Self-promotion: new anthology of Taiwan Stories on Amazon

Last week, I became a published author, in an anthology of eight stories.

This collection is a mix of genres including fantasy, speculative fiction, and romance. I have been involved the entire process and I am proud of the result. It is a book for adults.

Please take a look, download the sample, buy if you like it, and share with friends. Leave a review on Amazon or comment here. Writers need feedback from readers!


5th Anniversary of Red Room - Huge Afternoon and Evening Event

Join us in celebrating the Red Room's 5th anniversary!

11/15, 1-9pm
華山文創園區舉辦 中館3-1
Huashan Creative Park, Zhong Guan 3-1 Warehouse

八德路一段1號, Taipei, Taiwan
No.1, Sec. 1, Bade Road, Taipei

In celebration of all the kind, magical artistry and the quirky, warm souls that have joined together through these past 5 years to support and continuously create the Red Room, we will be celebrating our anniversary on November 15th, 2014.

The anniversary will be held at the Huashan Cultural Park from 1-9 pm. Beginning with Stage Time & Juice activities in the early afternoon, we will follow up with four bands performing live music with food and drink on offer. An R4 production will launch the evening and the rest of the night will follow with a Stage Time & Wine session.

在如此多樣化種類的活動、充滿神奇藝術性、又加入離奇的氣氛、同時不忘了溫馨的心靈,我們和一路支持我們的朋友,齊聚一堂慶祝紅房五週年生日。我們會在 11/15 慶祝週年日。

這 次週年生日會在華山文創園區舉辦,從 1pm - 9pm,從 Stage Time & Juice 下午青年活動,一路到四個現場表演團體演出伴隨著飲料和食物提供。而紅房新廣播劇場也會帶來夜晚表演活動,一直到揭開 Stage Time & Wine 活動。


1:00 pm -3:00 pm Stage Time & Juice
Children are invited to our multicultural platform where they can listen to stories, share their talents and learn from creative-minded people. Come take a seat, sip some juice and share with the Stage Time and Juice family.

Children’s Activities including 蕭爾呈 magician, puppet show, poetry, music and dance.

3:30pm – 6:00 pm Music Bands Performance 音樂團表演

Future Lands (String Quartet)
Young David 青春大衛
Red Cliff
6:10 to 7:00 pm Red Room Radio Redux performance 紅房新廣播劇場表演
“The world is made up of two classes—the hunters and the prey.”

7:30 pm – 9:00 pm Stage Time & Wine
STW is a monthly spoken word event hosted by the Red Room. We meet to sit and listen, beyond language, to what is around us, to the one sharing. We also meet to be heard.
Stage Time & Wine session will be open for registration via this link (http://goo.gl/forms/V7LyMU7egB) or on the Red Room Facebook page.


日期: 11 月 15 日。
地點:華山文創園區,中館 3-1。
時間:1pm - 9pm
在 11/5 前預購門票每張 NT$350。(http://www.accupass.com/go/redroom5)
門口售成人票每張 NT$400。兒童票十二歲以下 NT$300
門票會包含飲料與一份輕食,吃喝將由 Alchemist Superfoods 和 Ron Bar + Cafe 提供, Lutetia, JB’s Diner。

Ticket info:
Pre-register here before November 5, 2014, NT$350 each. (http://www.accupass.com/go/redroom5)
At the door, NT$ 400 per Adult. NT$300 per child under 12 yrs.
Ticket price includes one free drink and one light snack. Food and drink provided by Alchemist Superfoods, Ron Bar + Cafe, Lutetia and JB's Diner


Mandarin Books for Kids - I Finally Chose Good!

I've been slower than a tortoise when it comes to finding fun, inspiring books for my children that are written Mandarin.

Last week, I finally got up the courage to ask the young man at Hess Bookstore, "What do you read?  What do you recommend as reading for my children, who love reading, if it is not in Mandarin?"

I invested some money in a few titles from different series.  This included the Kano 3-comic set, books introducing local and international geography and history in interesting ways, and poems and stories by one of Taiwan's favorite children's poets.

My kids devoured every single one of the books you see in these photos, and are waiting for me to earn enough money to complete the sets. I photographed them so you can simply show this post to people in your local bookstore or library.  I will try to get a list of titles and authors together, but I am so excited by my own discoveries, I want to post this up right away, even with a sideways photograph.


