Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Miniatures Museum – Another ‘Other’ Museum of Taipei

I have heard about this museum on previous visits to Taipei, but never had time to visit. The subject matter didn’t really interest me. I have seen dollhouses before with miniature furniture, but I was pleasantly surprised by this museum.

Look for this small sign outside

The office building entrance. Enter here.

Another sign outside pointing to the museum.

Take stairs or the elevator down to the museum.


The museum is in an unlikely place in an office building. Follow your Google Maps directions and when you find the building, head downstairs.  The security guard will direct you.

Many different displays.

Walking the plank!


Pay the entrance fee then head into the museum. What really surprised me was the number of “settings.” I used the word “settings” instead of dollhouses because there are more than just dollhouses. There are castles, miniature replicas of old buildings, and of course dollhouses.

"Oriental" room designed by a Westerner.

It was fun looking at all the detail of the little objects in the settings. Overall, it is a nice place to visit on a rainy or hot day. The nearest MRT station is Songjian-Nanjing.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Kinmen Island, Taiwan – Violent Past, Preserved Beauty

Kinmen Island is closer to the mainland of China than Taiwan (you can see China on a clear day). Kinmen consists of two islands, the large dumbbell shape island also known as Quemoy and a smaller one, Lieyu, referred to as Little Kinmen. The two islands have been slow to develop compared to the rest of Taiwan due in part to its violent past.  Being near China made it an easy military target during the dispute with the communists on the mainland.  The island experienced an invasion in 1949, then artillery bombardment occurred in 1954-55 and again in 1958 and lasting at a decreased and less lethal rate until 1979. So obviously the government on Taiwan was not encouraging civilian economic development while this was occurring. Only when the cross-strait tensions decreased was the military reduced and thought was given to economic development and tourism.

Kinmen is close geographically to Xiamen Island (part of the Peoples Republic of China). Both islands became important in maritime trade in the early 17th century to compete with the Dutch East India Company. During the second half of the 17th century, Koxinga (General Cheng Cheng-gong) confronted the Qing Dynasty rule on these two islands on behalf of the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The islands then served as a military base for launching his attacks on Dutch occupied Taiwan in 1661. The islands were eventually incorporated into the Qing Dynasty and important trade routes were established along coastal China and into southeast Asia. Xiamen being nearer to the mainland, began serving as a free port to the world and gradually became the economic center of southern Fujian Province. The two islands, because of their proximity to the important trade center, became the homeland of many wealthy overseas Chinese who brought western influence to the houses they built.

The two governments across the Taiwan strait took different strategies in the development of their corresponding islands in the 1980s and 90s. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China designated Xiamen City on Xiamen island as a special economic zone resulting in large foreign investment and a building boom in factories and high-rise buildings.  The Taiwan military administration of Kinmen ended in November 1992 and there were political pressures to lift all restrictions on development. However, the lack of economic development when Kinmen was under the military administration preserved the islands of Kinmen with traditional villages and an ecology largely untouched. Seeing this unique asset, conservation groups formed to sway public opinion for the protection of the island’s biodiversity, natural environment, and unique historical and cultural heritage. The result was that a large part of Kinmen and Little Kinmen became a national park and the government began the restoration of old traditional houses and buildings.

The preservation of Kinmen has created a tourist destination like no other in the world. Where else can you walk in a bird sanctuary, stay in a Ming-era homestay, visit some war relics (tunnels), then relax with some kaoliang, the local liquor made from island sorghum!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What’s an ‘Evergreen’ Museum?

I am in Taipei on a mission to find other museums besides the well-known National Palace Museum and came upon the Evergreen Maritime Museum. The name comes from one of the largest container shipping companies in the world. If you have ever been to a large container port, you would have seen green containers with the word ‘EVERGREEN’ on the side.  It was founded in Taiwan by Chang Yung-fa with one used ship and now has grown into a huge conglomerate that not only includes shipping but an airline (EVA Air) and hotels.

The Evergreen Maritime Museum is located in a building that was the former headquarters of the KMT political party but was sold to the Chang Yung-fa Foundation in 1996.  This landmark building is across from the East Gate and near the Presidential Office Building and is on some prime Taipei real estate.

The maritime museum encompasses five floors. There is a small entrance fee which is payable in the gift shop on the right when you enter. The recommendation is that you start on the fifth floor and work your way down.

The fifth floor contains a chronological construction history of ocean-going ship models starting from the earliest and ends up on the fourth floor with the modern ships such as the container ships that Evergreen uses.

The third floor is an art floor of many paintings where a ship or the ocean is the subject.

Modern container ship

The second floor is where one learns about the skills needed in ocean navigation with a few hands-on displays for kids.

Learn how to tie knots

Overall a well-done museum related to commercial shipping. Well worth a rainy morning or afternoon.

Museum website: Evergreen Maritime Museum

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