Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bali and the Hsihsanhang Archaeological Museum

Saturday the 13th found us in Taipei to join another Swenson's meetup. It was a signature Taipei winter day, which is to say, it had that forlorn wet, cold, Anywhere-But-Taipei-Please feeling. Sometimes I miss the amenities, but is the metro really worth putting up with weather so gray it makes the concrete look brightly colored?

It was a typical Swenson's day, full of noisy conversation. I especially enjoyed talking with Dick Adler.

I brought the kids along, and we stopped at Starbucks where I bribed their complaints to silence with a healthy serving of chocolate cake.

We met up with my friend Jeff Miller, his lovely wife Maria, and their daughter Tara, and then headed out to Bali, where I had gone with the Anthro guy last year.

Bali town was actually a pretty interesting place, because all the factories, car repair shops, parking garages, betel nut stands, and breakfast places are along the river, with their backs to it. In the US this would be prime land and the river lined with the homes of the wealthy. Not in Taiwan.

Catch that sign on the right? It says "Taipei Port." In the 18th and 19th centuries Taipei was a river port, with the wharves in what is now Wanhua. The local governments want to develop a new port here at the mouth of the Tamshui as a shipping and container harbor, while Keelung port, now in decline, becomes a more tourism-oriented port.

Bali is interesting in that the retailers that supplies statues and decorations for buildings and landscaping all congregate there.

A lone dog, stock still in all that movement.

Our path took us out to the Bali Tzuo An, the Bali Left Bank, Bali being on the left bank of the Tamsui River as you come up from Taipei. The name of the park and path complex is a play on words, since "Bali" sounds like the Chinese for "Paris." Pictured here is the massive sewage treatment plant, constructed over the archaeological site that stimulated the development of the park areas.

Here is the Hsihsanhang Museum, which is built over an ancient archaelogical site. Yet another one of the island's many excellent small museums. We spent a very enjoyable hour here and the kids really liked it.

You enter the museum by going down into it, like scientists digging into a pit.

Jeff hams it up for the camera.

The English presentation was uniformly excellent, with some work, like this one above, done by highly skilled non-native speakers. Everything was presented in both langauges with the exception of some audio material. The Museum was highly accessible.

The lobby.

The site was the first one in Taiwan to offer evidence of iron smelting and use by the local original peoples.

This display commemorates the fact that the site was found by a military pilot whose compass had gone awry over it.

Warning: Mannikins at work.

Murals. This was part of an A/V display, very well done.

Quick: which of these things is not like the others?

This pot with a face is the site's most famous artifact, and is used by the museum to represent the site.

The Museum was beautiful inside and out.

One theme was iron tools and Taiwan, so some 19th and 20th century iron artifacts are housed in the Museum.

Outside there are excellent views. This one overlooks the breakwater for the new port. Catch what's riding in the lower center of the picture?

Looking back toward another famous archaeological site in the mountains.

The sewage treatment plant.

Our guide, Antonia, conducted the whole tour in excellent English. She was patient, friendly, and fun.

Antonia hard at work.

Jeff and Maria.

Tara enjoys the architecture.

Once you leave the museum, you can rent bikes or walk along the river, where there are wonderful views of Tamshui and the Yangmingshan mountain complex.

This statue faces China. From this angle, it looks like....

Fishing boats...

...and speedboats.

Really stunning views up and down the river. There's the inevitable snacking area, an array of restaurants and cafes, and plenty of parking.

Me and Sheridan.

The riverfront: Tamshui

Close up.

Jeff adjusts Tara's hood. The rain drove us back to the car and to Jeff's house.

Meanwhile at the local temple, they had set up for a puppet show.


T. Destiny in Taiwan said...

Thanks so much for sharing your photos. The visual reminder always takes me back to my time in Taiwan. It's been precisely one year since I left. Living in Taiwan was both the best and worst year of my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything...

Anonymous said...

"This statue faces China. From this angle, it looks like...."

Boba Fett?

Anonymous said...

Michael, as usual your photos and commentary excel. Yes I read your blog daily.
When my brother in law took me to Bali (Puli?) I looked at those strange spheroids and wondered what they were. My B.I.L did not reply which is not unusual...and I thought that they might have been a brewery or storage silos! Thanks for putting me right! You did not take a pic of the oil storage tanks with the dolphins... Surely a wonderful example of what Taiwan can do with a blank eyesore and make something beautiful. I felt bloody sorry for the poor horse pulling the tourists along in all the heat and humidity!
The excellent archaeology site was very inspiring and hell....if that is what Taiwan can do with dollars why can't Australia get its act together and do similar!
My god....I want some stinky now!

Anonymous said...

Clearly Boba Fett is flipping China the bird.

poseidon206 said...

Very cool photos. I haven't been coming around for some time, and your lovely photos welcomed me back :D Thank you!

Anonymous said...

The sewage treatment plant does have a certain potbelled monumentality.
How can one go about keeping up with the time and date of the Swensen's Breakfast Clubs? I thought for a minute they were meetups but they don't seem to be listed there (barring error on my part, a perpetual possibility).
Thanks for putting my blog on the roll ... and those scary photos of the spider abduction.