Vocal Lesson Recommendation: Sean Wong (Taipei)

It seems I am raising a future blogger.  My son wrote this concise recommendation for his vocal coach: http://cubscouterblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/seans-singing-class/

As a mom of a boy who loves to perform, I am feeling extremely grateful for the opportunities that have come by our family this year.  One big spin-off from my son's role in Zeelandia is the connections we made here in Taipei.  Kyle's lessons with Sean Wong is one very good example. Sean is great with kids. He treats them as young professionals. He sets high standards and lets them take part in the decision-making process.

You can contact Sean directly for more information. He teaches children and adults.  info@seancswong.com

Sean's music website for reference: http://www.seancswong.com/


My article featured in Taiwan Ho! Summer Activities for Families in Taipei

Dedicated readers of my blog will have most of this information already. It's still a good read, and you can discover some other interesting tidbits on the website, too:


Stage Time and Juice: Summer Magic - Kids' Open mic/Family Performance Space

Take a break from the summer heat and join us at the coolest kid-event in town! Once again it's open-mic time for those brave kids or parents who would like to read or tell a story or poem, perform a song or dance to their classmates, playmates and peers alike.

If you are not ready to take the stage, then be a part of the audience and watch the magic unfold.

We request that smaller children be accompanied by their parents while watching.

Stage Time and Juice 是一個新的紅房(Red room)社群與 Taipei City Playgroup 所舉辦的活動,活動主要用意為鼓勵孩子們步入創意探索的道路。 活動主要以英文進行,受邀參加的孩子們,可以有機會聆聽許多故事,分享彼此天賦才能及創意想法。倒點果汁,隨意找個座位坐下,和我們果汁家庭成員們一同學 習,一同分享這個多元化的平台。 在櫃台會有報名表,讓勇敢的小朋友們可以登記上台朗讀、分享藝術、玩音樂或者講故事。


What to bring:

A juice or savory snack of your choice. Be creative and try to bring something that adds to the theme!

Your own drinking vessel: The Red Room is a green environment. If not, you are encouraged to buy one of our awesome, groovy bamboo mugs and have our fabulous artists paint it for you. It will remain forever, yours and yours alone (true love).

If necessary, bring a fluffy pillow to increase the level of comfort, since floor seating is all that's provided.

給 所有支持贊助的父母們: 請隨意帶果汁或喜歡的點心,當您抵達社群時即可將其放置於吧台,供大家自由分享取用。 紅房(Red room)社群關心綠色環保議題,所以來時候可以考慮在現場購買一個我們引以為傲的竹杯子,讓我們卓越的藝術家幫您在上面繪畫,之後它將是永久的屬於您個 人的,並存放於社群,又或者您也可以攜帶自己的環保杯。 當然最重要,您也可以帶靠枕來讓享受聆聽過程更舒適。我們的地板非常的乾淨可以席地而坐。

Address: 2F., No. 117, Sec. 1, Da'an Rd., Taipei City 106 (above the Aveda Third Place salon, entrance from alleyway on side)
點在:台北市大安區大安路一段 117 號 2 樓。Aveda 沙龍樓上。
Tel: 電話 02-27714795
Map(地圖): https://www.google.com.tw/maps/place/106台北市大安區大安路一段117號/@25.0394719,121.5462694,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x3442abd05b336311:0x373072a32cf80710?hl=zh-TW

Contribution Fee:

200NTD (1 parent with accompanying child), 50NTD per additional family member regardless of age.

200NTD per adult

Saturday, July 19, 2014
2:30pm to 4:30pm




PM2:30 至PM4:30


About Taipei City Playgroup:

Taipei City Playgroup has been connecting English-speaking families in Taipei since 2002. With no fees, no obligations and no restrictions, this informal, casual playgroup meets on Thursday mornings at various locations around Taipei City, and holds annual Christmas parties, Easter picnics and Halloween Trick-or-Treat parades, as well as publishes The Awesome Playgroup News, a child-produced newspaper that encourages English literacy. Members number over 400, and include parents with Taiwanese partners and families from all over the world, who may be new to Taiwan or new to parenting. Attending Taipei City Playgroup events are a wonderful way for families to connect and share information about parenting in Taiwan, and for children to find new playmates.

