About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm an ESL teacher from Colorado. I worked in Taipei in 2000 for over a year, paid off my undergrad loans, traveled, saved $ to travel some more. So when I got pregnant in grad school I thought I could return to Taiwan, be economically self sufficient while my daughter masters Mandarin.We came to Tainan when she was 2. Taiwan is an excellent base to explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety and benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Birthday Wingding In Osaka

Infamous red bridge at the Zen Ruanji Temple

It just so happened that my Thursday and Friday classes were canceled (they had tests of course) on the weekend sandwiched between my daughter's 10th birthday and my 41st. So wasting no time I secured the approval for two personal days and promptly booked return tickets to Osaka for 3 nights and 4 days.

I researched a lot of options for excursions we could do, but our stint terse and having to balance the fancies of both me and my daughter I didn't do everything I could of. We didn't go to the Aquarium, the Ferris Wheel or any of the zany shopping malls like Shinsaibashi or Dotonbori. (Shopping in a mall is less important on my radar and even less on hers.) I would of liked to see the iconic Glicoman, but she thought it way too touristy  (it is) which was code for her being too tired and wanting to return to our ryokan. If I had more time I would of loved to catch a traditional Edo period puppet bunraku show and see Shitennoji Temple.

The flight was brief and affordable on the budget Peach Airlines. We landed in terminal 2 and took the airport bus to terminal 1 and walked down to the buses into town. The bus was the cheapest and most convenient option. The airport bus limousine (as they call it) was pretty affordable at $13 USD a pop (1,550 yen/ 427USD adult and 780 yen for child). It took us directly to Amagasaki station which was one station away from the stop closest to our ryokan (Deyahsiki station) The airport had loads of female attendants freezing on the bus platforms who pointed the way. Yes it was bitter, around 2 C at night and 11 during the day.

Train leaving Umeda station last day
Our traditional traveler's inn Takeyaso Ryokan inconveniently is closed between the hours of 9 am -4 pm.

Z in front of Takeyaso Ryokan

We arrived around 3 on Thursday, so we just hopped into a little mom and pop cafe (literally, they were the cutest old couple) around the corner and used pointing and body language to order anything on the menu.

The only character my daughter knew was beef and they were out. What a pleasant surprise to have lunch, our first meal in Osaka being the local specialty of Okonomiyaki, savory pancakes full of everything and anything; cabbage, shrimp, fish, whale, octopus, squid, chicken and pork.

sMy daughter somehow communicated chicken for herself and I just let the old lady give me whatever she wanted. I'm not sure what my meat was, sort of tasted like kidney, but I'm afraid it might of been whale.
Lunch day one: Okonomiyaki!
 It seriously stuffed us both and by the time we finished, our little medievel ryokan was opened and waiting for us with slippers, tea and the traditional yukata robes. Our cold room had tatami mats on the floor and a piping hot communal bath.  In the evenings the inner brought is tea and from their little bar near the entrance they played soothing jazz.

Our closest communal bathroom was charming with a nippy stone walkway, requiring wooden geta sandal clogs to reach the toilet hidden behind an ancient wooden hatch door. Needless to say, the numbing toilet seat wasn't heated unlike most toilets in Osaka.

Ice skating detour, Osaka Station
Not wasting anytime after checking in we left for the city center which was easy to reach by train. At the next stop (Amagasaki) we switched our local for an express to Umeda/Osaka station which is the main heart of public transportation. I had a mind to watch the sunset from the observation deck of the Floating Gardens and eat at its basement Edo period food court but when we passed by an outdoor ice-skating rink on the way, we had to indulge. My kid had a blast. We missed the sunset view and returned to our ryokan after slurping down a piping hot bowl of noodles at a stand-up noodle bar outside Deyashiki station.  We further warmed ourselves in our sento (communal baths), before wearing all our clothes to bed.

Day 2 was all about Universal Studios. We got their shortly after they opened and hit the first rides.The lines were massive, but worth the wait. We hit all the rides we wanted to except the space ride which was changed, we certainly chose not to see any shows. It was lucky to start out at the Back to the Future ride because that was the least exciting. Then we hit the Spiderman ride, and then the big roller-coaster, the Hollywood Dream Ride. It was my kid's first, real big roller-coaster and she was so scared she was utterly silent.

