Taipei City Fire Dept's Fire Safety Museum

I'm sure I saw these on a Dr Who episode many years ago.
After the local Fire Department visited my son's school, he told me how they had set up a smokey room for the children to crawl through as part of a fire safety demonstration.  This triggered my memory; there is a Fire Safety Museum in Neihu, Taipei, that I visited years ago as a teacher.  I decided to take the children there to see how they reacted to it.  It was worth the trip.

On arrival, we registered, and waited for the staff member who would show us around.  Individuals and groups all get the option of having a guided tour (in Chinese).  We went directly to the floor with the smoke-simulator, and the children had a lesson on fire safety, what to do in a fire, and how to call 119.  Then, they watched a short video to reinforce it.  After that, we walked through the corridors that are set up to simulate a fire in a building.  I think this is a really good thing for children to be able to do.  My four-year-old was nervous, but my six-year-old went through twice.

After the walk-through, the children were taught how to open the safety doors, and how to open an elevator in an emergency.  Then, we headed to the earthquake simulator area.  We watched a video of the 921 earthquake and scientific explanation of tectonic plates, and then had a lesson on what to do in an earthquake.  The children then got to try out their skills in dealing with an earthquake up to 6.0 in force.  After that excitement, it was time for a short video in the AV room, and then down to play in the playroom on the first floor.

There are number of other areas that we didn't explore.  There is an area outside to try out fire hoses, and rooms set up to teach children and parents about safety in the home.  If you like classic vehicles, you can appreciate the vintage fire engines and other equipment set up throughout the museum.

This museum is an educational experience.  It is most suitable for children aged four to nine years.  Entrance is free.  You can find hours of opening and address on their English website.
Daughter practicing her crawl to the door.


Santa's Elves At Work At Taipei 101

I heard from a reliable source that Santa's elves  have set up shop on the 4th floor (by the entrance of Page One bookstore), Taipei 101.  I also heard that this is a very impressive workshop and a "must see" for the kids.

Click here to see all the activities going on at Taipei 101 (Chinese).


Taiwan Coal Mine Museum

This will probably become quite a self-indulgent post, so please excuse me.  Just over two weeks ago, here was an explosion in the Pike River Mine on the West Coast of New Zealand, and 29 lives were lost.  Coming from Greymouth, this has really affected me.  I can't say I was close to any of the men in the mine at the time.  But, they were people I knew of, people my friends and family knew, people that were close to friends of mine.  And, beyond that, it's something that will impact our community today, tomorrow, next year, forever.  Something that my children should know about and appreciate.

And then, I find out we have moved to an ex-mining community right here in Taiwan, and that Taiwan has a rich mining history.  And THEN, I hear about the Taiwan Coal Mine Museum; a privately-run museum, set up to educate Taiwanese about their coal mining history.  So, I drove around the North East Coast, and took my children to this museum.  And, you know, they got a lot out of that experience, and I am now recommending it to other parents.  So many towns in Taiwan are ex-mining towns, and this history needs to be passed down to our children.

The Taiwan Coal Mine Museum is actually the site of the closed New Ping-Shi Coal Mine.  It is the only coal mine in Taiwan that the government has allowed to be set up like this.  Most of the facilities have been well-preserved, so you can see the real mine, ride the real train, walk into the real bath area, and touch the real coal mining tools.

Currently, there is very little English explanation at the site, but don't let that put you off.  I am going to share some things I learned yesterday with you, and you can also read this bilingual page on their website.  If you plan to go to the museum, I suggest you go before the middle of next year, as the new highway is going to go right over the site and the curator is already sure some of the beauty of the area (including the tea plantation) is going to be lost.

Entrance:  200 per person.  This includes a 20-minute ride on the actual train that used to take the coal to the area where it would be shifted out. The "A-ma" who drives the train has been doing this for over 30 years!

Video: There is a 15-minute video introducing the history of the mine and coalmining in Taiwan.  It is in a mix of Mandarin and Taiwanese.  My children didn't last the video, but they are only six and four years old.  My six-year-old did pick up a few things from the 10 minutes he watched.  The curator told me they do have a short film in English, made by a foreign film company, that you can ask for.  Print out this post and show them if your Chinese is not good enough to explain what you want.

Train ride: The train takes you along the real track that the coal was taken along for so many years.  The coal was sent down to Shr-fen station, and then the coal cars were PUSHED manually by six women to the main train station, where the engine waited.  You can see the coal township from the platform.  The school used to have 1300 students, as the mine school serviced three mines in the area.  There are now only about 50 students in the school.

Story area:  Currently, there is no English in this area.  There are many photos.  They all tell their stories.  You can see how difficult coalmining in Taiwan was.  The seam of coal is very thin, and the walls are soft.  Miners could not stand up when working on the face.  They had to lie down or crouch, for several hours at a time, sometimes in a pool of silt.  There is a high level of gas in the mines in Taiwan, making explosions a strong possibility.  (In 1984, there were three accidents in mines in Taiwan, resulting in the loss of over 200 lives.)  Many miners were Taiwan aborigines, as they had the stamina to do the work, and could not find other work to do.  Miners in Taiwan really believed they might not have any "tomorrow" so they worked hard and partied hard.  The Taiwan aborigines loved to drink and sing so they were given their own dormitories where they could live the lives they enjoyed (this is a direct quote from the curator, not my own observation).  Taiwan's miners also did a lot of praying to their gods, such as "土地公" (local earth gods) and the gods related to Ghost Month.  After over 200 years of mining in Taiwan, there are no working mines on the island.

Coffee Shop: There is a coffee shop.  I would suggest taking a picnic with you and buying a drink from the shop.  The area is a lovely spot for a picnic.

Gift Shop:  There are a few bits and pieces to purchase.  There is an honesty box where you put your money in for your purchases.

Coal digging pit:  Like a sandpit, but I think the kids dig for coal with little coal shovels.  Might be fun for little ones, just watch they don't eat it!

This museum is more suited to children of at least elementary school age, and to get the most of out of it you would need to print out some of the English material here, or speak some Chinese.  But, my four-year-old daughter loved the area and the train ride.  It's a good family outing, even without visiting the other sites very close by (Shi Fen waterfall, taking the Pingshi train, etc).

How to get there:
By car: Take highway 3, heading to Highway 5 (Ilan 宜蘭 direction).  Get off at the Shiding 石碇交流道  exit, get onto highway 106, drive to Shi Fen's 69K十分69K  area and follow the signs on the local road.

自行開車: 行國道3號銜接往國道5號宜蘭系統,於石碇交流道下,續接106號縣道直行,於十分69K處過平交道左彎即可到達。

By train: Take a train to either Badu or Reifang (八堵 or 瑞芳), and take the Pingshi line平溪支線  to Shifen十分.  Walk back in the direction you came, about 800 meters, which is about an 8 minute walk to the lower entrance of the site.

搭乘火車: 搭乘火車於八堵或瑞芳站下,再轉搭乘平溪支線火車,於十分車站下車;往回走約800公尺,步行約8分鐘即可到達。火車資訊

By bus: Take the Muzha MRT to Muzha Station.  Then take Taipe Bus Company's No. 16 bus (台北客運16路公車) to Shi Fen (於十分寮下車).

搭乘公車: 於木柵線捷運木柵站出口轉搭台北客運16路公車,於十分寮下車。

Link to the Chinese directions and map.

Opening hours: Everyday from 9am to 5pm.  Ticket sales stop at 4pm
Cost: $200 per person, including the train ride and a DIY item.

Now, you will reach the lower entrance of the museum.  When we drove there, I felt a bit like I had entered some movie.  We parked our car, got out to silence, and then this very old Taiwanese woman with a straw hat and apron came over, pointing and talking to me in Taiwanese.  If I had been a newcomer to Taiwan, I would probably have got nervous and left.   But, we went into the little mining hut and got sorted with tickets (200 per person, children three and under free.)  She then pointed to the road we had to drive  (go behind the sign and follow the road to the right, all the way up the hill, about a three-minute drive).  The museum has a courtesy van, so if you walked and she starts pointing and talking, she is likely telling you to wait for the van.

I don't have any photos right now, as my camera failed me again.  But, we will be visiting again soon, to get some pictures.

