Dahu Park Swimming Pool - Mixed Feelings, Mixed Review

A couple of months ago, there was much buzz in the expat community about the newly-renovated Dahu Park swimming pool. Situated a very short walk from Dahu MRT Station, with a 50-meter outdoor pool right next to the beautiful park grounds, it was going to be a haven for us with children who love the water.

We visited it a few times in June.  The first couple of times, I was pretty impressed.  The outdoor pool is nice and open. There is an indoor pool and spa area.  The toddler's pool is quite nicely done.  The shower and toilet facilities are also nice and new.  So, what happened to make me change my mind and, with sadness, report that it is not that awesome?

  • Showers:
Twice, the women's shower room has been flooded.  That means, we were all walking through ankle-deep water, with empty soap packs floating on top.

  • Toilets:
They smell. Bad.  So bad that my daughter refuses to go in to them.

  • Spa:
Last week, one of our friend's daughter pointed out the layer of skin scum floating on top of the spa pool. It was clearly visible.
  • Slippery Floors:
I guess it's the result of the sheer number of visitors to the pool, but at the same time, I don't understand why the pool has to have a constant layer of water over the walking areas around it.  It's a bit gross, and more importantly, dangerous because the tiles are so slippery.

  • Kiddie Pool:
It is now full of plastic ducks.  If a child falls under the ducks, nobody will be see her.  The ducks are also getting moldy.  Last year I finally got the plastic balls out of our local pool.  Don't people understand the dangers of not being able to see the bottom of a kiddie pool?

  • Outdoor Pool:
OK, this one is a bit of a whine and probably not too consequential. The newly-set-up sun shelter is ugly and not really well thought out.  The beautiful view has been spoiled by the construction.  The sun shelter seems to be going the wrong way. If it was set from the building out, you could also cover the walkway and not the entire pool all day when the shade was in use.

The sheer number of people using the pool may be part of the challenge for this pool.  I hope they find a way to solve some of these problems, especially as summer starts.  Extra cleaning times and a study of the drainage issue might be a place to start.

The cafe on the second floor is very nice, I have to say.  The service and food both exceeded my expectations.  We took a group of children to the restaurant, and most could find something on the menu that they liked.  They do not cater for allergies, and the dishes are mostly creamier-style "Italian" food. It is good and fresh.  You also have a great view of the MRT, park, and pool.

In summary, it's not a bad place to go with your kids.  Just check out the pool's cleanliness, and keep an eye on your children when they are out of the pool.

Dahu Park Pool:
  • Take the MRT to MRT Dahu Park Station. The park is a short walk from Exit 2.
    Public buses: Take the following buses to Dahu Park bus stop – 247, 247 Express, 247 Shuttle, 284, 287, 287 Express, 287 Night, 617, 620, 630, 677, 681, 683, BR10, BR19, R2, and R31.
Opening Hours:
Pool: 5:30am-10pm
Gym: 7am-10pm


Sporting Goods Store - Decathlon 迪卡儂 (Taichung, Taipei, Tainan, Pingtung)

After reading FB friends' online raves about the new "Decathlon" Sports Store in Neihu (Taipei), I had to find an excuse to go and check it out.  The sudden chlorine-induced collapse of the family's entire swimwear collection seemed like the perfect reason to drive over to the store and take a look.  I was not disappointed. I think it is the first time we have ever walked into a store together and spent less than 30 minutes finding the "perfect" suits for all of us at prices we can swallow.  But, it is not all about swimming; there are products for many sports and outdoor activities, all in one well-organised store.

Decathlon was founded in France in 1976.  At the end of 2013, Decathlon had 674 stores in 19 countries.  They have actually been in Taichung since 2012, but it's the new store in Neihu that is making news in the parenting circles I hang out in.  Three more stores are planned to open in Taiwan this year, so keep your eyes and ears open in your city.

Back to the swimwear.  It is usually difficult for me to find a swimsuit I like in Taiwan.  This trip, I had difficulty choosing the ONE I would bring home.  My son, daughter, and I bought a suit each, and the total was just NTD1,100. There is a lot of sun protection gear for babies through to adults, too.  We also found a child's snorkel set (mask in 3 sizes), very cheap swimwear bags, flip-flops, a very nice kite... we are set for summer!

Take a look at the online selection of women's swimsuits. The site is in Chinese, but you can flick through the menu at the top to get an idea of the range of sporting goods they have.

From the homepage images, you can also get excited about the selection of goods.  To me, the quality is similar to a department store back home - fair price and fair quality; not the general night-market risky quality I am used to seeing for the price. 

According to the sales staff (and the online information), the selection in Neihu is relatively limited, so if you have something in particular you want, you can call first to check they have it.  They will bring it in for you then you can pick it up.  And if you don't see your size, ask the staff and they can find it for you. - When I heard this, I had visions of a day-trip to the Taichung store. It must be amazing!

