Add your voice!

....... add your voice by clicking on an article title and leaving your message in the Comments box (English welcome, of course!)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Taiwan's Popular Culture Icon - Feng Chia Night Market

Stanley Hsu & Boting Chen

When you think of popular culture in Taiwan, the night market is probably one of the first things you think of. Among the hundreds of night markets in towns and cities all over Taiwan, the Feng Chia night market is the most popular, attracting millions of tourists every year. A variety of irresistible cuisines, jaw-dropping low prices, and convenient location are the characteristics that give this night market its soul.

All photos by the authors
The first time we went to the Feng Chia night market, we were totally mesmerized by the different kinds of food available such as tomatoes on sticks, octopus balls, and roasted coarse green tea. Everything made us salivate. (To be honest, we each gained five pounds after our wonderful visit to Feng Chia night market that night, which is quite amazing.)

You might think that such unbelievably tasty food would be too expensive. However, when we stepped through the arch door into the night market, we were speechless when we saw the gigantic roasted squid – for only NT$40! We had a really wonderful time devouring food and burning our money at the Feng Chia night market!

There are lots and lots of different kinds of food at the night market, and you won’t be able to eat all of them; however, you can always come back later at night! It’s hard for travelers from other countries to imagine that you can still have stinky tofu in the middle of night, and drink a bowl of meatball soup at one o’clock in the morning. The night market is your best friend, filling up your growling, empty stomach in a minute with hundreds of Taiwanese snack foods.

Indeed, the night market plays an indispensable and irreplaceable role in Taiwan’s popular culture. The convenience and availability of food are surely unbeatable. The night market is such a popular event that it has the magical power to attract thousands and thousands of tourists from all over the world. Not only is the night market a tremendous representative of popular culture in Taiwan, it also spreads Taiwan’s reputation to the whole world.

Same Place, Different Feelings

Athena Chen & Joanna Chiu

Note:  In this article, the two authors are sharing their experiences visiting the same place - Qing Jing Farm.  Athena's story is in blue, and Joanna's story is in green.  We are publishing them together - in the same place and on the same page.  We hope you enjoy their stories.
Qing Jing Farm is a famous attraction in Taiwan. It is on Hehuan Mountain. Both of us have been there, but at different times with different people. Here are our stories.

All photos by the authors
       When I was a junior and the leader of the skating club, I went to Qing Jing Farm with my club. My club officers and I decided to take a trip with our club members, and we thought riding our motorcycles to Qing Jing Farm would be fun.

This winter vacation, I went to Qing Jing Farm with my family – my uncle, aunt and younger brother. We planned our trip very carefully. My aunt and I planned where we will go and found the hotel to stay in. My uncle was our driver, and my younger brother just enjoyed the trip.

We took country road 136. Although mountain roads have many turns and are very dangerous, we still decided to go this way. Along the way, there were many beautiful buildings such as a church and a Seven-Eleven that has a CartonKing store next door. CartonKing sells many decorations and furniture, all made from paper. The paper is very strong; it can even be a chair, table, windmill, lampshade, or cap. Everything at the shop was incredible! After you pass CartonKing, you will soon see Qing Jing Farm.

On the first day, we got up early and left home for Qing Jing Farm. I was happy and excited about this family trip, so I sang songs and chatted with my brother in the car. When we arrived at the hotel at 2:30, we all felt tired, especially my uncle. We rested for a while and then departed for Qing Jing Farm.

When we arrived at Qing Jing Farm, it was around twelve in the afternoon. We parked our motorcycles and had our lunch. There is a traditional market at Qing Jing with different kind of foods. One of my favorite foods in this market is the chicken roll. The chicken roll uses the same sausage skin as pork sausage, but there is no pork inside, only chicken. When you eat the chicken roll, it is juicy and delicious. Unfortunately, after lunch time, it started to rain.