Christmas at the Grand Formosa - Take a Pic with Santa

The Grand Formosa Regent has several events and specials on for Christmas.  Of special interest for families is the "Take a picture with Santa" opportunity.  Here is the link to their site highlighting events for the holiday season:


Great Any Time of Year - Fulong Beach

A few weeks ago, the kids and I spent a cloudy day at Fulong Beach area.  Originally, I thought we would just take the train there and back, but the kids had a great time, and we spent the whole afternoon in the area.

How to get to Fulong Beach:
Take a train to Fulong (福隆) station.  It's easy!  Just go to a train station (Panchiao, Taipei Main, Sungshan, or any others on the line) and ask for a ticket to Fulong Beach.  Or, try out the English-language internet booking service. Even the fastest train will cost you only a little over $100 per seat. It takes about an hour on the faster trains. And this time of year, it's lovely to sit on the train and watch the scenery from the comfort of a cabin.

Taiwan Railway Admin Site is here.

At the Station:

Come out and turn left to enjoy the clean toilets and appreciate the artwork made out of train scraps, by Railway staff.  Walk out to the road, cross it, and walk along the right side of the carpark, until you come to the walkway that will take you South, away from the big bridge on the beach. 

This nature walk is free, enjoyable, and takes you to the Fu Bar!  The Fu Bar is run by a lovely South African couple.  It is totally child-friendly, and has a park right in front so the kids can play while you watch them from the outdoor tables.  The food at the Fu Bar is amazing!  (They open from 12 noon this time of year, on weekends only.  If you are on a mission to visit the restaurant, it's best to call to let them know you are coming during the winter/spring months. Tel: 0955 496 175; 02-2499 1380.)  The artwork in the restaurant is bright and cheery, and you can enjoy Rooibos or a South African beer, too.

View of the Fu Bar from the park.  It's actually only just across a little lane, it's just the angle of the shot making it look so far away.  Isn't the place adorable?

If you ever get away from the bar, you can walk down to watch people fishing, see the temple, hire a bike to ride around, or cross the big carpark to visit the information center.

The information center is a lovely place to take children.  The second floor is dedicated to children.  The day we visited, they had a maze set up with stamps inside.  You get a passport from the front counter and then go find the stamps.  Once you have the set, you can get a little prize (tattoo stickers).  The map is in Chinese but it doesn't matter what order you put the stamps on, so it's a fun little challenge for young children.  The coffee shop out front of the center has quite good coffee if you feel the need.

Now, coming from New Zealand where most beaches I know are still open to the public, I am always saddened to see beaches blocked off by private corporations.  I refuse to pay the $90 per person the hotel/7-11 group ask for entry to the beach area, especially this time of year when we won't be actually entering the water.  I might pay $30 to help with cleaning if they actually do any, but to have that guy refuse to let us enter a beach n a  rainy day in November really didn't make me happy.  So, naturally I will say, skip the beach next to the information center.  But, in reality it's up to you and I know many people do enjoy the sand on that part of the beach.

The weekend we visited, there was a flower festival running up in the mountains.  You can take a bus from the information center directly to the festival.  I think it runs until mid-December.  You can also go on the CaoLing trail, which is absolutely beautiful.  We did that a few years ago with my son in a backpack, but we will have to wait until the kids can walk a bit longer on their own to do it again, now that they are too big to carry.

Flora Expo Guided Tours - Contact Your Travel Agent

Whilst this kind of tour is not my "thing", if you are too busy to arrange your own trips, and would like your kids to get the most out of the expo experience, you could take a look at some of the tours available through travel agents.  I just happened to come across this tour, being run through Lion Travel.  At between $5,000 and $6,500 per person for two days and one night, it's not that "cheap", but you do get to stay in a nice hotel and enjoy a lot of different activities.

If you are looking for this kind of tour, you could also contact hotels to see what they are offering. My friends sometimes take part in tours run by the Brother Hotel. 


Dec 11, 2010: Free Improv Comedy Show for Kids (Taichung)

Taichung Improv presents: Improv Comedy for Kids!

For this very special show we’ll make every kid’s imagination come to life!
Tailor made for young kids age 5-12 (Whole family welcome!)
Improv comedy uses audience suggestions and participation to create fun, high-energy and highly imaginative scenes on stage.
Fairy tales, cartoons, books, movies or whatever the suggestion might be we’ll do it and everyone will have the best time ever!
Place: Stock 20 Theater (By Taichung train station – back entrance on Fuxing Rd)
401 台中市復興路四段37巷6-1號

Date: December 11th, 2010
Time: 14:00-15:00
Free admission

For more info: taichungimprov@gmail.com

or call Josh 091212 9654
Website: http://www.taichungimprov.com/
(They have an event for adults in the evening, too.)

German-style Christmas Fair at Bethany Elementary School

Bethany Elementary School is holding a two-day event this weekend (Dec 3-4).  The school is near Gongguan MRT station, behind the Gongguan market/opposite Tri-Services hospital on Ting Zhou Road.  It's within walking distance of the Taipei Water Museum, too, so you can go to the museum and then head to the early-evening event if you have the time.

The market will have food, games, activities, and live music.
Date: Dec. 3-4, 2010

Time: 5:00-8:30pm

Place: Bethany School

#97, Section 3, Ting Zhou Road

Tel: 02-2365-9691


2010 Nov 21 - Snakes of Taiwan Presentation

German ophidiophile Hans Breuer will teach your kids in Chinese about the snakes of Taiwan through a slide show, reinforced by a number of show-and-tell props such as shed snake skins, snake eggs, and four real live (non-venomous and very docile) snakes.


More info:

English: http://www.snakesoftaiwan.com/schooltalks.html

Chinese: http://www.snakesoftaiwan.com/schooltalks_ch.html

Time : Sunday, November 21 · 3:30pm - 5:30pm

Location: Dream Community Theater, No. 90-3, MínZú 2nd St, Xizhi, Taipei County


2010 Nov 27 - Taipei European School Christmas Bazaar

I took my children to this Christmas Bazaar last year, and they had a great time.  Actually, so did I.  This bazaar caters for the whole family.  There are many games for the children to play, handicrafts for sale, international food tables, and raffles to take part in, all in a large, child-friendly space where parents can relax while their children play.

Run by the Parents Support Council, part of the proceeds go to charity.  This makes the event a nice way for you to have fun and to give something for Christmas, too.

Bazaar date and time:  Saturday Nov 27th, 10am-4pm.
Venue: Taipei European School (727 Wenlin Road, Shilin, by ZhiShan MRT station)

Song Song Song Children's & Puppet Theatre - Pingdong, Jiayi, Panchiao Performances

Song Song Song Children's and Puppet Theatre (九歌兒童戲團) have shows in three more towns before the year end.

1. 11/27/2010 - Ping Dong Cultural Center (Hoping Rd No. 427), 2:30&7:30pm
2. 12/04/2010 - Jia Yi Cultural Center (Ming Shung Area, Jian Guo Rd Sec 2, No. 265), 12:30&7:30pm
3. 12/24,25/2010 - Pan Chiao Cultural Center, 7:30pm Friday, 2:30&7:30pm Saturday

Show Title "飛吧!小飛飛" Fly! Little "Fly Fly" - story of a seagull learning to fly, talking about opening your own wings and flying.
60 min show, for ages 3 and up
Tickets from 300 to 1000 (purchase at 7-11 using i-bon, or go onto the site (http://www.9s.org.tw/)
From their site (English version):
Nine Songs, a classic southern Chinese ceremonial play, has its origins in a set of ancient rituals that incorporated music, dance, and poetry. Song Song Song Children's & Puppet Theatre (SSSCPT) adopted its name, which in Chinese literally means "nine songs",to symbolize its commitment to promoting Chinese folk culture and to helping children enjoy happy, meaningful childhoods. By presenting classic folktales with songs, dancing, and puppets, SSSCPT aims to make itself a vital part of contemporary children's life.

SSSCPT was established on September 28, 1987, by Calvin Teng and a crew who loved children's theater. It stages seasonal productions and special performances, which depict a wide range of Chinese folklore, classical children's literature, and contemporary topics. There have been 66 SSSCPT productions in all, which have been performed more than 2,100 times in front of audiences totaling 1,900,000. From cities to countrysides to off-island areas, SSSCPT has brought joy everywhere in Taiwan.

