Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village

Alisan Girls

This was one of the places I was looking forward to visiting in Taiwan. I’ve heard much about the Taiwanese aborigines, although I’m only familiar with the Amis and wanted to know more about them. It turned out to the one of the highlights of my trip!

Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village

I can’t say it’s THE HIGHLIGHT of my trip since it’s just my second day in Taiwan but I was totally blown away by the Amis performance. It’s a courtship ritual dance and it starts with the girls slowly trooping down from the back of the open courtyard to meet in the middle with their male counterparts.

You won’t regret watching this 5 minute video coz I certainly was very proud of being in the right place at the right time at the right angle to capture everything from beginning till end.

Theme Park

Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village is actually a theme park that has several components to it – there’s literally something for everyone, from the European Village to the Amusement Isle, which is an amusement park and waterpark rolled into one. It’s like having multiple attractions and rides that appeals to both young and old in one place.

Taiwan Aboriginal House

That’s exactly what it is – a place for everyone. Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village opened in 1986 and is originally a cultural village for people to observe and experience a Taiwanese traditional tribal lifestyle. That was why I wanted to go. It expanded to be a lot more than that to capture a larger audience for just NTD 780 (about RM 100) for adults, which gives you access to everything.

Amis Woman

There was an actual, real-life Amis woman who dressed up and gave us a commentary throughout the day. I thought that was awesome, coz she spoke English well and she was a veritable fountain of knowledge. Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village actually has two places that tells the history of the Taiwanese aboriginals via rides.

Discovering Sun Moon Lake

The first is at Dynamic Movie and called Time Travel – Discovering Sun Moon Lake. This is one of those motion 3D simulators which has intense levels of gyro action and alarming tilts. It’s fully animated and it’s a production that’s completely done in Taiwan! Stuff like this is usually imported, so a locally made rendering makes it all the more meaningful and it tells the story well – just more geared towards the younger ones.

Illusion Fusion

The other is a beautiful medley of theatre and interactive elements called ILLUSION FUSION. The show started with two girls coming together…

Taiwan Theatre

…and segues into a man shooting down the sun (more about that later), people chasing a white deer etc.

It’s The Origins of Taiwan in abstract form and I think theatre lovers would totally dig it.

Taiwan Aboriginal Hut

I really enjoyed it but I wouldn’t have understood the symbolism if I hadn’t watched Discovering Sun Lake Moon earlier. You can say both serves their purpose, I would definitely go for the 3D motion simulator first to get the mythology straight before delving into the heavier Illusion Fusion.

Taiwan Aboriginal Tribe

There are a lot of roller-coasters and water slides around but I skipped all that to delve into the proper Taiwanese aboriginal history. Yup, even UFO Adventures, Taiwan’s tallest free-fall ride at 85 meters.

Longest Cable Car Taiwan

There was a poll on who wanted to go and I went for Taiwan’s first cable car system instead, the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway. The significance of this cable car is in the name – you actually descend down (or up, depending on where you’re coming from) to the aforementioned lake.

The legend about how Taiwan started goes like this. There was a group of hunters who saw a white deer and wanted to kill it, chasing it to Sun Moon Lake. However, they didn’t catch it but they settled down here instead. These were the original inhabitants of Taiwan – the Amis and other Taiwanese aboriginals.

Sun Moon Lake

It was nice to see the beautiful blue lake and you can even go on boat rides if you want.

Ceremony for Good Luck

There was also a ceremony where we were blessed with fire and had to “jump” over a flaming pit to get rid of bad luck, the traditional Taiwan aboriginal way.

Jumping Flaming Pit

I love the interactive portions, I did it twice, once for real and once for the camera…does that mean I reversed my good luck? smirk

Amis Performance

The Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Museum was very interesting too – everything has both Chinese and English descriptions, even the digital screens, so I could understand the history and culture behind the Taiwanese original inhabitants.

Paiwan Wood Lintels

They also own the largest collection of real Paiwan status wood lintels in Taiwan! It’s quite impressive to see all the ancient artefacts and learn about the culture of the 19 recognized tribes of Aboriginals.

I decided to spend more time at the actual Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village and caught a couple of shows, including the natives’ flagship song. Naruwan actually means “Hello“. You’ll hear this multiple times as the people there greet you in this format.

