Monday, November 30, 2009

Fascinating showcase highlights Chinese intangible cultural heritage

By Nancy T. Lu

“Root and Spirit: Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition” at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei calls for an eye-opening visit.

But not many people are aware of the rare possibility of seeing such an amazing and colorful array of traditional arts and crafts from China all under one Taipei roof until December 6.

Of the over 200 items from China on display, the elaborate costume worn by legendary Chinese opera artist Mei Lan-fang in his portrayal of the exalted imperial concubine, Yang Kuei-fei, in the Chinese opera titled “The Romance of the Imperial Concubine” back in 1925 to 1926 stands out. Next to it are the age-old Chinese musical instruments on which Chinese opera musician Mei Yu-tian, the uncle of Mei Lan-fang, played more than a century ago.

An enormous ancient handloom originating from Nanjing for brocade weaving dominates the display hall on the ground floor. The exhibited collection also includes an ornately carved bridal sedan in which young girls from Jiangnan or an entire area south of the Yangtze River rode on their wedding days in the late Qing Dynasty.

Early Qing Dynasty Tibetan tanka referring to handmade tassels, fringes, and cords can also be found on view. There is also a bronze human figure with all the acupuncture points marked out. This is said to have been modeled after the original one created by acupuncture scholar Wang Wei-yi in the 11th century.

Traditional shadow puppet theater from Chaozhou, Fujian Province, comes alive in one room in the basement exhibition area. More than 10 arts and crafts are demonstrated daily here, too. The making of classic New Year prints. paper-cutting, Tibetan tanka tying, Miao tribe’s silver ornament hammering, bamboo carving, sugar syrup sculpture shaping, ancient string musical instrument playing, creating of inksticks used in Chinese calligraphy as well as embroidery by ethnic minorities vie for attention in crowded space. Purchases can be made on the spot.

The UNESCO puts great importance on the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. “Root and Spirit” is a major cross-strait project along this line. The Chinese Cultural Association and the Shen Chun-chi Foundation have collaborated closely to make the exhibition of “Root and Spirit” in Taipei and Taichung possible.

The exhibition of the creativity of traditional Chinese artisans and craftsmen will move to the Taiwan Architecture, Design and Art Center (the former TTL Taichung Distillery), better known as the TADA Center, at 362 Fuxing Road in Taichung City from December 11 to 20. Admission is free.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Traditional temple woodcarver Hong Yao-hui showing his exquisite works at Taipei gallery

By Nancy T.:Lu

Traditional woodcarvers are not born overnight. They must undergo long years of training and hard work usually as a protégé of a master of the traditional woodcarving craft to perfect their skill and earn recognition for their superb craftsmanship.

Fifty-year-old Hong Yao-hui – mentor to the younger generation of woodcarving artisans in Taiwan – has been at his art and craft for 30 years. The Department of Cultural Affairs under the Taipei City Government has singled him out for unprecedented recognition and honor through the “Taipei Traditional Art Skill Teacher Award.” In this connection, he – who teaches cultural monument restoration at the National Taiwan University of the Arts in Banciao – is holding a one-man show in the basement exhibition area of the Taipei Municipal Social Education Hall until December 9.

On display are 33 ornate carvings of exquisite workmanship, including 12 on loan from collectors, seven old works as well as 14 new pieces created for this particular exhibition. Camphor wood is commonly used by Hong in his works.

The intangible cultural heritage Hong has tried to preserve includes concentration on traditional woodcarving subjects and themes of long history. Auspicious messages are often conveyed in his traditional carvings, too.

“Flooding of Jinshan Monastery,” “Eight Immortals,” “Magpie Brings Wealth,” and “Carp Dives for Fame and Glory” are examples of Hong’s labor of love now on public view. A not-so-big piece takes four months to finish.

Structural features of traditional Chinese architecture like the lion, the kylin or Chinese unicorn, the leopard, the sea-tortoise, and the flying phoenix all fall under Hong’s expertise. He works on flowers and birds or classic figures for his decorative pieces.

Hong was born to a very poor family in Beimen Xiang, Tainan County. Upon graduating from junior high school, he felt obliged to eke out a living. His father influenced him to find work with Su Hai-ping. The master craftsman in temple building from Quanzhou, Fujian province, was an artisan in traditional Chinese woodwork and carving in demand in those days when houses of worship were being constructed in Taiwan.

After only one month of working as Su’s protégé, Hong ran away due to the hardships of life. .His father, however, made him go back. He stayed for three years and four months as a trainee. Every morning, he got up at 5 o’clock, went to the market, prepared three meals, cleaned up the surroundings and spent four to five hours learning woodcarving. Only at midnight did he go to bed.

Hong only had 15 days off every year. As beginner in the first six months, he earned only NT$50 per half month. After six months, his pay was increased to NT$100 every half month. The amount went up to NT$300 after a year and NT$500 after a year and a half. After two years and six months until completion of the training, he received NT$1,000. During the Lunar New Year, the red envelop he got contained NT$500, then NT$1,500 and finally, NT$2,000. All told, he earned just enough to buy him passage home.

Hong got scolded for his initially poor-quality carving and his mistakes. .But he learned to be patient and to show respect towards his mentor. He became like a member of the Su family, even helping look after a cancer-stricken son of his teacher.

While still a trainee in 1979, Hong participated in the construction of the Puji Temple on Huayin Street in Taipei. This meant living and working at the site. He had to daily prepare three meals and collect 30 pails of water for the day’s use. He unrolled a straw mat to make his bed on the floor at night. There was no toilet and he had to bathe in cold water. The building of the temple began on the ground floor, moving up gradually until reaching the third floor. Everything had to be brought up manually. He at one point even had to sleep under the open sky, getting wet on rainy nights.

During Hong’s training period, his teacher Su also undertook work like the ceiling carving in the rear hall of the Dong Long Temple in Beimen, Tainan County, in 1977. Carvings at the Dragon and Tiger Doors of this place of worship were also done then. Wu Fu Qian Sui Temple in Qigu Xiang, Tainan County, was a big project in 1978.