Additionally, SSSCPT has been dedicated to exploring international exchanges in children's theater since its genesis. Sponsored by the Council for Cultural Affairs of the Republic of China on Taiwan, SSSCPT made its first tour in Europe in 1988, participating or performing in puppet and children's theater festivals. SSSCPT has since visited numerous countries, including Austria, Germany, the former Yugoslavia, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Czech, Slovakia, the United States, Canada, Singapore,Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, China, and Ukraine, etc. It has also invited excellent foreign groups and performers, like Kiev State Puppet Theater from Ukraine, MOKI Children's Theater, and Trittbrettl Theater from Austria, Varna State Theatre from Bulgaria, Antidote Theatre from Cyprus to perform and give workshop seminars in Taiwan.

Furthermore, in order to promote its belief that children's theater is a learning experience, SSSCPT conducts drama workshops for children, teachers, and other interested people. It also participates in planning and executing the seminars on children's theater held by educational organizations around Taiwan. SSSCPT's professional efforts to help expand children's understanding of theatrical expression have gradually gained prevalent recognition and support, especially in the field of children's education in Taiwan.


Taipei City Playgroup's Rummage Sale Nov 28, 2010

Get ready to rummage, at the 2010 Fall/Winter Charity Rummage Sale on Sunday, November 28, 2010, at 1F #80 Tianxiang Road in Taipei City, 10 AM to 1 PM. (台北市中山區天祥路80號1F)*

This has become a semi-annual event organized by Parent Pages & Taipei City Playgroup. Twice a year, we encourage members of both communities to declutter their homes of children's outgrown clothes, toys, books, shoes, videos, and other baby/child/maternity gear, as well as solicit donations of the same from our friends.

We've received some incredibly generous donations, including infant and toddler car seats, strollers, highchairs, playpens, maternity clothes, baby carriers, and more! Last sale, we raised over $70,000, which is amazing when you consider how little things are sold for. And it is a great social event for families, too.

What's the cost of admission? It's FREE!

Is the money donated to charity? Yes! This rummage sale, we will donate the proceeds to Mustard Seed Mission.

What about all the things that are left over? All unsold goods will be donated to charity too! They are picked up at the end of the day, for distribution to aboriginal families in need.

Can I get a table to sell things myself? We have a small number of "private tables" available. (NT500/table.  The $500 goes to the charity, and you keep any proceeds from your sales.) It’s “first-in-first-served” so email us at crescentcitytaiwan at gmail dot com to see if there are any available.

How can I help? First, you can donate some of your child's outgrown clothing, toys and other gear! Consider keeping a box or bag handy, and throughout the day as you pick up and put away toys, books, laundry, declutter all the outgrown items. Don't wait--put it right into the box! (Or you'll forget!!) See just how much you can declutter up until the week of the sale, then give us a call to arrange pick-up.

Second, consider volunteering. You can help us sort the night before the sale (about 7:00 - 9:00 pm), sort and price the morning of the sale (7:00 - 9:30 am), or (wo)man one of our tables for an hour.

Finally, come to the sale! Even if rummage sales don't interest you, consider coming to meet some new friends, and buy a snack from the lemonade stand (staffed by some of our playgroup children).

Can I deliver my donation(s)? We usually don't receive donations at the venue until the day before the sale, however, if you are leaving Taiwan and have something you would really like to donate ahead of time, we might be able to make special arrangements. Please contact one of the coordinators to discuss this.

What condition should my donations be in? All clothing should be in either like-new or gently-worn condition. All clothing should also be clean and free of rips or permanent stains. Check books to be sure there aren't any pages missing or torn. Check toys with multiple pieces to see that they're complete, or at least with enough pieces that a child can still get enjoyment from it.

What about things like pajamas, onesies, burp cloths, and bibs that might have milkstains? These are okay as long as they're not ripped.

Venue: Once again, we are lucky to have use of the same community's meeting area.
1F, #80 Tianxiang Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City (near Minquan West and Zhongshan North Roads)

Receiving Charity: This sale, proceeds will go to MustardSeed Mission. Here is the description of their work from their site, and you can click the link to read more.

In 1952, while everything was waiting to be revived in Taiwan, the missionary Lillian Dickson started Mustard Seed Mission. It includes: aiding small business, helping the lepers, fundraising for caring orphans, widows, prisoners, poor and ill public, and distributing clothes and flour from charity. Mustard Seed Mission later established orphanages, youth homes, vocational schools for Native Taiwanese to provide job skills on babysitting, nursing, carpentering and auto mechanizing. It also helped develop aiding ministry in South Asia.

Who to contact if you have donations to be picked up/dropped off:
Katrina Brown (Keelung (Jilong)/Xizhi/Nankang (Nangang)/Muzha/Taipei City/help with finding someone in another area) Tel 0928059020 - please leave a message if I don't answer! Or send a PM/ email crescentcitytaiwan at gmail dot com.

Angie Chang (Neihu/Taipei City) - daytime pickups only, thanks. Tel 0975266833

Kelly Manske (Taipei Area between Nov 11 and 27) Tel 0916-641-144/email kelmanske at yahoo dot com

Jennifer Chau (dropoff point, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 2) Tel 0954057757
**We need a volunteer to be pick up or be a dropoff point in Tianmu. If you can do this, please contact me.

**One or two more volunteers to pick up would also be great.

Still have questions? Join the discussion at the Family Forum!



English (well some) children's site about nature in Taiwan - activities and games

Still on my search for the elusive animal I spotted, I came across this siteThe Digital Museum of Children is not a site full of children, but rather, a Taiwan-based nature site for children. There are some games and activities in English, and some in Chinese, so you will have to click around to find your language of choice.  I like how it covers plants and animals we can see in Taiwan.


Very cool site with videos of Taiwan's wildlife and nature - English-friendly

Living in the low-lying mountain area that we do, we see many weird and wonderful animals.  I was looking for information about an animal I saw last week (kind of a cross between a weasel and a skunk in shape, but brown, short-haired; anyone know what it might be?), and came across a neat government-sponsored website that is a complilation of many English and Chinese-language films about Taiwan's nature.  If you click on Category, you can narrow down your search fairly quickly.

So, now the kids and I can learn about the animals that pop up around us!  If only I could find the one I am looking for...


2010 Halloween Activities in Tienmu

There are lots and lots of things going on in Tienmu over the next two days.  Here is a link to all the information, mostly in Chinese but with some English.  Have FUN!


Celebrating Halloween in Taipei (2010)

Many families miss the celebrations of holidays at home.  As the number of expat families staying longterm in Taiwan grows, more and more people are trying to recreate these holidays.  This year, there are several things you can do to enjoy a Happy Halloween, in Taipei at least.


Forumosa and Carnegie's (bar) are proud to be holding a Kids' Halloween Party on Sunday afternoon of the 31st.

There will be prizes for costumes, face painting, bobbing for apples, and there will be a piñata.
It's free for adults, and $200/per child (for a gift bag)

About Carnegie's:
Address: 100, Sec 2, Anhe Rd, Taipei (台北市安和路二段100號)

Telephone: (02) 2325 4433
Open: Monday, Tuesday Thursday, 11:30am to 2am. Wednesday, Friday, 11:30am to 5am or later. Saturday, 11am to 5am or later. Sunday, 11am to 2am.

Taipei City Playgroup will be holding our annual Halloween Party in Neihu, at a member's community, on October 30th. This is a group event, but we welcome all English-speaking families to join our ever-growing community. If you would like to keep uptodate with our playgroup events, please register at ParentPages.  As this event needs an RSVP, you can also send me a message through this blog if you are interested in attending.

Where to Buy Costumes:

1. There is a group of "holiday" stores along Chungshan West Road, just north of Taipei Station.  They change their themes throughout the year, so now is a good time for Halloween and Christmas.

2. Lococo is a very large outlet store, with some fantastic costumes available all year round for good prices.  We just got a beautiful princess dress for my daughter for TWD290.  I also picked up some nice Old Navy sweater jackets in preparation for the winter.  Oh, and they have real ballet outfits for just TWD100!
Beitou Road Sec. 1, No. 7 (Beitou District).  This is just off the MRT line, so not as hard to get to as it sounds.