關於 Taipei City Playgroup: Taipei City Playgroup 這個社群從 2002 年成立至今,一直以來,提供了在台灣許多說英語家庭們之間,保持聯繫的組織平台。一般於星期四上午,社群會在台北市各個不同地點,舉辦非正式的休閒遊戲小 聚會,參加者無須付費,沒 有義務,也沒有任何限制。同時社群也會舉辦年度聖誕、復活節野餐和萬聖節”不給糖,就搗蛋”的活動。另外也發行精彩的 Playgroup 新聞,是完全由孩子們合力發行的報紙來激勵孩童接觸英語文學。目前社群已有超過 400 位成員,包含台灣及其外國配偶,或夫妻皆來自世界各地,也許剛新到台灣,也許剛當上新手爸媽的父母們。來參加 Taipei City Playgroup 活動是一個與其它家庭連結並分享父母心得最佳的機會,同時也讓孩子們找到新玩伴。


Co-Founders | Ping Chu 朱平 • Ayesha Mehta • Red Room Coordinator | Manav Mehta • Translation | Edward Chiang • Online Presence | Roma Mehta • Assistant Coordinator | Disha Patel

RED ROOM www.redroom.com.tw

肯夢 AVEDA Lapostolle 非零Non Zero Ripplemaker Foundation

Submit Your Child's Work to the Awesome Playgroup News!

This upcoming issue will feature the theme "What I like to Make."

As always, we welcome any other stories, poems, cartoons, word games, or artwork. Submissions from all children around Taiwan are accepted. "What kids like to make" can be anything at all, from the very simple daily task to complex, longterm project. Getting published in this paper/e-paper is a great way to have your kids feel good about their activities, and their ability to contribute to a shared publication. Families can also join the editing meeting and work on putting on the paper together. This is a fun way to show children you value English as a communication tool, and you see their ability to work in a production team.

Our last edition can be seen here:http://www.youblisher.com/p/871969-Awesome-Playgroup-News-Spring-2014/

We also welcome sponsorship through advertising. Our community rate is this: NT100 gets you a full-color ad, 1/16 of an A3 page...multiple spaces or half-pages also available. Sponsors also get a complimentary copy (NT25 value, so as you can see, sponsorship could cost you less than a Starbucks latte!) and also make us feel loved and supported.

Sponsorships help defray printing costs and also contribute to making more fun and meaningful activities for Taipei Cityplaygroup.

Deadline is midnight, Sunday, July 13. EXTENDED a week!

Submissions and interested advertisers email to cyao_at_tig.com.tw.


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/


[May 24-June 8, 2014] English-language Musical about Taiwan's History: Zeelandia - Return to Formosa

I'm not sure I've ever seen a musical about the history of Taiwan, all in English, at least before this one.  I've been lucky enough to see the show's development over recent weeks, and I am really excited about seeing the live performances.  I absolutely love the songs. The story is also told very well, with lots of sub-plot to keep the audience engaged.

There is a little bit of innuendo during one scene, but it is a necessary part of the story. I didn't have a problem with my seven and nine year old children seeing the scene, but if you are particularly conservative, I would recommend the show for children aged ten and up.  It is also quite a long one, at about 2 1/2 hours.  There is lots of song, dance, and humor to keep children occupied, and my seven-year-old keeps asking when we can go to rehearsal again, even after four nights of watching the show. 


Summary of story:

Taiwan's original English musical, Zeelandia - Return to Formosa. A story of a young lieutenant of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) returning to Zeelandia in search of his roots and home. It brings the audience back to 17th century Formosa, when Fort Anping was then called "Fort Zeelandia". It is a tale of forbidden love, tragedy, redemption, and reconciliation.

More detail:
My son and his Siyaran father, rehearsing.

It's the 17th century, an age of great exploration.
A young Dutch officer on a journey in search of his father.

In an era of naval supremacy, the search for home begins thousands of miles across the ocean.
Zealandia – Return to Formosa, is the first ever attempt to present 17th Century Tainan in the form of a Broadway musical. This is a collaboration between Jeffery Dunn, the seasoned New York director of West Side Story along with the authors of this heart warming original story, and actors from Taiwan and abroad. The story begins with the search for self recognition. With impassioned conflicts and gentle love, you will feel the embrace of home again. Zeelandia – Return to Formosa narrates the return to the core spirit of the people. Enjoy a wonderful feast for the senses.
Based on a Libretto by Norman Szabo & Music by Derek Lin
NTCH Ticketing System in Chinese here.  You can still get NTD600 tickets in  Tainan. The lower-priced seats in Taipei are all sold out already!