Click on this link to see the addresses of the stores around Taiwan, with maps.
Three stores are open 9am-10pm daily. Pingtung's opens at 10am.

11494 台北市 內湖區新湖一路128巷36號 (大潤發內湖1店正後方)
電話: (02) 2795-6700
No. 36, Lane 128,  Shi-Hu 1st Road, Neihu 114 (behind RT-Mart 1) - street parking

台中南屯店: 台灣40854 台中市 南屯區大墩南路379號 (Costco旁)
電話: (04) 2471-9666
No. 379, Dadun South Rd, Nantun District Taichung City, 408 (next to Costco) - 200 parking spaces, 70 bicycle parking spaces

台南西門店: 台灣70450 台南市 北區臨安路二段310號2樓 (大潤發二樓)
電話: (06) 2211-980
2F, No. 310, Lin'an Rd Section 2, North District, Tainan City, 704 (RT Mart's 2F)

台灣90065 屏東市 勝利里自由路550號 (屏東市政府對面)
電話: (08) 884-9688
No. 550, Ziyou Rd, Pingtung City Pingtung County, 900 (opposite Pingtong City Hall)


Blog Introduction: Tales From the Beautiful Isle - Ideas for Family Travel & Views on Living in Taiwan

I've been in Taiwan almost 20 years, and had children after being here for ten, so sometimes my view on events and destinations is a little different than those families that have just arrived or are looking to come over to Taiwan. 

So, today I want to introduce a friend and fellow blogger, Jenny Green, and in particular, her blog "Tales from the beautiful isle".  Jenny came to Taiwan with her husband and son just over two years ago.  Since then, she has been keeping a blog of their travels and experiences on this beautiful island.  I think newcomers will find her persepectives useful, and long-termers will find it refreshing.

I'd like to recommend the blog post about Dahu Park as a good starting point. It is the time of year families look for places to go and hang out without too much stress and worry.  Jenny does a wonderful job at describing what you should look out for at the park.  Once you have read that post, I am sure you will click through for more!

[July5-Aug24, 2014] Ilan International Children's Festival

By far my favorite event for families in Taiwan, the annual Ilan International Children's Festival is set for its 2014 season!  This is a serious full day out in the sun for the family, with international and local acts, water slides, loud disco music, quiet boat rides, bridge crossing, food, and drinks for all.

*Ilan County residents, you can get a Summer Pass for just NT300!  Ticket prices are really reasonable even for the single day pass, considering how much entertainment and free water play you get.  Single tickets are 350 for adults, 250 for children, with a small discount available for advance purchases.

In addition,
Visitors holding National Highway Bus ticket stubs of THSR Joint Pass (Dongshan River Route) can purchase group discount tickets on site at the ticket booth (NTD$50 discount per one-person ticket)For details, please visit: http://www.thsrc.com.tw/event/trans/st130601_DongRiver.html
This year's website is looking good, but not all information about performances and things is up on the English site. You can see directions, prices, themes, etc though:  http://www.yicfff.tw/2014/en/

You can also read my review of one of our trips, and see some photos and a video: http://kidzone-tw.blogspot.tw/2011/06/2011-july-9-aug-11-ilan-childrens-and.html

This article gives a good background to the festival.

Address of the Event: No.2, Sec. 2, Chinhe Rd., 26866 Wujie , Yilan County, Taiwan


Tainan: Anping Tree House 安平樹屋

On a recent trip to Tainan, we revisted the magical Anping Tree House (安平樹屋).  The children had learned about the banyan tree in their "生活 (social studies)" class, so they knew more than me about how the tree grows and spreads over other trees or, in this case, buildings.

This building actually has a history of its own.  It used to be a warehouse for Tait & Co, which was one of the top five British trading companies in the area during the Japanese Occupation. Grownups can read about the history of the company and visit the building next door. Children can learn a little about this, or just enjoy the mystery of the trees growing inside and outside the building.

 At the back of the building, there is a fish pond. Fish food is NT10 per tube.  You can feed the carp and turtles.  There is also a walkway along the estaury that can be accessed from the back gate.

The gift shop, ice-cream stand, and coffee shop add to the tourist-feel of this historic site.

Opening Hours: 8:30am to 5:30pm
Entrance:  50/Adult, 25/Discount Ticket
Free entrance for Tainan citizens with I.D.
No. 194, Anbei Road, Anping District, Tainan City

Age Recommendation: All ages.


Trip To Tainan - Holocaust Museum

A few weeks ago, we went to Tainan, because my son was performing in the musical Zeelandia there.  We managed to visit a few places over the space of three days.  I'll share them with you on the blog as I get to them.

I'm starting with the interesting one that is not really related to children.  On our drive out of Tainan, I spotted a church that is also Taiwan's only Holocaust Museum. 