The major reconstruction of the Zu Shi Temple in Sanxia starting in 1986 saw the recruitment of master craftsmen of different schools to carry out the job. Lee Mei-shu was behind the ambitious project. Su Hai-ping moved to Sanxia. Hong, his protégé, followed him there. Over a 15-year period from 1986 to 2001, Hong labored over many admirable intricate woodcarving details of the Zu Shi Temple. Lee Mei-shu’s death saw the disbanding of the original artisans and craftsmen he hired.

For those interested in seeing the beautiful woodcarvings of Hong Yao-hui, tthe Taipei Municipal Social Education Hall is located at 25 Bade Road, Sec. 3, Taipei.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

“Fuerzabruta” promises semblance of techno party and mind-blowing entertainment

“Fuerzabruta” (translated Brute Force) by the group who did “De La Guarda” (featuring performers flying around and sometimes taking with them the spectators) and made it the talk of New York promises a mind-blowing experience. Spectators need only look up to get excited viewing wet women in a pool overhead. Transparent plastic sheet holds up the water.

Get ready, therefore, for what has been described in Time Out New York as “half techno party, half avant-garde mood piece.” The production with no permanent stage and fixed seating arrangement all originated from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The production created and directed by Diqui James will be “an interactive environmental thrill ride without narrative, characters or message.”

Energy-packed performances – 60 in all – are kicking off on Decemer 15 inside a tent at the Taipei Xinyi District A10 Parking Area right next to Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store’s A8 Building and will run until January 24 next year. Taipei is the first stop in the Asian tour of “Fuerzabruta.”

The show opened in London in 2002 for a two-year run. Performances were packed nightly. It arrived in New York in October 2007, once more creating a sensation. Celebrities like Madonna, Beyonce, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo di Caprio and Harrison Ford went out of their way to watch it.

Performances in Taipei will start at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, as well as at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets cost NT$1,900 on ordinary days, NT$2,300 on holidays and NT$3,000 on special holidays. Go to or for online ticket purchase.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Handel’s “Messiah” to air in Taipei and Taichung as NTSO's special tribute to master composer

By Nancy T. Lu
Get ready for the power, lyricism and profundity of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” as the year devoted to the commemoration of the German-born composer’s 250th death anniversary approaches a finale.

Chen Zuo-huang, the artistic director of the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing and of the Incheon Philharmonic Orchestra in South Korea, has been invited to conduct the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra (NTSO) and the New Era Chorale during the third series of the “Tribute to the Masters.”.

The two performances of the oratorio will take place at the Zuo.Yue Hall in Taipei at 2:30 p.m. on November 29 and at the Chung Hsing Hall in Taichung at 7:30 p.m. on November 30.

Soprano Lin Ching-ju, mezzo-soprano Chen Pei-chi, tenor Teng Chi-long and bass Liau Chong-boon will be the featured soloists.

Handel, who was not a religious composer in the accepted sense, wrote “Messiah” in just 24 days, pointed out Chen. This was a few years after his recovery from a stroke. The musical creation went on to become an outstanding example of devotional art.

Of Handel’s most well-loved baroque composition, Chen Zuo-huang (shown with NTSO director Liu Suan-yung in photo) admitted to the flexibility of the formation of the orchestra and the chorus. But “the least controversial version” has been picked this time. Chen’s intention is “to stay faithful to Handel’s music.”

As conductor, Chen has been a great admirer of Seiji Ozawa. He, a classmate of composer Tan Dun, first met the maestro when he visited China in 1978. The following year, Ozawa brought the Boston Symphony to China. Chen became one of the first Chinese musicians to receive a scholarship for further music education abroad in the post-Cultural Revolution period in Chinese history. Chen was personally invited by Ozawa to Tanglewood for his music training.

Chen recalled learning from Ozawa that there should be no room for mistake during a rehearsal. In short, all mistakes should be corrected during the rehearsal stage of the concert preparation.

Admission to the Taipei concert will be free. Call tel. (04)23391141 ext. 153. The Zuo Yue Hall is located on the second floor of the Center of the Central Personnel Administration at 30 Xinsheng South Road, Sec. 3, Taipei.

Tickets to the Taichung concert cost from NT$300 to NT$1,000.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vienna State Opera Chorus to collaborate with National Taiwan Symphony in New Year project

By Nancy T. Lu

The Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor or the Vienna State Opera Chorus will return to Taiwan for three 2010 New Year concerts, featuring highlights from Johann Strauss II’s “Die Fledermaus.” The chorus performed at the opening of the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung earlier this year.

Soprano Keti Tavardi, mezzo-soprano Adrineh Simonian, baritone Zoltan Nagy and tenor Peter Svensson will sing the lead roles from the operetta. Tiziano Duca will be the conductor.

The National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with the Vienna State Opera Chorus to bring to Taiwan for the first time the beautiful Vienna Neujahrkonzert tradition with a history of 162 years. The orchestra based in central Taiwan was founded in 1945.

Polka and waltz music will help transport local listeners to Vienna with its old world charm. “Blue Danube” and “Radetzky March” as program encores promise to work the listeners up and get them in a waltzing and polka dancing mood during the first days of the year 2010.

The first of three New Year concerts will take place on January 2 at the Chung Hsing Hall in Taichung. The program will then be presented on January 3 at the Chih Te Hall in Kaohsiung and on January 5 at the National Concert Hall in Taipei.

The professional chorus from Vienna boasts 92 of the finest singers from around the world. Ho Meng-chieh is the only Taiwanese singer in the chorus from the world music capital. Twenty-four singers will come for the New Year project.

Whether appearing as a full-size chorus or in smaller groups, the Vienna State Opera Chorus is engaged almost 255 days in a year. The professional chorus must be ready to support and back any of the 55 opera productions in the repertoire of the Vienna State Opera. This means singing in the different original languages of the operas. Johann Strauss wrote in German, Georges Bizet in French, Igor Stravinsky in Russian, Antonin Dvorak in Czech and so forth. They must also be prepared to dance as called for by the operas.

The stages in Taichung, Kaohsiung and Taipei will be decorated with fresh flowers at every performance. Members of the audience will be encouraged to bring home one flower each at the end of every concert.

Volkswagon will be the sole sponsor of the Kaohsiung and Taipei performances being promoted by the Management of New Arts.

