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台湾游记 Dec 7 – Dec 17 2009 Day 7, Taipei April 16, 2010

Posted by hslu in China, Chinese Food, Food, Restaurants, Taiwan, Travel.
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台湾游记  Dec 7 –  Dec 17 2009

Day 7, Taipei, Saturday, December 12, 2009

After some bread and coffee in the morning, we went to the conservatory for the black-faced spoonbill; 黑面琵鷺 “he1 mian4 pi2 lu4,” with my professor friend’s two students. One student just came back from an oversea trip in Europe attending a technical conference. He was my professor’s first PhD student. The other student came from China under an exchange student program. They have been close friends for a year or so. 黑面琵鷺 is an endangered bird migrating between Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan. A few have been seen as far south as Philippine and Vietnam too.

Black Faced Spoonbill, 黑面琵鷺

The conservatory is located in a small coastal town called 七股 “qi4 gu3” about 40 minutes away from the city of Tainan. It was staffed with volunteers and we were able to watch the birds from about 1,000’ away with the aid of high power binoculars. According to the volunteers, there were roughly 2,000 birds in the world. According to display on site, the black-faced spoonbills only breed on some small rocky islands in the West Korea Sea and many of them (may be 1/4 of the total population) migrate to 七股 “qi4 gu3” during the winter. Some were spotted at sites as far south as Vietnam and Philippine.

When we were there, I counted about 20 visitors coming and going from the site. They all came in their own cars because there was no bus service to this remote place. Most people, including us, stayed for 15 to 20 minutes.

The next order of business was lunch and it had to be quick because we were scheduled to take the 3 PM 高鐵 back to Taipei.

After a 10 minutes drive, we arrived at an intersection of two country roads where there were four or five shacks on each side of a narrow country road. A couple of them stocked live seafood for sale including crabs, clams, shrimp, fish and lobsters. Another shack housed a make-shift kitchen and the covered shed to the right was the dining room. We picked out some shrimp, fish and crab from the seafood vendor and bought them to the restaurant next door. The restaurant owner gladly cooked them for us, stir-fried some cabbage with garlic and gave us a pot of rice. The long claws of the crabs were very easy to break up and they were surprisingly meaty. The crab meat was fresh, soft and sweet. Shrimp was juicy, plump and slightly salty but I dared to eat no more than two. Fish was good with ginger and green onion in a tangy wine sauce. The cabbage was crispy and slightly sweet in my mouth. I wasn’t sure how much the meal cost because it was paid for by professor’s student who had promised to buy him a dinner since he had found a teaching job in 基隆 “ji1 long2” in northern Taiwan.

Live Turtles

Fresh Clams

We bought seafood here


Road Side Restaurant

After lunch, we parted company with the students and my friend took us to 高鐵. We caught the 3 PM train to Taipei and finished our short trip to Tainan. We had agreed to come back in two years when we will have our 40-year class reunion.

On the way to Taipei, I couldn’t help but bring myself back to the small city where I spent four years there more than forty years ago. Gone were the happy days when we spent countless hours in billiard shops, skipped classes on a regular basis, danced in the morning and early afternoon, played mahjong to make a few bucks, hosted dance parties to make spending money, and drank and ate in midnight in the dormitory. There weren’t any competitions among class mates; at least not from me. My ranking in the class came out faster if I started from the bottom. We used the lobby of our department building as dance floor to learn tango steps. We rode bicycles to and from everywhere including ferrying female student from 台南家專 “tai2 nan2 jia1 zhuan1,” a girls only vocational schools nearby, to our dance parties in order to attract boys to come. We also invited female student from our university waited for them at 女生宿舍 “nv3 sheng1 su4 she4” but many of they refuse to come probably because we were too cheap. I also began my slow and difficult process of learning to speak Taiwanese when I was there. I started by asking a couple of my classmates to teach me common words and phrases. I also listened to Taiwanese songs and learned to sing a few such as 望春風 ”wang4 chun1 feng1,” 安平追想曲 “an1 ping2 zhui1 xiang3 qv3” and a few others.

Of all the Taiwanese songs I learned, I like 安平追想曲 “an1 ping2 zhui1 xiang3 qv3” the most. The song described the touching and sad stories of a woman and her daughter from 安平”an1 ping2,” a small coastal fishing town less than 10 miles from Tainan. The girl was born out of wedlock of a Dutch doctor of a foreign freight ship and a local woman from a wealthy family about 100 year ago. She was also called a 私生兒 “si1 shen1 er2” in the song. 私 means private or hidden from public knowledge. Despite the love affair, the doctor left her and had never returned again. She later gave birth to a girl who had light-colored hair, light-colored skin and the appearance of a foreign baby. The family kept a low profile and the baby seldom came out to the public. However, the love story and the baby girl were widely known among people in the city of 安平 and Tainan.

