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Freitag, Oktober 17, 2008

Wooden shoe fetish (trip to Yilan)


homepage teichert-online.de( ) , Formosablog(X), Techblog( )

Yilan is a city in Northern Taiwan and while we here in Taipei and Taoyuan are protected by the eastern mountain backbone of Taiwan, Yilan is lying at the wrong side of it: eastwards, where the tropical typhoons hit the island without mercy, until they are broken by the brokeback mountains.


To get there, we first had to drive through a 12.5 km long tunnel through the mountains. Now if you imagine Taiwan as a Third world country, you might be worried now. Trucks driving like maniacs? People cutting each other off with their cars? Fire in tunnels? But in that case you don't know Taiwan's perfect highway tunnels. And to say it for the hundreds time, Taiwan is no poor Third world country. Taiwan's tunnels have a lot of emergency spaces, phones and are constantly monitored by cameras. People who are overtaking are almost instantly fined. In this tunnel even the distance will be monitored and someone will tell you to keep your distance, when you drive too close. Slow or fast driving will be criticized as well via the speakers on the ceiling.


Nice, flat and green countryside in Yilan county. Note the mountains in the back.

The cities in the countryside (well, that means: everywhere but Taipei and area) are greener, streets are wider and there is more space in general



Empty highway out in the country. Unfortunately they have a speed limit of 100 km/h here. Only very few highways allow 110 km/h. The 100 km/h speed limit didn't stop the cops from giving someone a fine for slow driving who was going 98 km/h recently. But go 103 km/h and you may get a fine from one of Taiwan's many speed cameras or coppers with laser rayguns.
So how fast can I drive? Not 100 km/h, that would look as if I have something to hide for sure...

I get lost easily in cities in Taiwan. Each street corner looks like that to me... You hardly see buildings because of all the advertisement.


This is not Taipei. There are not enough scooters in front of the buildings...

Arrived! Half of the house is the "weekend bungalow" of the parents of some friends who took us there. Yeah, yeah, weekend bungalow. Sure. Note the mix out of traditional Chinese style and modern architecture.

No matter how big the garden is, Atilla always wants to go out... Angela our Labrador was somewhere as well...

Garden view. In this area of Taiwan, where terrain is much cheaper than in Taipei and even our Taoyuan area, I could afford such a half house with half garden as well, if I sell mine in Taoyuan county. But not as a sole weekend bungalow:-) However, it is much to far to drive to work to Taipei and the idea of not being protected against the Typhoons scared me.



Note what small footprint houses in Taiwan often have, because land is expensive. Even if they have more land available, they often still build tower-like. Some houses have 1 or 2 floors more and then almost look like church towers.


That's a view. Now it seems more reasonable why Taiwan had the European name "Formosa", meaning "the beautiful". Hard to make that out in Taipei..

Damn! My car has a sunroof! I have never seen it from above so far. And in Taipei I ain't gonna open that sunroof, don't want to choke in morning traffic...

Finally on our way to the wooden shoe museum, a secret place known only to a few wooden shoe hardcore fetishists. The museum is in Suou... I mean Souo .... no .... wait.... Sosua is in the Dominican Republic. Something like that. See, I am no shoe fetishist...

Um... the photo just shows some of the grey concrete box house architecture which makes for 90% of all Taiwan houses. So stop searching wooden shoes in the photo.

Queuing up in front of the museum. We had to stand in a straight military-proven line directly behind the sign. Not complying got us bad threats by the front desk lady, saying we might get disqualified from seeing the wooden shoe fetish museum. It amazes me how the Taiwanese comply with nasty tour, travel and museum guides. Stand in line! Yessir! I mean Ma'am. Or I get the wooden shoe out! Ouuuch...

Wooden shoe fans come to Suou or whatever from all over the world. Well, from all over Taiwan ... even in coaches. Here the younger one of the two front desk ladies is arranging a new load of wooden shoe fans...

For all people really interested in bus logistics, here is a closer look... And notice the hat of the woman on the left. Yes, there is a woman on the left hand side.


This photo got me a severe warning by the front desk lady behind the sign on the right hand side NOT to step out of the line EVER again or we will be kicked out immediately. Well, we weren't even in yet. I admit, I had automatically queued up in the wrong line, the one of her younger colleague.


I suspected they were waiting for a group of alien visitors and had already prepared the shoes for them...
Or it's about this Asian team and group spirit thingy again...

I guess those people were already disqualified...

Finally inside! And wow! Look, wooden shoes. This is the LOUD VERSION. Kind of where you run around in them, make TAC TAC TAC on the floor and shout through the machine "LOOK I HAVE NEW WOODEN SHOES!" Inventive bunch, the Taiwanese.


