the Fillet Mignon of Tuna
Contemporary Jewelry with
Paiwan PIZZAZZ! posted November 26, 2001
Looking for a gift to take back home? Aboriginal beads are the perfect solution. They're affordable, attractive and easily packed...and they won't set off airport security alarms.
Hand fashioned glass beads are rooted in the traditions of Taiwan's southern aboriginal peoples. Known as "Dragonflys", "Peacock Jewels" and by other playful names, ancient examples are especially treasured by the Paiwan. They were individually named and carried magical powers of wealth, honor and protection. Strings of colorful beads were presented as bride's dowry and have been passed down through generations.
Heirloom examples are difficult to find, but the process of making glass beads continues in southern Taiwan. Where can you find Paiwan beads and ornaments? If you have the time, take a ride out to Dragon Fly Studio (#9, Section 2, Chungcheng Road. Santimen Village, Ping Tung County, 08-799-2856) near the Aboriginal Culture Park. The studio was established in 1983 to revive this unique art form. Call ahead to arrange a visit and watch beads being made. If you're headed towards Kenting, stop in at Aboriginal Crafts (#190 Chungshan 2nd Road. Ren He Village, Ping Tung County, 08-871-3253) or the Native Trading Post (#21 Kenting Road. Hengchuen, Ping Tung County, 08-886-2612). Both spots offer beadwork and aboriginal crafts for sale. Flying Fish Boutique (#75-12 Sha Chuan St., Kaohsiung. 07-531-9481), located near the ferry pier in Kaohsiung's Yen Cheng District carries an assortment of craft works from Taiwan and southeast Asia. And on-line shoppers can check Timelessan Internet cache of curios; offerings change regularly. But for the harried traveler cum souvenir seeker, the Aboriginal Duty Free Shop at Kaohsiung's International Airport Departure Terminal is the best bet yet. Credit cards are accepted and the variety is exceptional for convenient shopping on the run! (K. Schmitt)
Photo Courtesy: Culture of Clothing Among Taiwan Aborigines. Tradition, Meaning, Images ISBN957-638-487-7
Begun in 1973 by Lin Hwai-min, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre is named after the oldest known dance ritual in China dating back thousands of years. The striking technical perfection of the dancers stems in part from their daily training in Tai Chi, meditation, Chinese Opera, modern dance and ballet. According to Lin, "the dancers must LOVE to dance." A passionate spirt helps as well.Cloud Gate, welcomed in cosmopolitan centers like New York, Berlin, Hong Kong and Taipei, will visit Kaohsiung this December 28 & 29. Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, founded in 1973, blends traditional Chinese dance and martial arts with a modern Western genre to create a compelling style unlike anything else seen in the East or West. The performance is geared to be a sell-out, so purchase tickets soon! (Photo Credit: Cloud Gate Theater)
"Cursive", the group's latest endeavor, capitalizes on dancers' talents to express the energy of calligraphy (Chinese character writing). Lin noticed after studying various masterpieces of calligraphic art, that despite differences in style, all shared a common element: the focused energy with which the calligrapher "danced". He asked his performers to improvise their movements while facing blown-up images of painted characters. The dancers absorbed the energy, or "Chi", to imitate ink lines in all their undulating beauty. The music that accompanies "Cursive", featuring a cello and percussion ensemble, is composed by Qu Xiao-song, contemporary song writer from Shanghai. The "Cursive" stage will be dresseed in white muslin (likened to rice papter) and dancers will wear flared black leggings (to suggest the flow of dramatic ink strokes).
In addition to the aesthetic, a profound spiritual depth characterizes Lin Hwai-min’s works. “Humanity is what I am concerned with in my life and my work,” says Lin. “There remains starvation, war, corruption. These kinds of tragic dramas are not going to disappear even though we (have arrived at) the 21st century. Dance to me is a prayer.” These days, Lin's prayerful dance will surely uplift our spirits in Kaohsiung. (K. Schmit. Some details abstracted from Asian Week Archives & This Month in Taiwan)
For a video preview of Cloud Gate visit "Curtain Up". They top the list of performing groups in Taiwan.
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Folks in Taiwan eagerly enjoy the regular ritual of Tea Time, a mid-day break of tea and snacks Hotels, restaurants and coffee shops advertise "tea party" hours, usually from 2-4pm, with ample stock of teas, sweets and savories. But if you're bored with the same old routine, Hakka tea will get your attention. It's totally interactive and totally tasty! Known as "Lei Cha" (pounded tea), the brew is served according to custom in the centuries old village of Meinung just an hour's drive from Kaohsiung. Photo Credit: Jane Sheldon
The air was crisp and the skies were clear as our group set out for Meinung. After a comfortable 40-minute cruise along new Interstate 10 we reached the end of the highway and the village outskirts. Tobacco crops lined the country roads into town reminding some of home. Long ago, Meinung farmers sold tobacco throughout Taiwan and southeast Asia. Today's harvest is limited to local use, but traditional curing houses still remain amid the fields in witness to a once vibrant industry.
Hakka families from the mainland began to settle Meinung over 300 years ago. The spot was perfect, meeting all the requirements for good Feng Shui and the promise of a prosperous future. The "Lung Dou" area, or "Dragon's Belly" is especially inviting. On our trip, we watched quaint farms, colorful temples and groves of betel palms stretch for miles against the backdrop of the south central mountain ranges.