It is also reputed to be the world's smallest Holocaust museum.

I think it's probably the only one to be situated opposite a 7-11.

You can read about Messianic Judaism here.

We were lucky to run into the congregation and find out a little about the church and museum, even though we could not get in at such short notice. I hope we can get a chance to visit and learn more about this church and the history they want to share. 

They have a good number of English speakers in the congregation.

Location: Close to BaoAn station, Tainan County, Taiwan
22° 55' 45.8904" N, 120° 13' 51.5964" E
‧10人以上團體:參觀時間為每週二 ~ 週六。 個人或少數:參觀時間為週六。(請提前一周預約) Groups of 10 or more can visit Tues-Sat.  Less than 10, please come Saturday. Everyone needs to book one week in advance.

‧酌收清潔費:大人(國小以上) 100元。 小孩(國小以下)50元。 Adults NT100, children NT50

預約之後,將會有專門導覽人員以及授課,由於本館空間有限,故透過解說,可更加的了解本館的意義及精隨。A dedicated guide will give you a tour and explain everything to you.

預約電話:(06) 266-1802
E-mail : logos4ac@yahoo.com.tw

*For information on religions in Taiwan and internationally, I highly recommend The Museum of World Religions.

MOCA - Museum Of Contemporary Art, Including Children's Exploration Room and Art Classes

My children had a random Tuesday off school recently, which of course meant the Hsieh family headed to a museum.  My kids are in love with Taiwan's museums, hence the 60-plus posts I have on this blog covering them.

We decided to go downtown and visit MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art. On Chang-An West Road, just west of Chung-Shan North Road, the museum is central and easy to access.  The front courtyard is long, making it an ideal spot for 3-D art and sculptures.  Right now, they have a toy theme going on.  My kids were fascinated by the semi-deflated airplane.

There are tables available at one end of the courtyard, and a coffee shop at the other.  We chose to get some 7-11 take-out and sit under the trees.  We then headed into the museum.  Entrance is free for children attending schools in Taiwan.  If your school has ID, it is best to take it.  I had to answer a quiz about schooling in Taipei to get the free entry.  It's NT50 for adults.  There are lockers for your bags, that require a NT10 deposit that you get back when you open the locker at the end of the visit.

The foyer has a rest area and information desk.  You can rent earphones, or download the soundtrack from a kiosk directly to your device.  We did neither.  They did tell me that this summer's exhibits should have kid-friendly audio available, which would be wonderful.

The current exhibit, Korean K-POP, runs until June 15th.  It is a fantastic exhibit that my children found interesting and a little disturbing.  There is one part on the third floor that the volunteers will suggest your steer your children away from.  My children were disturbed but compelled by the sculptures.  I would suggest skipping that floor if your children are sensitive.  The rest of the work stimulated their curiosity, and I regretted not getting the tour or audio tour, because I think it would have helped them understand the works better.

My children decided to try some shots fitting with the theme of the artwork.

The discovery on this trip was the children's art room.  Entry is free. It's for children 12 years of age and under. They must be accompanied by an adult.  There are three sessions throughout the day.  You can check out up-to-date information here.  You can go directly to the U12小玩藝教室 directly, without having to pay to see the other exhibits.

The room is updated every time the exhibit in the museum changes, and follows the overall theme of the exhibit.  Here, my children are doing screen-printing using animal stencils.

They then built castles with the blocks, and rode their Rody's into the structures, re-enacting the Armageddon-like moving model and video upstairs.

These pictures are made with fabric stuck onto magnets, that you move around a giant magnetic blackboard.  This is my "Ducks" work. (When you spend three hours in a museum with your children, you find things to entertain yourself.)

 Kyle's "Fisherman".

 Hannah's "Zebra".

There are also sensory toys, books, and musical instruments freely available for children to experiment with.

Back in the foyer, the children discovered some free models you can cut out and put together. You then create your own piece for the "K-POP" exhibit.

From 3pm until 10pm, this awesome toy is operational.  Space Invader game!  You sit inside the robot-tank and shoot aliens on the giant screen a distance away from you.  There is a step inside so children can reach the controls and look out the window. It's free to use.

The museum is offering some pretty good art classes and camps over summer.  Information is on their website.  

We'll definitely go back to see the next exhibit.  The art room is great for children from very small to about 10 years old.  Suitability of the art exhibits will depend on what your children like and what the themes are.
  • MOCA - Museum of Contemporary Art
  •  台北市大同區103長安西路39號
  • NO.39 Chang-An West Road Taipei, Taiwan 10
  • TEL +886 2-2552-3721
  • Parking in underground park. Entrance just East of the museum entrance.
  • Coffee shop attached to Museum
  • Closed Mondays.
Full information, including details about family days, free school tours, and more, available on their website:  http://www.mocataipei.org.tw/