National Palace Museum in Taipei participating in Beijing cultural, creative industry expo

The National Palace Museum will be participating in the 4th China Beijing International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo (ICCIE) at the Beijing International Exhibition Center from November 26 to 29. This will be the second year in a row that it will be present upon the invitation of the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs.

Seventy-three exhibitors in all from Taiwan will be gathered in the themed pavilion called "Fine works of Taipei Cultural and Creative Industry" and their products will occupy a total showcase area of 4,000 square meters.

Eight business enterprises in Taiwan, including Rich Jade, Chullery Art and Jewllery, Golden Life, Chin Ho Li Co., Long-Kuang Digital Culture Co., Ltd., Jetprint, SiPALS, and Vivoteck will be displaying product designs inspired by the treasures of the National Palace Museum.

The Taipei Fine Arts Museum and Taipei's Museum of Contemporary Art will also be joining the Beijing cultural, creative industry expo.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nantou County Travel Diary: Blazing a beautiful and fragrant flower trail high above the clouds

By Nancy T. Lu

Travel in Nantou County with an itinerary designed to appeal to flower lovers can begin with an exciting escape to the highlands literally above the clouds and straight into the heartland of perfumed lily cultivation at 2,044 meters above sea level.

Bo Wang New Village in Cingjing is home to an ethnic Bai Yi group from Yunnan, China, and the 30 households accounting for a population of about 200 spend a good part of the year, notably from June to November, growing over 10 exceedingly fragrant lily varieties for the markets in the lowlands.

Holland, France and Chile are the seasonal suppliers of the bulbs needed by the nurseries and green houses up in Bo Wang. Visitors have to negotiate steep slopes overlooking ever-changing mountain silhouettes playing a game of hide-and-seek behind clouds to get to the rows and rows of cultivated lilies. Unsightly water pipes bring the needed water supply in flower cultivation to private plots but they also spoil the Cingjing landscape.

Don’t expect to see blooming flowers. No local horticulturist who knows what he is doing wants to become the laughing stock of his neighbors. The lily plants must be cut before the buds start opening up in preparation for daily dispatch on a long journey to flower markets as far as Taipei. Occasionally, however, lilies on a plot protected by transparent plastic cover are allowed to bloom freely to satisfy the curious tourists seeking a first-hand visual feast in the area thriving on horticulture. .

When in Cingjing,Renai Xiang, make sure to drop by Mama Lu’s restaurant (tel. 049-2803876)for lunch. The quaint new building replacing an old and original structure elsewhere stands out even from a distance to visitors arriving by car or bus. The elderly woman from the Bai Yi tribe settled down here with her veteran husband, who followed Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist forces to Taiwan after fighting an unsuccessful guerrilla war in Yunnan in southwest China. She runs the dining establishment with help from her trained children.

Lu Wen-yin, one of her sons, thought of selling coffee to tide over the months when he didn’t have cut flowers to sell. A good friend suggested that his family should try try opening a restaurant with Bai Yi cooking as the specialty of the house.

Crispy deep-fried bamboo worms – yes, insect larvae – are a most popular dish at Mama Lu’s place. The larvae are imported still inside the bamboo cylinders from Burma and Thailand. Once the hesitation to taste the gourmet food is overcome, clamor for it comes after each helping. The insect larvae snack is believed to be high in protein and fiber and low in fat.
Mama Lu’s inviting menu highlights the spicy, the sour and the salty as natural flavors of the cuisine. Of the dishes, the minced meat with five-six spices added contributes to a hearty meal. Fresh cabbage arrives at the table on a separate plate for use in holding or taking a spoonful of the minced meat.

Deep-fried fish stomach is another must-try dish. The chicken soup requires tangkuei or ligusticum roots in it. Tangkuei leaves flavor the egg omelet in the special ethnic cuisine.

Fresh cuttings of big and fragrant lilies from the Lu family’s mountain slope plot decorate the restaurant’s interior. Even the paintings on the walls are of the big lilies. After all Cingjing produces 63 million stems of lilies in a year, accounting for 90 percent of Taiwan’s total output and earning for the place recognition as the hometown for growing lilies. . .

In Bo Wang New Village, where stands still the original restaurant of Mama Lu Lu Mama to the local residents), there is a small museum of sorts filled with old black-and-white photographs taken in the post-1949 period. The pictures fanning nostalgia for yhe past even document Chiang Kai-shek’s visit to the area. Displayed with pride in this space also are the many fragrant lily varieties cultivated in Cingjing.

Every Sunday until December 13, the Renai Xiang Farmers Association offers to bring visitors to Cingjing, Renai Xiang to experience a trail of floral sight and scent in the highlands of Nantou County Everyone gets to prepare a potted lily bulb to take home to look after according to simple instructions.

After a lunch of Bai Yi cooking, the group will proceed to a Saiteke weaving center to learn to be a weaver. Before the end of the day, the entourage will drop by the Puli Flower Center to have a look at the exhibition with the rose as main theme of the arts and crafts on display.

On the second floor of the Puli Flower Center is the enormous Puli Banquet Restaurant, which can accommodate 1,000 guests. The menus served here revolve around the seasonallocal produce. Jiao bai shun, a kind of bamboo shoot known locally also as "beauty's leg," is the theme of this season's banquet. The main ingredient, Puli's pride, is boiled, steamed, cooked, stir-fried or simmered in a soup. But if you are blazing a flower trail, then recipes featuring flowers such as roses can be tasted.

For inquiries about the day-long flower appreciation activity in Nantou County, call tel. 049-2920480 ext. 14 and 10. You can also try to contact Mr. Gao through cellphone 0975120340. or Ms. Hsu through cellphone 0963471250.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Day turkey, Taiwan style, tempts diners with innovative local difference

By Nancy T. Lu
The approaching Thanksgiving Day in Taiwan this year sees planned festive dining revolving around the traditional take-home roasted turkey. Families from Taipei to Tainan are going to warmly gather around the roasted turkey to relish it with cranberry sauce.

But a culinary celebration now going on and revolving around the turkey at Café at Far Eastern finds an imported tradition acquiring an innovative and palatable Taiwanese flavor. Buffet dining with difference starts with the turkey itself. The fowl is farmed right in Taiwan.