Meinung was not always so peaceful. Conflict over farmland with aboriginal neighbors was commonplace for the town's ancestors. East Gate, only one of four strategic barriers to survive the tests of time, reminded us of the struggle.
The maze of streets in town, once configured to thwart intruding enemies, challenged our travel. We finally made our way to "Lei Cha House", a cozy Hakka style restaurant full of local ambiance. We tried pork in brown sauce with dried mustard cabbage and rice, brought to the table in bamboo baskets. The simplicity was satisfying. Next, a large pottery mortar and oversized wooden pestle were placed before us. Our hostess poured in mounds of toasted sesame seeds, red beans and freshly hulled peanuts and showed us the proper way to grind. We shared the task, reducing the ingredients to a fragrant rich paste. Powdered green tea and boiling water were added and transformed the mixture into a thick brew. We sipped our "Lei Cha" served in sturdy clay cups with popped rice sprinkled on top for good measure.
"Lei Cha" helped to fortify Hakka
farmers before resuming work in the fields. After downing our
"pounded tea", we were sufficiently energized to take in the sites of Meinung,
and successfully find our way back to Kaohsiung. (K. Schmitt)
For more on Hakka Culture, visit Hakka Home Page
For English guided tours of Meinung,
call the Aihsiang Association at (07) 681-0371
For more on Meinung souvenirs, read Paper Umbrellas
At the invitation of Kaohsiung City, a crew of sculptors, painters and designers were challenged to find alternate uses for abandoned shipping containers. Their work, nearly 100 installations, was on view at "Pier Park" until January 6, 2002. The results were ingenious. (Photo Credit: Kaohsiung City Government)
The container entitled "Tricycle Museum”, created by Rigo 01 (Portugal) and stationed near the exhibit's entrance, was a makeshift gallery devoted to photos of wheeled vehicles from around the world. These "bikes" were not for play. They represented practical conveyances used for practical purposes. Old Taiwanese carts, that hauled produce from fields in the not so distant past, appeared even more primitive in Rigo's art space. The island has made great strides in recent years and Kaohsiung, home to one of the world's most active container ports, is a case in point. According to the artist, "An empty container makes a great traveling gallery." Headlines from City leaders read, "We've come a LONG way in a SHORT time!"
All artists showed unique motivation. Lin Shu-min (Taiwan) was inspired to construct a dark and womb-like maze within a container that shrunk in size and finally dropped into a sunken stage. Here, the floorboards were filled with video projections of men and women re-enacting their moment of birth, while a sound track of babies gurgling and laughing accompanied the performance. Lin envisioned the ultimate container.....an oversized womb that transports us to life itself.
A whimsical approach was taken by Lu Ming-te (Taiwan). He imagined a world of elephants sailing across the seas. The story is simple, but the artisit's interpretation is profound. Using small stuffed elephants, he portrayed their arrival: container doors wide open and elephants carefully aligned and ready to emerge into the fresh air. A casual glance offered nothing special, yet each animal was slightly different from the others. Their trip was peaceful, orderly and without mutiny proving that differences don't have to cause problems.
There were many more thought provoking installations making the trip to Pier Park and the Container Exhibit a pleasant visit. (K. Schmitt)
"Pier Park" is located on
Hsinkuang Rd (near the Tuntex Building)
Bus Transportation: #2, #70, #78, #100; #14 , #85 and
#83 (“Harbor Holiday”Bus) on weekends only
Visit Kaohsiung City Home Page for other announcements of public events
The Splendor of NAPOLEON"
at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts until March 3, 2002
posted January 7, 2002
The pagentry of Napoleon Bonaparte comes alive at Kaohsiung’s Museum of Fine Arts thanks to articles on loan from the Musee du Chateau de Malmaison, Paris. Regalia, personal memorabilia and historic documents, totaling nearly 200 items, help recreate the "belle epoch" surrounding the French hero. Napoleon rose above difficulties early in life to become the youngest artillery lieutenant in history at age sixteen, and by age thirty-five was crowned Emperor. Even his personal life, marked by a passionate love for Josephine, attained mythic proportions. Napoleon’s reign was short-lived (1804-1814) but his influence was far reaching, especially in the development of European decorative arts.
Costumes, accessories and interior furnishings featured in the museum’s display reflect imperial grandeur. Stylistically grounded in the traditions of ancient Greece and Rome, the decorative arts definitely bolstered political and social ideals of the day. Colors are strong and ornamentation is refined, appearing on everything from monogrammed crystal to mahogany pedestal tables with brass mountings. Painted portraits, rendered in oils with a high sheen, are imposing yet carefully crafted in realistic detail. Battle attire and court gowns are well represented in the exhibit, and include the high-waisted ( “empire style") dress with flowing train introduced by Empress Josephine and modeled after robes worn in ancient Greece. Jewelry items are reproductions for the most part, except for the tiara worn during mourning ceremonies. Overall, the museum’s gallery arrangement suggests a Napoleonic mood with marble portrait busts framed in heavy swag curtains.