3. Best Buy up on Section 7 of Chungshan North Road.  If you walk up the hill north of Taipei American School (north side of Tienmu Road), there are several outlet stores that carry costumes.

Oct 30, 2010: Taipei American School Food Fair

This will be Taipei American School's 28th Food Fair!  From 10am to 3pm on October 30th, you can enjoy lots of great food from many different countries, and also take part in some Halloween-type activities (like a Haunted House), as well as enjoy some great live entertainment. More information can be found on the alumni site:


Puppetry Art Center Taipei

I have not been here yet.  I came across this flier at the SOHO art education center, and it looks very interesting.

Here is a link before I lose it.  I plan to head over and check this out over the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, check out this very detailed English site!

**We finally got here this Wednesday.  It was just fantastic for a family trip.  Right next to  Pacific Living Mall with a carpark, and a very nice grass area and playground outside.  Lots of things to touch for children, and excellent English introductions and intricate displays for adults to look at.  Videos of Taiwan puppet shows.  Entry for adults $50, for children $40.  It took us about an hour to look around the one floor, including trying out shadow puppets, hand puppets, and string puppets.

The second floor is dedicated to performances and workshops, which run mostly on weekends.

You can take pictures, but only without flash.  It's a bit dark inside, so my pictures didn't turn out.  But trust me, my children and I highly recommend this museum.

SOHO Art Education Center (a children's art area, Tienmu)

This is one of my kids' favorite places in Taipei.  It is entirely child-focused, and makes art reachable and exciting for children (and parents!).  Everything inside is inticing and encourages children to touch, experience, and explore.

I'll share a few pictures of the current exhibit (Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, and Andy Warhol), and some images of my children doing their DIY activity (ink and paint to make your own notebook).  

Drying the project

In Matisse's painting.  Children changed the woman's clothes to learn how color can affect the outcome of a painting.  This is a room made into a painting.  There was also a cafe where children served a life-sized model of Van Gogh, and another where they experienced how Matisse drew on his wall from his bed during times of illness.

Can you see the faces made from fruit?  These are modeled on the art of an Italian 16th Century artist.  My kids moved the fruit pieces to make their own art.

Lift the flaps and learn about color mixing.

Art teacher helps my son with this book cover.
Entry is 100 per person.  You can join the free art tours (in Chinese), and you get to make a clay necklace at the end.  The DIY projects run on weekends, and are 250 per person (90 minute lessons).  The teachers really know how to teach and inspire children.  My children would not go to bed tonight; they were drawing about their day at the art museum, in their new handmade books!

Address:  Tienmu West Road Lane 50, No. 20, B1. (Just off Tienmu West Road, five minutes' walk from Chungshan North Road).)
Tel: 02-2872-1366 
Opening hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-5:30pm



電子信箱: soho.art@msa.hinet.net

網址:http://www.artart.com.tw/  (English site is here , it's a little outdated, but will give you an idea of what the space is like.)


Taipei Metro BeiTou Resort

The Taipei Metro Bei Tou Resort was buillt for employee training during construction of the Bei Tou Electric and Machinery Plant.  In 2004, it was opened to the public.  It boasts an indoor children's playground, swimming pool, gym, basketball court, coin-operated games.

Membership:  $200/per year.  You need two ID photos to apply for the membership card.
Play Area: $60 for 1hr 50mins for members, $90 for nonmembers (take socks, parents free)
Parking: $40/car (no time limit)

Hours: 3pm~10pm Monday to Friday, 9am~10pm Holidays, Summer and Winter Vacation

Address: No. 88, Lane 527, DaYe Rd., BeiTou Dist., Taipei City (112臺北市北投區大業路527巷88號)
Tel: (02) 2893-0105
Website: http://btresort.trtc.com.tw/


Keelung Indigenous Cultural Hall

This small, unassuming cultural hall is situated right before the bridge to Hoping (Peace) Island, just off Keelung.  There are five floor to the hall.  Three floors are set up as a museum.  The displays are all within reach/view of children, and the day we went the guide encouraged the children to touch the displays, try the instruments, and even sit inside the large wooden bowls made for making sticky rice.  At the back of the hall, there is a short walkway with a small swingbridge, and stairs to a platform overlooking the northcoast ocean and Keelung Harbor.  There is a large carpark.

We happened to arrive at 3pm the day we went, right when the A-Mei tribe were performing some songs and dances.  The guide told me, that this week (October 15, 2010) is the last week they are doing this show and guided tour.  They work for the government and move to a different location every six months.  Sadly, they couldn't tell me when they will be there again.

There is currently no English signage within the museum, so you will need to prepare by perhaps looking up some information online about Taiwan indigenous cultures if you want to turn it into a more educational trip and don't read Chinese.  Entry is free, making it a very nice little excursion and first introduction to things cultural for kids. 

Hours: Tues-Fri, 9am-5pm
Entrance fee:  Free
Address: 基隆市中正區海濱里正濱路一一六巷七十五號  (Jilong City, JongJung District, Hai Bing Area, Jung Bing Road, Lane 116, No. 75 - "原住民文化會館"
Directions: Drive toward Hoping/Peace Island (和平島), looking out for the sign on the right, just before the bridge to the island.  The building is a few hundred meters along the lane.

Note:  There is also a nice park at Hoping Island, but it is currently under construction.  You can watch the people fishing, buy some fresh fish, and walk through some historic streets on the island if you have time, too.


Website: Center for Cultural Affairs - Excellent Chinese-language Resource

This site is beautifully done, and full of material to enrich a child's experience with Mandarin, Taiwanese, and with Taiwan itself.  It is all in Chinese, so if you cannot read, it is not that easty to navigate.  So, below I have set up links to a few areas that once you get into them, you can really enjoy them.  You can just choose randomly by looking at the images, or rely on your children to work through it for you.

Kyle's teacher recommended this story section to us.  The stories are designed to stimulate children into thinking about their own story endings, and how the stories can be applied to their own lives.  They are animated, and have characters and pronunciation symbols, to help children recognise more Chinese characters.  My children love watching these stories and talking about the material.

Another section has stories with more of a cultural focus.

And this section introduces a number of different topics related to art and culture.  I just finished the story of Van Gogh.  I can use it to practise my Chinese and learn something, too.  Oh, that's right, it's for the kids!  Sometimes, I forget and just enjoy these things myself.


Oct 2010: Japanese theater group performs "The Wizard of Oz" (suitable for ages 3 and up)

This show is really, really, REALLY good!  We got to see it with my children's school yesterday.  The Japanese group is performing "The Wizard of Oz".  It's not scary.  There are some moments when it is dark in the theater, but my little girl was not scared at all, even though she is scared easily.  The dialog is all Chinese recording. 

There are a few shows in Taipei city this weekend (Oct 2, Oct 3), then in a few places around Taiwan the next couple of weeks.  Scroll down to the blue text at the bottom of the page to see where the show is.


WARNING! VERY BAD! "Wow! Giant Dinosaur" Expo, Oct. 2 - 10

I stole this from Taipei City Playgroup's organiser, Kelly.  Thanks, Kelly!

Dear Parents,

This exhibition is host by our city government coincide with the upcoming Floral Expo mainly a display of many different species of dinosaur. The biggest display is a 46 meter tall giant dinosaur made of traditional Taiwanese floral-prints fabric. There will be a theatre running live dino shows every hour. Also, some dinosaurs art work made by local celebrities will be on display, and soft toys and a playground area for photo shooting, a bookstore, kiosks, etc.
-Location: "Youth Park" (West end): 199 Shuiyuan Rd, Wanhua District
-Dates: 2nd ~10th October every day from 9am~6pm
Bus: 12,205,212,223,630
MRT: Ximen Station need to transit by bus to "Youth Park"
-No fee (Free)
-Name: Paper Windmill Dinosaur Art Expo "Wow! Giant Dinosaur"

The Citygroup will be planning their weekly outing there on Thursday morning, October 7th, so you are welcome to join us then too!

