Thursday, January 24, 2013

Three Days with FTV

This week I had the very great privilege of working on some travel segments for FTV. We visited tourist sites across southern Taiwan. It was really great seeing host Michella Jade Weng again and working with professionals in a demanding, high energy industry. It was also wonderful to return to Shuimen town and Sandimen on day 1, a place full of happy memories for me. Click on Read More for more!

Our first stop was at one of the refugee villages set up for people resettled from communities in the mountains after one of the endless series of natural disasters Taiwan suffers from. In Chinese these are known as yong jiu wu, permanent homes.

Michella plots strategy with one of the individuals who helped set up our shooting locations.

The community lies on Pingtung 35, a pretty little road that has lovely views along its length. Here is a shot from the elementary school's observation tower, with Shuimen town on the right, looking north.

Michella explains how the shot will go.

There were some lovely, comfortable homes in the community.

Our indomitable cameraman.

A carver making wooden molds.

Towards evening we headed over to a local leather goods shop to do some DIY leather goods. Here is Michella hard at work making a bright red leather namecard holder.

The garbage trucks play aboriginal songs.

We stayed overnight at Da Lu Guan, this massive resort just north of Sandimen on 185. No internet. Yeah right. At least it is in the middle of fields which had plenty of good bugs like this tiny spider.

The location overlooks the plain. Great views north up the mountain ridges, or west across Pingtung to Kaohsiung. That morning it was so clear I was able to see the statue at Foguangshan in Kaohsiung county.

After breakfast we went up a sphincter clenching ride sevral hundred meters up to De-wen village above Sandimen, where we were shooting their budding tourism site. The road is spectacular, but part of it is under construction and the detour was a nightmare of long drops and occasional spots of gravel which caused me to feel that my wife would shortly become a very well-off woman.

A map of the local attractions.

Michella plots strategy while we rest at the spectacular overlook.

One of the offices, right next to the main road. The website for the community effort is Makudu Coffee ( and they are on Facebook. They offer food and nature tourism, camping and a B and B.

Slate construction up close. Michella lent me her Canon 35mm prime. Excellent lens.

As our cameraman set up a shot, a group of students rode in for an educational tour.

Discussing strategy.

The road into the site was lined with coffee bushes. Here are some beans.

The locals who helped us. The man on the right is Tlalju (Ya-roo), the contact person. Really a great guy with an attractive manner and a ready smile.

Coffee and tea ready to go.

There are several kilometers of trails in the area, and guides are provided to instruct you in the setting of snares and explain how things are hunted and caught.

Michella checks an image.

These tiny spiders are my favorites, so difficult to image.

One of the instructors explains how to set up a snare.

Another instructor sets up a snare, this one for boar and other large mammals.

Excellent views over a nearby village.

A snare for hunting birds.

Kitchens, camping, and classrooms. The site is great.

Grinding peanuts for lunch.

Chicken soup flavored with coffee beans. Delicious.

Pork spread over a bed of millet. Excellent.

Amazing roads in the mountains. Must bike them all!

We made our way onto the cramped streets of Sandimen town to visit some shops.

After that, we headed for Gangshan in Kaohsiung. I hadn't thought there would be anything in Gangshan, but we stopped at a factory that made stuff stewed in soy sauce (lu wei) and participated in some DIY activities with students from a local elementary school. I won't publicly admit to participating in the dancing activity, but I will concede that I left my dignity strewn in shards across the landscape of southern Taiwan. We finished at Gangshan specialty, a goat meat restaurant. There we had excellent fried ribs flavored with pepper. Of the dishes I will say nothing. Wait til you see it on TV.

The next day brought one trip I was really looking forward to: using Kaohsiung's famed city bikes to tour the city. We stopped at this one near the train station. But.....

...we couldn't get it to work at first. Here's Michella in a state of crogglement: what next?

Fortunately our fixer from the local tourism bureau, Lucy, got the ball rolling for us. We spent much time adjusting the seats.

Spend zillions to put your PSA on local bikes, can't be bothered to spend a couple of thousand ensuring the translations are ok.

Soon we were off, led by our guide, Mr Chen, with thirty years of experience in the business. That's Lucy back there.

We rode over any number of bike paths. The city is pushing to extend the system to over 700 kilometers, as one of the tourism bureau officials told us. Several times.

Our first stop was the historical site of the Tangrung kiln, still under construction. An imposing leftover from a bygone era.

Much of the facilities are still there. Lucy, who rides a road bike on the weekends, poses for me.

The interior of one of the kiln sites.

An old building against the modern skyline.

We rode over to a nearby wetland to shoot some birds, cycling, and nature walking.

An elegant egret.

Some herons were lounging about.

Preparing to shoot us walking the suspension bridge.

Then came the inevitable ride on the Love River. It's changed so much from the days when the water stank of pigshit and the old men played chess and drank whisbee on portable tables set up in the cracked sidewalks along the river. We then made a trip to the history museum where we looked at their CD-making center, where visitors can make CDs of themselves singing Taiwanese songs of 50 years ago. No pics of that.

As daylight ebbed, we drove up to the top of Hsioushan to shoot the sunset over the city and the harbor. Excellent views. Very popular with Japanese tourists, we were told.

This guy had the right idea.

Really great views of the city.

Action on the river.

Brooding on the shot.

Young people in love.

Sunset arrives.

Night views. We captured some footage, then went back to the Love River for night cycling and coffee. Really a wonderful trip. Thanks, FTV! I'll put up the links here when it is broadcast in March.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


richard said...

Michael - great pictures, i especially liked them + the comments from Kaohsiung.
i am there few times a year, enjoyed your post a lot

Michael Turton said...

Thanks. K-town is one of my favorite places in Taiwan. Much appreciated.