Archive for August, 2009

news: on hiatus

August 28, 2009

Sorry but there will be no Get to It this week. I wish I could but it’s taken all my current resources to write this post. Get to It will be back next Thursday.

Also keep an eye out for a new section called Baking Teensy, something I’ll be working on this weekend, and a review of the 420 Project gig happening at Light Lounge in Taichung this Saturday.

Have a great weekend!

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write up: shopping on tianjin road

August 20, 2009

Well, I finally made it to Tainjin Road, Section 2 (Taichung City), after many a taxi driver pointing the area out to me on my way home from various places. I had actually avoided going there because I thought it would be a case of much shopping effort for little reward. I was wrong. I did have to put in a bit of time and practise a medium level of patience but the rewards were many. And all for around $2000 NT. Crazy cheap.

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lacetop

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JoB likes: FLEA MARKETING

August 17, 2009

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There is nothing I love more in this world than browsing through junk. And to learn that Taichung has flea markets and that the biggest one is only a 15 minute walk from my house was a revelation worth shouting off the rootftop of my apartment. (I didn’t actually do this but I really wanted to).

So, Typhoon Morakot came and went and my planned day for flea-marketing went with it. But all was not lost. I went yesterday instead. Rummaging through the rows of stalls selling everything from ceramics, stereos and clothing to tools and sex toys, I came to the happy realisation that flea markets the world over must have the same feeling of exciting discovery to them. That great bargain or one-off find is just around the next vendor. And yes, there actually was a stall selling, among other things, second-hand dildos. Gross.

The market was covered in the rainbow material so often seen covering markets across Taiwan. The range of stalls was huge. Some people had only a few things, maybe gleaned from picking through other people’s actual trash, and some vendors had sophisticated set-ups selling brand new items. The market extends back in a “T” shape with two wings left and right. Scattered through the market are tea and snack stalls providing energy to hungry early morning scavengers.
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The only tangible difference between this flea market and the ones Kiwiland or Australia is that the vendors chew a lot of betelnut and speak to you in Taiwanese or Chinese. We did meet, as we often do, a fellow browser who spoke great English. After asking us where we worked he said, “Oh, Hess, cram school. You make a lot of money.” We said, “I guess so”. We do earn well above the minimum wage here, a fact that makes me feel downright guilty sometimes. Hence the reason I didn’t barter for any of my purchases. I figure we get paid enough so if I want something I’ll just deal out what’s asked. If it’s seems too expensive I just say, “No”, and move on.

I think my favourite purchase was a wooden Spare Parts Box. I have already used the bag, which is leather, and I know it will be a great accessory to all the outfits purchased recently on a trip to Tianjin Road, Section 2. I’m going to make pies in the bowl. It’s going to be my official pie bowl.
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I want to find out what the Chinese on the medals say. One is from 1949 and has 1949.4 stamped on it and the other is from 1946 (1946.12). I couldn’t find out much about them with a Google search but I think this is around the dates that the Nationalists left China for Taiwan. They look like bronze military medallions. If you know the significance of these dates please leave a comment.

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I have decided that the sacrifice of a Sunday morning sleep in for a flea-marketing adventure is well worth it on occasion. You can always partake of a lovely afternoon nap, surrounded by your newly gleaned treasures, to make up for it.

This flea market is near the Taiyuan Train Station on DongGuang Road in Beitun District, Taichung.

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reads

August 10, 2009

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JoB’s recent book purchases. Since coming to Taiwan I’ve found it difficult to get my hands on good new releases in English. All the classics are available here, though, so I’m finally making some dents in my “To Read” list. These were bought from Eslite Bookstore in Mitsukoshi Taichung.

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JoB likes: YUANLIN

August 7, 2009

I once spoke with a fellow teacher who told me he had asked his manager why our company had placed my boyfriend and I in Taichung (to live) when our branch was in Yuanlin (nearly an hour away by train). He said his manager replied by asking, “Have you ever been there? No? Well, there’s nothing there.” In other words, Yuanlin, in the opinion of this teacher’s manager, is a %$#&hole.

Well, since I’ve been travelling there on a regular basis and have had the opportunity to explore this not-so-little country town, I’m happy to report that it actually has a lot to offer, maybe not to the average tourist but certainly to anyone who happens to be passing through on their way to other areas of Taiwan. Or to the Taichung resident who wants to explore their extended neighbourhood.

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Yuanlin has the feel of an eccentric, semi-rural township. I liken it to Castlemaine outside Melbourne, Australia. (Sorry for those reading who come from anywhere other than Melbourne but it was my only point of reference.) There are a number of shops, cafes and restaurants that have a unique charm. Among my favourites are:

Moustache
This store is located in the block of shops to your left that edge the public square outside the train station. I love this store for its name alone, let alone what it contains inside its four walls. This is one of the best streetwear stores I’ve come across in Taiwan. Their stock of urbanist sneakers is constantly renewed; there is always a new pair my feet cry out for. I mainly stop by for the sneakers, but my boyfriend has purchased chequered shirts and tees from this store and they have a great range of guys pants.