Shamelessly we dorked out at the Harry Potter section which was fabulously recreated; the train, the shops, the haunted bathroom stalls, even butter beer was served. The 2 adult rides there were also good fun, despite the wait. My phone counted over 12,000 steps that day.  We had another noodle dinner at Universal City just between the train station and park entrance. There was a little bit of a stressful situation. I needed to hit an ATM, having spent all my pocket money on food in the park, I didn't have enough for the train fare back. Insanely, the 2 ATMS near the park entrance and Universal City convenience store didn't take either of my cards. We went to one of the several hotels and they also had no ATMs. I was afraid I might have to beg for coins back to our inn. Fortunately, the ATMs inside the station took all the usual, international cards. After another blessed sento bath and having the owner loan us a heater, we contentedly slept.

Day 3 was about some history and culture. To my kid's dissatisfaction we passed by the history museum, it was just too big and we hadn't enough time. So we walked around the grounds of Osaka castle, took some cheesy photos of Z with a Samurai and found our way to the empty and sublime Peace Museum.

Miro Waterdalls

It was a small space with exhibits on 3 floors showcasing World War 2's impact on the civilians of Osaka. It was certainly sobering. They had an interactive bomb raid shelter which scared my kid and yet surely wasn't realistic enough having just read the testimonies.

War sucks!

This painting resonated a powerful reaction to both my daughter and I. Its titled, " I was Lifted Up by my Grandmother."

In the afternoon we headed north out of the city to Minoh (Minoo) and meandered up a 3 km path to a waterfall- I'm a sucker for waterfalls. It was a lovely saunter along a river with shops sporadically built along the way, with forests all around and even some statuesque redwood looking conifers. There were mysterious trails everywhere and I imagined if I lived here I would certainly make weekend trips to explore them all.

The terrain was like a combination of southern California (the sunshine and dryness) with northern California (the redwoods and cold). Our first stop was an insect museum which Z was thrilled about, followed by the red bridged Zen Ruanji temple complex.

Its hard to believe this quiet bliss is only 30 min away by train from Umeda Station. I read how crowded it gets when the maple leaves blaze crimson in the fall. We  had most of the temples to ourselves and certainly most of the walk too. There were mostly old people exercising, walking briskly, jogging and a few families pushing strollers. Although there were blue skies, most of the path was shadowed in forest which made the temperature quite cold, colder than Yilan.

Ruanji's red bridge behind me

Ruanji Zen monk

Near the waterfall we splurged for the local nibble of deep friend maple leaves in sweet batter (momiji tempura).
Momiji Tempura

We dined on sushi on our last, night per request from my kid at the other mom and pop place around the corner from our ryokan. We eat sushi in Taiwan and of course miso, but even now we still rave about that simple meal.  The tuna was so fresh and the color so ruby. It was served over a bowl of rice with powdered white sesame and seaweed they pounded with a mortar, so their little diner, the size of my bedroom smelled of soothing sesame. I got a local bottle of beer to wash it down with. The miso was rich and dark barley based, so very hearty and unlike the more sweeter, lighter miso of Taiwan.   

Our last day we had to check out around 9am and with lots of time to s
pare (our return flight was at 4pm) I decided to take the train south to one of the oldest Shinto shrines, Sumiyoshi. It dates back 1800 years, with a moat and sacred bridge. It had a busy carnivalesque feeling. There were breakfast stalls and a plant market before the sacred red bridge. I was impressed by the bonsai cherry trees. What botanical superpowers!

Whats really special about these temples is because they predate the arrival of Buddhism, their architecture bears no influence from the mainland. They are quintessentially Japanese.

I had no one to explain to me the various rituals, but I guessed their holy of holies was the oldest construction in the inner courtyard. Worshipers threw coins money into the central pit and paid to walk thru this small construction which was closed by transparent plastic. Priests in traditional clothes assisted people with their short pilgrimage where of course they took of their shoes. Being a temple traditionally devoted to travelers and fishermen it seemed only fitting we should be here before our flight back to Taipei.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Aftermath of theTaiwanese Elections

Congratulations to Taiwan and the democratic system! They are the only Chinese speaking democracy in the world and yet not formally recognized as a sovereign country (that subject deserves its own post).  The majority of my friends are ecstatic about Saturday's election results, while some coworkers are clearly less than enthused.

One would have to be living in a cave not to hear about the DPP's "landslide" victory (if 56.6% can be considered a landslide) and the election of Taiwan's first female president.  The new parliament is not only a DPP majority in power and with many new inexperienced legislators, but also has 5 legislators from the newly formed Sunflower Movement's New Power Party (時代力量).

