Taiwanese Live Music Show – 23. 2. 2007

Posted in Taichung at 18:02

Today was the day leaving from my friend’s places. But in the morning we did enjoy a small bike tour around Shen Gang. For the first time I could have a closer look at their so-called countryside. A lot of rice fields in-between factories and apartment houses (photo).

Then it was time to say goodbye. I decided to stay one more night in Taichung City because it looked quite interesting to me the short times we have been there before. First time traveling alone in local train. No big problem to get a ticket. I already wrote down the important words and the ticket I was able to get from an ancient ticket machine.

Arrived in Taichung I was heading towards the FuChun hotel. It is just opposite the main station. I asked for a cheap one-bed room and got a room without window but a TV for 530NT$ (CHF 21). How I found out later the TV remote was not working either. It is only for one night and I will not be here for different things than sleeping.

Coming around in Taichung is not that easy like I was used from Taipei. No English signaling, you always have to tell the bus driver where you want to get out again to pay the according price. I was not ready for this yet. So I decided to view the places that could be reached by hiking. Just near the main station is the Taichung park. It is a big green area with a small Chinese garden (photo) for doing sports, relaxing and even a small lake with rowboats for renting. The next target was the Confucius temple. Also a wide natural area again with the big temple inside (photo, photo). Enough side-seeing, now I was diving into the city life. On the famous ChungYo street market I was suddenly in mood for shopping 😉 . It is just so different from a common shopping center. Not these clean ordered frames but masses of all different objects. Every store moved half of his inventory out to the street. Suddenly a sign of the Carhartt clothes brand attracted my attention. While looking through their assortment the, around same aged like me, salesman asked me where I have my trousers from. Because they were from Carrhartt and this shop was the only shop selling this brand in Taiwan. I finally bought a shirt and a cap, naturally not from Carhartt. They are some great souvenirs of this interesting street market.

In the evening I went dinner with the other friend from Taichung and her friends. We went into a restaurant serving traditional Taiwanese food. It was a big building inside decorated like an ancient Japanese market alley. They could even convince me to try some shark fin. I am not at all a friend of such food, even when it is delicious, but on the other side I did not want to miss this chance.

At around 23h they had to leave me after bringing me to the Amanking what they told me is a live music bar. The interior was comparable to the BierhĂŒbeli in Bern. There was no entry fee but you had to consume for at least 500NT$ (CHF 20). First I thought that this might be a problem because actually I only wanted to have a beer what is normally about 150NT$ (CHF 6) in a bar. But after I entered the location, I saw that spending so much money here is not that difficult. A big Japanese Kirin beer (633ml) was already 250NT$, a Mojito drink too. Now let me loose some words about the live music show. First there was a band with a gay looking Taiwanese guy and a female singer. First of all they were talking a lot making a lot of fun. Unfortunately, or maybe better, I did not understood what they were saying all the time. In between they also played some obviously well known Chinese hits. Afterwards there was another band fully after my taste, performing English funk, rock and pop songs. Very good singers and very professional performance. So I did very enjoy to spend a night in a Taiwanese entertainment location. In the middle of the night a taxi brought me back to my hotel.


Little Europe – 18. 2. 2007

Posted in Taichung at 15:01

Today it is Chinese New Year. In Chinese calendar it is the year 96 now (photo). The year 96 is because they started to count the years after the formation of the Republic of China 1912. But only in Taiwan it is still used for official purpose.

As we went to Taichung City yesterday the city was nearly lost. Nearly no traffic, no shops open, only a few people on the streets. Today everything was different. The traditional family holiday is over and people go out again. The shops are open and so I went with my friend and here brothers to Nova on GongYi road, a big shopping mall for computer components and photo/video devices. Because I learned at a previous comparison that the prices for digital cameras should be quite lower than in Switzerland I wanted to buy one for myself. After I read some reviews and made some comparisons in the Internet I decided to look for a Canon PowerShot camera. I already tried to find one in Bern but could not find. Here I expected to become satisfied. But to my astonishment also here it was quite difficult to find Canon cameras. One model I could find at a few sellers was the Canon IXUS 850IS. The first seller wanted to sell me the camera for 13’500 NT$ (CHF 540). But only when paying cash, so that he does not have to pay the taxes, with no warranty but together with a power plug for the European power socket. It is still quite expensive and I did not had the Swiss prices for this camera in mind so I decided to look at some other places first. At the next shop they sold it for 13’000 NT$ but this one was quite suspicious. After asking for this model he fetched a box of an IXUS 900IS with a IXUS 65 camera inside and a copied IXUS 850IS manual. He explained that it is imported from Japan and he could give one year warranty. Of course again only paying cash. At the latest now I did not had a good feeling anymore for buying a camera here. And this was a good decision because when I was checking the Swiss price in the Internet afterwards, I saw that it can be ordered starting at CHF 515 back in Switzerland. There I can be sure to get the correct model and full warranty. I also compared more prices of computer components and I found that there is no difference between Swiss and Taiwanese prices even when they earn much fewer money here than we do in Switzerland. I was even surprised that the top models that are quite asked in Switzerland are not that easy available in Taiwan although they are mostly manufactured here.