The recipes go the range in exotic variety to stimulate appetites of diners – boiled turkey soup with sesame oil, Thai-style shredded turkey salad, turkey and fusilli with pesto sauce, wok-fried turkey in satay sauce, three-cup turkey, turkey in mushroom sauce, turkey curry, turkey-flavored pizza and turkey pie. Dishes are trotted out of the kitchen on a rotation basis.

Shown in the picture is three-cup turkey. The original dish centers around chicken. The recipe calls for ginger, cloves of garlic, red chilli, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine and basil in addition to turkey.

Of this local farmyard bird, its meat is high in nutrition and low in fat content. Its tastiness and juiciness are qualities which call for finding out at the five-star hotel. Health buffs are bound to welcome the turkey’s low cholesterol and high protein, too.

According to the ROC Turkey Association, turkey is raised in Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan. About 300,000 turkeys raised locally wind up in restaurants islandwide. Turkey cocks are allowed to grow to be six months old and 22 kilos in weight. Female birds of five months and weighing 13 kilos are ready to be sold.

The American Thanksgiving Day turkey tradition has certainly come a long way since the 17th century when settlers in the Plymouth Colony were saved from famine and starvation by the wild turkey.

Lunch at Café at Far Eastern starts at NT%750 and dinner costs NT$890 per person. Parties of four start at NT$599 for lunch and NT$699 per person from Monday to Friday. All quoted prices require an additional service charge of 10 percent.

"A Taste of Taiwanese Turkey" will wind up at Cafe at Far Eastern on November 30. Call Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel at tel. (02)2378-8888 and ask for Café at Far Eastern to make reservations.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vienna-trained violinist Hwang Wei-ming named new director of Taipei Symphony Orchestra

By Nancy T. Lu

Hwang Wei-ming, a violinist trained both in Europe and in America, is taking over as the new and incoming general director. of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra on December 1, announced Taipei Vice Mayor Lee Yong-ping today. The president of the Soochow University has agreed to let him leave his job as dean of the music conservatory on short notice, she added.

Hwang’s challenging new job in the TSO marking a 40-year milestone this year will require him to steer the orchestra and let it truly take off internationally.

Taipei Vice Mayor Lee noted Hwang’s international experience as “a big plus” in favor of his appointment.

Hwang’s credentials, notably his track record of outstanding performance and experience as a student first in Vienna and later in Cincinnati, are perceived by those consulted by the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs as likely to be helpful in guiding the orchestra to achieve clear goals in the domestic and international fronts.

,“My role will be that of a bridge in linking the orchestra I know well with the world at large in the spirit of city diplomacy, in reaching out to the community and even in interacting with the schools,” Hwang said after Taipei Vice Mayor Lee formally announced his appointment in Taipei on November 19. “I hope to help show that Taipei has a great orchestra.”

Hwang’s official appointment as the TSO’s new general director capped a period of serious search mainly in the best-known music conservatories in Taiwan. Other candidates were considered but he stood out as the most qualified. The 49-years-old Hwang, in fact, is relinquishing his post as dean of the music conservatory at the Soochow University after serving there for 16 years to report to the TSO on December 1.

Hsu Po-yun, a composer, promoter of the arts and policy adviser, highly endorsed Hwang’s appointment. He compared Hwang to the baseball player who started in the Little League and then moved from Minor League all the way up to Major League over the years. Hsu has known Hwang directly as a performing artist for he has played his original music compositions in concerts. Hwang should be able to draw from his training and experience in managing the orchestra, according to Hsu. The behind-the-scene administrative work would be the most difficult, Hsu warned.

Hwang admitted that human relations would be an area of great challenge. His wife, Liao Ching-hui, has stepped in so far to advise him in this area, the ever-grateful Hwang pointed out. He would need to communicate well with his musicians, he said.

“The failure of an orchestra can only be due to the failure of the conductor,” said Tsang Chen-yee, the president of the Taiwan-Austria Arts Association. “Hwang Wei-ming’s experience in Vienna especially in the ORF-Symphonie Orchester makes me feel confident about the TSO’s development continuing under him.”Tseng called on Vice Mayor Lee to help win greater government subsidy for the TSO to carry out the orchestra's goals.

Ju Tzong-ching, president of the Taipei National University of the Arts, described Hwang as “a person who prefers to keep a low profile.” Hwang’s dedication to his work is remarkable, he observed. Ju like Hwang graduated from music studies in Vienna in 1982. Of their student days in Vienna, he recalled Hwang as shining brightly like the sun. At the age of 19, Hwang became the assistant concertmaster of the ORF-Symphonie Orchester. Ju urged Hwang to give importance to the marketing of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Composer Hsu Po-yun channeling his creativity to oriental music writing in memory of Haydn

By Nancy T. Lu

Taiwanese composer Hsu Po-yun has lately been deeply engrossed in writing commissioned music to be dedicated to Austrian-born composer Franz Joseph Haydn, whose 200th death anniversary is being commemorated this year. He must deliver a composition of 8 to 12 minutes in length towards the end of this month.

As Hsu is taking an oriental perspective in his music creation, he is calling his new but still unfinished work “Oriental Fantasy.” Oriental sonority, which is to be distinguished from the western kind, is what he promises to offer. In a linear depiction, oriental music sees notes floating in waves. Western music comes out straight and direct, Hsu explained.

For composer Hsu, folk music has been “a vast resource.” He has been studying oriental music of different geographical areas for many years. Their influences in his music, therefore, have been inevitable.

In composing for a trio, he must figure out a harmonious balance between the piano and the two other musical instruments, according to Hsu. He has finished writing two minutes of his piece. But he is getting there (meaning about to complete his task in music composition), according to Hsu.

Hsu composes at night at home. He does not work in front of the piano. He puts together the notes in his mind. In his search for inspiration, he recently spent time close to nature in Hualien.

“I don’t compose very often,” said Hsu, better known as a promoter of the arts through the New Aspect. “So it has to be good.”

Hsu has been one of 18 international composers from different countries and continents who have been approached to participate in a project to honor Haydn’s memory this year. He missed an earlier deadline to finish his composition for premiere performance in Vienna.