A pageant of souvenir items, like backpacks, scarves and coffee mugs decorated with imperial emblems, accompanies the exhibit. There is also a wealth of books, videos, gallery guides and audiotapes, but only in Mandarin. For some background reading before you go, visit Napolean Web Ring (in Russian, Spanish, English and French). Or schedule a guided tour (in French, Spanish or English) through the museum’s tour office at (07) 555-0331, ext. 241. (K. Schmitt)
"Rhythm is Life"
Camut Band from Barcelona, Spain
posted January 14, 2002Photo: Camut Productions
Feel the RHYTHM
By Max Woodworth
Staff Reporter for the Taipei Times
Drawing on African rhythms, Camut Band finds a way of bringing new dynamism to the well-worn tap-dance format --so much dynamism, in fact, that you'll be exhausted just watching the show!
Seeing a performance is rarely a physically exhausting undertaking. Sometimes it can be mentally taxing if the themes are complex or the performance is especially boring. But not often do we emerge from a theater actually weary from exertion. You will be tired, though, after seeing the Camut Band from Barcelona and their show. Their show, Life is Rhythm is a wild mix of West African percussion and tap dance that draws the audience out of their seats.....
.....for the rest of the story, go to Feel the RHYTHM
Or, read more about CAMUT BAND on their Home Page
in Spanish in English
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Bamboo Wind Chimes from BaliBlowin' in the Wind
Kenting's "Wind-Bell Feast"
until February 17, 2002
posted January 22, 2002To the delight of Taiwan's tourist industry, a "recreational sub-culture" has evolved over the years in the southern most reaches of Hengchuen Penninsula in Ping Tung County The region has long been haven to beach bums and sun seekers, but now the cultural side of Hengchuen shines through. From January 27th until February 17th, a series of activities showcasing the craft of wind-chimes has been arranged by the Ping Tung County Government and the Tourism Bureau.
The humble wind chime has existed from prehistory in many cultures, although it saw its most prolific development in Asia where they were often used as elaborate fixtures on sacred structures. Chinese Buddhists believe the sound of wind bells invites lost spirits to find refuge in the chime itself. The living find the music calming as well, and many seek healing in the tones believing it enhances positive Chi energy which leads to a healthy, happy and lucky life. Numerous wind-bell craft displays, parades, DIY classes, storytelling sessions and artist gatherings are arranged in Kenting and various nearby locations. This is your chance to learn more about the humble wind chime. The answers, obviously, will be blowin in the wind. (K. Schmitt)
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
at Sen Feng Gong Market, Kaohsiung City
posted February 4, 2002Brace yourself! Chinese New Year, #4699 according to the ancient lunar calendar, is right around the corner. Beginning on February 12th and contiuing through Lantern Festival, the coming of the “Black Horse” will be celebrated in Taiwan with fireworks, family parties, lion dancing and more fireworks. Launching such an auspicious occassion requires careful preparation, especially when dreams of good fortune depend upon the taste of the New Year's first dinner.
Kaohsiung City shoppers head for Sen Feng Gung Market to find ingredients that will add a lucky touch to their dishes. Named for Sen Feng Temple nearby, it is one of the oldest markets in town featuring dried duck, hundred year eggs, shark's fin, preserved fruits, herbals, seeds and a host of unidentifiables. "Dry Market" items are in definite contrast to fresh produce found at neighboring “Wet Market" venues.
Sen Feng Market stretches along a narrow alleyway only a few blocks long, but within its space are all the makings for a propitious holiday party. An air of excitment also fills the air, especially at year's end. Calligraphers congregate at the entrance, ready to inscribe lucky poems on bright red banners in black or gold ink. Bamboo brushes, ink pots and paper strips balance atop their make-shift tables along with copy books listing hundreds of lucky phrase options. Shoppers spend considerable time contemplating the perfect expression, yet the ink barely dries before the banners are whisked away. At home, they are pasted on doorways to bestow good luck on all who enter.
Sen Feng Gung, open year round, is located off Chunghua Road near the tunnel approach to the Train Station; another access is on Chienguo Road. Parking is scarce, but no one seems to mind. Afterall, this shopping spree comes but once a year! For additional reading on Taiwan's New Year traditions, visit the R.O.C. Holiday Site (K. Schmitt)
PHOTOS (K. Schmitt):
Choosing from dried dug, shark's fin and sausages (TOP)
Lucky wishes painted while you wait (ABOVE RIGHT)
Steaming Dim Sum for hungry shoppers (BOTTOM LEFT)
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
the "Last Hurrah" of Chinese Lunar New Year
posted February 20, 2002
Lantern Festival, the grand finale to Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on February 26th with events before and after to entertain local residents. Known also as "Little New Year", the festival is celebrated with decorated paper lanterns. In cities and towns around Taiwan, lanterns of all shapes and sizes will be on display with prizes awarded to the most creative. It's definitely the time for night owls, as the action really gets going after sunset.