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Lulu
Walk straight ahead from Moustache towards the city, past the High Life on the corner, and keep an eye out for a small white and black sign above your head that says, “Lulu”. This teensy store oozes cute. It is hidden down an alley so always feels like your own personal shopping secret. Literally filled to the brim with clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery, it contains many covetable items. My favourites are their selection of dirt-cheap watches (only $150NT), which come in tons of eccentric designs, and their cluster of cute and crafty wooden pendants. Their range of long-length tees and tops are also must-haves. My only regret is that my huge size-10 feet are far too big to fit any of the shoes in their charming collection.

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Tony’s BBQ
Tony’s is a traditional Japanese BBQ and a favourite with the locals. It’s completely open plan but has moved away from the standard Taiwanese outdoor restaurant setting and developed a style of its own. Their menu is in English and Chinese and they serve Taiwan Beer in huge mugs. Saki is also available for those who like to avoid the TB headache the next day. The squid with green onion is so good: whole barbequed squid, stuffed with green onion and wasabi. I also really enjoy the lamb with thyme and the grilled mushrooms. There are plenty of vegetarian and seafood options available for those of you so inclined.

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Pali
This bar is retro-fitted in the actual sense of the term and spans three floors. It’s cluttered with knick-knacks in the way essential for kitsch and houses comfy lounge-about chairs, the kind you can curl up cat-like in. The top floor is home to items for sale: original 50s to 70s furniture and household stuff that I’ve found very hard to locate in Taiwan and will be perusing for purchase once I’m debt free. The music sifting from the speakers ranges from corny local pop to jazz to DJ Shadow to early grunge classics. Pali’s menu offers some Western choices, generally mucked up in the way only the Taiwanese can (although I have yet to try their pastas and they could prove me wrong), so it’s best to stick with the bar snacks, which are great. I have a deep regard for the deep fried tofu. The drinks menu is outstanding, with many imported beers, including Hoegaarden, dozens of cocktails and the usual mixers. This bar is best enjoyed on the second floor, with an arrival just before sundown, after which the friendly staff dim the lights to a flattering and chill-out inducing level.

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So jump on the train and take a trip through the now-harvested rice fields and rural communities to a sleepy, artsy little town, host to a crop of shops and eateries that are both welcoming and oozing cool.

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they speak: HUKUROU

August 3, 2009

I bought some shoes from this store recently. They are very, very lovely. Hand-made by the artist they fulfil my ever-strong desire for originality. I also bought some cute anchor earrings. I am still a sucker for anchors even though they have now thoroughly entered mainstream fashion.

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HUKUROU is one cute place to shop. It is located in Taichung’s Art Street and full to the brim with handcrafted items, from earrings, pendants and clothing to rubber stamps, toys and knitted pen covers. (I really don’t know how to describe these objects but they look like finger puppets and fit over the top of your pen.) Anyone who receives a gift from me in the post over the next few months can be assured it will come from this store.

Luckily for me, the owner, Faby, speaks English so I was able to ask her a few quick questions…

JoB: Why did you decide to open a store like HUKUROU?
F: I began creating design work three years ago. At that time, I hoped I could have my own shop to sell my works in Taiwan.

JoB: When did HUKUROU open? What does the name mean?
F: The shop opened in February, 2009. HUKUROU means “owl” in Japanese. It’s also the name of my brand. HUKUROU also means “happiness” and “work hard” in Japanese and I liked that ethos.

Hukurou_ShopFront

JoB: So, you studied design in Seattle. When and how long for?
F: I stayed in Seattle for five years where I studied visual communication, which is similar to graphic and web design.

JoB: Do you design any of the items you sell?
F: I design all of the accessories in my shop. Every item includes a hand-painted feature piece.

JoB: How do you select the work that appears in HUKUROU? Is it by choosing stuff that you like, or stuff that you know will sell?
F: When I was planning the shop, I started to research what kinds of stuff I wanted to have. Then, I tried to select brands that matched the style and look I wanted.

JoB: You mentioned you represent 20 designers? Can you name some of them? Are they all from Taiwan or are they also from abroad?
F: All of the designers are Taiwanese. The shoes are designed under the label, White Not. The designer paints her designs on blank shoes and will make to order. One of our bag designers works under the label One Dog. All of the bags she designs are shaped liked dogs. Her designs usually start with a story and people like to collect the whole set.

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White Not

One Dog

One Dog

JoB: Is Art Street the right location for your store? If yes, why?
F: I’m really happy to have my shop in Art Street! It’s not a very busy location, but it’s just what I want. People come to Art Street because they want to find something new or some specialist design works.

JoB: What did you do after studying and before starting HUKUROU?
F: Before I started my own brand and this shop I worked in Taipei as a bag designer for Disney.

JoB: What are your favorite places to go in Taichung (for music, food, shopping…)?
F: Actually, I don’t have a lot time to go out now I have opened the shop. I usually go to Daiso, a great place to shop place if you don’t want to spend too much. All of the goods in Daiso are $39 NT! Another place I like to go is Eslite; it’s not just a bookstore, it’s also a mall. They have a great food court, too.

Visit their website for more pics and a map.

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Images courtesy of HUKUROU.

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