Archive for the ‘Taipei’ Category

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Enter the Natives

In Museums,Taipei,Taiwan,Updates on August 7, 2011 by triotriotrio

Four Figures

Four Figures from the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park

I still love the blockbuster – encyclopedia museums of the world but lately I have been drawn to ones that have a more defined story to tell. Defined should not be interpreted as “lesser” it is only to say that not all museums can be all things to all people. After all there are only a handful of British Museums, Metropolitans and Louvres.

Taipei is best known as the home to the National Palace Museum. And believe me when I say this museum is a gem that should not be missed. But near the Palace Museums sits another cultural institution, the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, whose mission is to tell the story of the native people of Taiwan. I found in this museum touches on the familiar and inspires a desire to learn more about is subject.IMG_1892 For example, the native people of Taiwan may have more in common with people from New Zealand than Mainland China.

I quickly learned that the story of the native people of Taiwan is not unlike the tale of those of Native Americans or the Aboriginals of Australia. These are people who through the years have been faced issues of discrimination, assimilation and extinction. But in the end they have endured to keep their traditions alive in an ever-changing modern world.

Sheng Ye Museum-- Reflections of Aboriginal CultureThe museum is divided into different sections that illustrate the different cultural techniques such as building homes, pottery, clothing and fishing. And the museum also touches on the issues of language and faith. Time and time again I could draw similarities between tribal groups of North America in the way information was presented.

Once again I have learned the important lesson that the further one travels from home, the more one discovers that home is never that far behind.

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Try New Things

In Food,Taipei,Taiwan,Updates on August 4, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

Night Market

Taipei Night Markets

Imagine a narrow alleyway in which thousands of people are strolling along each evening in search of good eats, bargains, and a general good time.  That is essentially the scene of the night markets of Taipei.

Each evening throughout the city designated areas roll up the streets to motorized traffic and pedestrians take over. Along the streets there are make-shift stands to established businesses with regular hours. These spaces, like the famous Shilin Night Market, are a mecca for all kinds of people. Jennifer and I were a little overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation. Too many people, too much noise and too much heat – triple threat. It was a worthwhile venture but one we may not repeat again in the summer.

The main goal for us at the market was to sample some local fare. And we were rewarded by a great sampling. The stinky tofu deserved its own post but I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight three other things we tired.

Hot Chicken Night Market

I am a firm believer in what Andrew Zimmern says about street food, “Look for the longest line.” We spied an extra-long line for fried chicken so we quickly got to the back. In front of us we met a nice group of American gals who were in Taipei teaching English. They told us that on their last night in Taipei they had chosen to spend it eating this chicken.  I knew that was a good sign.

We patiently waited as we made our way to the front the line. At last we received our prize with a generous dousing of a special spicy rub. Please note dear reader that there no pictures of said chicken. That is because we tore into it like a pack of wolves on a spring lamb. It was by far the best fried chicken that I have ever had. Not even close.

It was crispy, juicy and perfectly flavored. We later noticed that there were several other chicken stands nearby. And they had no lines. So this was not a fluke, this was the real deal.

Stick Them Up

Waffle Shapes   Waffle Shapes Waffle Shapes Waffle Shapes

My childhood friend Shannon had alerted me to a novelty item to try. They are regular waffles but made in unusual shapes. They included a motorcycle, elephant, bird, and a pistol. The waffles themselves were sadly a little under-whelming (too much cake not enough sweetness) but they were sure fun to eat.

Candy Apple Strawberries Night Market

These little treats were a welcome variation on the staple candy apples. The strawberries were skewered on a kabob and then dipped in the hard candy coating. The crispy outside cracked when it was bitten into and then the taster discovered a luscious berry behind it.

My only complaint was that the skewer made the process of eating them a little dangerous.  But we all survived with no injuries.

Night Market

There is a Jackson Hole physician named Dr. Pocket who once said, “Try new things.”  On this evening we certainly did, and it was worth it.

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Brother Elephant Baseball

In Taipei,Taiwan,Updates on August 2, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

Brothers Elephant Baseball Game

One of the things that I really enjoyed about my recent trip to Taipei was the opportunity to see a professional baseball game. I soon discovered that in Taiwan one is either a fan or not. And those that are fans are fanatics. As we arrived at the stadium I knew it was going to be a full charged experience.

On this particular evening the Brother Elephants played the Lions. It was a complete blowout. The Elephants won 8-2.

Here are three highlights from the game that I hope gives you a little taste of the experience: Brothers Elephant Baseball Game

You Got to Keep Them Separated

One of the things that the concierge at the hotel asked me when she ordered my tickets was which team I was rooting for. I told her the Elephants. This turned out to be an important distinction because and revelation once we arrived at the stadium. The fans were evenly divided in the stadium. The Lions fans on one side with their orange jerseys and the Elephant fans on the other in yellow. And there was an unspoken rule of respect for this divide. When one side was batting the other side remained perfectly silent.

Cheering in Unison

This short video will give one a brief glimpse into a game. Chanting prescribed rallies, banging plastic cones and the beating of a drum were done throughout the inning. There was no let up, even once the game began to pull hopelessly away from the Lions. I appreciated the dedication.

