I admit that is the dumbest post title I’ve ever written, but one of the things I was fretting about when I wrote a travel article about Yingge (鶯歌), the ceramics center of Taiwan, was the distressing lack of sidewalks, even on the main thoroughfares. I was worried that someone would read my article, think “oh, what a delightful place, I really must go there!,” skip merrily to Taipei Main Station, cheerfully board a train, alight with a smile on their face at Yingge, step jauntily out of the train station — and be instantly mowed down by a double-decker bus. So if you go to Yingge, keep close to the side of the road and watch out.

If you need ideas on where to go, the Web version of my article is here and the .PDF is here. I think the layout on my article was especially lovely. Look at the golden ombre that flows like a wash of oolong tea down the page. I swear, my pupils dilated when I opened the newspaper last Thursday.

Ron and I were especially taken with the Japanese colonial era architecture in Yingge, including the Wang Yang residence (汪洋居) on Wenhua Rd (文化路) near the train station.

Japanese colonial era architecture

I kept thinking about how lovely it would have looked in a Polaroid photo, which unfortunately reminded me that Polaroid film is being discontinued soon. I stopped buying Polaroid film for my vintage Spectra camera a few months before I moved to Taipei because it was so expensive, but I really regret that now. I have a Holga camera, but it doesn’t feel the same. Polaroid photography was a wonderful creative outlet for me and I don’t think any other medium quite translates my experience of the world into 2-D so accurately.

On our way there, we were passed by a temple procession, where one of the “floats” had a boombox attached to it blasting “Let’s Get Retarded” while the men carrying it pumped it up and down to the beat of the music.

Temple procession

I thought the effect looked good, but sweaty, red-faced guys in the back seemed especially unhappy about their workout. I don’t think it was this one, because the men here look relatively nonchalant. At first Ron and I thought it was a funeral procession, as did the two teenage girls who were walking ahead of us. They were noticeably distressed and unhappy until they realized that it wasn’t.

Ron and I were both impressed by the sleek lines and impressive use of open space at the Yingge Ceramics Museum (鶯歌陶瓷老街). My parents are both architects, so I really do get a kick out of good architecture and interior design.

Ceramics Museum exterior Ceramics Museum interior

Something unexpected was the amount of work the museum had put into attracting families. You’d think that lots and lots of small children would be a ceramic museum curator’s worst nightmare, but the park behind the museum is equipped with a giant, multi-level, sprinkler-equipped wading pool that is designed specifically for kids:

Wading pool

Ah, sprinklers!

You can also stick them in a scooter car:

Vroom vroom!

Boy, I always wanted a scooter car. I made Ron take this photo of me. I like to call this scenario “Every Child’s Worst Nightmare”:

Wish fulfillment

We faced down some more traffic to head over to Yingge Old Street (you know what I really hate? Waiting to cross at a dangerous, busy intersection with no pedestrian signals, looking up and realizing that the shop next to you sells FUNERARY URNS! Ugh!), the main tourist thoroughfare in town. There we met a well-behaved cat and her human, a young girl about 10 or 11 years old. They were handing out fliers for a dance performance:

Kitty with her human

That cat reminds me of a better-behaved version of our neighbor, Needy Cat.

If you head to the Yingge Ceramics Museum before the beginning of December, you can catch the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, which showcases ceramic pieces from artists all around the world. I wrote about it a little while ago. My Uncle Daniel, who lives in Singapore, is currently working on a book about ceramic artists in that country, and he himself makes lovely pieces. That piqued my interest in ceramics as a fine art form. Here are a few photos I took at the exhibit — you can click on them for artist info. Unfortunately, my camera was not up to photographing one piece I especially liked, Hidden Spaces by Korea’s Chun Bok-Lee.

Memory of Walking Together, Shoulder-to-Shoulder Without Title 010.014.06 Memory, Sign and Record of Objects

The last piece is the Taiwan Ceramics Award Grand Prize Winner, Memory, Sign and Record of Objects (物件記憶‧記號‧紀錄) by Fang-Yi Chu. The museum shop was selling miniature magnet versions of the piece. I was dubious at first when I read about the magnets on the museum Web site, but changed my mind once I saw them in person:

Miniature art

They are now sitting on my desk with my Jimmy (幾米) mug from Hi-Life, as part of my ongoing mission to make my home office into a place that I am not ashamed to post photos of on the Internet.