***UPDATE:   The kids and I went here today.  Even though it is free, it was one of the most disappointing things I have been to in Taiwan.  We are pretty open to events and activities, but this was horrid.  And very over-hyped.  Basically, a few papermache models have been thrown into the park.  In the center is an overheated room with some videos going and a couple of glass models.  It feels very old and dirty.  The "models by famous people" are permade models about 20cm high that look like they have been painted by preschoolers.  The food is water and Chinese-style rice crackers.  There is a tent with overpriced DIY kits and books.  That's it.  And to top it off, for some reason Youth Park's fishpond and stream is full of stinking dead fish.  It used to be a great place to feed ducks and fish, but now it is a green-lined wasteland.  If this a preview to the Flora Show at the end of the year, I hope nobody is flying in from overseas to see it.

Kindermusik baby class in Tienmu, starts TOMORROW!

The Community Services Center (www.community.com.tw) has a toddler class running but we'd also like to open the baby class TOMORROW, Thu Sep 30! We're looking for just two more babies for this class to open.

This will be a shorter session, a 5-week "Kindermusik Adventures" camp, from 9:15 - 10:00 on Thursdays.
If you or someone you know is interested, please have them call Grace or Rosemary at the Community Services Center, 2836-8134 or call me at 0954-05-7757
The Center is a non-profit organization offering classes, counseling, and loads of other support to the international community.

A little information about the baby class: the theme is Busy Days with 5 different sub-themes: a trip to the park, to the doctor, to the market, to the 'seashore', to a family gathering. We'll sing, dance, and make music together as we move creatively to songs and rhymes. We'll use simple percussion instruments as we play-along to Songs we sing as well as to recorded music We'll do circle dances, lap bounces and so much more. Your baby will be developing a love of music as well as his/her internal sense of steady beat, paving the way
for musical experiences in the future. We'll come together once a week to enjoy these musical moments together, but I'll also demonstrate ways that you can extend the magic of Kindermusik to your home and everyday routine.


Kaohsiung County Cultural Affairs Bureau's List of Monthly Activities

I was searching for the October performance by Hakka group Paper Windmill, and stumbled across this gem of a site.  It is an English-language listing of activities being run around Kaohsiung County, many of which are family-oriented.

If you go to the link for September, you will see a detailed list of reading sessions, movies, performances, workshops, and even cycling daytrips, that you and your family could enjoy this month.  And the information is detailed enough that a person not able to read Chinese could make it to the events easily.


Tamsui International Environmental Arts Festival 2010

Looks like lots of interesting performances will be happening in Tamsui from October 9th to October 23rd, 2010.  Lots of local and international artists will be performing.

Here's an English introduction.

Here is a schedule of events, in Chinese but with some English group names listed.

Jiayi & Ilan: Puppet Theater - Curious Po Po

October 17th and 23rd in Jiayi and then Ilan.


Banqiao: October 27, 7:30PM - Puppet Theater: The Flying Peach

Venue:  Taipei County Cultural Center, No.62, Zhuangjing Rd., Banqiao City, Taipei County 220, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
台北縣藝文中心演藝廳 ( 板橋市莊敬路62號 )

Times: November 5, 7:30pm, November 7, 3:00pm


Oct 27-31: STOMP

Not specifically for children, but I am sure there are many children who would love to see STOMP.  What child couldn't resist the banging, dancing, and tapping of a STOMP performance?

There are two 2:30pm shows - Saturday and Sunday (30th and 31st).  Tickets start at 800TWD and groups of 20 or more get 5% discount.  UPDATE: NO MORE 800TWD TICKETS AVAILABLE.  All shows are at Taipei's National Theater.

Tickets on sale online at KHAM ticketing. For some reason the link won't show properly, so you need to copy the whole link and paste it in your browser:


Ministry of Education search engine - Early Childhood Centers

I found this link to the Ministry of Education's Early Childhood website . It has a search engine where you can find all the registered private, semi-private, and public early childhood centers in Taiwan.  It is in Chinese, but is fairly easy to navigate.

You can also look for your own school's website on the URLIFE site.  I have joined their online school sites, and there is a mass of information there for people with schoolaged children.  It's going to take me a while to dig through it before I can post some English information, so I encourage you to test your Chinese and go DIY!


Join a daily English language playgroup in Taipei for 3 to 6 yr olds

A gentleman is looking to start a playgroup. I will let him do the talking:

Dear Fellow Parents

We are looking for other parents with children aged 3 to 5 who might be interested in participating in a 3 or 4 mornings a week English playgroup. Our eldest daughter is now coming up to three years old and seems desperate for more social interaction with children of her own age.

We have been considering enrolling her in a kindergarten, but:
a) for a few reasons, we don't really want to send her to a local kindergarten
b) my wife is actually the owner of a small school that is closed during the mornings, so we thought we might be able to get-together with other parents to make use of the free space

Before you get the wrong idea - this is a totally non-profit venture. We would just like to give our daughter a playgroup / school experience with children around her own age, ideally using the free facilities at my wife's school.

For your information, the school is located on Chungshiao East Road, Section 5, next to the Yungchun MRT station.
Our idea, basically, is that for 3 or 4 mornings a week, we could hold a playgroup/class at the school, supervised by a combination of a school assistant, a foreign or local teacher, and two or three other parents for additional supervision (on a rotational basis).

Regarding costs, of course the assistant and teacher would need to be paid, plus there would be a small utility fee contribution; however, compared to sending children to a regular local kindergarten, the cost would be almost neglible. At a rough estimate, if we could get a group of 10 parents together, it would cost about NT$4,500 per month per child, attending four mornings a week. Of course, the more children there are, the cheaper it is for everyone.

Anyway, this is just an idea. If anyone is interested, please leave some comments or email me. My email address is: sbmillward at gmail dot com

Best wishes to all you other hard-working parents and I hope to hear from some of you!


More discussion on this idea.


Kindermusik comes to Taichung

Long-term expat Alison Bain is a trained Kindermusik teacher.  I will leave the introduction to her:

About me:

I am from Vancouver, BC with a BA in Geography and a teaching certificate in Elementary Education and have always loved music. I have lived in Taichung for almost ten years and have two young children.

Kindermusik is an internationally recognized program which focuses on the development of the whole child through music, movement, and literacy activities. I thought my own kids would benefit from this program, so I did the training this year. After teaching my practicum and a few summer classes, I can say that I am just thrilled with the program and my kids love it. All instruction is in English.

Anyone interested can contact me at 0922 004 191
Facebook: Alphanotes

All classes are held at the Alphanotes Studio.
12F 81 Wu Chuan W. 3rd St


Concerts - A Moving Sound

Several friends have recommended this concert series.  Their children really enjoyed it, no matter what their ages. 

Short video introducing A Moving Sound

English Introduction

Taiwan Schedule Aug/Sept - free concerts

A Moving Sound music ensemble Taiwan tour schedule Aug-Sep

•8/14 19:30 Taipei ChungSiao Park, (right next to the MRT ChungSiao-XinSheng, exit 2)

•8/21 19:00 TaiChung county, outdoor stage of Tun Chu art center

•9/4 19:00 DanShui fishman port, music dance and fire

•9/25 15:00 & 20:00 Taipei Xi-Men Red Place House, A Moving Sound’s world village series, don’t miss it!


The Center & "Taipei Living" Handbook

So, after living in Taiwan for 15 years, I finally got myself a copy of Taipei Living (10th edition), published by the Center.  No matter how long you have in Taipei, I highly recommend guide.  Everytime I pick it up, I learn something new about Taipei and the places I can go.

I contributed to the Family section of the handbook, so if you have been following this blog some descriptions will be familiar to you.  But, there is a wealth of information in "Taipei Living" that will make life with kids here easier.  From government rules to places to go, I am sure you will learn something new from looking the book.

"Taipei Living" is published by the Community Services Center, known by many simply as "the Center".  You can find out about their wide range of services at http://www.community.com.tw/.  All proceeds from book sales back into the community. 


Sixth Annual Tap Dance Festival - Taipei

I'm so excited to hear this is happening again!  I'm having a busy summer with kids and home-based business but wanted to share this.  Thank goodness the site is bilingual.  Go take a look at the shows, or take part in the workshops!  For kids, adults, or you and your kids together.  You will have to be quick to register as it opened up at the end of June!!