In addition to lanterns, Kaohsiung
will host a Drum and Flag Festival beginning February 22nd at Tai-Sugar
Logistics Park located two kilometers south of the 85-story Tuntex Building
with teams of dancers and musicians from Japan, Indonesia, Australia and
Thailand. Shows begin at 7pm. The Kaohsiung Museum of
Arts will stage outdoor performances of local and international teams on
February 23rd and 24th from 3:30 -5:30pm, including an outdoor exhibit
of folk handicrafts and toys. In the Museum's Exhibit hall B-1, visitors
can catch a glimpse of drums from around the world on display from February
22nd to the 24th. A Lantern Parade gets underway on February 24th
at 7pm moving from the intersection of Wufu and Chunghua Road to Hsin Kuang
Road. And for daytime ventures, you can visit the International Flags
Display at Chi Chin's Coastal Park from February 22nd to the 24th from
10am-5pm. (K. Schmitt)
Beehive Rockets, Yenshuei. Tainan County
Lantern Displays & Performances, Taipei
Floating Lanterns, Pingshi. Taipei County
R.O.C. Holiday Site
Tainan, Taiwan’s first capital from 1663-1885, is home to both historic landmarks and industrial enterprises. While the city claims numerous temples and cultural relics, outlying environs boast factories producing everything from textiles, electronics and furniture to processed foods and plastics. But these days, many feel the pinch of a sluggish economy.CHI MEI
Weathering the Storm in STYLE
posted March 4, 2002
Yet Mr. HSU Wen-Lung, President of Chi Mei Corporation and supplier of resins, acrylic-based products and other commodities to the international market, weathers the current economic storm in style by continually adding to his impressive collection housed in the Chi Mei Museum.
Located on the factory site, Chi Mei Museum is southern Taiwan’s largest holding of western art in the neo-classical style. Mr. Fuchi Hsu, Vice Executive, admits that the Museum seems out of place in its industrial environment. Even so, over 4,000 people make the trek weekly to pay a visit.
A trip to Chi Mei Museum is a bit like stepping into Grandma’s attic, with a mix of cherished items from France, Holland, Germany, Italy, America and Asia. Of particular interest are medieval weaponry and classic musical instruments. Children are attracted to the lifelike dioramas of animals from around the world, including rare and extinct specimens of Taiwan.
For the most part, displays are
permanent; smaller pieces are occasionally rotated. In the
past, Chi Mei Museum has cooperated with other organizations to stage outreach
exhibits and share additional works from the extensive collection. “Children
in Art” and “The Beauty of Mothers and Children” have been
the most recent. Call for directions if unfamiliar with the back
roads of Tainan . Or, hire a cab from Tainan Rail Station. (K. Schmitt;
Photo: courtesy of Chi Mei Museum)
Address: 59-1 San-Chia, Jente Village,
Hours: 10am - 5pm
Closed Mondays and holidays
NOTE: Groups are advised to call for reservations in advance; drop-ins are welcome as space allows
Sculpture, Weaponry, Music, Ancient Worlds, Natural History
Gift Shop: Museum reproductions,
gift items and souvenirs.
Coffee Shop: open during Museum hours
Lunch Room: open during set times
Language: Tours available in Mandarin and Japanese; Gallery chat and reference reading in Mandarin only.
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
The year was 1995. I had been listening to 1970's love songs in tea shops for five years. There was no Napoli, no Finga's Italian Restaurant, no Frog III in Taiching. We didn't have bagels or a cup of coffee that cost less than NT$150.
in yer ear, Karin Parmelee
story from Taichung's COMPASS
photo: Glenn DeVilliers
posted March 12, 2002
I was one of the lucky ones, I think, becuase my friends were musicians. I got to listen to jams in my apartment, in the park and at a few venues around Taiwan, but the favorite spot was on the beach in Kenting where we would camp under the trees, look out at the expnasive ocean and toss a frisbee on the sand. We would build a fire, share beers with the beach patrol and sing until our eyes got heavy and it was time to sleep. We were having fun, enjoying music, nature and friendship without spending alot of money.
The year was 1995 when two friends, Wade and Jimi, decided to create a party, to extend these homegrown jams into a "festival". Well, they invited all the "original music" bands of Taiwan to come together in Kenting for three days and play music. The list totaled 20 (everybody got two sets). They invited performers, like Ah-Hwan. They invited people to set up booths. I think there were two, Chud's stall and "FREE ADVICE from Dille". That first weekend in April, 1995, Spring Scream was born.
Every year since, during the first weekend in April, Spring Scram has been in Kenting, growing and evolving into what is now...a festival that brings together bands, performers, friends, artists, crafters, dancers, skeaters, kite flyers, vendors (about 100 last year), writers, poets and frisbee throwers from around the island and the world. Last year, 20 bands joined. Not necessarily famous bands, although some of the "now famous" got their start at Spring Scream. I think of Scrap Metal, of Sticky Rice, of L.T.K. of Back Quarter, of Clippers.....the list goes on and onl
Now, people look forward to Spring Scream as a place to try out new stuff. Shows are not just about music, but about the whole perfomrance. Costumes, dancers, entrances, exits, guests.....anything (almost) at any time is possible at Srping Scream.
This year, Spring Scream-Year of the Horse, will be held April 5, 6, 7, 8. For all the particulars (location, ticket prices, participation) check out the Web Pagte at www.springscream.com
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
The legendary Hilda Oates, a.k.a. the Queen of Lady Salsa, will make her debut in southern Taiwan this May.( 05/24-Fri 7:30PM Tainan Cultural Center; 05/25-Sun 2:30PM & 7:30PM Kaohsiung Cultural Center) Billed as "an explosive Cuban cocktail" who brings the vibrant culture of the Caribbean to the international stage, Hilda delivers! In a London interview with the 76-year young star of Lady Salsa, Hilda shared anecdotes of her life.