No, he is not talking about the knees. He is axe-happy, that's all.

Yeah, wooden shoes are made here, tiny ones, big ones, tiny tiny ones, tiny ones to hang round your neck...
And yes, this is one of the amazing PHILIPS desk lamps, I have got the same model. They don't make that kind anymore. Or actually they do...


Free standing flat version of a vertical wooden shoe. Comes with two stands....well, shoes.

They even make shoes for foreigners here.


But the locals look better in them.

Engraving something in a wooden mini shoe. Oh! look! Another Philips desk lamp! [OK OK, I find wooden shoes so boring, even the damned desk lamps are more interesting]

No, I didn't buy. Bu4 mai3. Though they would be nice for some purpose.


OK, enough with that vanilla stuff. Now we are doing some serious S&M here. These are painful.

Ouch! This odel in the middle does not only hurt with ridges, it also goes upwards in front, so it kinda ruins your ankle muscles while you work. [If this bogus sentence got you excited please pay with your credit card later. After all, we are on the Internet].

Ah yes, there was some kind of Chinese tradition with uncomfortable shoes...

Outside the museum it's even better. No this is not wood, this is a block of nuts in sugar which become a component of...

... delicious ice cream! I mean those days we didn't know about all that tainted milk from China and we still ate ice cream in Taiwan. Was delicious.

You can even eat the "paper" around it: Finally it becomes some kind of spring roll with ice cream and nut powder inside. Yummm


Didn't give any to my nephews, even if they threatened me to eat the shells from the souvenir shop. Go ahead!

My nephew "Didi" bravely eating his fish water soup with fish balls and noodles. Amazing little guy. That's much healthier than ice cream. Oh how I love being a wise uncle. Don't we all remember when we wanted that ice cream or candy bar and all we got was the fish ball soup.... Sigh, it's great to be a kid.


I had to gush down the taste and we went for a super delicious fruit juice... Yeah, nephews got some too. I think.

Tastes like a fruit cocktail without the booze. Which is better in a hot country.


Speaking of the missing booze. Finally we went to a booze factory in Yilan and they had "Anka sausages", which is the Taiwanese slightly sweet standard sausage (it's delicious), but with a flavour from the Anka whiskey. Well, that gives the sausages a brownish colour, takes away the fresh sweet taste and leaves it with a ... flavour of empty whiskey bottles.

I like them even better without Paul Anka, but they still tasted good. [I found this blog is, as always, an example of expat cynicism, so I want to start sounding more positive and rewrote this sentence].


Taiwan beer bottle variations. Though I sometimes wonder why companies hire marketing people if in the end the product is just called "Taiwan Beer". Tasted good though.


My secret business plan (the world depression starts to hit my Taiwan computer company so I have to prepare) is to open a brewery here and call my beer ..... "The other Taiwan beer".
Learn from the best, that's what I am saying...


More traditional form of storing...

Political liquor. It shows the presidential palace in Taipei and Taiwan's new China-friendly president Ma Ying-Jeou (left side) and his vice president on the box. We are in North Taiwan. In the South, this would be oppositional-green and probably showing some oppositional guys on the label. Like the former super-corrupt president Chen. Yikes!


Here my nephews are chewing on some tasteless super-sticky stuff. My kind nephew also gave me one ... and then my front tooth fell out and sticked on it. Man, that was embarrassing. Imagine all the locals watching. Well, it got even more embarrassing when I threw away the candy stick and noticed it had formed some kind of tentacle holding my front tooth. So when I threw the candy bar into the trash bin, my tooth went right with it! Then, I had to use my bare hands to dig it out of a full can of betlenut-spit-juice which the locals discard into the trash bin. That was the second-most embarrassing thing I have ever done in Taiwan. Not telling you about the other one. And remind me to buy ice cream for my nephews in the future. Those kids sure know how to pay back...


Later that day: fruit growing already packed in plastic on the trees. Taiwan is an amazing country.

The amazing bell apples. Please ignore the sandal, this is not about shoes anymore.

Later, taking a stroll into nature. Taiwan style, staying close to the car park.

Finally a relaxing dinner at the end of the trip. My nephews (here Gege) had kid's plate with fried chicken steak, french fries and ketchup while I go this damned adult stuff like sliced beef in super-hot sauce which burns away the inner layer of my intestines, super-sour vegetables and such stuff which we adults like.
Oh please, Gege and Didi, have mercy on your sweet uncle...

Look, he is chewing on the last French fry while I almost choke on my hot stuff.

Never mess with Didi and Gege, I tell ya...

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