Monday, November 14, 2011

[宜蘭縣] - 國立臺灣傳統藝術 - National Center For Traditional Arts, Yilan county

Take a Disneyland or Six Flags, Universal Studios kind of theme park.
Kill the cutesy animal themes, remove all kinds of crazy rides and play structures, but replace it with the following:

- a near perfect replica of a Chinese village town setting from the 1800s that include a Chinese opera stage, a temple, an old looking street block of stores that sell various trinkets (including uber old school candies and snacks) that are far beyond touristy rip off junk and yet a marvel to browse

- recreate the old time classic traditions, games, arts, crafts of that period and encase it in and throughout the complex as a means of promoting history and culture of that period.

- use of local produce, wares, skills, and offerings for the souvenir shops.

and you have a real fun and cool place here at Yilan county 宜蘭縣, called the National Center For Traditional Arts.

Getting here is no small feat. It is roughly 1.5 hours drive from Taipei, going through at least 2 to 3 tunnels (one of which is supposedly "the longest tunnel in the world" if you can believe that). Below are a collection of photos and descriptions accumulated over two separate visits about 2 to 3 years ago. If you can make your way here, I highly recommend it. Bring the kids, they will have a blast.

There's just so much to see and enjoy, and of course one cannot miss seeing food and drink everywhere too.

So without further ado:
 Entrance for purchasing admission tickets

Right past the entrance, immediately a food cart. Ice cream and peanut rolls! And that's just the beginning

So many traditional goodies, so little time

I fell for the tourist trap and got the mall food court beef noodle soup, not good at all, but this would sell ok in the USA...

Now this lunch set had fried tofu, fried taro balls (with dip sauce and salt+pepper mix) , and a chicken stock with bean sprouts, shallots, cilantro. A bit more localized but nothing to wow over.

If you are a citrus fruit lover, and like Japanese stuff like yuzu, sudachi, mikan, then when in Yilan, you need to have their kumquat lemon 金桔檸檬 (this is basically the kumquat lemonade stand). About NT$50 a cup but it is freakin delicious. You can even get it hot, perfect during winter and soothes the throat.

Fresh egg rolls 蛋捲, with the one in the back a Japanese inspired nori/seaweed flavor.
Oh look, Anthony Bourdain would like this place too! Grilled Taiwanese sausages with red yeast inside! Healthy? :-o

Upon zooming in, it looks like greasefest.

The view from the food court area.
A toy many Taiwanese kids grew up with, Taiwanese yo-yo (no relation to the 16+ year old pop tart by the same name) or 扯鈴. Haven't seen one on X Factor or American Idol yet...

Oh $h!t, they have dragon beard candy! 龍鬍糖 - made fresh in the store at one of the shops along the old street 老街

some of the raw materials for the dragon beard candy

Beard making!
Looks like he's hand pulling noodles eh?

Shaved peanut powder, a vital touch of flavor and texture.

Back on the old street strip.

Uh oh, more old schoolness. Sweet sticky stuff to make more freaky teeth. The stuff on the left is basically a round wheat cracker sandwich (inside is molaasses) on a stick (like a lollipop). As far as the stand on the right?

麥芽酥 (wheat germ pastry) supposedly from the 1930s era

That's gotta be molasses inside.

You might encounter a parade, a very festival one.

Stay for the show, it can be interesting

You're probably thinking this is CandyLand.... here's an old school ginger candy shop

Yeah this is not as sexy looking as Godiva, Jean Paul Hevin, or macarons...but in the 30s this had to do.

Shop specializing in old Chinese puppets.

This dude caught our eye... making works of art with glass and fire. Plus he looks like a Japanese hippie trucker from Tsukiji Fish Market, and a 60s classic DeadHead rocker! RAWK!

After all that fire, he makes stuff like this.

And this.

Two separate visits were not even enough to see absolutely everything.


National Center For Traditional Arts 國立臺灣傳統藝術


  1. 雖然我唔係台灣小吃的big fans,但每到凌晨寫blog,也會想如果有台式燒腸吃就好了!

  2. Taiwanese grilled sausage skewer can be quite excellent, one bite sausage, then one bite garlic. It has a slight pickled taste to it, but does not have the same taste or texture as 臘腸.