sowing "wild oats"
in southern Taiwan
posted March 21, 2002
After the revolution, she reminisces, she and one of her first theatre companies decided it was time to bring classic theater to the masses working in the island's tobacco and sugarcane factories and plantations. This egalitarian approach to the arts, eschewing its exclusivity, is typical of the heyday of Cuba's revolution; and it is agreeable to picture Oates amid a rippling field of gold-green sugar cane declaiming poetry and drama. With burnished skin, a robust figure and an aura of extreme dignity she is still radiant in her eighth decade. In her youth, she must have been magnificent. She began acting at 35yrs - a remarkable age to enter a profession that seems to value youth above all else. Her love of acting was born of reading poetry and stories aloud at night school, where she also learned to read and write, a real credit to her tenacity amid the segregation and racial discrimination of 1930s Cuba. As the daughter of poverty-stricken Jamaican immigrants to Cuba, she spent early adulthood cooking and cleaning for wealthy Havanan families. In the months following the 1959 revolution, as the family for whom Oates worked grumbled and vainly awaited a return to a pre-Castro status quo, she saw an advertisement in a newspaper calling actors to attend stage school. When she announced her desire to attend, the lady of the house squawked, " You! "Why do you want to act? Who's going to want a black woman!"
Oates took up the gauntlet, spending three years in theatre school before going on to become one of Cuba's leading actresses. Since then, she has performed many of the classic Spanish plays including Lorca's Blood Wedding and has toured the U. S. and Spain. A high point was performing for and meeting Fidel Castro. Though pleased with her achievements, she is not one to rest upon her laurels. Slapping the table in front of her for emphasis she insists, " You can't be ambitious sitting down waiting for [opportunity] to come to you. One must go out and seek it."
With all her energy and passion she is the perfect linchpin for the Lady Salsa revue. Through polished dance routines, presented by a cache of the finest Cuban dancers and musicians, the production interweaves the history of the revolution with the history of Cuban dance tracing its roots through earthy slave rhythms, the courtly danzón of the nineteenth century, the elegant twentieth century jazz numbers, and ending with the exuberant salsa routines for which Cuba is famous today. (article adapted from London Review, 01/01) RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Take the PLUNGE!Photo: Baoli Tourism Association
River Rafting with Blue Skies
posted March 29, 2002
Blue Skies in Kaohsiung? It sounds too good to be true. But thanks to Paul Riley and Mark Roche, long time residents of Kaohsiung City and Blue Skies Adventure Club organizers, it is possible to experience a bit of blue in southern Taiwan.
Kaohsiung City, the second largest in Taiwan, is regularly plagued with a heavy blanket of smog and soot due to industrial manufacturing in the area. But not so far away, blue skies, verdant mountains and swift flowing rivers await the adventurous. "Blue Skies" takes advantage of these welcome surroundings and offers regular monthly outings for outdoor enthusiasts. "Usually 20 person join us looking for outdoor fun," says Roche. Excursions include mountain hiking and river tracing as well.
This coming June, the group will travel to Guan Shan, Taitung, on the eastern coast of the island to take on the Hsiu Ku Luan River for a wet and wild ride via rubber rafts. The excursion has proved to be one of the most popular since Blue Skies was first organized over a year ago. "Rivers are classed in difficulty from 1 to 5, " explains Roche, "and Hsiu Ku Luan is a great place if you're a beginner at the sport." Before raging the river, rafters can enjoy therapeutic waters in a Hot Spring Hotel where they will be lodging. For more information on Taitung, try this LINK (K.Schmitt)
Date: June 1st & 2nd
RSVP: by April 15th. Boats are filling FAST!
NOTE: Cancellations will be charged
Transport: Mini Van
Limits: 6 person per raft.
For Register: Passport details are required for insurance purposes-Full Name -Birth Date-Passport Number-Nationality. If you are registering for a group, be sure to indicate who's in which boat. AND, submit a name for your craft. It's part of the fun! Contact Mark (07) 389-0795 or Paul (07) 552 8465 RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Photo: Karen Schmitt
along Yen Ping Lane, Tainan
posted April 7, 2002
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Dutch East India Company, purveyor of goods between Europe and Asia. The Company made its mark throughout the region, including Tainan where a Dutch settlement was established during the 17th century. Popular local landmarks offer some sense of the period, but for a real “Dutch Treat” a leisurely springtime stroll along Yen Ping Lane in Anping District is hard to beat. It’s Taiwan’s first “official” street, bursting with activity, snack food specialties and surprises!
Dutch stay was brief in Tainan (1624~1642), however their presence paved the way to progress. The once imposing settlement, with An Ping Fort as its centerpiece, has all but crumbled. Yen Ping Lane, just a stone's throw away, remains a pivot point for preservation efforts on behalf of civic leaders and concerned residents.
More aptly called "Sweet Street, Yen Ping Lane stretches a mere 300 meters but it's packed with eateries, toy stands, and traditional shops selling pickled mangos, dried salty plum and a host of mouth-puckering treats. Occasional vendors appear under the shade of coconut palms twisting fronds into crickets that charm the youngsters..
Veering off Yen Ping Lane, quaint alleyways, gates bedecked with protective “Sword-Lion” motifs, old city wells and remnants of merchant shops pose willingly for photographers. Hai Shan Hall, built in 1684 to house loyalist soldiers who overturned Dutch rule, is a surprising architectural gem that welcomes snapshots.