5/24- 25 Tainan
6/06- 08 Taipei

2014/05/24 (六)19:30 臺南文化中心演藝廳 Saturday May 24, 7:30pm Tainan
2014/05/25 (日)19:30 臺南文化中心演藝廳 Sunday May 25, 7:30pm Tainan 2014/06/06 (五)19:30 台北市社教館城市舞台 Friday, June 6, 7:30pm, Taipei 2014/06/07 (六)14:30 台北市社教館城市舞台 Saturday, June 7, 2:30pm, Taipei 2014/06/07 (六)19:30 台北市社教館城市舞台 Saturday, June 7, 7:30pm, Taipei 2014/06/08 (日)14:30 台北市社教館城市舞台 Sunday, June 8, 2:30pm, Taipei

Tainan Address: Tainan Municipal Cultural Center, Address: No.332, Sec. 3, Jhonghua E. Rd., East District, Tainan City 701, Taiwan (R.O.C.) TEL:06-2692864 FAX:06-2897913 (Map to location here.)

Taipei Address: Taipei Cultural Center, Address: No.25, Sec. 3, Bade Rd., Songshan Dist., Taipei City 10554, TEL:(02)2577-5931 FAX:(02)2577-9310 (Map to location: http://english.tmseh.taipei.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=107740&CtNode=9135&mp=119052


Book Review: The Phenomenals:A tangle of traitors

My son (9), loves to read.  He would like to share some of his recent favorites with parents who are choosing books. Here is his first book review on my blog.  I am pleased to see him using the computer for constructive activities, such as typing this all by himself.

The Phenomenals:A tangle of traitors

by F.E. Higgins

reviewed by kyle

A metal-handed cutpurse and expert picklock go to a strange town, and meets three other people. They become the Phenomenals, and try to save a town from lurids - a kind of living dead that wants to be freed from a tar pit-because an evil person freed one of them. Also, this is a series, and I can't wait to read the next book, A gaggle of ghouls.

Book Review on Binky Blog: Calm and Compassionate Children

First of all a big shout out to Leonie, who has been working hard on the Grateful Project, the Grateful Salons, and now the uplifting collaborative blog Binky.

Leonie is looking for people to share their thoughts on books that promote gratitude in adults and children.  I was excited to share my review of the book Calm and Compassionate Children - A Handbook.

So, jump on over to Binky and be part of the happiness.


[April 27, 2014, 1:30pm] R4 Presents Treasure Island - A Live Radio Play for the Family (Shilin)

Here is the official description of this lively presentation happening at the "In memory of Lee ko-yung" Library in Shilin. (Address information at the bottom of this post.)  This show is a delightful version suitable for children, and is guaranteed to get them inspired by live performances and readings.  
This is a free showing.  Seats are limited to just over 100.  The theater is lovely.  Food and drink is not permitted inside the theater. The show is just around an hour long.

Press Release
RED ROOM RADIO REDUX will present a staged radio-theater-style production of TREASURE ISLAND, the Robert Louis Stevenson classic story of pirates and buried treasure, for two performances on Sunday April 27 at 1:30 PM at the new branch of the Taipei Public Library near Shilin Summer Residence.
Treasure Island is the tale of young Jim Hawkins, who sets sail as a cabin boy on the Hispaniola, on a voyage in search of treasure hidden on a faraway island. In the course of his adventures, he comes across a motley assortment of devious seaman, including the infamous buccaneer Long John Silver.
The R4 performance of Treasure Island will be in English, in an adaptation that draws extensively on the original language of the story. It will be presented as a radio-style staged reading in which the actors use voice, characterization and gesture, as well as live sound effects and music, to recreate the story in the minds of the audience. R4 is dedicated to this unique style of performance, a type of “theater of the imagination,” as a means for sharing great works of literature and to promote a culture of live storytelling and creative listening. R4’s repertoire includes: Macbeth, The War of the Worlds, Dracula and A Christmas Carol. In addition to live performances, the group has produced and broadcast voice dramas in partnership with ICRT-FM100.
This production of Treasure Island will appeal to adults as well as children aged 8 and up.
Red Room Radio Redux is affiliated with Stage Time & Wine @ the Red Room. The group is sponsored by the Ripplemaker Foundation. For more about “spoken word” events sponsored by the Red Room, go to www.redroomtaipei.com.