“I am still studying and discovering Haydn,” confessed Hsu, who was more into the study of Bach for many years. “My past impression of Haydn stands corrected today. In fact, the more I understand him, the more I am amazed by his talent.”

He recalled: “As a child, I loved Haydn’s ‘Toy Symphony.’ Later, I was truly impressed by his oratorio, ‘The Creation.’ I have to say that in the study of western music theory, everything about musical form is there in the music of Haydn.”

The Haydn Trio Eisenstadt composed of pianist Harald Kosik, violinist Verena Stourzh and cellist Hannes Gradwohl will give a premiere performance of this piece at the Novel Hall for Performing Arts in Taipei on December 15. The group was founded in 1992 and the three musicians to be featured have played as an ensemble since 1998. The trio will also play Schubert in Taipei.

Eisenstadt was where Haydn worked for his two aristocractic patrons, Prince Paul and Prince Nikolaus. He remained with them for about 30 years from 1761 to 1790. While staying with them in their secluded palace, he produced many works of different genres.

Hsu studied music theory and the violin with the late composer Hsu Tsang-houei. His compositions dating back to the first half of the Seventies were used by Lin Hwai-min in his early choreographies for the Cloud Gate Dance Theater.

Hsu's "Pipa," which was first played by pipa virtuoso Wong Ching-ping in 1975, went on to become a classic Chinese music piece for pipa music artists globally. In 1982, he composed the music for Bai Xian-yong's "Wandering in the Garden, Waking From a Dream." He also wrote the music for the Contemporary Legend Theater's opera, "Medea (Lo Lan Nu)" in 1993.

Hsu Po-yun was a founder of one of the most important Asian music organizations called the Asian Composers League.

Ju Tzong-ching earns international recognition for promotion of percussion music education

Ju Tzong-ching, founder of the Ju Percussion Group and the incumbent president of the Taipei National University of the Arts in Kuandu, recently received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Education Award from Steve Houghton, president of the Percussive Arts Society, in recognition of his 27-year promotion of percussion music and for his contribution to international percussion music through international percussive activities.

Ju became the first Asian ethnic Chinese to be honored with the prestigious award. The awarding took place during the evening concert organized as highlight of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). The Ju Percussion Group performed on this occasion, playing music blending influences of the East and the West.

Ju in his response expressed his gratitude to all the people who have helped him along the way. The awarding took him by surprise. Nevertheless, he felt truly the great expectations of many people.

Percussion music in Taiwan started out as a professional field with little appeal and showing little promise, he recalled. But it has emerged to become well-loved by the general public. He thanked the people in Taiwan for giving him encouragement and the opportunity to bring about the transformation. He would endeavor to drum up even greater interest in percussion music among different generations. He would work at wider and deeper interest in percussion music throughout Taiwan. His goal for the future would also include greater exchange with international artists.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Taipei’s Tien Hsiang Lo celebrates Hangzhou cuisine by bringing back chef Lee Ah-ping

By Nancy T. Lu
Tien Hsiang Lo as the first dining establishment to specialize in Hangzhou cuisine in Taipei has lived up to the restaurant’s reputation of offering “heavenly fragrance” in the Hangzhou tradition for 23 years. The Landis Taipei celebrating a 30-year milestone this year has even found a good excuse to bring back chef Lee Ah-ping, formerly of Tien Hsiang Lo in Hong Kong, to excite nostalgic palates.

Lunch with chef Lee in charge in the Landis Taipei’s kitchen featured stir-fried prawn with a springy bite and this had crisp and green bell pepper strips on the same plate for contrast. The dish came after a serving of good ham, something often mentioned as a Hangzhou specialty, wrapped around scallion.

The savory yellow fish soup indicated the freshness of the seafood. Mushroom and loofah enhanced the flavor and color of the dish. Minced meat resembling lion’s head turned up with crab roe. Again, the food taste and texture showed variety. Pan-seared wonton arrived next with a sauce. Penchant for light and natural taste in the day’s menu was pleasantly consistent that Wednesday.

“There was not a single Taipei restaurant specializing in Hangzhou cuisine in those days,” recalled by Stanley Yen, president of the Landis Group, over lunch. “Hunan-style cooking was what most restaurants offered.”

For somebody whose ancestral roots were in Hangzhou, famous for refinement in cuisine, Yen knew that Taipei gourmets would warmly welcome the serving of unique Hangzhou cooking. Hence, he embarked on an extensive research, consulting lengthily an expert like chef Han Tung-chuan of Tien Hsiang Lo in Hong Kong. Han was a protégé of Mung Yung-tai, master chef and owner of the original Tien Hsiang Lo in Hangzhou, China.

“The preparation for the introduction of Hangzhu cuisine in Taipei took all of three years,” said Yen. Yen personally took chefs Chiu Ping-shing and Tseng Hsiu-pao of Landis Taipei (formerly Ritz Landis) to Hong Kong to learn directly from already respected Hangzhou cuisine authority Han. He himself tried to master Hangzhou food preparation by watching and jotting down culinary notes.

Yen remembered vividly: “Chef Han simply threw away a dead eel. He settled only for a fresh one which was ready to bleed fresh blood on the spot. He also went to China to find the best ham, crabs and tea leaves needed for his recipes. Quality ham was particularly difficult to find.”

Chef Lee Ah-ping worked closely under Han. Upon Han’s retirement, Lee took over the Tien Hsiang Lo in Hong Kong. He is now at Tien Hsiang Lo in Taipei to revive some well-loved old recipes.

Both Chiu and Tseng also recently returned to participate in the culinary activities in celebration of the Landis Taipei’s 30th anniversary.

Hangzhou cuisine requiring low fire and slow cooking has come a long way in history. In keeping with the times, however, modern Hangzhou cooking just like Taiwanese food preparing has become innovative. Ingredients used and food presentations nowadays vary. According to chef Lee, one rule-of-thumb in cuisine preparation remains unchanged and unchallenged: Go always for best-quality ingredients.

A la carte dishes start at NT$280 per order and the set menu begins at NT$1,280 in price. The Taiwan Tobacco & Wine Monopoly Bureau is proposing to match dishes with good local wines like Shao Xing. Four glasses of different alcoholic drinks come with a total starting price of NT$220. Chef Lee Ah-ping will be around until November 30. To make reservations, call tel. (02)2597-1234 and ask for Tien Hsiang Lo.