Additional Dutch treats are in store for visitors to Taiwan next January 2003. The National Palace Museum, Taipei, will present “Formosa. Taiwan, Holland and Southeast Asia in the 17th Century” that showcases artworks and memorabilia from the whole region. (K. Schmitt)
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
EPILOGUE: Wu-San-Tou Dam
Adapted from the translation of Dr. Guo,
Southern Taiwan Science & Technology Association
posted April 14, 2002
Photo: Taipei Times
On May 8th, the Chia-nan Irrigation Association will sponsor their yearly tribute to Hatta Yoichi (1886~1942) known in Taiwan as the “father of modern agriculture”. Hatta and his young wife, Toyoki, arrived in Taiwan in 1920 as the island was awakening to colonial rule. Living conditions were harsh with an ever-present risk of malaria, prompting the nick name "Land of Disease". Crops were unpredictable due to draught conditions or flooding which resulted in food shortages. But Taiwan held great promise, so the best and the brightest scholars, engineers and statesmen from Japan were sent to restructure the land.
Hatta had graduated from the Civil Engineering Department of Tokyo's Imperial University with specialized training under Yoshiro Hamano. It became his task to survey the Chia-nan Plain (spanning the Chia-Yi and Tainan areas). As an expansive section of cultivable land in southwestern Taiwan, this region was capable of significant agricultural productivity if means to channel water supplies could be developed. Hatta proposed construction of a dam on the Guantian River; it would cost half of the Prefectural Government's annual revenue, but it would nourish 150,000 ja (1 ja equals almost 1 hectare of land) and lots of healthy rice.
The project was completed in just ten years, and then it was time for Hatta to relocate in Taipei. Both he and his wife carried with them cherished memories of a remarkable success and a happy stay in southern Taiwan where they had raised their family. Hatta was later assigned to service in the Philippines, however he was lost at sea aboard the Taiyomaru just days before the end of World War II.
All Japanese nationals living overseas were instructed to return home, but it was an impossible choice for Toyoki who loved Taiwan as if she were Taiwanese. Feeling lost and alone, she returned to Wu-San-Tou Dam and jumped into the waters unwilling to face her future in Japan without her beloved Yoichi.
Wu-San-Tou Dam, known earlier as Shanhu (Coral Lake) because of its shape, was unprecedented in Japan and Taiwan. It is was the largest reservoir in East Asia for its time, ranking third in the world, and it is an engineering miracle even today. The water-leading tunnel measures 3 kilometers, the storage capacity is 150 million tons, and it comprises 18,000 kilometers of waterway networks (six times longer than the Great Wall of China). The dam, standing strong and solid for more than seventy years, continues to supply water to hungry fields and to generate gratitude for the efforts of Hatta Yoichi. (K. Schmitt)
For more information on upcoming ceremonies at Wu-San-Tou Dam, contact the Association at (06) 220-5654 or (06) 228-4264. English speakers may talk with Mr. WU Yutu. Japanese speakers may contact Ivy Sun at the Japan Interchange Association for details. RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Although VuVu Rock is located in Taipei, this Paiwan style restaurant rates a review from the perspective of southern Taiwan where the majority of the Paiwan people live.
VuVu Rock is a short walk from the Shung Ye Aboriginal Museum, Taipei. Everything about the place is user friendly from pleasant staff and English language menus to dishes that cater to uninitiated taste buds.
The flavor of Taiwan’s aboriginal foods may be wild and game-like for some, but not so at VuVu Rock. The Betel Nut Flower and Pork entree (NT$290), for example, is sweet and delicate unlike the bitter fruit of the betel nut palm. It’s just as addictive, though, in a delightfully delicious way! The Mountain Boar with Papaya (NT$260), is tasty, and so is the Millet “Cheesecake” (NT$80 per slice), a wholesome dessert lightly dusted with peanut powder and cracked sesame seeds.
The Paiwan people prefer natural ingredients found in lush mountainous regions. Millet is basic to their diet and provides a valuable nutritious supplement when boiled as a thick porridge. At one time millet was considered a precious crop indicating wealth or status, and even today it is linked to important tribal rituals. Ripened grains are fermented into a potent brew that when shared from double cupped vessels guarantees lasting friendships and bountiful blessings. When you sample millet wine, do as the locals do: splash a few drops in the air and on the ground with your finger tips to honor the spirits before drinking.
Tropical fruits, taro, yams and
upland rice, introduced by the Japanese during occupation days, and mountain
vegetables and flowers are also served at Paiwan meal time. But when
wild pig is added to the table, the real feast begins! Tracking and killing
a boar once represented a milestone event for novice hunters and their
trophies were cause for great celebration. Hunting expeditions have
been curtailed, but appetizers of roasted mountain pig are served at VuVu
Rock. A trip through the villages of Ping Tung County helps capture
the taste in a more rustic setting. Plumes of smoke swirling
from pork sizzling atop slate grills at the roadside signal a succulent
barbecue of pork rinds.
|VuVu Rock offers aboriginal
crafts in addition to good food. A small gift shop includes
handmade clay beads from the workshop of Rulandeng Omass, Paiwan craftsman
from Shuimen, Ping Tung County. The ornaments are based on age-old
traditions and they are particularly meaningful when displayed at VuVu’s,
which literally translates as “Ancestors”.