紅坊廣播劇場會帶來舞台電台戲劇風格的演出金銀島,是羅伯特·路易斯·史蒂文森經典海盜藏寶故事,星期日演出時段,4/27, PM1:30
金銀島是一個青年賀詹姆(Jim Hawkins)的故事,從伊斯帕尼奧拉島揚帆啟程,在航程中找尋隱藏在遙遠島嶼的寶藏。在冒險的過程中,他遇到一群狡猾奸詐混雜的航海人,包含了最有名的海盜,單腳西渥弗(Long John Silver)
紅坊廣播劇場會用英文演出金銀島,從原語的方式帶出延伸的效果。會用電台的效果來呈現每一位角色的說 詞,個性特色和手勢比劃,搭配著現場聲音效果以及配樂,重新帶出原始故事的感覺給觀眾們。紅坊廣播劇場要將這樣獨特的表演方式,一種戲劇的想像的方式獻給 觀眾,透過分享偉大文學巨作和表達文化特色的現場說故事效果。先前表演過馬克白、世界大戰和聖誕頌歌。會有額外的現場表演,會將聲音的劇情和電台 ICRT 一同播出。
金銀島演出適合大人到 8 歲以上小孩。會有個簡單的詩詞作為開場,來自路易斯·卡羅爾的愛麗絲夢遊仙境。會將音樂和聲音強化,來優化重述史蒂文森的知名故事。
紅坊廣播劇場是一個附屬於 Stage Time & Wine 活動,紅房社群 Red Room 的演出群組,贊助單位有漣漪人基金會。妳可以在 Red Room 的網站找尋 "Spoken word"。網址是:http://www.redroomtaipei.com.tw

Here is the sypnosis of the story. You can also find some dramatisations on You Tube.
TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson

adapted for radio drama by Ignatz Ratzkywazky

for Red Room Radio Redux

Treasure Island, by Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, is the 18th century tale of young Jim Hawkins, who sets sail as a cabin boy on the Hispaniola, on a voyage in search of treasure hidden on a faraway island. In the course of his harrowing adventures, he comes across a motley assortment of devious seaman: Bill Bones, Black Dog, Old Blind Pew, Ben Gunn and that most notorious pirate of all, the one-legged Long John Silver, with the ever-present chattering parrot on his shoulder. Along the way, Jim uncovers the crew’s plot of mutiny, comes face to face with their greedy and bloodthirsty tricks, and helps to rescue the ship as well as the stash of buried gold.
The story is told by Jim as an adult, looking back on his youthful, daring adventure. We begin by finding young Jim at home with his mother at the Admiral Benbow Inn, where the boy meets his first shadowy buccaneer, Bill Bones, and unknowingly comes into possession of an old treasure map…a map that everyone is after...
金銀島,由蘇格蘭小說家羅伯特·路易斯·史蒂文森著。背景自十八世紀青年賀詹姆(Jim Hawkins)從伊斯帕尼奧拉島揚帆啟程,在航程中找尋隱藏在遙遠島嶼的寶藏。在冒險過程中,他遇到一群狡猾奸詐的航海人,包含許多惡名昭彰的海盜,其中最有名的海盜:單腳西渥弗(Long John Silver),和站在他肩膀上的活潑鸚鵡。沿路上,賀詹姆揭發了叛變的船員們,親眼目睹他們的貪婪以及各種詭計,最後拯救了航海船以及找出埋藏深處的黃金寶藏。
About the Production
身 為 “深度聆聽” 的紅坊社群一份子,紅房新廣播劇團的使命是藉由述說文字,透過極簡讀者聽眾和廣播現場方式,帶給廣大聽眾們更精采的文學體驗。身為地球村的一份子,紅坊新 廣播劇團和東方朋友們擁有這樣特別機會,分享最美好的西方文化傳統,重新燃起偉大故事和詩詞的火種,探索世上文學的共同使命。
About Red Room Community
紅房新廣播劇團是紅房大社群的一份子,亦為 Stage Time & Wine @ the Red Room 之贊助者。
About the Sponsor
Library Address:
No.15, Zhongzheng Rd. Shilin.
Carparking available under the library.
Photos of library here.
The library is almost brand new.  Books have all been purchased within the last three years.  There is a large DVD and English book selection.


[April 5, 2014] Morrison Academy Bethany Campus Annual Flea Market

Another great little market for parents looking for bargains.  Manageable size, friendly sellers, always something special to be found.

Image is from the school's FACEBOOK page.  If you are looking at schooling options, this one is worth checking out.