Like already written before pavement cafĂ©s like you can find everywhere in Europe are not very common in Taiwan. An exception makes the CafĂ© Street in the Little Europe district in Taichung City. It is a popular attraction to take your tea and some small food under parasols in a pavement area (photo). It is only quite small but very remembered me to the “Front” at the BĂ€renplatz in Bern. People are queuing here nearly for half an hour to get a seat on the wanted tables outdoor. I enjoyed a cold tea and finally the day ended unspectacularly at home in ShenGang.


Chinese New Year’s Eve – 17. 2. 2007

Posted in Taichung at 21:03

The day started in a shopping center nearby. Not any supermarket but the “Carrefour”. It is the same like in Europe and because of this you also can buy Swiss “Ovomaltine”, French handcreme and Italian olive oil. It is Chinese New Year tomorrow and so the people like to buy a lot of food especially sweets which they can offer to their guests. According to this, there is a lot of fresh food offered and most of it you can try before you buy. We did not have breakfast and I did not know most of the things, so my friend and me were starting to eat us through the choice of products. There was dried squid and fish, specially preserved vegetables and fruits (photo), of course a big variety of sweets and ingredients for Chinese fondue (photo). For drinking we tried several sorts of tea.

After a relaxed afternoon it was time for dinner. It was a new discovery for my palate again. In the middle a big pot of spicy soup. Afterwards a lot of things were put in it to cook, from different vegetables over tofu, scrimps to beef (photo). This time no tea to drink but Tong Yung X’Old Kao Liang Liquor a vodka like specialty from MaTzu islands.

Not only but specially today, when the whole family is assembled, it is very popular to play Mahjongg. It is a traditional Chinese game for four players. I was very glad that I learned in the airplane at least the numbers from one to ten in Chinese letters. They appear in this game and when you have to build some number sequences it is quite useful to know them. After an intensive introduction I already was able to play with mother, father and one brother. My friend was assisting me first but after a while I was also able to play alone. But unfortunately, this game is also quite connected to luck, I never won. This was Chinese New Year’s Eve and it will stay in my mind forever.

Let’s go to the countryside – 16. 2. 2007

Posted in Taichung at 09:00

This day was not really spectacular. I definitely left my accomodation in Taipei to meet another friend at the airport. In anticipation of Chinese New Year holiday I was expecting a mass of people travelling around today because this holiday is traditionally celebrated inside the family and they are often split up during the year. So I went to buy a ticket for the bus to the airport. But I did a mistake. I asked the ticket seller if she can speak English what she denied. My friend wrote me the needed information down in Chinese because she already expected this. I showed the information and also ordered the ticket in English anyway and I think the ticket seller would also understand without Chinese translation. No big delays with the bus. Also on the airport not too many people. Everything still quite overviewable.

I easily could find my friend and together we went to Feng Yuan (photo) in Taichung. Taichung is with 800’000 people the third biggest city in Taiwan. But it is not really a city. It more seems like an area of connected villages or small cities. Always some fileds in between but most of them not much bigger than a football field. Because of this they already call it countryside here. This time I will not stay in a hostel, I was invited to stay with the friends family for the next week. After arrival the father came to fetch us with his taxi at the bus station. After a short ride we eventually arrived in ShenGang where they have a small house. Of course it was quite strange to live with a family which parents nearly speak no English. Unfortunately a real conversation is not possible. But they nevertheless gave their best that I feel comfortable. For dinner we went out to a restaurant were I got know a lot of new dishes again. After dinner I was enjoying the very extensive variety of TV channels here. Believe it or not, 106 channels are available. It takes quite a while to switch through every channel…