In contrast to Chinese fare, praised as practical or medicinal, aboriginal food seems almost mystic. Representing everything simple and natural, and in the spirit of communal harmony, a Paiwan meal reminds us how important it is to get back to the basics every now and then. (K. Schmitt)
Vuvu Rock Aboriginal Restaurant
3, ZhiShan (ChihShan) Rd., section 2. Taipei
Tel: (02) 2880-3043
Hours: 11-2 am
Owner: Sakinu, member of the Paiwan tribe
Entertainment: musical performances by aboriginal artists
Plan a visit on your next trip to Taipei.
It's within walking distance from the Aboriginal Museum
and the National Palace Museum.
Long ago, a waterfall fell from
the mountain top
to a peacefull lagoon below.
Liquid jewels jumped in the air
and dragon flies danced on rainbows.
A wise old man near the water's edge
caught the spray in his mighty hand
He changed each drop into magic beads
spreading hope and joy across the land.
"Dragonfly Eyes", or hand made clay beads, are treasured by the Paiwan people who believe they are endowed with magical powers to protect and to bless. Nearly 50 different beads can be traced to the “ancients” with its own name and legend. Rulandeng-Omass, respected elder of Shuimen's Paiwan clan, has spent a lifetime researching their stories and in the process has revived the craft for a modern day market.
Ankil and Rulandeng-Omass
Photo, Poem & Story: K. Schmitt
From dawn to dusk, tour buses snake their way up mountain roads and head straight for the Aboriginal Culture Park in Ping Tung County. Eager to catch the karaoke-style song and dance revue, most visitors don’t realize that real treasures can be found in Omass' workshop in the sleepy village of Shuimen nearby. Omass and his wife of noble blood warmly greet guests who gather round to learn about Paiwan culture and colorful clay jewels
Paiwan society, characterized by a seniority-based inheritance system, follows a strict protocol that determines the design of dwellings, garments and accessories, including stunning necklaces of ornamental beads. These are worn at formal occasions, weddings, and tribal ceremonies to reflect status and wealth. Great debate surrounds their origin. Similar in some ways to relics from China, Africa and South East Asia, most scholars agree that the original beads were brought by ancestors migrating to the island over a thousand years ago. In time, others were added to the repertoire through trading, most notably with the Dutch East Indies Company who had established a shipping base in Anping, Tainan in the early 17th century. Dutch sailors picked up baubles here and there for barter with local Taiwan tribes. Unfortunately, many rare examples have been lost.
Written histories do not exist in Paiwan culture, yet a record rich in legend is conveyed through song, dance and story telling. Through these channels, and in conversations with various tribal leaders, Omass began to catalogue individual beads and to reconstruct traditional bead making methods. He notes, "The decorative clay patterns on the beads relate to Paiwan belief systems and are identified as “male” (with patterns visible in cross section) or “female” (surface designs only)." Further classification includes: mulimulidan (Beads of The Noble); rosonagatou (Beads of The Sun); baloalisabula (Beads of The Peacock); tsadatsaan (Beads of The Land); pomatzamatza (Beads of The Eyes) among others.
Village residents regularly drop by to place orders for dowry beads or study Paiwan native culture and language, however the workshop is also open to the public. Single beads are available for crafters to mix and match; finished necklaces, bracelets and accessories range in price from NT$300 to NT$3,000. All are faithful reproductions of traditional models and surprisingly affordable considering their lineage and careful handcrafting. Shoppers are reminded that village craft shops are not extensions of lowland night markets, and to use tact when bartering as items represent aboriginal identity.
The author thanks Allee Kuo and students of National Kaohsiung Normal University for translation assist. If you'd like to arrange a meeting with Omass, click HERE for assist. Paiwan Clay Beads will be on sale at the Kaohsiung Coffee Morning Vendor's sale on May 11th. For more details, contact Eva. And, the full story of Omass will appear in the May issue of "Centered on Taipei" published by the Community Services Center. RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Old Growth TreesCenturies old trees are venerated in southern Taiwan. Their sturdy trunks are wrapped with red cloth belts and small altars are stationed nearby to hold offerings of fruit and incense. Some people claim to see fantastic and powerful images in their gnarled root formations. Others visit special trees in the hopes of miracles.
in southern Taiwan
symbols of strength & spirit
by Huang Hui-rong
translated by Jay Lin
posted May 7, 2002
Beneath the Banyan
Photo Credit: Glenn DeVilliers
Most ancient trees survive in mountainous regions standing guard over old tribal areas. Some were purposefully planted to commemorate a spirit of brotherhood with Hakka and Han neighbors. These "noble patriarchs" have witnessed events that have shaped communities and lives. Village elders, who cherish strong ties and vivid childhood memories associated with these precious landmarks, are personally wounded when trees are lost.
Not that long ago, environmental protection was considered a last priority as Taiwan began to industrialize, and unchecked deforestation was standard in southern Taiwan. Fortunately, the “growth at all cost” mentality is being replaced.
In 1989, the National Department of Agriculture and Forestry promulgated a plan entitled, “The Ancient and Precious Trees Preservation Plan" with both funding and manpower to catalog ancient trees still remaining in the cities and countryside.
