6/18/2020

Daxue Park, Downtown Taipei - Grassy Area to Play


Wandering around the alleys and lanes of Da An area, I came across this quaint park. At first, I thought it was just a community garden, but I discovered the park has a lovely grassy area that would be make a great spot for a children's birthday party. It is sheltered by trees, accompanied by a garden, and also features a historic waterway that has been restored.

Situated right next to Xinhai Road, there was roadside parking right by the park entrance. There is a more traditional kind of playground closer to the road. Walk down the lane about 100 metres to enter this other section.






The more traditional park right on the sidewalk.

Just down the lane, to the left of the first park.

What's behind these trees?...

A nice grassy space with a wooden walkway and seating.

Trit trot, trit trot on my bridge!

There is a large area of plants being cared for; vegetables and flowers.



This drain was first laid in 1735! It was used for horticulture for 250 years before going out of operation in 1984. Now, it is home to carp and turtles.



This turtle was enjoying some sun until I disturbed it.
I think this would have been a great park for us to use when the children were younger as a birthday party spot. Unfortunately, I didn't see any toilet facilities, which would make it less convenient than say Daan Park, but it is still quite lovely.

Park information in Chinese here.
Google map here.
Address: Daxue Park, 溫州街46巷 Wen-Chou Street, Lane 46
Public transport: Taipower Building Station Exit 5 捷運路線:搭松山新店線至台電大樓捷運站5號出口,
Buses: 208區、236區、251區、530、671、673、棕BR11、棕BR12、棕BR22、綠GR11、綠GR13至溫州街口 to Wen-Chou Street Intersection




6/02/2020

Hill Walk, Muzha to Jingmei or Jingmei to Muzha

If you have energetic children in need of a quick energy burn, consider this walk that goes from Yongjian Elementary School on Muzha Road to Jingmei, giving some fantastic views and quaint, very local pit stops along the way. There are lots of stairs and a couple of spots where you would watch your child carefully, because the banks are steep and there is no fence. But overall it is the kind of walk we would take our children on. My son walked half-way and back when he was about four years old. The walk takes about an hour from end to end.

I started my walk on the Yongjian Elementary School side, so my photos show the paths from that direction. You can take a bus to the Yongjian Elementary School Bus Stop. Buses 253, 294, 647, 660, 666, 671, 915, 933 BR12, BR22 and BR6 all stop here. Chinese: 永建國小


This is the entrance to the Muzha end of the walk.
The elementary school next to the walk.



Head up the steps.





There are sections that are flat and sections that have stairs. Sometimes, there are paths that go off the main track, but to get to Jingmei, just head up the top of the hill and then down the other side. You will be rewarded with some great views on the way.



The iconic rock of the walk.


The walk down from the peak is really lovely. Depending on the time of day, you will see different kinds of people. I did the walk for the photos at 7am, so there were groups doing stretches and hula hooping.





On the Jingmei end, you will come to a temple that has steps down to the road. You come out at 




Address: 116台北市文山區景興路293號


The Jingmei Market, Uniqlo, Jingmei MRT Station are all within walking distance.

5/28/2020

The Totally Awesome Musical Theater Summer Camp!

With summer vacation being spent on the island this year, you are probably looking for amazing, fun camps for your children. Here is one, right here in Taipei, developed by Stage Time and Juice at the Red Room. Stage Time and Juice has a special place in the hearts of myself and my children. It is THE space that my children most-comfortably explored their creative processes, and developed confidence as performers and organizers in the Arts. Check out the full introduction of this year's camp, below.






Stage Time and Juice at the Red Room will be bringing back our exciting theater camp this summer...but with a twist! Campers will develop their own 3 act musical through 3 songs that they will help write! All lyrics, story, and characters will be created by the campers! We’ll spend 5 days writing the songs and dialogue, creating choreography, and rehearsing! We’ll then present the show for friends and family on the final day!

What to expect!


Campers will attend camp Wed. July 15 to Sunday, July 19 from 10am to 3pm. Camper drop off is 9:30am, and pick up will be between 3 and 3:30pm. Campers will spend the day creating their musical! A tasty lunch prepared by the chefs of the Sunworld Dynasty Hotel will be provided at noon each day. Camp will be led by our music gurus, Qori Moorehaul and Jon Franco. Don't be surprised if Camp Moms Constance Woods and Sue DeSimone also throw a song or dance into the works!

Orientation will be on July 27, at 2:30pm (location to be determined). At orientation, Qori and Jon will get to know the campers and gather suggestions for characters, plot, lines, and lyrics. During the two weeks between orientation and campy, they will take the best ideas and make an outline, and send it to the kids, to prepare for day one. The musical with sample lyrics will be pre-recorded and sent to the parents before camp, to help inspire campers to come with their ideas!