Overall the recent election creates more questions than answers:

Q1. How did Beijing respond? How will they respond?

China called the recent election a hallucination and the DPP's goal of kick-starting the Taiwanese economy (without them) a lost cause.  Pro China supporters from the Mainland were allowed to flood the new president's Facebook page. And it comes as no surprise that the Chinese military carried out landing drills and live fire  right across the nearest Taiwanese island of Kinmen. (I predicted they would do this which really is no credit to me as much as to Beijing's predictable bullying.)

Q2. So what does  this current election mean for Taiwan? 

Fresh Blood. The face of an alternative to the stagnated 2 party dichotomy is Freddie Lim (of course an Aquarian). A cultural icon for Asian heavy metal music and Taiwanese political activism Freddie founded the pro- independent New Power Party  (NPP) among many other social justice advocacy work and won a seat in parliament. (Read the January 19th GQ article here.)

Young Taiwanese are interested in participating in politics and see the fruits of their activism.

Electric Revision: Hello  Madame President! What are some of the first things on Tsai Ing-wen's ambitious agenda?
Reclaim KMT assets in South Korea valued at over $ 760 million.
* Have Taiwan join the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and compete with its global neighbors without keeping all of its eggs in one basket.
* Legislate transparency for all of Taiwanese- Chinese dealings. This was a major demand in the Sunflower Movement and means that Beijing will inadvertently be accountable to the Taiwanese people, which is mind blowing if you think about it.

In the long-term she plans on jump  starting the economy and innovation in 5 sectors including renewable energy, biotechnology and defense.

She must achieve this with the cooperation of the KMT, still maintain the "status quo" with China, while promoting Taiwanese businesses like HTC, Asus and MediaTek. Quite the cumbersome program!

Q3.) How will power be transferred from the defeated KMT to the DPP?

For now the world is watching how power will be transitioned from the KMT to the DPP and whether or not that involves a shadow gov't to assist with this handover. For now it appears there will be no temporary gov't, despite all of Ma's cabinet ministers stepping down. Ma has already insisted he will be no lame duck (ya right).

Q4.) What is the response of the US, Taiwan's biggest ally?

So far the US (Taiwan's main weapons supplier) stated they have a vested interest in maintaining peace between the two countries as well as being happy with the Taiwanese free election system, congratulating Tsai Ing-wen on her win.  Interestingly, Canada is quickly getting itself into a pickle and will have to eventually pick sides (read, "Canada's Government Looking the Other Way".)

China Takes Aim at Taiwan
China Tells Taiwan to Abandon Independence
Meet Freddie Lim (GQ)
Pro China Posts Flood Taiwan President Elect's Facebook
China Military Reports Landing Drills Days After Taiwanese Election
Twenty Somethings in Taiwan and the Country's First Female President
Transparent Chinese Relations a Priority
How Will Mainland China Respond To Taiwan's Elections?
Canada's Government Looking the Other Way

Monday, January 18, 2016

2015: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

In the words of Poison front man Bret Michaels, "Every rose has its thorn." As for 2015 its not so much good riddance as much as, "What's next"?

The Ugly:
In the summer I had a traumatic car accident and had to pay a hefty chunk to the other driver. After that my car repair bills were killing me and the combination on just a part time pay check wasn't easy. I couldn't have made it without my boss and friends lending me here and there to get me by.  After coming back from my summer trip back home and thinking I could catch up and save a little something, my landlady  evicted me and gave me 2 weeks to move out (she was selling). There was also a couple ugly typhoons, one I missed and the other we safely endured.

Out With The Old: The year started out with me quitting my full time job at the other private elementary/junior high/high school- and not batting an eye lash, best move of 2015, but it did put a monkey wrench in my finances. I had a month of unemployment before traveling and starting a new part time job.

I worked part time for a fantastic Canadian boss in a kindergarten, but again, part time wasn't exactly working out financially. Did I teach my last kindergarten? Time will tell. The good news is I landed a fantastic job teaching a subject I studied for and care about at a prestigious private school.

