Sunday, 11 March 2012

The UK in Taiwan

There are very few British people in Taiwan. In fact, I haven't yet spoken face-to-face with a fellow Brit (other than my son and husband, of course) since arriving six months ago. So I was intrigued to see what would be happening at an event I saw advertised as The UK in Taiwan.

The website was an early opportunity to see what Britain is most famous for here. According to the homepage this is old castles, The Beatles, fish and chips, punks, the Queen, Aberdeen Angus cattle and haughty women eating tea cakes. No doubt British individuals will identify more strongly with some of those images than others, and some may even bemuse us, but there is no denying that they are all British to one extent or another.

I have to say that at the event itself, I did sometimes struggle to see the British connection at times. For example, there was a Watson's stall. Yes, that famous British pharmacy chain:

And the well-known British brand Hello Kitty was on display:

The food on offer also included that famous British staple, pizza:

But I am being cheeky with that last one. As I recall, Chicken Tikka Masala was once voted the nation's favourite dish, and pizza is more frequently seen on British dinner plates than Aberdeen Angus beef, I'm sure.

There were one or two offerings that were absolutely authentic, though. There was, for instance, a well-used dartboard that someone had managed to find somewhere. And some menu items included tattie scones, shortbread, hot cross buns and pasties, although the Cornish would probably be concerned to find the pasties contained fillings such as cheese and onions. Beer figured highly throughout the day. Those real ale aficionados are clearly widely travelled.

The other stalls were comprised largely of British language schools and colleges touting for business, sensibly enough in this context, though not of great use or interest to us personally. The British reputation as a nation of animal lovers was represented by the presence of animal charity stalls. These were a heartening site, given the huge numbers of stray animals here.

There was British music playing throughout the day, a mixture of the old and the new. I'm too old to know much about the new, but I did recognise Queen's track Killer Queen playing at one point (or rather, Conrad heard it and alerted me). There was also a fashion show that unfortunately we missed but apparently figured the work of fashion students from the UK and Taiwan's Shijian University. More details here.

A British New Age offering was present in the form of a nature-inspired climbing frame (I say this because children were clambering all over it, my own child included, so I sincerely hope this was its purpose), a tunnel of twigs and branches, a music-festival style food tent, and green living statues. The latter were busking, but I doubt they earned very much as this is a tradition I'd never witnessed here until today.

The site of the event was the Huashan Culture Park, also known as the Huashan Creative Park. This is a reclaimed brown land site in the heart of Taipei that is used to host regular exhibitions and shows. Conrad and I entered the one that seemed the most intriguing and had another of those 'I don't really know what's going on but it's quite enjoyable so let's just have fun' experiences.

There is clearly a very popular series or film based on Japanese manga that is high in public consciousness at the moment, as that appeared to be the basis of the exhibition we visited. That's all I can tell you. Here are some pictures. If anyone knows what this is, please feel free to spill the beans.

It was very popular and very interesting. The theme seemed to be based on a forest where whatever entered it was altered into a monster version of the original. This included little girls and slices of bread. Yes, there was a massive slice of bread with eyes. Surprisingly scary. They also had audio of monsters breathing throughout the exhibition.

So all in all, while we didn't feel particularly transported to the land of our ancestors, it was a fun day. And we'll definitely be returning to Huashan Culture Park for further events.


Mark said...

Hello Kitty was 'born' in London in 1974 according to the official Sanrio history! Thanks for the interesting post.

Jenny J. said...

Ha ha, is that so? She's looking good for her age. Thanks for your comment.