Target age:8-12 creative individuals between the ages of 8-15.

Language: English

【 上課時間 | Date & Time 】

對象:8-15歲,具備英語基礎的學生。
夏令營地址: 台北王朝大酒店, C1
名額:最少\8位, 12 位滿班

Camp Location: Sunworld Dynasty Hotel, Room C1
Age: 8-15 yo
Language: English
Class size: 8 students min, 12 students max.

說明會:6/27 (六): 2:00 - 3:00 pm (地點 TBA)
夏令營日期:2020/7/15 (三)~7/19 (日)
時段:10:00-15:00 (9:30 開門,工作人員會留下收拾整理到 15:30)
表演茶會: 2020 7/19 3(日) 15:00--16:00
Orientation (Sat. 6/27) : 2:00 - 3:00 pm (location TBA)
Camp (Wed .7/15 - Sun. 7/19) : 10 am - 3 pm (drop off 9:30 am, pickup 3:30 pm)
Lunch prepared daily by the chefs of Sunworld Dynasty Hotel
Performance and Reception (Sun 7/19 ) : 3 pm - 4 pm

【課程內容 | Class Description】


Orientation
Qori Moore and Jon Franco will get to know the campers and gather suggestions for characters, plot, lines and lyrics. During the two weeks between orientation and camp, they will take the best ideas and make an outline, and send it to the kids, to prepare for day one. The musical with sample lyrics will be pre recorded and sent to parent before camp, to help inspire campers to come with their ideas!

Day 1

Develop plot of 3-act play.
Work on one song and a few lines of dialogue to set the song up.

Optional activity: (if time permits) introduction to blues and jitterbug by Sue DeSimone


Days 2 - 4

Break down each song and practice and memorize lines and blocking/choreography.

Optional activity: (if time permits) introduction to blues and jitterbug by Sue DeSimone

Day 5

Dress rehearsal/run through

Performance at 3:00 pm
Reception 3:30-4:00 pm

*********

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS


We discourage parents from sending sick children to camp. We will conduct temperature checks upon arrival and after lunch. We will also remind the participants to wash hands frequently throughout the day.
請勿將疑似生病的孩子送去參加任何營隊活動。我們在營隊裡,也都有例行性的體溫檢測。將會提醒大家要多洗手

Registration link: https://forms.gle/ZweXozVLer3otsub9 **

**Pricing info, contact info etc is all in that registration link.

Details about the venue here.





5/27/2020

Jingmei White Terror Memorial Park


Situated in Xindian, this park is on my must-visit list. It is free, it is accessible, it introduces history in a quiet, thoughtful way, and it is big and inviting for families to visit without feeling they are encroaching on anyone's "museum" experience. Their English website is informative and easy to follow, so I will put the link here. There are many videos in English introducing different prisoner experiences on the website.


Let's start with the seven thousand name blocks just inside the memorial park. My daughter and I were taking photos of these name blocks when a middle-aged woman and two elderly people, a man and a woman, arrived, and began studying the blocks. After some minutes, I heard the middle-aged woman call, "Mom, mom! Here he is! Here is dad!" The woman and the man rushed in their slow, elderly way to stand beside the woman and stare at the block with what I assume is their husband and father's name on it. This was my and my daughter's introduction to the Jingmei White Terror Memorial Park and the loss Taiwan's White Terror period - the longest in history - brought for so many Taiwanese.


The park itself is a peaceful space. For some, it will be a place for contemplation, but young children can also be free to run around and enjoy the large outdoor area. This is the original site where political prisoners were held, tried, and imprisoned. Walk through the interrogation rooms, see the furniture guards sat in when they interviewed suspects and touch the walls I imagine prisoners leaned against when they were almost out of energy to withstand their sorrows. 

There are audio tour sets available in several languages, and there is also a children's version. I was surprised that my daughter got so engaged with the narration. I could sense that it moved her to hear the stories and interviews through the earset.



The memorial park could have been a depressing space, but there is a balance between sadness and hope, as well as hands-on, lighthearted activity. Here, my daughter is riding a bike that was in a Taiwanese movie from the White Terror period. When she pumped the pedals, the hat lit up.



There are stamps placed around the buildings, so children can enjoy collecting them. Be sure to prepare a piece of card or a notebook to collect them in. These stamps are a part of Taiwan museum culture, so you can collect them from all around the island!





Taiwan has come such a long way with bilingual information since I started this blog! It's great to see, but maybe my notes are redundant... 