I've reached out more than once to former coworkers but the epitaph of busyness has evolved to non replies. Such are expats in Yilan; unlike Tainan foreigners, those in Yilan are cliquey, exclusive, private.  In their defense, there aren't really venues to hang out like Tainan, nothing to do but eat and drink, so perhaps I am not missing out on much. I prefer to hit a hiking trail or do yoga in the park so I have made new friends at my gym and we do hit the trails. By the way, I'm not referring to expats with families and businesses, I understand life is hectic and time is a commodity; I hardly have but an hour to myself in the evenings. Its just one glaring difference from Tainan, the sunnier weather invokes communal gatherings.

Z also changed schools (again) and 3 is certainly a charm! Its a small mountain school, with a teacher all the kids adore. He is one of the most interesting people I've met, a former top emergency surgeon who was tired of telling grieving families sorry and he decided to teach (thankfully).

 The Good-Wander land:
As always, travel was the inevitable prerequisite. For my 40th birthday we returned to Sabah, Borneo for some ideallic diving and beach time. Suiting up and going under with my kid was worth it, although she wasn't comfortable enough to descend much, more like graduated snorkeling. Still its baby steps, progress. The visibility or coral wasn't great, but the experience with my kid priceless. The thorn of that trip was being attacked by a group of amphetamine induced thugs on our last night, but fortunately it all worked out.

For our Chinese New Years we went to Chang Mai in northern Thailand for 2 weeks.  Thailand is Disneyland for travelers, easy enough to get around, great food, perfect for beginners to get their feet wet or experiences travelers to have it easy.

In summer I went home for a blessed month. I took an RV trip with my folks, a brother and niece through New Mexico and Colorado. I didn't get much sleep but it was heavenly. Its getting more difficult leaving friends and family. Z and I are definitely talking about what living back in the States will look like.

 I hope we can stay another year here, we are both happy with out life at the moment and then we will leave Taiwan. Our plan is to get a place in Yuanshan close to my school and get some chickens and a goat, try that out for a year before we return to Colorado indefinitely. The exit strategy is on the back burner, but for now I scope little houses for rent in these misty mountains overlooking Turtle Island in the distance.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Reverence and Rituals Incarnate: Christmas and New Year

It was that time of year again. If I didn't live with a little spirited elf myself,  I can't imagine Christmas being as jolly or meaningful while experiencing it in Taiwan. You certainly have to cultivate the season of holiness. Its all "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You" and not enough "Angels We Have Heard on High".

The Yilan weather is more conducive to reflection; with it's somber, sunless skies, the nebulous storm clouds obscure the life source. One light piercing the gloom, a solitary candle in a bitter twilight rain. This is the spirit of Christmas, minus the snow and family. (I couldn't imagine Christmas south of the equator, more like a summer BBQ, but I certainly would give it a try.)

Winter in Taiwan starts with the winter solstice and everyone having to eat the traditional sweet date soup with sticky rice balls (tang yuan). Every school I worked for has served it with lunch. It supposed to mean a year of good luck. I took my 7th grade class caroling to the nearest elderly retirement home, which was a tender experience of connecting with the community for everyone. (Read about it here.)

My arms are too short for selfies!

Christmas Day was austere and subdued. My friend from Tainan made the trip north so it was more festive sharing the seasonal traditions, opening presents by the tree, meditate the blue twinkling lights at night and catch up on midnight merrymaking, Christmas ale toasts and a cornucopia of conversation.

We had a fabulous Boxing Day hike in the Yilan wonderland. The Caoling  Historic Trail (草嶺古道has been on my list of DO's since moving here. We took the train to Gongliao, rented bikes and biked to the trail head. My kid uphill on a bike was slow going, but she was a real trooper and didn't give up.

We biked along this river for a bit

Then we hiked to Dali.  There were a few interesting rockbound places to rest.

We saw wild grouse, macaques and load of birds  I must learn their names.
A troupe of macaques live in the trees where the silver grass covers the hills

It wasn't blue skies, but it didn't rain, so it was cold enough to dry our sweat at the top and clear enough to see the ocean. Perfect hiking weather.
Views from the top, looking down onto Dali

Best of all we had the whole trail to ourselves, which was surprising considering its such a famous trail and not that far from Taipei.

The next day we decided to soak our weary bones in the hot springs of nearby Jiaoxi.  We lunched at the Slow Train Cafe . There's a reason its called slow, but the coffee was amazing. The ingredients are fresh and we ordered paninis, but it was pretty spare on the fillings- too much bread.