Book Sharing Program (mostly Chinese books)

The Ministry of Education and National Publishing Organisation are running an activity from now until mid-December, where you can borrow books from a number of places (Ikari Coffee, Leezen Tea Shops, and some other places), either write your feedback in the book or post it online, then pass the book to people you know. Late-December, all the books are supposed to back to the places of origin, and the feedback will be collated. Contributing publishers include TienShia (天下) and Hsin-Yi Publications, to name two. I was at the Nankang Sport Center Ikari Coffee today, and the books they had were all recently published and in mint condition. The adult books were in Chinese and there were some English-language children's books. The books are just sitting there and you just take them away as you wish. It's kind of fun for kids to take part, and a good chance for adults to read some free books. Not much English material but still an interesting concept.

Website (Chinese): [url]www.nporeadorg.tw[/url]


Taipei County Museum Information in English - "Over 32 museums"

This is a nice site introducing museums in Taipei County.  According to a friend of mine, Taipei County won some special awards for museums last year, so this year several museums are celebrating by offering free entry.  Many of these museums are easily accessible by public transport, so it's definitely worth looking into them.

The English on this site can only be described as "quaint", and should bring a smile to your face



Family Cinema at Taipei Main Library July 2010

Family Cinema

Source:Taipei Public Library


Every Sunday
10:00 a.m.
07/04 Tom Sawyer
07/11 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
07/18 The Prince and the Pauper
07/25 The Million Pound Note

Information from: http://english.tpml.edu.tw/ct.asp?xItem=1135461&ctNode=32728&mp=104022
Main Library (8th floor Audio-visual Group Viewing Room)
Contact Tel No.27552823#2802


Taiwan Story Land - Taiwan 1950's Style for Kids CLOSED PERMANENTLY

This photo review by a friend of mine really shows you what this museum/hands-on area is about.  Situated across from Taipei Main Station, next to the Mitsokushi building, and with an entrance fee of TWD200 per person, it is a nice place to take the kids for a morning or afternoon.  You can make snacks from the 1950's, play games from the era, and get a feel for Taiwan life that that time.

I have a feeling I have written about this place before, if you find another post please let me know and I will merge them!


Taipei Public Library - How to Find Books and Take Them Out

I love the library here! It's amazing what English books they have, and if they don't have it you can just ask them to get the book into the library.

There are many, many branches of the public library around Taipei City.

Here is a way to search for books and get them delivered to your local branch.

1. Use library book search engine.

You can either choose just your branch or leave it to search all branches.

2. You will get a list of results like this (for Three Cups of Tea)

There are about 30 Engliish copies, 55 recordings, 50 Chinese translations, and a few young reader versions.

3. You can either just print this page out and take to the library front desk, or reserve the book online and have it sent to your closest branch.

On a family card, you can get 20 books out. You can also have an individual card, which gives you 5 books. You can keep them for a month, and renew them if nobody has reserved the books.


World of Chocolate Exhibit at the Taipei Science Museum

This exhibit runs from July 3rd until September 26th.  Tickets are $200 per person, plus $100 per DIY make your own chocolate participant.

Until July 2nd, you can buy three tickets for $400 at 7-11, Family Mart and Hi-Life stores island-wide.  You want to buy the 巧克力奇幻世界票 3張400元 (chocolate exhibit 3 tickets for $400).

There are models made from chocolate, information on the history and science of chocolate, and a DIY activity.

Exhibit Information is currently only in Chinese.

Museum Information is in several languages.

**July 5th:  I took my two kids (ages 6 and 4) to this exhibit today.  Basically, it is like an art exhibit where you can see a lot of sculptures.  All information is in Chinese.  My kids probably got something out of it, but not 400NT worth.  I tried to make it worthwhile by teaching them how to read some Chinese characters, and to talk about the Great Wall of China, the Terrecota Warriors, and why truffles are so expensive.  I do not recommend the DIY activity.  For 100NT, kids get to pour melted chocolate into a round piece of plastic.  There was no explanation of what they were doing and they didn't get to do anything much at all.  And, be warned, the sales area at the end is like a giant chocolate and book market.

Hakka Museum (Sanxia) - DIY & Performances

The Hakka Museum in Sanxia runs ongoing activities for children.

Here a list of the latest activities and performances, in Chinese.

June 20 2:30pm-3.30pm: Dramatic performance in the theater
Until July 25th : Making scented satchets for the Dragon Boat Festival; making windmills; and decorating cookies

I apologise for the limited details but I just got back from NZ and am still trying to catch up on other work!

Read this for general English information.

Taichung Parents Google Group/Parenting Group

From the creator of this group in Taichung:

A new Google Group has been created called Taichung Parents.
Here is the description:

This group was created to provide expatriate and Taiwanese parents and families with opportunities to network and share information about living in Taichung with their children.

The further aim of this group is to provide a space where parents can discuss issues related to prenatal health, childbirth, child development and child-rearing, education and all things related to parents and kids in Taichung.

It is our hope that this group can become a center around which parents will organize real-time social activities for themselves and their children in Taichung.

We have 47 families signed up so far [at time of writing - May, 2010].

If you are interested, request an invitation.


2010 International Children's Folklore & Folkgame Festival, Ilan

The 2010 International Children's Folklore and Folkgame Festival should be one of the highlights of a child-oriented summer.

The event will run from July 3rd to August 15th at Dongshan River Forest Park.

From the TRA site (above):
In order to celebrate the arrival of 2010 International Children's Folklore & Folkgame Festival, Shangrila Boutique Hotel recently has introduced an exclusive “I Love Children’s Folklore and Folkgame” accommodation package promotion. This accommodation package starting from NT$1,900 per person includes one night at a delicate suite, breakfast, Lanyang-flavored dinner, Children's Folklore & Folkgame Festival entrance tickets, DIY Aiyu making activity, free bike rental service, hot spring SPA, home theatre and other recreational facilities. For further details, please welcome to contact Shangrila Boutique Hotel directly. (Photo provided by Shangrila Boutique Hotel)

Here is an interesting article about the festival and the organisers.

I am still trying to find the official website for the event lists etc.  Any readers who might have more information, please leave a link in a comment!

**We made to the event today (August 12th).  It is $250 per adult, preschoolers free, kids $150.  Car parking $50.  Storage of large items $100, lockers $50.
We spent NINE HOURS there, and even though we did a couple of extra things (boat ride $200 for three of us, DIY activity $50 each, bought food and drink), you really don't need to spend anything else if you take a picnic with you.  The water area is huge, and suitable for all ages.  There is a really cool indoor water area that my son described as a RAIN STORM, lots of water spraying and paddling and bouncing around, plus very loud music suitable for a party of this size.  There are shows going all day long.  We saw a wonderful Bolivian group, so good that I bought their CD, and we didn't even get to watch the shows on the big stage right at the end of the park, past the water area.  There is a magic hall, which we went into twice, hands-on toy area (indoor), a wonderful indoor playarea with climbing frame, ballpool etc, puzzle and game area, 22km of riverside track, bikes for hire, a suspension bridge, lots of grassy area, food and drink for sale, ferry to take, either a round trip or get off and visit the center for traditional toys and arts (need to buy entrance ticket for that)... it was really busy even on a Monday, so I imagine weekends are crazy. Get there early, enjoy the water and get out of the sun for the middle of the day.  We will definitely be back!

Dongshan River Park site (says it's open till 10pm in summer, which is perfect as it was lovely after 4pm)

Five Loaves Two Fish Bookstore, Kaohsiung

I read about this "comfortable reading space for children" in Air New Zealand's in-flight magazine.  On their homepage, they are advertising summer camp, from July 5th through to the end of August.  Website is all in Chinese.

No. 148-96, Guanghua First Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City
Tel: 07-2231999



Taipei Water Park - Museum, swimming, hiking

Located just five-minutes' walk from Gong Guan MRT station (behind the Gong Guan market), this is a great place to take kids of all ages.  The park itself is really big.  There is an interactive museum, hiking trail up to Taipei's first water reservoir, flower gardens, and of course water play areas.  You can learn all about the history and science of water in Taipei, or just enjoy a dip in the pools.