In the afternoon, we went to the pasture to see the “sheep show;” unfortunately, the show wasn’t open on Wednesdays. Therefore, we went to the next place on our schedule – the Small Swiss Garden – and decided to see the sheep show sometime in the near future. The Small Swiss Garden was amazing; it was really beautiful, so I took lots of photos with my family. My uncle and brother visited by themselves and my aunt and I walked together. I enjoyed the moment with my aunt. The weather was perfect; we lay on the grass, chatted, and appreciated the “Swiss” scenery. One of my favorite sites was the windmill standing in the lake. It was spectacular and made me feel calm.

Because of the sudden rain, there were not many sheep out on the big farm; we saw only a few sheep in the sheep pen. People can feed and pet the sheep there, and it's all free (except for the fodder). At Qing Jing Farm there is a sheep show every afternoon except on Wednesdays. During this show, the shepherd will shave the sheep's wool and give it to the audience. You can also experience shaving the sheep's wool for yourself. Besides sheep, there are horses for you to ride. What a nice place to get close to animals and to nature!

When the sky became darker, we had dinner in the theme restaurant called “CartonKing.” The special thing about this restaurant was that almost everything was made from paper, including the tables and chairs! After dinner, we went into the Small Swiss Garden again to watch the fountain do its “Water-dance Show.” It was beautiful. Finally, we went back to our hotel to have a nice shower and a good dream.

On the second day, we went to the farm again to see the “sheep show”. The shepherds demonstrated their sheering routine. After watching this show, we climbed around the pasture. The most special experience on the pasture was that we met sheep everywhere. I touched one of the sheep that had already been sheered; it was greasy. I touched another sheep that still had all its wool; it was really ragged! It really changed my impressions about wool.

After such a long day, you will feel tired but very happy. I think people need to get out of the house and get close to nature. Maybe next time I will go to Wu Ling, climb higher and look afar for beautiful scenery.  I’m sure going to Wu Ling will be another different and memorable experience.

After looking around the pasture, we decided to go to Hehuan Mountain. The mountain road had many turns, which made me dizzy and uncomfortable. However, I really wanted to visit the mountain, so I pretended that I was fine. When we got to an even higher altitude, my uncle didn’t feel very well.  We gave up and prepared to go home.

Though it was a pity that I didn’t get to go to Hehuan Mountain, I really had a good time with my family. No matter what, I must go to Hehuan Mountain again to see the snow and make a snowman!

Both of us love Qing Jing Farm, but we think that our separate experiences were not perfect enough. Maybe one day we can visit Wu Ling or Hehuan Mountain together – that would be a perfect vacation!

Two Major Problems at FCU

Terry Lee & Grace Wang

Feng Chia University is located in a very prosperous area of the city and has great facilities for both teachers and students. While everything at FCU seems great, there are still some annoying problems. A poor Wi-Fi connection and traffic congestion are the two major problems at FCU.

Now, many students bring their smart phones or laptops to class. As long as you are a student at FCU, you can use the school’s free Wi-Fi. It is very convenient. However, too many devices linking to the limited bandwidth at the same time makes it almost impossible for users to view webpages easily. Some students are “smart” and use their phones to log on to Facebook during class, but this means that other people who need to find information for academic purposes may have trouble getting online. This is a serious problem, so we propose two solutions.

First, we hope that the school could increase the Wi-Fi bandwidth and forbid the use of Facebook through FCU's Wi-Fi. Second, we would like to suggest that all students (including the authors) should try not to use their smart phones or laptops for entertainment too frequently while they are on campus.

Photo by the authors

FCU is located on a very prosperous area of the city. The lanes and alleys in the neighborhood are really narrow and, because of limited space, many shop and stall owners use public space to do business. Public space is even more crowded because lots of people park their cars and scooters illegally.  This means that pedestrians often have to walk in the street with the traffic, and because lots of people like to visit the FCU area, the streets are really dangerous.  These problems are very annoying and make life inconvenient (and dangerous!). Therefore, we would like to make the following suggestions.

Photo by the authors

First, the police should strictly ban illegal shops and stalls along the streets and give tickets to people who park their cars and scooters in red zones. Second, we hope that the school can make an alternative road for vehicles to get onto campus rather than everyone trying to get in by Feng Chia Road. Third, we should all be careful when we walk on the streets around school. When we ride our scooters, we should remind ourselves to watch for pedestrians and to park in legal parking places.