[March 22, 2014] TAS Orphanage Club Annual Book Sale

Taipei American School Orphange Club's  book sale is an institution.  If you are looking for any kind of books at all, make your way and fight the crowds!  This is not just limited to children's books. New books, old books, comics, art books, encyclopedias, novels... more than you can imagine possible for one single sale.

Start time 10am. Runs till 5pm.

Address: Taipei American School, 800 Chung Shan North Road, Section 6, Taipei

[March 29, 2014] AGAPE CHARITY RUMMAGE SALE (Children/Maternity/Parenting-Related)

AGAPE CHARITY RUMMAGE SALE - March 29th, 9:00am - 1:00pm
Dear Parents and Friends of City Playgroup,
We are excited to announce that the AGAPE charity rummage sale will be on Saturday, March 29th, from 9:00am - 1:00pm. As most of you may know and remember, this rummage sale founded by parentpages families in 2004 has grown so much over the years that it became overwhelming for the group to continue to manage it, and it was adopted by AGAPE ICA Church in November 2011.

We are very grateful to all of you who will make donations over these next few weeks, through drop offs and directly on the day of the sale. This time all cash proceeds will be given to Mustard Seed Mission, and their Ai-Hsin Children's Home. The website link: http://www.mustard.org.tw/ah_home/index_e.asp

All remaining items will be donated to either a local infant / toddler orphanage in Taipei City and to charities working with aboriginal villages of Taiwan, of which both we have donated extra things to for several years now.

This is a bi-annual event that allows families to reuse and recycle, as well as de-clutter for a good cause. We are asking for donations of infant and children's clothing, books, toys, and infant and maternity related items since these things have always been the main focus of our rummage sale.

Please Note: the only furniture we can take is infant related such as beds, strollers, playpens, and highchairs, etc.

We have been very encouraged by those who have stepped forward already to volunteer and ask that if you are interested to help in sorting, or setting up and/or working at the sale on the day, to please respond to this e-mail. We need and appreciate any help you can give! Those who volunteer for a few hours will have an opportunity to select up to (5) items they wish to purchase while sorting and at 8:30am for those who will help on the sale day, as a gesture of appreciation.

Sorting & Set Up Dates
Thursday, March 27th: 1:00 - 4:00pm
Friday, March 28th: 10:00am - 4:00pm

Volunteers are always welcome on the morning of the sale for help at the tables selling from 9:00am - 1:00noon, and packing up from 1:00 - 2:00pm.

Location: 3F, Building No. 21, Chang Chun Rd., Taipei City / 台灣台北市中山區長春路21 號 3 樓
(Near the intersection of ZhongShan North Rd.)

The venue is located a few blocks from the Zhongshan MRT stop, EXIT 9, on the red line. The 5th exit is in the underground mall area and that you have to head north towards the direction of the Shuanglian MRT stop while underground. You will actually take an elevator at Exit 9, It is less than a 2-block way from there.

If you have any items to donate, we ask that you bring them to the following places:
Taipei Area:
-City Playgroup Thursday Outing Locations / Kelly Manske

- Kelly Manske: 台北市慶城街69號11樓 11F., Building No. 69, Qingcheng St ., Songshan Dist., Taipei City Cell: #0919-996-827 / Home # (02) 2545-0459

- Kindermusik Classroom with Jennifer Chau: 12F-2, No. 185 Zhongshan North Road, Section 2. Please call to work out a drop time with her at #0976-630-1060

-Agape International Church, 3F, No. 21 Chang Chun Rd., Taipei City. Please call Ken or Peggy Krake to coordinate a drop off time at 2571-8120 / 0983-400-054

Tien Mu / Shilin / Beitou:
Community Services Center / In care of Jennifer Chau No. 25, Lane 290 Zhong Shan North Rd., Sec. 6 Telephones: (02) 2836-8134 · 2838-4947

Neihu Area:
Parent's Place / Angela Chang #315, 2F, Cheng Gong Road, Section 4, Neihu Tele: 0988-661-132 or 0975-266-833. Please call her first! Website: http://www.parentsplace.com.tw/

I will have a flyer for you to keep for reference or forward to others in a few days, but you must send me a reply by e-mail or private message to have me send it to you directly. Thank you for all of your help and support to a worthy cause, and for recycling what can be useful to others!


Kelly Manske Thursday Morning City Playgroup Leader


Spring Semester 2014: What's On Around Town For Children Ages 6 and Up?

If your family is new to Taipei,  or if it's difficult for you to find events and groups for your elementary and junior-high school aged children, take a look at some of the offerings below.

