Saturday, July 08, 2006

Friday is Museum Day

Taiwan Folklore Museum

Friday morning we took the parents over to the excellent little Taiwan Folklore Museum right off of Chengde Rd behind the Chungke Hotel. The grounds were beautiful and the exhibits a pleasure to see. I highly recommend this as a morning outing that takes only an hour or two.

We arrived at the museum about 8:45, with the shops still closed.

The grounds had some exhibit sit-and-enjoy spots.

Good spots to take pictures of one's daughter.

The museum is housed in a set of buildings redolent with traditional style.

Inside the museum the English presentation is excellent, a rarity on the Beautiful Isle.

The dioramas of traditional shops are well done.

A women's group meets there to do crafts. They were a big hit with my parents.

The exhibit halls are very professionally done.

The exhibits feature both aborigine and Han crafts, a wide range of household goods and many different kinds of materials.

After the museum, we headed over to Nova.

Prices were more expensive than the States, my father found. He bought my son a new camera, and me a new laptop. In three or four years, when we need a new car, we're inviting them back to Taiwan.

After Nova we went to Sanyi to enjoy the Wood Carving Museum there.
Outside of the tourist areas, Sanyi is just another friendly mountain town.

My wife and daughter pose in front of the museum.

As my wife noted, some of the stuff in the shops is nearly as good as the stuff in the museum.

Sanyi is a fun outing, but the whole experience so far has been one long reminder of why foreign tourists just don't want to come here. My parents are in their sixties and my mother has artificial knees, and neither can use a squat toilet. But sitters are often hard to come by. Both of them have remarked that the stuff in the gift shops is geared entirely toward local tourists. There were no books in English at any of the gift shops, and thus no children's books in English. My father mentioned that he wanted a souvenir hat with the name of the place on it wherever he goes, but there was little like that. Here in Taichung, where there is western food it is usually Sinified. The presentation in English is generally awful -- the Wood Museum has very little English, while today at Lukang, at the Tien Hou Gong Temple, though there was English, it was gibberish in many cases. Maps and information kiosks in important tourist sites like Lukang are non-existent. In US in historical places like Colonial Williamsburg or Fort Makinac, paid actors dress up and perform the tasks of the bygone days, but there is nothing like that in Taiwan. The experience is entirely oriented toward the needs of the locals. Lots of changes will have to take place before Taiwan can attract tourists from overseas in droves. This may explain why the island is so interested in Chinese tourism -- not only does it promise a huge supply of tourists, few changes in approaches or infrastructure will need to be made.


Unknown said...

spot on as usual...

not to mention the suckey sense of computer literacy where such things really matter. I am speaking of such things as the TRA train schedules for English speakers (and tourists, if they want to go someplace besides Taipei and Kaohsiung, would want to us e the trains). Taiwan does not have decent websites, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Boy...ur parents are just like u and ur entire family....wierd!!!

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who was a tourist in Taichung, your description of the History Museum is right on. It was worth my time. (And about the toilets...even McDonald's has squatters not sitters.)
The Jade market is pretty cool for tourists even if you don't want to buy.
(And your kids are growing up so fast!)

MJ Klein said...

in one shot, at first i couldnt' tell if that was your or your father Michael, with him on his knee handling the camera.

i really regret not being there to meet your parents!

see you soon.

Anonymous said...

check out this funny little piece of comic:

Anonymous said...

"Everyone has been saying we look like brothers. I am not sure how to take that... :)"

I say:
Micheal, I would mistaken you for your father's dad, if you stand next to him. He got more hair than you do.

Diane Lowe said...

I have to agree that the English translations in Lukang (and most of the places I went to when I was in Taiwan) leave much to be desired.

If memory serves me correctly, I was impressed with the translations at the Natural History Museum in Taichung, although even there they were spotty in places.