Although these two problems will be difficult to solve, if everyone could be more rational, objective, and considerate, the situation could be improved through wisdom.

Shark Bites Toast: A Restaurant Review

Sandy Chang & Cathy Huang

Shark Bites Toast is a famous restaurant with many locations in Taiwan. Every time we pass by the Feng Chia Shark Bites Toast, there are lots of people waiting outside. We were curious about why it was so popular, so we decided to make a visit.
When you get to Shark Bites Toast, you first notice that there are no walls! Actually, there ARE walls, but the building is made mainly of glass. This makes the shop look warm and bright from the outside at night. In addition, the shop is painted in two main colorsblack and yellow. These two colors make the shop look more friendly and charming. The waiters and waitresses at Shark Bites Toast are all friendly and charming, too. They not only sell food but also sell happiness to customers.

All photos by the authors
 Last week, we went to Shark Bites Toast in the evening. They sell light meal such as big sandwiches, waffles, and pudding toast. We ordered two meals. The first one was the Omelet in Sauce with Double Cheese sandwich. We were shocked by the huge size of sandwich. It was amazing that the pesto sauce really went well with the sandwich. Chips also came with the sandwich. Our other meal was the Banana Chocolate Waffle. When the waitress brought it to our table, we saw that the waffle had a ball of chocolate ice cream and sweet cream on it. The banana slices kept the waffle from being too sweet. Both the sandwich and waffle tasted really good – so good that we decide to visit Shark Bites Toast again soon.

We visited Shark Bites Toast for the second time the very next morning! When we saw the pictures of their breakfasts on the menu, two meals impressed us most. One was the Rover Classical Breakfast, which was a thick slice of ham, an egg, a bowl of salad, and two slices of toast. The other one was the Crispy French Breakfast, which was crispy French bread with cheese, some smoke chicken, and a bowl of salad. All of the breakfasts at Shark Bites Toast include a free drinkcoffee, black tea, or herbal tea.  We both had the black tea, our favorite drink.

Shark Bites Toast is a wonderful place for friends to get together. After visiting there twice, we suggest that you go there in the afternoon or in the evening. Just order some sandwiches and drinks. Then you can sit there and spend some time with your friends. Go try it! We believe that after you try it first time, you will probably want to visit again!

Shark Bites Toast
33 Fuxing Road, Taichung
Hours: 7:00 – 22:00

Volunteering in North Thailand

Annie Ju

Feng Chia University’s North Thailand International Service Team is a team of international volunteers which was founded in 2009. This team’s goal is to preserve Chinese culture among the Chinese people living in north Thailand. Long ago, there was a war in China, and some Chinese soldiers and civilians went to north Thailand.  After the war had ended, the soldiers couldn’t go back to China. Now, many years later, these Chinese people still live there with their children and grandchildren, and they want to keep Chinese culture there. Every year the FCU North Thailand International Service Team goes to this area and helps the people who live there.  This year, we had two projects.

In the first project, we worked for children. We taught at the local Chinese school first, and then at the Thai public senior high school. At the Chinese school, we assembled and installed computers, and we held a summer camp for the children. Unlike the Thai public senior high schools, the Chinese schools are private. That is the reason why Chinese school lack resources. Feng Chia University provided some second-hand computers for the Team to take to the school in Thailand. Before leaving, we separated the computers into parts so that we could ship them cheaply and easily.  After arriving, we put the computers back together and made sure that every computer could operate well.  We taught the children how to use the machines and the software.

All photos by the author
We also held a soiree at the Chinese school. Children there don’t have many chances to perform for an audience, so they are afraid of expressing themselves. In order to encourage them, we taught them some Chinese songs and dances. After practicing for three days, the performance was unforgettable.  We built a close relationship with the children during this activity.  When it was over, I told them to study hard so that they might have a chance to come to Taiwan to study.