Drew's Drama Session II

We are getting ready to launch Drew's Drama Session II next Sunday (March 2), 10 am at the Red Room. (near Chungsiao Fuhsing SOGO). This will be a four week session, 1.5 hours per Sunday, a total of 6 hours altogether, featuring the works of Dr. Seuss. Recommended age group: 8-14 yrs old. Cost: NT 2800. If you are interested, please message Carol (cyao@tig.com.tw)  and she will help you with the details.

This drama group will connect you and your children with some of the best English-speaking performers in Taipei.  We are lucky to have this opportunity for our children!

Stage Time and Juice at the Red Room

The next Stage Time and Juice will be Saturday, March 15, 2014. (I will post full details later). This afternoon with have a St. Patrick's Day Theme! Everyone will be encouraged to wear green and there will be green punch and hopefully other Irish/green themed snacks, which are brought along by you, the participants in the afternoon.*  Stage Time and Juice is a space for children, families, and people who enjoy encouraging the creative development of youth (and their parents!) to get together and share their knowledge.  Children and adults alike get up on the stage for up to 5 minutes, to share original or favorite poetry, music, skits, stories...  whatever it is that delights and insipires them.

Juice is not just for 6 and up. We do have younger children who come along with parents or older siblings and really enjoy the afternoon.  It is not a drop-off activity, and parents need to actively look after their children of all ages throughout the afternoon.

I wrote a full bi-lingual post about this regular event last year.  This is a wonderful place for you to meet other families and get a feel of what is available in the community, too.

*Each family is encouraged to bring along either a large bottle of juice or tea, or a plate of child-friendly finger food to share.

If you would like to contribute to the performances, please contact Carol at  cyao@tig.com.tw.

Writer's Workshop at Parent's Place

Now well into its second year, my Writer's Workshop is going strong.  Open to children age 6 and up, this workshop is a platform for children to confirm their love of the English language and their power to use it.

This semester, we will continue to work on the mechanics of the language, at each child's developmental level.  We will also take on a group project, producing some video material based on our written work.  Through this project, children will learn about using language to communicate to a wider audience.

The workshop is every Wednesday 1:30pm-3:30pm, at Parents' Place in Neihu.  Please contact me through the contact page here for more details.  So far, there are nine children in the group, and we have space for a few more.


English-Language Drama Camp, Winter of 2014, Parents' Place in Neihu

10am-3pm Mon-Fri January 20-24

We are excited to offer this winter camp during the first week of the winter holidays! We will have FIVE DAYS of drama and storytelling activities for the children. And, we are lucky enough to get not one, but TWO experienced, creative, energetic, and much-in-demand teachers for the week.

10am-12 noon, freelance teacher and choregrapher Lauren Mark (http://becoming.com.tw/lauren-mark/) will lead children to:
-explore different levels of movement and physical shapes
-transform spaces into other worlds through imagination and body language
-make living paintings, or tableaux, of your favorite story scenes

1pm-3pm, Katie Parlow (http://becoming.com.tw/theatre-katie-partlow/) will introduce the children to the world of theater and improv.

In theater, kids can learn self-confidence through games designed to help them express their own creativity and imagination. Beyond that, improv also teaches kids flexibility and quick-thinking, all in a fun and safe environment. Different skills: voice, body, story creation and then two days of improv. "Improv activities" is a series of different games where participants make skits.

This camp is open to children from grade 1 and up. The nature of the activities mean older children should find it most enjoyable and challenging, also.

9:45am doors open
10am -12 noon Movement/storytelling
12 noon - 1pm Lunch
1pm-3pm Theater/Improve

Pickup by 3:30pm.

Please register ASAP. We need 5 registrations to confirm the camp. http://www.parentsplace.com.tw/Register.html

Cost: NTD5,000 for the week.
Lunch: Bring your own, or NTD100 per day for a Chinese-food lunchbox.
Payable upon registration.


Awesome Playgroup News Winter 2013 - Online Edition of the Paper Produced by Children in Taipei

Here's the link to our digital format of the latest Awesome Playgroup News! But we will still have a few of the beautiful print copies available at the Jan. 18 Stage time and Juice. Please support our sponsors. And, check out the photography contest!

http://www.youblisher.com/p/786428-Awes ... nter-2013/

This paper is produced by children who are in Taiwan and/or connected to Taipei City Playgroup and offshoots in some way. We welcome all children's submissions, children's help with layout, and sponsors' support.