Photo shows (from left) Chiu Ping-shing, Stanley Yen, Lee Ah-ping and Tseng Hsiu-pao.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taipei Performing Arts Center promises to be completed world-class architecture by 2013

By Nancy T. Lu

Bustling and congested Shihlin with the famous night market and a standout MRT Station of the Tamsui Line to ensure accessibility will look different by the year 2013. The soon-to-rise Taipei Performing Arts Center promises to transform the area.

Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, his German partner in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), look like they are going to create an icon and are about to put Taipei on the world architectural map through their winning design entry of the cube with three theaters in the competition organized by the Taipei City Government’s Cultural Affairs Bureau. The project which also attracted entries from 135 other candidates from 24 countries is to cost NT$3.8 billion (90 million euro, according to one report).

The 40,000-square-meter (430,560-square-foot) complex to appear in the shape of a cube will have a 1,500-seat theater and two 800-seat smaller ones.

3 theaters can function as one

The architectural design highlights an experimental and unique concept of flexibility in that all three theaters will have the rare or even unprecedented possibility of functioning as one or in a combination.

In the exhibition of the competing entries at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum about five months ago, the OMA design was presented as a departure from the usual theaters with a “face” and a back side.

The cube was described formally at that time this way: “Grand and Multiform theaters emerge from the south and north face. Cheng De Road is marked by four towers – lifts and back-of-house accommodation appropriate to existing street façade. The spherical Proscenium Playhouse projects forward towards the station and the green mountain, an emblematic image of a suspended planet that will be visible from afar.”

The proposed architecture was explained further this way: “By consolidating the stage apparatus of the three theaters in a cube, excavating from it a public path, bars and other festive facilities, and cladding the whole in corrugated glass – we create an illuminated, animated background against which the individual auditoriums read like mysterious, dark elements. The transparency of the core and the activities revealed inside it will make also non-visitors active participants in its aura.”

The conclusion was: “Together, cube and extensions offer a dense, open presence that works like an icon without being necessarily conceived like it.”

Koolhaas as a Dutch architect of international renown and experience believes that someone in his profession should keep thinking about what architecture can be, regardless of the form. So in this case, such thinking of his should be borne in mind. .

Energy of Shihlin

When Koolhaas visited the “intensely occupied” site for the Taipei project, he at once felt “the energy of the place.” Besides, Shihlin struck him as known to people of all classes and nationalities, residents and tourists alike. “Absolute accessibility” could be said of the Shihlin site, too. The conditions for success of the project were already there even before he and his team came on board, Koolhaas said during his presentation of his landmark design at the Taipei International Convention Center not too long ago.

The piece of land on which the center is to be built is rather small and limited, the team realized at the outset. Compression, therefore, is a principle that has to be put to work with effective result, according to Ole Scheeren. The congestion and vitality of Shihlin, however, combine to excite Scheeren, said to have visited Taipei more than 10 times so far. He, so taken by the local color, confessed to his enjoyment of walks around Taipei, a city refusing to sleep, at three o’clock in the morning or thereabout.

According to Scheeren, the three theaters of the Taipei Performing Arts Center “are turned inside out” in architectural design approach, enabling them to extend with continuity to the public area. The stages of the theaters and their backstage areas can link up. Specifically the stages of the big theater and the multi-functional theater, being on the same floor level, can form together a new stage of 100 meters. The Proscenium Playhouse above the two can mechanically drop to connect with the other two stages. Engineering experts have been consulted on the technical possibility of the innovative architectural design.

Cube on pedestal

The center is likely to find it difficult to compete with the already existing sea of activity but it stands to benefit from it, remarked Koolhaas. The cube is “to be placed on a pedestal in order to preserve the existing local food market on the site.”

Koolhaas remarked that the food row for all its chaotic impression has been “a source of critical pleasure.” Therefore, instead of removing the old and introducing something completely new, he has favored letting the two co-exist.

Space as seen in a small narrow and crowded street pavement in Shihlin is used with “unthinkable intensity,” noted Koolhaas. Even the food choices crowd out a typical night market stall this way also.

The Shihlin site with the heavy flow of traffic and crowd around it may appear at the outset to be too small for such a grand architectural structure. The greatest possible “compression” must be resorted to in this piece of architecture, , architecturally speaking, opening up to surrounding areas and giving rise to many possibilities in space use.

Many existing theaters for performances have been built, using standard models. Usually the designs include a grand theater, an experimental theater and a playhouse or something in-between the first two. They share a certain distinction from each other. But they are somewhat similar, too. The stages in the Taipei Performing Arts Center can technically come together and the backstage areas can also.

Of the backstage parts, they are visible to people outside of the glass stage tower and non-participants in the activities inside the center.

Metaphor in food container

For Koolhaas, the food row is a “spectacle of incredible plurality of choice.” But beyond the general chaos he sees something highly organized, too.

“We had looked at the food row and saw in the container in which three separate dishes were being heated the metaphor of our project with three theaters,” recalled Koolhaas.

Koolhaas pointed out that each theater in the Taipei Performing Arts Center has a separate technical domain. But just like the three-compartment food container, the technical realms of those theaters can be combined to create a larger whole.

Koolhaas, who has the reputation of an architectural theorist and urbanist, first came to Asia with his parents in his youth. Born in 1944, he moved and lived with his parents and siblings in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1952 to 1955. His novelist and screenwriter father was invited to run a cultural program there after the country had attained independence. Koolhaas, whose maternal grandfather was an architect, was a journalist before he studied to be an architect. He founded OMA with several architects in London in 1975. Koolhaas, a Harvard University professor, has published several books on architecture over the years.

Scheeren, the son of a German architect, began working in his father’s office when he was 14. He did his first architectural project when he was 20. In 1997, when China was not yet fully open to tourism, Scheeren traveled for three-four months there. He changed all the money on him into renminbi and then blazed a Chinese trail by train, bus and motorbike. He made a very eloquent and graphic presentation of how the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing was built for Taipei architects on the same occasion when Koolhaas talked about the Shihlin project.