At the Thai public senior high school, we taught the students basic Taiwanese songs and Chinese phrases. The most memorable experience for me was teaching in the mountains of Chiang Mai. The children there are very thoughtful even though they don’t have lots of resources. The children and teachers seemed more contented than the children and teachers in Taiwan.  For instance, when we taught them how to do some art projects, the older students would help the younger ones. I was glad to see that there are still some innocent people in the world, and I was glad to have the chance to help them.

Besides our projects with these cute children, we also had a project to take care of the older veterans. They can’t go back to China, and they don’t have families either. We went to their homes to keep them company. I knew we could do nothing for them, really.  All we could do was keep them company. I thought that these old people might not have the opportunity to hold someone’s hand, hug someone, or even just talk to someone. Therefore, when I got there, I didn’t hesitate; I just found an old “grandpa” and started to talk to him.  At that moment, my eyes were full of tears. I pretended he was my grandfather, who passed away many years ago. The old man treated me very nicely and smiled the whole time. When it was time to go, I cried a lot. In the future, I will go back to visit these old veterans again if I have enough time and money.

After we had finished our projects, our Team took a rest in Bangkok. We ate great food and went to the water market to buy some souvenirs. This summer experience made me stronger, I think, and more contented. Compared to the people in north Thailand, we have a lot. We should cherish what we have rather than always wanting more. We should just keep working hard and be optimistic. I’m proud to be a Feng Chia University North Thailand International Service Team volunteer.

一藤井茶菓鋪: A Restaurant Review

Serena Chen & Celeste Tseng

Last Thursday, we went to 一藤井 for lunch.  We were looking on the Internet for a restaurant near Feng Chia University and chose this one. Once we stepped into 一藤井, we were enchanted by what we saw. The restaurant is just like Shangri-La – a secret spot in the countryside, far away from city life.  Everything at 一藤井is special, especially desserts; the owner turns his desserts into works of art, each with a unique name.

All photos by the authors

The atmosphere in the restaurant is relaxing, cozy, and pleasant.  The decoration is Japanese-style.  We were surrounded by lots of furniture, paintings, and statues, all of which were brought from Japan.  The first floor is where you place your order.  At the second floor is separated into two sections.  One section has tatami mats on the floor, and the other section is normal, with wood floors and tables and chairs.  We sat on the tatamis next to the windows, where we could see the beautiful garden outside.  We listened to soft Japanese music and enjoyed the landscape while we were waiting for our meal.

At 一藤井, they have a special way for you to order your meal.  First, when you go into the restaurant, you will see pictures of their dishes on the wall.  Below these pictures are cloth pockets containing cards with that dish’s name.  You just pick the cards with the dishes you would like to order and take them to the cashier.  After we had ordered, we asked the cashier why they use this way for guests to order their meals.  They told us that every year, the owner and staff go to Japan to learn more about the catering industry.  In Japan, customers use machines to order their meals.  After the machines have printed their meals out, customers give these tickets to the cashier.  However, in Taiwan, they don’t have these machines; therefore, they use these cards instead.

At 一藤井, they serve not only traditional Japanese desserts; they also serve rice, noodles, and drinks.  Last Thursday, we had “otyaduke” (it means “rice in tea”) and a dessert for our lunch.  The appetizers were served first; we had okra and a cup of tea.  The main dishes were otyaduke with two side dishes (sweet potato and tofu).  After we had finished our meals, the dessert was served.  Although the dessert was smaller than what we expected, we still thought it was a masterpiece.  It was so beautiful that we didn’t want to eat it immediately!  When we finally ate it, we really enjoyed it; it was sweet, chewy, and smooth.

The service at一藤井is great, and the quality of their food is high.  The size of the meals is fine for women, but obviously not enough for men.  Desserts are a specialty at 一藤井; however, the prices are a little expensive.  If you go to 一藤井, make sure you bring enough money to try a Japanese traditional dessert.  It’s a wonderful place for you to have a meal with your classmates, friends or family members.

No 38, Dadun 19th St., Xitun Dist, Taichung City
(Take Bus No. 79 to 頂何厝 and walk 5 minutes.)
Hours: 11:30 – 18:00
(04) 2319-3898