A Grateful Dead dinner at Slobber's

We took  a ten minute train ride and walked to one of our favorite spa hotels but they moved shop. It wasn't a far walk to their new abode but along the way we passed The Art Spa Hotel that Z and I always wanted to check out (because of their massive 4 story winding water slide) so we just decided to give this place a try.  It was mad fun. Z played with the kids in the children's area which was basically a playground submerged in a kiddie pool, while us adults  rotated to different spa treatments, pools and saunas. I got one try down the slide and my kid had 2 (it was a massive line). Living so close we we vowed to return.

The New Years Weekend was entirely a relaxing, sybaritic 3 day weekend. We couldn't rouse the energy to visit Tainan, even with the promise of catching up with old friends, better restaurant options and the Chi Mei museum. Being stuck in traffic in the tunnels on the way to Taipei and circumstancing the zoo of Taipei Main station, the jacked ticket prices for high-speed train south- nah.

New Years Eve dinner was Italian at the Caffe Grazzie in Luna Plaza. Its the only place we can get arugula and we are nuts for it.

New Years Eve dinner, Cafe Grazie. The past has gone,welcome the better year. May you achieve anything your heart desires this new year!過去已矣,來者可追,願新的一年,大家心想事成!
The first day of the year, the sun surmounted the spell of gloom like a promise. So we went to Yuanshan for a leisurely hike. There are several trails near my kid's school that they often take for an extended PE class, so she was my guide. I had a blast. We bought organic oranges from a school mate whose mom was picking them in their family orchard. We caught up on her favorite TV show "Supergirl" and drank pots of chai.  I thoroughly enjoyed her company and didn't regret spending the holiday weekend solely with her without distraction of work or chores. What an undeniable gift.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dragon Boats in December?

I know I've lived in Taiwan too long when I am apart of the locals in the background of a Fun Taiwan TV shooting. The episode took its foreign guests (4 very attractive 20  somethings) to Erlong, Jiaoxi to experience local dragon boat racing.

Dragon Boats are normally associated with the summer festival, so when my friend's cousin asked us if we wanted to try dragon boat racing (while we began a 10 km mini marathon), my daughter and I chimed a resounding, "YES!" The only warning we got was we had to be there early, it was all day and there was no turning back.

It was only after we agreed that we found out it would be recorded for Discovery Channel. The night before I was informed it would be aired in 80 countries. I was starting to lose my initial enthusiasm. Then after that, we were told it was for Janet Hsieh's Fun Taiwan TV program. Now I really was questioning if we should go, I just wanted to try dragon boat racing. Being a single mom, I watched a little envious of friends throughout the years participating in the summer races, training for them, the teamwork, the experience and memory. Even for just a day, I wanted to be apart of it, and with my daughter which was an added bonus.

In case you didn't know (some of my non TV viewing coworkers don't), Janet's face is plastered everywhere, endorsing absolutely everything. Her show is wildly popular and has won numerous awards. I myself haven't necessarily watched a full episode, its not my cup of tea  (and apparently I'm not the only one, haters are so harsh). I prefer culinary inclined travel shows like Bourdain and my kid loves Andrew Zimern.

For a MIT grad, one would expect more substance from her show, "less airheadness" (an act for the Taiwanese viewers). The Taiwanese demographic of her viewers must be housewives, young people with zero travel experience who will hopefully want to travel after watching her show and easily tranquilized by corny jokes and puerile synergy. Yet she must be doing something right (awards and long running show). She was extremely friendly and down to earth and invited me to pose with her when my kid asked her for an autograph for a friend.  If it 'aint broke right?

In fact she posed for photographs and autographs all day with a smile. I doubt I could be as gracious despite her show's taste in guests (utterly camera fluff and bubblegum).

My kid Zen would of been a way more interesting guest. Apparently she thought so too, I had to hold her back from photo bombing the shoot several times, eventually I gave up and who knows which shots she's in or not.  Zen was in tears in the morning when she found out she wasn't the guest star (we had to hold back our laughter) and then she was annoyed she couldn't meet Janet immediately. Waking at 5:45 am certainly had a lot to do with her mood.

But it was all about the dragon boats right? Erlong is famous for its 200 year old dragon boat races and unique flat bottomed boats without dragon heads. It originates from an aboriginal Kavalan ceremony from the Ping Pu people to pacify the river god. There are also no timers or judges. The shirtless rowers themselves decide when to start by hitting the gong at the same time. It takes practice. It took the men several attempts. But even before the boats grace the waters, there is a detailed ceremony that must be followed.