Koolhaas and Scheeren have worked together on projects like the CCTV Headquarters and the TVCC Cultural Center in Beijing and the Prada Epicentre Stores in New York and Los Angeles. OMA’s projects have also included the Seattle Public Library in Washington, U.S.A., and the Casa do Musica in Porto, Portugal.

The Taipei Performing Arts Center in Shihlin promises to be world-class architecture to be realized with the cooperation of well-known local architect Kris Yao.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Women’s club members in Taipei experience evening of Malaysian cultural entertainment

By Nancy T. Lu

Authentic cuisine spiced to delight, a fashion parade of brightly-colored pareos and sarongs designed to dazzle as well as a kaleidoscope of entertaining songs and dances from a truly Asian nation boasting Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnicity contributed to an unforgettable Malaysian evening for the ladies from the Taipei International Women’s Club (TIWC) last November 6.

Connie Pong, the indefatigable TIWC president, had rounded up her club members and friends for the special Malaysian cultural treat and experience in the lobby of the Grand Hotel in Taipei. This was actually her third or fourth day in a row at the ongoing festival featuring facets of her fascinating homeland, Malaysia. She hails from Ipoh in Perak state.

Abdullah Mohd Salleh, president of the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Center in Taipei, and his wife, Zawiah Ahmad, rushed back from Taichung in time to join the TIWC officers and members at the party.

Swaziland Ambassador Njabuliso B. Gwebu, St. Kitts and Nevis Charge d’Affaires Jasmine Elise Huggins and Ann Keke, wife of Nauru Ambassador Ludwig Dowong Keke, were among the guests who watched up close the Malaysian chef from Kuala Lumpur making a flatbread called roti canai. The dough had to be twirled around in the air with showmanship. This popular food item rather similar to the Indian Kerala porotta was enjoyed later with an appetizing curry or rending dish.

The Malaysian food fare also included chicken and beef satay with a mix of cucumber, onion and peanut for sauce. The wonderful aroma and taste of coconut milk found their way to the truly tempting desserts.

Feasting with the eyes did not end at the buffet table. Malaysian fashion designer Munir Yahya collaborated with batik designer Elda Lembang to create a fashion collection exploding with bright colors on the catwalk. Designs worn by instant models recruited from the staff at the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Center in Taipei demonstrated how pareos and sarongs could be conveniently transformed from casual to formal wear. The hemlines rose and dropped at whim, too.

Diners at the Malaysian event were able to have a look and try on ready-to-wear items on a corner rack. Swaziland Ambassador Njabuliso B.Gwebu and St. Kitts and Nevis Charge d’Affaires Jasmine Elise Huggins spent a few minutes inspecting and admiring some of the designs.

At one point the stage in the Grand Hotel’s lobby really came alive with brightly-costumed Malaysian performers from Pahang state presenting Malay, Chinese, Indian and Kadazan dance highlights of a truly Malaysian cultural program to the rhythmic beat of festive Malaysian music. The dancers were flown to Taipei by Malaysian Airlines.

Audience participation in the Malaysian-style dancing capped a beautiful evening of entertainment to be long remembered for its richness in genuinely Malaysian flavor.

All the pictures were taken by Nancy T. Lu.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Abba fans looking forward to “Mamma Mia!” at Taipei Arena from November 13 to 15

Upbeat Abba fans of different generations are nowadays singing the all-too-familiar songs like “Dancing Queen,” “The Winner Takes It All” and “SOS.” The rhythmic beats of Abba songs like “The Name of the Game,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Super Trouper,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” and “Mamma Mia!” are also pounding loudly in their ears. “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” are simply bringing out a romantic streak in them.

Wow! Taipei is bracing for the all-time hit, “Mamma Mia!” The musical – a beautiful and simple love story – will be staged at the Taipei Arena from November 13 to 15.

The stage production of “Mamma Mia!” premiered in London on April 6, 1999, and on Broadway in New York on October 8, 2001. Different productions of the musical are now touring on different continents. Over 40 million people worldwide have seen it. About 17,000 spectators around the globe are being entertained by it every night and feeling the joy of the love story with a happy ending.

Not too long ago, the HBO cable TV channel ran the movie. A documentary on the making of “Mamma Mia!” even showed how a seaside set was built for the 2008 production, starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard. The original member of Abba involved in the making of the film had insisted on the casting of at least one Swedish actor. Actress Meryl Streep, many of those who have seen the movie will agree, is an amazing stealer of the show.

Tickets to the show at the Taipei Arena cost from NT$800 to NT$5,800. Call tel. 07- 7809900.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Folk dance today calls for new body language, says choreographer Lin Wen-chung

By Nancy T. Lu

Lin Wen-chung, the youngest of the three choreographers featured in the Taipei Folk Dance Theater’s “Dancing Portrait of Taiwan,” wants to make a statement regarding what folk dance is all about through his new choreography, “Reflections on the Lake.”

For somebody who spent seven years dancing with the company of outstanding American choreographer Bill T. Jones, he naturally loves modern dance. In fact, he has founded his own group, the W.C. Dance Company.

But having observed closely the growth and development of the Taipei Folk Dance Theater for many years, the 35-year-old Lin sees himself as finally ready to create his first folk dance choreography. As expected, the Taiwan dance world is watching him for he is the son of Tsai Li-hua, the founder and director of the Taipei Folk Dance Theater.

What indeed is Taiwanese folk dance? Taiwanese elements lend color to it. Tradition is something to value and be proud of, admits Lin. But there is a need for a new body language. Folk dance should not stay completely unchanged. It should be allowed to grow and evolve.

Lin, therefore, digs deep in his heart and opts for abstraction in his folk dance creation. He does not consciously work on symbolisms. He wants to share something coming deeply from his heart.

The dance moves in his piece are eloquent reminders of the traditional education of Chinese and Taiwanese women. They are not to approach and touch each other. Indeed they want to venture forth in the world but they end up hesitating because of inculcated restricting values.

Lin gets his dancers to move while confined to a square floor area. Sung “nanguan” music accompaniment enhances the Taiwanese flavor of the dance piece.

The dance poetry does not explode with emotions. In fact, Lin acknowledges that it is his “most understated” choreography. The beauty of the subtlety is what counts.