Shimen Coastal Area - More Than a Kite Beach

Way back in the early days of this blog, I wrote about the annual kite festival at Shimen Kite Park.  Since that writeup, I have gone out to the beach several times, mostly to walk my dog and give my kids a bit of a run in fresh air.  On a trip out there alone (with the dog) a few days ago I explored the area a bit more than I had in the past, and discovered it was a little treasure trove of places to run and play, even on these cooler winter days.

First, we have to deal with the ugly truth.  A LOT of trash gets washed up onto this Kite Park beach, and is left there during the winter months.  This first picture is taken from the Kite Park entrance side of the beach.  I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending this for children or dogs at the moment. Unfortunately, this is the first landing for most visitors, as it is easily accessible from the carpark right off the main coast road.

This is a picture of the "Polystyrene Garden" - for some reason, there is a lot of polystyrene "growing" out of the vegetation that reaches from the car park to the beach.  It looks like leftovers from containers used to hold raw fish.

This time round, I decided to venture to the other side of the township that is by the Kite Park beach.  I drove out of the carpark, and took a hard right, driving over the little bridge and through the street, then took a right toward the beach. There is a signpost showing the way to the Cape Park.  I turned left and followed the street up the hill. I was delighted to discover three car parks, clean toilets, and a number of wonderful stone and wooden picnic tables and chairs scattered around the grounds, under these amazing "windswept trees".  These areas hold the promise of a cool escape from hot summer days.  This area is known as "Fugui Cape Park".

The paths are mostly wheelchair-friendly.  This gun emplacement is right next to the path.  

 The area is well-signposted.

The steps go up to the lookout.

The view is spectacular.  You can head back down to the activity area and enter the brick maze, or run around the open space. It was almost silent when I went there.

 This "Laomei" Green Reef was formed by "wave-cut volcanic lava". The best time to see this is at low tide in April and May.  It is the only place in Taiwan that you can see this kind of landscape.

Besides this off-road area, there are several attractions close by.  The government website is well-written, and clearly shows the positions of the respective landmarks in the area.  I did not make it to the lighthouse this time, but plan on taking the children out there when we have opportunity.  The lighthouse is the northern-most one in Taiwan, and very accessible.

Fuji Fishing Harbor is located right on the way out of Fugui Cape Park.  It is the large white building down at the edge of the water.  You can buy seafood to take home, or have a meal at one of the many local seafood restaurants.  If you go on a weekday, you can get away with not paying for parking in the car park.

Here's a night view of Fuji Fishing Harbor, taken in August 2013:

Overall, Shimen district's attractions and natural areas should appeal to families.  Definitely not as popular with tourists as Baishawan or Sanzhi, it could provide some coastal air and a space for the kids and the dogs to let off steam, year-round.

How to get there:

1. MRT: Take the Danshui (Danshuei) Line to Hongshulin Station and catch the shuttle bus
2. Danshuei Bus: Danshuei → Jinshan (Laomei Village, Shihmen → Walk about 150 meters)

1. Taipei → Chongcing North Road Interchange → Provincial Hwy 2B (Dadu Hwy) → Danshuei → Provincial Hwy 2 → Shihmen → Laomei Village (intersection of Laomei Street and Danshuei-Jinshan Highway (Provincial Hwy 2)
2. Taipei → Yangmingshan National Park → Yangmingshan-Jinshan Highway (Provincial Hwy 2A) → Jinshan → Yeliou → Shihmen → Laomei Village (intersection of Laomei Street and Danshuei-Jinshan Highway (Provincial Hwy 2)
3. Sanchong → Wugu Interchange → Guandu Bridge → Jhuwei → Denghuei Blvd. → Provincial Hwy 2 → Shihmen → Laomei Village (intersection of Laomei Street and Danshuei-Jinshan Highway (Provincial Hwy 2)
4. Sun Yat-sen Freeway → North Coastal Highway Interchange → Provincial Hwy 2 → Shihmen → Laomei Village (intersection of Laomei Street and Danshuei-Jinshan Highway (Provincial Hwy 2)
5. Second Northern Freeway) → Sijhih → Keelung-Wanli Interchange → Wanli → Jinshan → Shihmen → Laomei Village (intersection of Laomei Street and Danshuei-Jinshan Highway (Provincial Hwy 2)

Google Map: http://theme.northguan-nsa.gov.tw/gmap/gmap.aspx?Lang=2&SNo=04002740&nearBy=view