In this song, which was written in 1951, the author called the girl 金小姐 “jin1 xiao3 jie3” because of her light-colored hair (金髮 “jin1 fa3.”)  金小姐 knew of her father from her mother but never saw him for 20 years. She felt sorry for her mother because she had suffered all these years with loneliness, despair and disappointment. She missed him but couldn’t help but to resent her father’s disappearance because she, unlike her friends, was never cared for or loved by her father.

The story then turned to the beautiful 20 year old 金小姐 who had fallen in love with none other but a sailor. The sailor had gone away with his ship and left 金小姐 alone waiting for him at 安平. The poor 金小姐 didn’t know where the ship was and hadn’t heard from him ever since. With her long red dress, 金小姐 stood at the entrance of the 安平港 (港 gang3 which means harbor,) thought of her first lover and wondered when he’d return to her. Wind blew through her long, light-colored hair. 金小姐 missed her lover but couldn’t tell anyone. She could only hope that the wind would carry her love to him. Even though the wind might laugh at her, she hoped that he’d return to her soon because she was standing at 安平港 and waiting to hear the sound of gong signaling his return.


曲:许石        词:陈达儒




余天 ~ 闽南语 “yu2 tian1 – min3 nan2 yu3”

江蕙- 闽南语 – “jiang1 hui4 – min2 nan2 yu3”


Please note that 余天 is a male singer and 江蕙 is a female singer, both from Taiwan. 闽南语 is Taiwanese.

There was another story about 安平追想曲 which I remembered well. Before I got married, Bao and her sister came to Laramie to visit me. I took them on a 4,000 mile tour to Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Cortez and Denver. Along the way, I sang the song to them including all the music between the words and explained to them what the story was about. Although I wasn’t sure whether it helped me convince her to finally move to Wyoming a year later, one thing was very clear: they didn’t know any Taiwanese. 我的破台语把她们两个罩的一愣一愣的。Well, thirty four years later, every time I hear or sing this song, I remember these memorable days when we were young.

Our mini-reunion dinner with my classmates in Taipei was held at 上海湯包館 “shang3 hai3 tang1 bao1 guan3” located in 微風廣場 “wei2 feng1 guang3 chang3,” an up-scale shopping center on 復興路 “fu4 xing1 lu4” about 10 minutes from XB’s apartment.


Nine classmates showed up after work. I have seen them all last time when we were in Taiwan more than 10 years ago except one who I haven’t seen for almost 40 years. Several of them have already retired from government jobs. One was in metal import/export business and he has done well in recent years with sky-rocketing commodity prices. Another one was the chief engineer for Taipei 捷運. A few still worked for private companies in and around Taipei and 桃園 “tao2 yuan2.” We talked about our time at school, billiard games, Taiwan politics, Taipei 捷運 and Taiwan’s economy. I told them about the much improved civility among taxi drivers, banks and government office. The cleanness of 捷運 and 高鐵 also surprised us. They complained about Taiwan’s sagging economy, its heavy dependence on mainland China and current government’s inability to accomplish its agenda. The fragile democracy was held hostage by elections, culture differences, languages and ethnic divides. In fact, one classmate was invited but refused to come because his strong pro-independent political stand.

The meal was great: a private room with dedicated waitresses and servers; elegant decoration of black wood, dark-colored curtains and soft over-head lighting; nice utensils; white table cloth; superb service; plenty of food of various tastes; and some 紹興酒 ”shao4 xing1 jiu3” to wash down our worries. There were six cold dishes; two kinds of 小龍包 ”xiao3 long2 bao1,” steamed red-bean paste buns, 東坡肉 “dong1 po1 rou4,” 海參 “hai3 shen1,” 清蒸魚 “qing1 zhen1 yu2” and a few others I couldn’t remember. Dinner finished at 9:30 PM and we all went our own separate ways and won’t see each other for two years.

After a brief stay at XB’s apartment, XB and I decided to go out because the evening was still young. We walked to 誠品 “cheng2 pin3” which was a huge multi-level book store on 敦化南路 ”dun1 hua4 nan3 lu4” about 15 minutes away. At a little before 11 PM, I was surprised to see as many as hundred customers, mostly students, still crowded the bookstore. I bought a couple of books on world economy and financial bubble at less than $8 each. Many students also gathered at the front door and there were several 地灘 ”di4 tan1” selling clothes, caps, belts, shoes and etc. It was fun to watch them under the dim street lights.

We then stopped by a late night food stand close to XB’s apartment; had some food and vegetables and called it a night.

Tomorrow was Sunday. We had an appointment with a friend at SOGO in the afternoon. Evening was reserved for XB’s friend. There was nothing else planned. Jingjing had to leave for NY on Monday. Our flight back to DC was on Tuesday. Our vacation was almost over but we still had many places to see and many dishes to try.

Well, we have to come back later then.



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