First the 2 boats had to blessed. They beseeched the spirits of the dragons all morning long with drums, gongs, fireworks, a lion dance. It was quite the detailed invocation. Being a hardcore yang festival, women were not allowed to touch the boats- at all, which really put my ornery kid over the deep end. My friend (who grew up in Erlong) asked if we wanted to help carry the boats and of course we did, just to find out the second before, that females aren't allowed to.

My hand painted dragon boat adorning my book case.
Thankfully a DIY tent was set up and the creative art provided  a nice distraction while we waited our turn in a boat. It was pleasant to sit and meditative to paint our miniature clay replicas. My kid's mood certainly improved, as did the weather- it was blazing. The locals joked how the dragon gods indeed had summoned the sun.


A massive lunch was provided for, with sticky rice and loads of fresh cilantro, rice noodle soup, soft boiled eggs and duck meat. After lunch we watched the men race and then finally around 3pm we started to get into the non- sanctified boats. With no instruction we paddled. The girl who was hitting the gong poorly was replaced by my daughter who did a worse  job (it was heavy). We lost several races. Our boat bottomed out and my kid sitting on the top front helm, nearly fell out and lost her mind for about 3 seconds. "Titanic!" She yelled half jokingly. We lost twice to Janet's crew. The first attempt we were in the lead, but the man steering in the back totally lost it and my kid was unable to grab the flag. The second time, we were too slow. We were a little wet and possibly a little sun burnt, but it was worth the long wait. My kid wasn't as non-chalant about losing to Janet as I was, especially as Janet was playfully sticking her tongue out at us, which in kid language is a declaration of war. We were followed by a camera crew on a speedboat and a drone hovering loudly like a swarm of raging bees above us.

It was a long day and a totally unexpected December Sunday. I don't think I will ever look at dragon boats at quite the same way. For some, like the folks in Erlong, its more than just a race, but a discipline in summoning primordial solar leviathans.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Mini Me and Mom Marathon

Two weeks ago my daughter and I woke up at the crack of dawn to partake in our first marathon. It was small only 10 km. My friend, an avid runner invited my daugther and I and another friend from our TRX class to tag along. We started at the Evergreen Hotel in Jiaoxi and did a loop, up the road to where the buses/taxis drop off people at the base of the stairs to the waterfalls. Thankfully it was just lightly drizzling, no downpour.

With our Bronco jerseys, have to represent!

My kid was in no mood. I don't think she is quite the early bird by nature and kept saying, "I'm not feeling this."   I hope she was surprised that it wasn't as long as she thought it would be. Fingers crossed we can actually run it next time, she refused so we had to walk it.

Her mood improved as we had some lady spa time at the Japanese style spa. My friend suggested it and because she was officially entered in the marathon we got free entry. It happened to be the same hot springs I took my mom two summers before and one of two we occasionally go to ourselves.

We followed our soak with a brunch/lunch at a very nice, busy restaurant (喜拉朵) my friend highly recommended located on the road to the waterfalls. We will definitely return here next time we are in Jiaoxi, possibly next weekend. The salads were the freshest I've had in Taiwan. Its not really a salad eating culture and they all tend to taste the same, so the salads here were a nice respite after an early morning walk and hot springs.

Monday, December 7, 2015

台灣設計展 Taiwan Design Expo: Booming in Yilan

The theme for this years annual Taiwan Expo was "Makers Boom" and was held across from the DMV at the Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park  (中興文化創意園區)in Wujie. The space is a decrepit factory, the former Chung Hsing Paper Corporation with a large 800 ping space. The warehouses held the various exhibits.

The tie-dye hall was my personal favorite, especially the indigo pieces. They used all natural plants based dyes.


Guided tours were provided.

Taiwan's Design Expo sponsored by the Ministry of Economic Affairs,  and began in 2003. This is the 2nd time in 11 years Yilan has hosted it. There were regular tea ceremonies (Chinese and Japanese), which I unfortunately missed as well as live music.

If you missed this year's Design Expo, don't fret. Taiwan is constructing itself to be a major destination in the world of design. Next year 2016, Taipei will be designated The World Design Capital. There is sure to be lots of upcoming events in the next few months, especially in Taipei. The government in the capital city is engaging urban planners in 16 projects to transform the living landscape into a more sustainable and creative space. Urban planners and designers in Taiwan are currently in demand, an auspicious niche.