In its first attempt at registration, over 30 old growth trees in Kaohsiung City and County were counted. The number quickly rose to 88 as smaller townships and villages were investigated. Since record keeping began, some have perished, leaving a total of 83 ancient trees. Liuokuei (Kaohsiung County) has the highest concentration, with 10 ancient trees. JiaShan (Kaohsiung County) follows with 8, and ShengLin and Meinung (both in Kaohsiung County) have 6 trees each. In terms of classification, banyan trees (36 total) are the most numerous. According to Chinese legend, the banyan is believed to have a soul so their lives were typically spared. The second most common are camphor trees (18 total); most are clustered at Dashe Elementary School. Ancient trees in remote areas are not easily accessible for recording, and researchers are sure that others do exist. As techniques for documenting are further developed, these will be added to the list to compile a more complete picture of the sacred spirits resting in Kaohsiung.
(the above translation is made from "Under the Shadow of Sacred Trees" by Huang Hui-rong and first appeared in "New Views of southern Taiwan" isuue #9
(March-April, 2001). RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Join the Kaohsiung History Museum for a City Tour of Historic Trees on May 25th. For more info, call (07) 531-2560
the "Fillet Mignon" of Tuna
posted May 14, 2002
' Tis the season for bluefin tuna, or "black fish" as the species is sometimes called. The tuna are in their prime after surviving months of cold winter waters, with a thick layer of fatty flesh insulating their bellies. The portly protrusion is testament to their endurance but it also marks the most flavorful cut of meat called "O-Toro", or "Big Fat", in Japanese.
Photo: Pleger Institute
of Environmental Research (PIER)
Story: Karen Schmitt
Local fishermen from Ping Tung in southern Taiwan fiercely contest the bluefin catch at this time of year because of the high price Toro commands in the market place. A single fish, weighing 200 kilos on average, can be sold for up to NT$100,000 (US$3,500) making the bluefin the prize of the Pacific. Environmentally conscious organizations, like the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), have issued global fishing quotas as "wild bluefin" face an uncertain future however Taiwan, Korea and Indonesia do not yet subscribe to CCSBT limits.
But Toro brings benefits that far outweigh any monetary value. A 3 1/2 ounce serving yields 1.3 grams of Omega-3, also known as Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) an essential fatty supplement to the diet. Omega-3 is medically recognized for maintaining a healthy heart, and for relieving depression, arthritis and migraine headaches.
The tuna family includes albacore, yellow fin, skipjack and bigeye, although Toro is a bluefin delicacy. It's heavily marbled with fat, and has a mild taste and a texture similar to beefsteak. Grilling is popular, yet broiling and baking are tasty options. Naturally, raw Toro sashimi is high on the serving list in Asia where connoisseurs relish droplets of oil left behind in the soy sauce dip. Many restaurants in southern Taiwan will feature Toro on their menu during the next few months. Prices are high and health benefits are significant. Check with the restaurant to see if they serve "responsible catch" from distributors who follow fishing quotas.
To learn more about the tuna species, visit the PIER link.
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
Treasures of a
posted May 25, 2002
Kitchen treasures spilling into the street
Wufu 4th Road, Kaohsiung. Taiwan
Photo: Glenn DeVilliers
Ever had one of those days when nothing goes right in the kitchen? Well, consider this: Chinese cooks have faced serious challenge for generations! Plagued by shortages of fuel, food, water and utensils, they quickly learned to improvise with bare essentials. Implements and cooking methods that originated in the countryside in response to leaner times are now the backbone of modern day Chinese kitchens. The old adage "Keep it Siimple, Sweatheart" can work for you, too. Besides, it things go awry you can always order out!
Food was usually available in small tidbits to Chinese struggling with shortages on the mainland. The advantage was that chunk-sized bites could be quick cooked with a just a mimimum of wood to fuel the stove. The wok, with wide sloping sides preformed the dask with ease. Metal braces, fitted to the burners, prevented the wobbly wok from tipping and directed flames efficiently as well. A good Chinese cook can get by with just one wok, but the whole meal cannot be served at once. This may explain why servings are staggered at some local restaurants causing much aggravation for Western diners.
The “Four Treasures" of a Chinese Kitchen
CLEAVERThe cleaver is the most versatile and costly of all kitchen utensils. A good knife can be used to cut, shred, dice, mince, chop, crush, break and tenderize. Price depends upon weight and blade shape. The best are made in Kinmen and are sold at open markets in southern Taiwan. Why use plastic when solid wooden blocks are available? Traditional blocks are made of circular cross sections of wood, and because of their thickness they never warp. Food vendors at wet markets island-wide have a wooden block ever ready on the sales counter. Over years of use, their flat surface conforms to the knife blade and they assume a comfortable sway. Wooden blocks are hard to keep sanitary (use a weak bleach solution), but they are extremely stable on the work surface which keeps them from slipping.
Steamers in Taiwan are still made by hand and are expensive compared to the materials used. But with reasonable care, they can last a lifetime. Thin sheets of wood, softened with water and bent into circular shapes form the body. Twisted cords help to maintain their shape. Bottoms and lids are made separately of woven bamboo slats that “breathe” allowing steam to escape and prevent puddles as food cooks. The wok is the perfect partner to the steamer since its sloping sides prevent the steamer stack from slipping into the water. HINTS: Use a lettuce or cabbage leaf to line the steamer racks so food doesn’t stick. It keeps the surface clean too without much scrubbing, which can weaken the fragile bamboo. And, rotate your steamer sections-top to bottom- when cooking to maintain even wear. RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE