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Posts tagged ‘Taiwan’

2013: a year in review

Candidasa Sunset, Bali

Candidasa, Bali, Indonesia

I thought it would be hard to top 2012, but the past twelve months have proven me otherwise! The year kicked off with a family trip to Saigon in January as the city geared up for Tet, Vietnamese Lunar New Year. I loved Saigon for its contagious, effervescent energy and the touches of French influence on an already rich culture. Read more

Taipei and the politics of memory


Ringed by seven lanes of traffic, the East Gate of Taipei stands alone, a small, ceremonial structure under the watchful gaze of a pink monolith dotted with tinted green windows, the former headquarters of the Kuomintang. A band of red columns support palace eaves seemingly too large for the humble stone base, giving the gate a non-defensive, almost gaudy appearance. Mounted on the crenellations, a decorative plaque proclaims its name as Jingfumen, ‘Gate of the view of good fortune’. Read more

Syaman’s exchange

Orchid Island_26

“So you want to buy a canoe?” The shopkeeper smiled and looked at us thoughtfully. “Wait a moment; I think I know just the place.”

Bama and I had parked our scooter at the edge of Langdao village, heading indoors to take shelter from the howling winds that were buffeting the north shore of the island. Shaokang, the young proprietor of our homestay, had pointed us to this handicrafts centre and workshop. “It’s good for souvenirs… if you’re looking for something traditional made by the locals.” By the end of that first day, we knew that we both wanted a miniature canoe as a memento of Orchid Island. Read more

Orchid Island: battleship of the Tao

Orchid Island_1

The island is by the sea, and the sea by the island
Our island is a tiny, motionless ship

– On the Island (based on Tao myths), Chen Li

Ducking into the Dornier 228, a 19-seater plane with low ceilings and no overhead compartments, we squeezed down the narrow aisle and edged into our front row seats. I sat just ahead of the portside propeller, watching intently as it spun into motion with a rattling crescendo that sent the smell of aviation fuel through the cabin. The two pilots were almost within arm’s reach, scanning a checklist and preparing their manual instruments for takeoff. Read more

The Tze-Chiang Express

Tze Chiang Express_1

“Get on, get on!” The stern-faced ticket inspector growled at us with no small hint of annoyance. Three minutes before departure, we had suddenly realised the worn, rusting train waiting at the far end of the platform – with no label above the conductor’s cabin – was the Tze-Chiang Express. Read more

Gluttony, thy name is Taipei

Taipei eats_1

“What kind of filling do you want? Lean pork, half-lean half-fat, or all fat?”

We stand at the head of a queue in a narrow street near Gongguan Station, lit by a barrage of neon signs hard against the silhouette of cables strung across a darkening sky. I haven’t seen Nelson in the three years since I left England, and now reunited on his home turf, my old friend is taking us for a “light dinner” of gua bao. Read more