It looks like the weather is going to be uniformly unpleasant this weekend, so I am going to take this opportunity to post about a really cool indoor activity I wrote about recently (pdf link). You might have noticed Taiwan Storyland‘s (台灣故事館, táiwān gùshì guǎn) outrageous facade across the street from Taipei Train Station:
Ron and I used to stare at it on our way to various destinations and wonder what the hell it was. As it turns out, Taiwan Storyland is a museum that bills itself as an “historical experience.” A 1960s Taipei neighborhood is recreated street-by-street in the basement of KMall, down to the smallest detail (there are sparrows on electric wires and potholes in the road).
You can peek into living rooms and storefronts, watch old films in a movie theater, play carnival games, buy old-fashioned sweets and toys in a corner store, take a mugshot in the police station or eat shaved ice in a dessert parlor.
Taiwan Storyland obviously trades on nostalgia, but its view of history is not completely obscured by rose-tinted glasses. There are constant hints of what life was like under martial law, including this sign posted next to the schoolroom. It admonishes students to speak Mandarin, not Hoklo, Hakka or other dialects, a government policy at the time. Chinese Nationalist Party propaganda is also plastered almost everywhere you look.
Taiwan Storyland has brochures, signs and a Web site in English, but it currently does not offer English-language tours. Most people just wander around by themselves, however, because the minimum group size is 30. I tried to include as many factoids and tidbits as I could from the guided tour in my article and the accompanying sidebar. For more information about Taiwan Storyland, check out Wandering Taiwan’s awesome post, in which the blogger, Micki, shares her own childhood recollections. I’m looking forward to bringing my parents there when they fly in next week and asking them how many things in Taiwan Storyland look familiar. I told my Dad that since Taiwan Storyland is a “living museum,” he and my Mom should sit in a corner and charge people to look at them. Ha ha hahahahaha! I’m kidding!