Hu Ming-shan’s “Tales of Marvels About Po Jieh” and Kuo Jui-lin’s “Community Bulletin” are the other two works being shown as part of the “Dancing Portrait of Taiwan.”

After presenting the works of the three choreographers at the Taipei Metropolitan Hall on November 6 to 8, the Taipei Folk Dance Theater will be featured at the Chiayi County Performing Arts Center on November 14. Photo above is courtesy of Taipei Folk Dance Theater.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Embrace nature in Pingtung County

By Nancy T. Lu

Sailing in the Dapeng Bay is a breeze. Such sea adventure is a pleasant departure from a life spent mostly in front of the computer screen.

The sunburned captain, obviously an old hand at sailing, may be preparing for a regatta in the area. But he finds time to invite a few guests to go sailing with him.

After starting the boat’s engine to pull his boat out of the harbor, he shuts it off, calling out to his mate on deck to rapidly hoist the sails to let the wind power the vessel around the bay on a beautiful day.

Sailing in Dapeng Bay

The glide on the water takes place without any incident. However, somebody may suddenly start instructing everybody to shift to one side of the sailboat to prevent the wind gusts from making it keel over. In minutes, the command dictates a quick reverse of position. Weight must shift quickly to the opposite side.

Smaller sailboats in the water, including one being maneuvered by an adventurous 12-year-old girl, come rushing towards what looks like an inevitable collision. The alert captain hollers, ordering the two boats to steer clear of harm’s way. Everything is put quickly under control.

Sailing enthusiasts enjoying the caress of the sea breeze stretch their bodies outward on one side of their boats and continue pulling their way around the not-so-calm bay.

Windsurfers in diving suits meanwhile maneuver to tilt their sails in Dapeng Bay. Someday they will be ready to perform jumps, inverted loops or even spinning tricks. For now, their rigs simply bob on the water.

Kayaking pairs paddle within sight. Indulgence in this water sport requires an equally enthusiastic partner with a lot of stamina. Both must synchronize their moves to gain in speed especially if they are training for a race.

A fleeting sailing experience in Dapeng Bay is just the beginning of a vacation in Pingtung County. A trip to the island of Xiao Liuqiu (Little Liuqiu) is a tempting option afterwards. (Liuqiu means “a ball drifting in the sea.”)

Xiao Liuqiu

Donggang in Pingtung County is the take-off point. A 30-minute ferry ride brings a tourist to the island destination for another embrace of nature. A round-trip ticket costs NT$420.

The Vase Rock, the Xiao Liuqiu icon, comes into view shortly before the ferry docks in the Tafu Port. The Samaji Island Resort is a good place to check in. Wooden houses here are shaped like Quonset huts. One unit, which can accommodate four persons, costs NT$2,100 per night on weekdays and NT$2,400 per night on weekends with breakfast included. Well-equipped campers need pay only NT$350 per day. A tent, however, can be rented for NT$300. Bikes for rent are available, too. But residents do warn visitors about the difficult biking terrain on the island. Some tourists arrive all the way from Taipei by motorbike.

Through special arrangement, the restaurant proprietor at Samaji Island Resort can mobilize his kitchen staff to cook a delicious seafood meal. Menu items even include not only blue fin tuna sashimi slices but also fresh prawns frozen 45 degrees below zero and then thawed at room temperature.

Lounge chairs line the side of the main building looking out to the sea. Leave all worldly concerns behind. Live quiet and relaxing moments away from the madding crowd. Better yet, start composing inspired poetry under a clear blue sky.

Xiao Liuqiu has a population of only about 7,000. Fishing is a common means of livelihood. In the olden days, parents wanted sons in the hope that they would grow up to be fishermen. Daughters were left in what is now known as the Beauty Cave, according to local lore.

Residents tell another story about this tourist spot near the Samaji Island Resort. A man from Suzhou and his beautiful daughter were sailing to Xiao Liuqiu when they ran into bad weather. He perished but she managed to hang on to a piece of wood, drifting to the cave where her spirit continues to live.

The Sea View Pavilion is one of the tourist stops on the island. Close by, a road sign reads: “Crab crossing. Please slow down.”

Rock sites

The famous Vase Rock on the northeast coast resulted from the earth’s crust getting pushed up along a coral reef. Its narrow base is due to the eroding effect of the sea. The area has been nicely developed for strolling in good weather.

The Lingshan Temple nearby is one of about 40 houses of worship spread around the rather small island. Meanwhile the Xiao Liuqiu Library doubles as the Tourist Center, which offers information to travelers.

Biyun Temple, another local sight, is reached after a walk through a bamboo forest. A well nearby used to be the only source of potable water on the island.

On the opposite end of the island are the Indian Rock and the Guanyin Rock. Guanyin Rock has the striking silhouette of the famous goddess, seemingly keeping watch over the fishermen sailing out to sea.

The Wild Boar Ditch is another site for a leisurely walk. Coral beds once under the sea tower like rock cliffs on the two sides of a path. Occasionally tourists have to bend very low to get through. At one point, a sign points to low cave openings, which lead to former air raid shelters. Wartime bombings sent residents running to seek refuge in these caves in the past.

The Dapeng Bay was developed as a port for seaplanes during the years of Japanese Occupation. The island was a vulnerable target for attacks when war broke out.

According to a local legend, a wild boar in the area once acquired the magical power to transform itself into a man at will. One day, he came upon the clothes left by a fairy who turned up to bathe in the sea. He stole them and shortly forced her to marry him. But as soon as the fairy got back her clothes, she escaped to return to heaven. The wild boar died heartbroken in the ditch.

The Black Dwarf Cave on the southwestern side of the island was believed to be where the Dutch colonizers, who were driven out by Koxinga, left their black slaves towards the end of the Ming Dynasty. Stone tables, chairs, beds and bowls were found in the cave in the Qing Dynasty. But eventually the cave entrance sank, rendering access impossible.

According to one account, the slaves looted the ships seeking refuge from bad weather in the area. They sank them by making holes beneath the ships. A series of sinking incidents in the vicinity led to an investigation. The seafarers who learned the truth retaliated by piling up hay at the mouth of the cave and setting it on fire.

For inquiries, call the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area through tel. (08)833-8100 in Donggang and tel. (08)861-4615 in Liuqiu.