Area One: at Shu-Yuan Road side of the park
This is run in conjunction with the water park. At the entrance, there is one free paddling pool that is very shallow.  You can go in this one in your clothes if you like, and you can use any water toys you have.  It's a nice little place for kids to cool off.  Just past this area is the larger paddling pool.  Entrance is 40nt for kids and 80nt for adults.  You need swimsuits in this area.  You can take any water toys you like in there to play with.  There is a climbing frame and slide in the middle of the pool.  It can get pretty hot as there is no shelter over the pool, so it's good to take sunhats to wear in the pool.  Snacks are available.

Area Two: Ding-Jou Road side of the park
This is run separately from the water park.  Entrance fee is 250 per adult, 150 for children 120cm or below.  This is a huge swimming club, with indoor and outdoor areas, water slides, inner tubes for rent, steam rooms and spa area...  Here is a link to some pictures:

The English website is very comprehensive, so I won't bother going into too much detail here.  Please check the opening dates, times, and fees before you go, as they are a little complicated.  One of the best things about this park is it's easy to access, with MRT, lots of buses, and plenty of carparking right in the park itself.


JImi's skateshop offers free weekend classes every Saturday and Sunday From 3pm to 6pm at Chung Shan Hall at Shi Min Ding.  If you call them early, they can supply free skateboards for you.  My son joined his classes last year, when he was four years old, and was welcome there.  They are a really nice bunch of young people.  When we attended, a few of the others there spoke really good English, including one teenager who had just moved over from the US.

Jimi's Skateshop has a large range of Taiwan-made and imported skateboards, and skateboard-related clothing and accessories.
Store:  Guan Fu South Road Lane 346 No. 23 Tel 02-2731-1413 - opens about 12 noon
Tel for enrolment for classes: 02-2731-1413
Email: tree@jetsunny.com

Weekend session address: Chung Shan Hall, at Shi Men MRT station Exit 4


Chung Shan Community Sports Center - indoor kiddies' pool

The Chung Shan sports center behind the Chungshan MRT station (Chung Shan North Road Sec 2, Lane 42, about 3 lanes behind Idee Dept store on the north-west side of chungshan/nanking intersection) has a nice pool, with kid's pool, etc. I have seen their swimming coaches teaching little tots to swim, they seem really patient and professional, the kids were laughing and having fun with all the stuff.  When I last visited, their "family change room" is just behind a plastic rolling door next to the pool,  and they can be strict with their "no boys over 5 years in the ladies' changing room" rule.

Wan Fang Community Pool - shaded outdoor pool

Wanfang Community Pool is an outdoor pool with sun cover. It has a kid's pool but parents will need to get in with little ones as it is not a paddling pool. There is a very wide slide into the water that is open at limited times during the day.  You need swimming caps and swimsuits (not beach shorts). They sell drinks and Chinese snacks like instant noodles, but best to bring your own snacks. You can buy some swim toys if you need them. There is a 7-11 just up the road from the pool.  The showers are pretty basic, just be prepared for that. The pool area itself is quite good for families.

Address in Chinese:

萬和街2號(萬芳公園內) Wan-he Street No. 2 (Part of Wanfang Park), Muzha

You can take the MRT (zoo line) to Wanfang Community stop. Come out of the exit. Face the hill in front of you. That road is Wan-he Street. It's maybe a five-minute walk up the hill, less if you don't have kids with you. The pool is on the right, part way up the windy road.

Cost is low, about 50twd for kids and 100tw for adults.
It's fairly easy to find on-street parking near the pool.

Fu Yuan Pool - Indoor and Outdoor Pools

May 1st is the start of the outdoor swimming pool season! It's time to take the kids out with their swimsuits, sunscreen and of course swimming caps.

Fu Yuan is a great pool to go to in summer, particularly early mornings and later in the afternoon. It can get a little hot around noon-time if you want to use the huge children's pool. There is an outdoor kids' pool, indoor lap pool, and indoor spa areas. Changing rooms are fairly basic but there are showers and toilets. Entry is very reasonable, at around 50nt for children and 100nt for adults.

The pool is on FuYuan St.which runs between MinQhuan E.Rd Sec 5 and MinSheng Rd Sec. 5. Right next to MinSheng Jr. High School 民生國中.

You can take bus 225 to the pool.

Juming Museum Kids’ Festival – POSE!

123-Statue! April 3-May 30

Parent-Child Activity at the Dance/Activity Studio

Limited to 20 pairs (one child 6-12 yrs, one adult), from 2:30 to 3:30pm, mix art and physical activity.

$390 for each child (includes materials, museum entrance fee, plus lunch at kids’ restaurant)
Adult entrance extra
Dates: 4/18, 5/9, 5/16, 5/30

Art Activity Room

Every Saturday and Sunday from 3pm to 4pm, there are activities teaching the five senses.

Storytime for 4 to 6 year olds: What fell down?

Every Saturday and Sunday 1:30 to 2:pm at the kids’ restaurant

Address: No. 2, She-shi-hu, Chin-shan, Taipei, Taiwan

Tel: 02-24989940

Website: http://www.juming.org.tw

Concert for Little Ones June

National Symphony Orchestra Age 0-6 Programming “Baby Do Re Mi”

June 19 9:30am&11:30am

National Chung-Cheng Cultural Center’s National Music Hall  (CKS Memorial Hall)

Tel: (02)3393-9888

Price: 100/person

These shows are very popular. You need to book early.


Da An Sports Center

As part of my ongoing "research", I visited the Da An Sports Center swimming pool with my three-year-old daughter today.  This is probably the newest of the centers at time of writing.  They have some great deals right now, such as 30% discount on swimming classes for children if you enrol this month, and swimming entry price just TWD50 instead of the listed TWD90 per adult.

There are two main pools in the building, as well as a water spa area.  The water spa area is surrounded by glass, giving it a more  "outdoor" feel.  The first pool is maybe 10 lanes.  There is a chair for zero-entry into the pool.  The second pool is smaller, and is the "children's" pool.

This children's pool is not exactly a children's pool.  It is about 15 meters long, five lanes across.  At the shallow end it is 70cm deep, and at the deep end it is 110cm deep.  The great thing about this set-up is, the smaller pool is dedicated to swim instruction and practice, keeping learners and dedicated swimmers separate, and allowing me to actually teach my daughter some swim techniques.  However, it's important to be aware that there is no very shallow area for little ones to just play around.  If your children are very small, this pool is probably not so well-suited to your needs, but it is wonderful for those say three to twelve years who want to learn how to swim in a nice, calm environment.  Like all pools in Taiwan, you need a swimcap.  There are extra armbands at poolside, but no other flotation devices are available at the moment.

The new sports center has a roller blading rink for use at 150/person/time, a nice little  indoor play area for free use, and the usual gym setup.  There doesn't seem to be any convenience store or coffee shop inside the building.  Parking is in the basement.  The carparks all wider than the average Taipei carpark, and the charge is TWD30/hr.

Website: http://dasc.cyc.org.tw/

Address: Hsin Hai Road Sec 3, No. 55 (Just south of the Keelung/Hsin-Hai intersection)

Hours: 6am-10pm daily


Da Tong Sports Center

I haven't been here yet, but the pictures of the kids' pool on the website has me excited!

Address: 臺北市大同區大龍街51號 Da-tong District, Da-Long Street, No. 15

Website (Chinese): http://taipeidt.com/


Gold Ecological Park - Learn About Gold Mining History of Taiwan

We recently visited this ecological park/museum, and I rate it as one of the most successful historical sites I have been to in Taiwan, and 100% child-friendly and appropriate.

Situated just "past" (on the coastal side) of Jiufen, you can get here by bus or car.  If you drive, you can park in the No. 1 carpark, which right by the entrance, or drive over to the No. 2 entrance, and enjoy a beautiful paved and flat scenic walk behind the temple to the entrance.  (DO NOT pay $100 to park your car and then walk up the steep slope to the museum, like I almost did!)  On the way, you can go to the WWII POW building, where British soldiers were kept and made to work in the goldmine, the POW memorial, or even walk up Teapot Mountain.

This year (2010), entrance to the park is free, but the entrance is really reasonable (150 per adult) should you have to pay.  For 50TWD you can go into the remodelled Shaft No. 2, and I highly recommend that walk.  With recordings, simulations of mine workers, and very safe walkway construction, it's a worthwhile experience for even little kids.

