Jingzaijiao Sea Salt Field Photography 井仔腳瓦盤鹽田

The Jingzaijiao Salt Fields are a cultural relic built back in 1818. They are unique in that they are tile-paved; back during the Qing dynasty they came up with the brilliant idea of preventing salt from attaching to the soil by manually laying out broken pottery pieces onto the salt fields. This innovation led to clearer salt being mined.

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Anping Beach: Wildfires and a Fishermans’ Hut

During our day-trip to Anping, we enjoyed part of an afternoon learning about oyster-farming and the local ecosystems as we took a boat to a secluded beach island. We weren’t sure if we could debark; two days prior there had been a bad fire. Luckily, the flames had died down and we were able to see the island. Upon arrival we couldn’t help but observe the raw power of the fire.

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Daitian Temple (代天府) and Shrimp Rice

Wei from my hostel advised me to try shrimp rice. It was ‘delicious’ and a street nearby (保安路was famous for having tasty bowls of it. I was in, despite never tasting the dish and not knowing whether it was shrimp flavored rice, shrimp fried rice, or perhaps even rice cooked by shrimp [just kidding].

One of the most interesting aspects of life in Tainan is its presence as the ancient capital. Temples and shrines are everywhere; I didn’t plan to see Daitian Temple but by chance walked by it near sunset.

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Polit-Sheer-Form

After the first couple of days in Taipei, I finally came to the realization that it was simply too hot to do a lot of outdoor activities. With this in mind, I planned two museums for my final day – the National Palace Museum and the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art.

While no photography was allowed inside the National Palace Museum, I have to say it’s fantastic. As the Nationalists fled to Taiwan, they brought back as many priceless treasures as they could from the Forbidden City. They hold nearly 700,000 artifacts, although there’s only room for about 2{3a5a0fd47fd42b6497167aecc6170a94848f1ba936db07c4954344fcfff1d528} of them can be on display at any given time. They have free English tours at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM – try to schedule your visit around these! I didn’t reserve a spot in advance, but there was plenty of space on the morning tour.taipei palace museum view-1

A side note: The two biggest treasures at the museum are the infamous Jadeite Cabbage and a stone that looks curiously like stewed pork. Both were incredibly lifelike and amazing to see, yet slightly amusing due to their food-like nature.

Following the National Palace Museum, I took a bus heading towards the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art. Living art greeted me along the way.

taipei outside museum of contemporary art snails and rabbit racetaipei outside museum of contemporary art robots

Daily Pictures: Polit-Sheer-Form

The highlight of my museum visit was seeing an exhibition by the modernist artists Polit-Sheer-Form. This group, started in 2005, uses the idealized commune or collective way of life to capture the social changes happening in mainland China. One of their main goals is to ‘capture how the intimacy between people in a communist society is replaced by a sense of indifference by capitalism’.

One of their pieces was a library in which all off the shelves were filled with identical blue books. Depending on your optimism levels, the books were either all devoid of content or all full of the same content, blank space. Being in the room and looking through the books was almost spooky.

polit-sheer-form-library identical empty books

 

 

Last year using identical mops and buckets, they traveled to New York to see if they could clean up Time Square collectively.

polit-sheer-form buckets and mop

While I don’t think their art is very picturesque, it was quite introspective on the changes occurring in Chinese society. In the west we (rightly) focus on the tens of millions who died as a result of the Great Leap Forward. We focus on the pitfalls of communism. However, there is certainly more to the story.

Taiwan Soul Food

I had just finished walking through Shilin Night Market. Being completely honest, I have a sort of love-hate relationship with night markets. I enjoy the sensory overload – the nonstop array of sights, smells, and sounds. Within a matter of feet the smells alone can vary between grilled meat, waffles, or stinky tofu. What I don’t like are the crowds that accompany the market. It’s almost impossible to walk at a reasonable pace, and once you’re in the market, it can be difficult to leave just because of the slow nature of the traffic.

By the time I made it through the night market, I was starving. While there were countless stalls and restaurants inside the market, the raw number of people and frenetic energy influenced me to eat elsewhere.

Daily Pictures: Taiwan Soul Food

taiwan soul food restaurant

“Taiwan Soul Food”; the English name of this fast food restaurant caught my eye. When I think of soul food, I think of southern food. Paula Deen, and typically unhealthy/delicious southern classics such as chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes loaded with butter. What could Taiwanese soul food possible be?

The answer is gravy. That’s the direct translation – in reality its more of a thick, delicious broth. Stock made from cooking virtually every kind of animal meat and bones together. Hungry patrons each get a pasta strainer and a set of tongs. You pick your starch, vegetables, and meat as you like.

collage 2

Udon noodles, ramen noodles, rice noodles, thick rice noodles, mung bean noodles, spaghetti, and rice are all available. Little sausages, krab meat, quail eggs, caramelized tofu, cheese rangoons, and tens of raw meats are all available. Bags of fresh tatsoi, corn on the cob, and mushrooms are available,  It’s a free-for-all.

After paying accordingly, the food is dropped into the ‘gravy’ broth and cooked to perfection.

taiwan soul food soup

How was it you may ask? To be completely honest, I was my own enemy. I ordered 小辣, or a little spicy. My first taste of the soup was a spoonful of broth, and I nearly choked from the heat. Back home, it would probably be a solid four out of five on the spice-o-meter. All of the individual ingredients were delicious however. I ate what I could before running to a nearby boba tea shop for some ‘sweet’ relief.

What struck me from the experience mostly was the very identification of the food as ‘Soul Food’. Back home, soup often isn’t considered a meal. However, being able to pick noodles, vegetables, and meats to be poached in broth is considered comfort food here. I think that’s great.