Small Ball

The one big difference Brothers Elephant Baseball GameI thought that came out was Taiwan baseball is more about the bunt, single and advancing the runner. There were no big hits, no aggressive base stealing and no standout players. It was about scarifying oneself in order to get your teammate ahead. There was a great moment when the Elephants had men on first and second. There were no outs and when the batter came to the plate (not the pitcher) he immediately showed bunt. I thought this was an interesting approach when the situation really called for a swing away.

It is so great to take something as common as baseball and then experience through another perspective. Next stop: Japan!

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Stinky Tofu – Part II

In Food,Taipei,Taiwan on August 2, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

Night Market

Many of you may know that I like to think of myself as adventurous, especially when it comes to trying new foods. But at the beginning of the Chinese New Year I was stopped cold by my first encounter with stinky tofu. It was so foul that I was unable to even get two bites down.

Stinky Tofu Stinky Tofu

On my recent trip to Taipei, I decided to give it a second try.  The reason for this decision is two-fold. First, the vendor that I sampled my first bite from was a seasonal vendor. So it is possible that the fare does not represent the highest quality standard when it comes to the fermented bean curd. Second, Taipei is known for its street markets. And stinky tofu is something that is highly praised. My friend James, who is a Taipei native, also encouraged me to give it a second try.

Setting the scene: stinky tofu simmering in the deep fryer gives off an aroma like one is completely surrounding by a crowd of people with BO. It permeates everything. I was happy to see that the stand that I had chosen was more than just product on stick. They had sliced it down the middle and had added coleslaw or some type of pickled leafy vegetable. I could also clearly see thinly sliced chili peppers sprinkled on top.

Stinky Tofu Stinky Tofu

First bite: there was heat but the stink shone through. It was tangy with a slight taste of something spoiled. Perhaps it is in part because I am not used to it but it doesn’t have the same type of pungent taste that one relishes with a strong blue cheese. The other thing is that this treat is piping hot. Not something that usually goes well with a stinky offering.

Evaluation: I thought it was pretty good. It is not my favorite thing but I could eat the whole thing. Next time, I will share it with a friend in order for everyone to enjoy a little piece of this delight. Stinky Tofu

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Money Ball

In Taipei,Taiwan,Updates on July 26, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

TWD $500 Note

As many of you may know one of the things I miss the most about the United States is access to baseball. Whether it is watching a game on TV or attending a game in person, there are just not many opportunities to see a game being played in Hong Kong.

So when an opportunity came up for me to mix a little business with pleasure, I told Jennifer, “Let’s go see a game.” This week I am going to Taipei to do some investigations with museum touch tables, a new feature that my museum is exploring. So I will be doing that on Thursday and Friday. Then Jennifer is joining me and we are going to make the most of a long weekend.

We have some street market eating and shopping planned but the highlight for me will be attending a Chinese Professional Baseball League game. I have been doing my best to learn proper decorum and the nuances of the rules. It appears that they’re a few differences but nothing too divergent than Major League Baseball.

Taipei’s home team is the Brothers Elephant. The family that operates Brothers Hotel owns the team, thus the name. The other teams in the league are the Lions, Monkeys, and the Bulls. We will be seeing the Elephants verses the Lions on Saturday night.

So I have been curious, “How popular is baseball in Taiwan?” Well this morning I picked up some Taiwanese money for the trip. And there on the TWD $500 bill was my answer. If they have baseball on the money, then that is a good sign for me. The bar has now been sufficiently raised.

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Hello Kitty Gate C3

In Taipei,Taiwan on March 17, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

Your flight will be leaving from the Hello Kitty Gate at Taipei International Airport.

One cannot travel far in Asia without seeing that business savvy Kitten with the smart red bow pushing one product or another. Whether it is a sparkly purse, a glittering cap or a dazzling cover for a smart phone, no one can deny that Kitty has saturated the market.

I am all for free markets and I do not care if Kitty has personally tested and tired every product that she has endorsed but I fully support her right to do so. But I do have to pause to wonder who was behind giving Kitty an entire Gate at an airport? And I mean the entire Gate.

Kitty meets you at Gate C3 at the Taipei International Airport in a larger than life sculpture complete with rolling suitcase (which will not fit in the overhead compartment) and boarding pass in hand. Behind her is a complete store where one may buy any imaginable product, all bearing her likeness. And yes – I did make several purchases. There are two little girls in Wyoming that are going to be very excited with their new t-shirts. And one big girl also got a Hello Kitty crystal studded mechanical pencil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gate has four large murals, all depicting different scenes from Kitty’s adventures. The seating area is complete with pink Hello Kitty chairs and floor tiles. Want to know the time in London? Please check out the International Time Board.  Then there is the Hello Kitty phone bank. No expense has been spared.

Flying can be a nerve-racking experience. I can only imagine that Hello Kitty has calmed a few nerves through the years for the anxious traveler. Pink can be a soothing color. I salute you Kitty, you certainly put a smile on my face today.