In the gold building, you can learn all about the history of mine, discover some Taiwan history, see a recording of the Danish scientist's melting of his Nobel Prize medal during World War II, touch a record-breaking gold bullion, and enjoy looking at some beautiful jewelry. (My kids watched that video of the scientist four times!)  It's really all hands-on and kids are made to feel welcome.
There is a beautiful Japanese building that was built for a Japanese prince who was supposed to visit during WWII, Japanese gardens, nice little gift shop, simple restaurants and a cafe.

My children (ages six and four) loved this entire adventure.  We spent about four hours exploring the park, and then drove down to the coast before returning to Taipei.  Next time I have overseas guests, I will skip Jiufen and take them to this park.
The English (and Japanese) website is comprehensive.

Website: http://www.gep-en.tpc.gov.tw/econtent/about/about.asp
Hours: Tues-Fri 9:30am-5pm; Sat/Sun 9:30am-6pm
Map and Address: http://www.gep-en.tpc.gov.tw/econtent/travel/travel.asp

Buying English books in Taiwan

Generally speaking, English books in Taiwan are expensive and don't always cater to the needs of expat families.  There are two great places to shop, though:

Cherry Valley Bookstore : Operating in Tienmu near Taipei American School as well as online, Cherry Valley Books is run by an expat dad and Taiwanese mom.  They endeavour to supply reasonably priced books, including periodic sales of secondhand books they bring in from abroad.

Book Depository : With free shipping offered worldwide, this is a great option for buying books online. It works out cheaper than amazon, and means you don't have pressure to buy more than that one book you need. Book Depository is growing fast, and they have a really nice selection of books if you are looking to supplement your child's English reading and education.


Travel In Taiwan Magazine - English information for your reference

Travel In Taiwan is a multi-lingual magazine that boasts in-depth articles on areas of interest in Taiwan.  Whilst not specifically written for families, it is a good read, and you might find some real gems within the pages of the magazine.


National Taiwan Museum

Situated right by 228 Park (Taipei Station area), and with an entrance of 20TWD for adults, and 10TWD for children, this museum is one of my favorites in Taiwan.  You can learn all about Taiwan, its people, history, nature, and science, in a beautiful building with a history all its own.  They have elevators between floors and large, clean bathrooms.

The museum is in four parts:
  • Main museum
  • Outdoor area
  • Research building
  • New branch, across the road in the bank building.
Taiwan Museum's English site is user-friendly and comprehensive.  Here is a link to the Q&A section.  You can find your way around from there.


Garden Mall - flower market, DIY area, artspace, coffeeshops all-in-one

We recently attended a wedding at Garden Mall's banquet hall.  This space is a new and exciting discovery for me.  It is a very nicely laid-out flowermarket with outdoor spaces, DIY activities, art-inspired exhibits, and outdoor coffeeshops, all right on Yenping North Road in Shilin District of Taipei.  This is a very nice, safe area for young children, as all the flooring is wooden, and there are no cars driving through the activity areas.  They have herb-flavored ice-cream and teas for sale, as well as little craft items.

The official website does not seem to be working, but you can search "gardenmall" and get some links that work (Chinese).  There are some private blogs introducing the area, but they have many pictures and may take time to upload.

Entrance to the Garden Mall is free. There is carparking right in the complex.  Cost is 30TWD per hour to a maximum of 300TWD.

Address: Taipei City, Shi-Lin District, Yen-Ping North Road, Sec 7, No. 18-2
Tel: 02-2810-1969

Buses: Red 10, 215, 246, 536

Wan-Hua Sports Center - Child-friendly pool & center

Situated in Shimending, Wan-Hua Sports Center is one of the newer sports facilities in Taipei City. 

The swimming  pool is really nice for families to go to.  The children's pool is up to 90cm deep and is long enough to actually have kids practice swimming in if you would like.  They also have a small waterspa/sauna area and a 6-lane pool.  The changing rooms are large, clean, and have hot water, although you do need to supply your own soap and shampoo.  There is a zero-entry pool lane option, with wheelchair access right to the poolside, where you then transfer to a seat that lowers into the water.  They have regular group swim classes for children including a swim club with a real training kind of feel to it. Pool cost is 110TWD for adults, 80TWD for students, and 50TWD for children under 12years.

The center has a very large padded area on the 1st floor for children to run and play in.  Parents can get a coffee at Ikari and then enjoy it at tables while they watch their kids play inside the playroom.  The room is free to use.

There is also a climbing wall, paintball area, golf range, tabletennis, basketball, gym, dance room, spinning (bike) classes, and other areas and activities to join in the building.  There is a small soccer field out front complete with nets, and a park next to the building.

Address:  Shi-Ning South Road No.6-1 (near the National Tax Office in Shimending) - Easy to get to by MRT or bus, with underground parking for vehicles up to 2m high.
Tel: 02-23818878
Website: http://whsc.cyc.org.tw/


Master Football Academy

I can't believe I forgot about this group of expat coaches and their soccer program.  I am hoping their schedule works for my son in First Grade.  Their English-language website is fairly comprehensive: http://mfa.tw/


Taipei Fire Dept Fire Safety Museum

When I was teaching preschool, we visited this museum several times.  It is very well setup for teaching children and adults about safety in case of fire or earthquake, as well as fire prevention.  The museum has been closed for some time but recently reopened.  You have to join a guided tour, and children under four cannot take part in the interactive activities.

Official website (English): http://3d.tfd.gov.tw/f_about_e.asp

Address: No. 376, Sec. 2 Cheng-gong Rd., Neihu District, Taipei City, Taiwan(R.O.C.)
Opening Times: 9:00 am-12:00pm, 2:00pm-5:00pm (Tues-Sun)
Tel: 02-2791-9786

Lantern Festival Article

I wrote this for another site but as it is not being used, I didn't want it to go to waste.

The Lantern Festival by Katrina Brown

The Lantern Festival is held on the 15 day of the Lunar New Year (Feb 28 in 2010), to celebrate the birthday of the God of Heaven. In Taiwan, there are many activities you can attend to celebrate the festival. Local temples will hold celebrations, and you can also attend these three popular events: Taipei Lantern Festival; Pingshi Lantern Festival; and Yan Shui Fireworks Festival.

Between February 26 and March 3, the Taipei Lantern Festival will be held around Taipei City Hall and Sun-Yet Sen Memorial Hall. There will be a laser and sound show, where the main lantern (this year is a tiger) will be lit up. The Taipei Lantern Festival is very popular and can get crowded.

Pingshi, outside Taipei, is the site of the release of traditional paper lanterns. One story goes, that the Han inhabitants of the remote area were often under attack, and the released lanterns to let “help” know they were there. Pingshi has become a very popular site for celebrating the Lantern Festival. People get lanterns and write messages of luck and hope on them, and then release them into the night sky. This event is one not to be missed during your stay in Taiwan.

For the more adventurous, there is the rather exciting YanShui Fireworks Display, or " beehive of fireworks". This event is a religion-based one. In the late 1900’s, Tainan County’s YanShui suffered 20 years of plague. The townspeople called upon the diety Kuan Kung and the dieties of Heaven to help. The townspeople released firecrackers along the road to guide Kuan Kung through their town. After the event, the plague was gone from YanShui. From then on, every year at the time of the Lantern festival, the townspeople invite Kuan Kung back and guide him through the town. The event lasts all night. You are advised to wear full protective clothing including a full-face helmet, as fireworks are shot into the crowds.

On a gentler note, people at home will worship, share a family meal and then eat rice balls; either “Yuan Hsiao”(rolled on bamboo) or “Tang Yuan” (rolled in the hand), depending on the custom of the area. The rice balls represent family unity, which is the overall theme of Chinese New Year and its surrounding celebrations.


Kenting: Yoho Landis

This resort is set up to cater for children and families, with a "Club Med" kind of feel.  There are camp buddies, activities, child rooms, swimming and play pools, and family-friendly restaurants.  I stayed here about ten years ago, and at the time thought it was relaxing but a little cheesy.  I have read some pretty good reviews of the new setup on other expats' blogs recently, and the hotel's site has a good overview of the resort.



Yoho Landis Beach Resort
27-8,Wan-Li Road,
Hengchun Town,
Pingtung County 946,

Tel: (886-8) 886-9999 (886-8) 886-9999
Fax: (886-8) 886-9998