This is the canteen where the prisoners ate. Prisoners had jobs such as doing laundry 


There are intriguing photo opportunities, where you can line up the images of prisoners and transpose them onto the large concrete tubs or wooden tables where they would have worked, washing and ironing clothes to earn their food. There is also a VR experience but that is currently closed due to concerns of sharing equipment during CoVid-19.


Take some snacks and enjoy them in the pagoda. There were several birds flying around while we were there, too. Again, even if your children are too young or sensitive to want to learn about the history, they can still enjoy the space and take in whatever is within their scope to manage. 





One building is dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Convention of Rights of the Child. In this exhibit, you can learn more about the rights of the child in Taiwan. There are stories illustrating the ways children were denied their human rights during the period of White Terror and they were not exempt from punishment under the regime. There are hands-on activities for children and the exhibit is a hopeful one.


Tip: Purchase the chidren's book: Ode to Azalea Mountain. On the back cover is a QR code you can scan to hear the audio including the song.




Visitor information:
Jing-Mei White Terror Memorial Park
  • Address : No.131, Fusing Rd. Xindian Dist., New Taipei City 23150, Taiwan (R.O.C)
  • TEL:+886-2-22182438
  • Park Hours: Tue thru Sun, 9:00am to 17:00pm
  • Admission : Free
  • Link to map, buses, Chinese address here.

4/21/2020

Tainan's Chimei Museum - A Must-Visit

On our family holiday back to Taiwan in December, I finally managed to take my two children down to Tainan for an overnight trip, with the primary goal of visiting Chimei Museum. If the name "Chimei" seems familiar to you, that will be because you have eaten or used a product or two made by Chimei Corporation.

Company founder Shi Wen-long is one of the richest self-made businessmen in Taiwan. Born in 1928, he was one of ten children in a poor family, and his childhood escape was a small museum in Tainan. Shi has fulfilled his dream to build a museum that is accessible to all. Practicing his belief that art should be a public good and not something hidden away in private collections, Shi has created a huge museum where people can see Western art without having to travel abroad. Entry to the museum is NTD200, but free to Tainan residents and to students.

In this video, Shi Wen-Long (now 90 years old) talks about his dream as a ten-year-old and making it come true:



This museum looks as good in real life as it does in that video. It is a journey into beauty and design. It is completely accessible. It is 100% child-friendly, and has many objects and spaces that are designed to encourage active exploration by children (and adults). The staff are knowledgable and proactive in getting everyone close to the exhibits.

Our Experience:

We took the train to Tainan and then transferred to Bao-An Station. This is a well-preservered station and we took time to take some photographs.(OK, my daughter took great photographs, which I don't have access to, whilst I managed a few snaps on my phone.)  It was a ten-minute walk for us to the museum. It was quite hot and there is little shade, so if you have young children, you might prefer to take a taxi.


The museum is set on sprawling grounds, with vast open space to run and walk and sit, with sculptures and fountains and open-air theaters to experience.




The temporary exhibit "Beyond the Shadows" has been extended until August 31st. We had A LOT of fun in this exhibit! From the more serious political statements to the frivolous fairytale dressup shadow roleplays, we spent nearly an hour in this section alone.

Playing with special effects created by shadows and tech.



Works by artists from all over the world on display. The introductory materials are all bilingual, and there is a lot of multimedia used to allow artists to introduce themselves and their work.

Using shadow puppet props, everyone can get involved in retelling the story of Alice in Wonderland. Become a shadow puppet yourself!


Chimei Museum not only displays the largest and most complete violin collection in the world. It also has a full introduction of all of the instruments in the national orchestra, complete with video introductions by members of the orchestra. Instruments are cut open so you can see the inside workings. Several times during the day, there is a STUNNING performance, where you can walk right up to the players while they perform, and experience music from right inside the "orchestra pit". The quality of the recording and the whole production blew my mind.

There are reproductions of European period rooms, where you can see how living rooms were set up during different eras, so people could enjoy musical performances in their homes.


The museum's permanent exhibits include "The Evolution of Arms and Armour" and a "Journey of Evolution". Notice how everything is displayed so even young children can get close.

There are two cafes in the museum. We chose the more family-friendly one. My teenagers sure did enjoy the pizza!
Umbrellas available to use outdoors.

We spent nearly the whole day on site. You could use the high speed rail and try to do a day trip, but why not spend a night or two in Tainan? We stayed at a very special hostel, Book Inn. I will write more about that experience later, but I recommend it, for adults, and families with older children who enjoy calm, quiet spaces. (They don't accept children under 7 years of age, and you must book one bed per person.)


Chimei Museum's multilingual website has comprehensive English-language information, including videos and virtual museum tours. Due to the changing nature of Covid-19 and related rules, please check there for travel and opening information: