11,800 12,800 12,800

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Chinese, Japanese RestauRaNts: Unwind Bar & Restaurant sPecial featuRes: Located in the heart of the energetic Ximending; 1 minute on foot to MRT Ximen Station; free wireless Internet access; fitness center; business center; meeting room; laundry; express laundry service; complimentary Chinese/ Western buffet breakfast; safety deposit box; limousine service; airport pick-up. 150, Sec. 1, Zhonghua Rd., Wanhua Dist., Taipei City, 108

Room Rates: Standard Room Superior Room Deluxe Room Family Room Deluxe Family Room

NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

4,000 4,500 5,000 5,500 6,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese sPecial featuRes: Our guests enjoy easy access to all attractions lively Taichung City has to offer. From the hotel it’s a two-minute walk to Taichung Railway Station and a three-minute walk to the bus station, from where guests can easily reach popular tourist sites, such as Qingjing Farm, Xitou Forest Recreation Area, and Sun Moon Lake. 53 Hotel offers a wide range of services, including laundry/dry cleaning, a business center, a gym, and free wireless Internet access. 27, Zhongshan Rd., Central District, Taichung City, 40042

1 Chung Shan N. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City, 10461 10461 台 北 市 中 山 北 路 四 段 1 號 Tel: 886.2.2886.8888 Fax: 886.2.2885.2885

(MRT Ximen Station, Exit 6)

( two minutes from railway station)

Tel: 02.2541.5511 Fax: 02.2531.3831 Reservation Hotline: 02.2541.6888 E-mail: galahtl@ms18.hinet.net

108 台 北 市 中 華 路 一 段 150 號 Tel: 02.2331.3161 Fax: 02.2388.6216 Reservation Hotline: 02.2388.1889

40042 台 中 市 中 區 中 山 路 27 號 (距離火車站 2 分鐘) Tel: 04.2220.6699 Fax: 04.2220.5899 E-mail: service@53hotel.com.tw

www.galahotel.com.tw

www.grand-hotel.org

www.westgatehotel.com.tw

www.53hotel.com.tw

Exit 1 of MRT Xingtian Temple Station on the Luzhou Line.

Edison Travel Service specializes in Taiwan tours and offers cheaper hotel room rates and car rental services with drivers . Edison welcomes contact with other travel services around the world.


The motel’s design is a departure The motel’s design is aand departure from the ostentatious from the ostentatious and extravagant decoration of many extravagant decoration of many motels; instead, city elements from motels; instead, city elements from around the world are merged into around the world are merged into each guest room, quietly waiting for each guest room, quietly waiting for the next guest to arrive. the next guest to arrive.

The style style of of the the guest rooms is The inspired by by the the lofts of New York. inspired York. Weathered, rusting rusting window Weathered, frames, and and mottled mottled walls walls vividly frames, vividly and unrestrainedly unrestrainedly displa displa history and history in an an old old warehouse warehouse in in the in the heart heart of the the city’s city’s Soho Soho District. District. of

XINZHUANG BRANCH XINZHUANG BRANCH OPENING IN IN SPRING SPRING2016 2016

2016年の春、 2016年の春、 台湾 ・・ 新庄 台湾 新庄

OHYA Chain Boutique Motel is Taiwan’s largest chain of boutique OHYA Chain Boutique Motel is Taiwan’s largest chain of boutique hotels. It is listed by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau as a three-star hotel hotels. It is listed by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau as a three-star hotel operation (the highest ranking) and has become a leader among operation (the highest ranking) and has become a leader among boutique hotels in Taiwan. All 17 branches of the chain in Taiwan boutique in Taiwan.with All 17 branches of the chain in privacy, Taiwan provide hotels accommodation luxury, comfort, health, and provide accommodation withsuites luxury, health,l suites. and privacy, including 900sqm President andcomfort, business-leve including 900sqm President suites and business-leve l suites.

ISSN:18177964

REGISTER ON OUR NEW SHOPPING SITE AND RECEIVE A NT$50 DISCOUNT. 50 DISCOUNT. REGISTER ON OUR NEW SHOPPING SITE AND RECEIVE A NT$ JOIN “OBOW SHOP” FOR A TASTEFUL AND FUN SHOPPING EXPERIENCE! JOIN “OBOW SHOP” FOR A TASTEFUL AND FUN SHOPPING EXPERIENCE!

ISSN:18177964 GPN:2009305475

200 NTD

GPN:2009305475

200 NTD

Travel in Taiwan (No.73, 2016 1/2)  
Travel in Taiwan (No.73, 2016 1/2)  
Advertisement