Alisan Courtship Ritual

Try and catch all the performances if you can, they’re the best thing about this place. I managed to get involved in an impromptu dance where a Taiwanese girl came over to grab my hand to join the circle of dancers.

Bunan Dance

I was trying to get the dance right, kicking and switching stances when prompted when one of the guys (who really is a Bunun – one of the Aboriginal people of Taiwan) handed me a drink. It was their version of fermented rice wine and I drank it. Surprisingly fruity, it was good. I was wondering why they didn’t grab children to join in the dances until I realized it was alcohol. Haha!

Alisan Dance

That was a lot of fun and it made for a great photo op – thanks to the resident Amis for taking the photos. I highly recommend coming if you love visiting a country to learn more about the cultural elements. :)

Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village
555, Nantou County, Yuchi Township
Nantou County, Taiwan

Posted: 12:06 am Taiwan time (GMT/UTC +8)

Greetings from Taiwan!

Arriving in Taiwan

This is the traditional 您好 post that I make each time I visit a new country. I arrived late at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan and all of us made the 1 1/2 hour drive down to Taichung. I was quite surprised to see that the airport had an excellent feature – video cameras pointing towards the people exiting (on both sides) so you have visuals of arrivals.

Taoyuan International Airport

I have been to quite a lot of countries and never seen this feature – Australia, New Zealand and Europe (from England to Georgia – the places I’ve been to anyway) don’t have this. It’s very nifty, you can see the faces of people coming out on a big screen on both flanks with overlapping coverage.

Taiwan Vending Machine

I tried to get something from the vending machine too. I like to check out the vending machines in places I go to, every country has something different. Unfortunately, all I had was notes (it’s coin/smartphone only) and I didn’t want to keep everyone waiting so we made the long drive down to Yamay for the night.

Fullon Hotel Yamay

I’m staying at Fullon Hotel Yamay in Taichung. It’s a good thing that everything has been arranged in this trip. I would have to book hotels otherwise, which is a constant source of stress, as my better half can tell you. I ponder excessively over what hotels to stay in. You can compare hotel rates and find cheaper deals though the HotelsCombined search engine before planning your holidays. I just found out about it and it automatically checks prices at several of the popular hotel booking sites to see which offers the best deal!

Fullon Hotel Taiwan

My room has an awesome view too!

Yamay Dinner

Next up was dinner – it was pretty awesome, first meal in Taiwan and we had a 12 course veritable feast. Delicious!

Taiwan Dinner

I’ll post more about the trip soon. Taiwan has great free WiFi coverage in most major cities and that’s how I’m able to post this. Check out my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for live updates!

Posted: 12:01 am Taiwan time (GMT/UTC +8)

I’m off to Taiwan!

Ticket To Taiwan

I’ll be getting a Taiwan SIM card so I’ll be able to update and access my social media while I’m away. I hear they’re quite affordable, something like NTD 300 for 5 days unlimited data. Catch you on the flipside – I’ll update again tonight. Meanwhile, I can be reached via:


The new Sharp AQUOS Ultra HD 4K Android Digital TV

Sharp AQUOS 4K AndroidTV

I was just thinking of getting a new TV for my better half. Knowing that she would love to explore new technology, I was looking at getting her something contemporary instead of a conventional TV. My place is actually quite near the Sharp-Roxy Sales & Service Company’s showroom, I dropped over last week to look at their latest AQUOS range and while I was browsing, I was introduced to their latest Ultra HD 4K Android Digital TV. These are the sets that just launched on the 10th of August 2015.

4KTV Games

This is the top-of-the-line 65″ UE630X series with 4K/UHD resolution and their proprietary 4K Master Engine Pro chipset. The colors are immensely rich with deep reds and vivid greens – there’s a 14% improvement over their previous flagship 4K offering and you can visibly see the difference!

Android 4KTV

The 4K TV is also powered by Android but it’s not the previous generation Android that was made for phones, and thus looks like a smartphone interface. I’ve seen that system and it had a lot of problems with some apps since it was made for a smartphone instead of a TV. Now, the new AQUOS LED 4K TV runs AndroidTVTM which is tailor-made for a TV experience.

AndroidTV OS

This is very important as the interface is MUCH slicker and easier to use with the provided remote (which also has a combination touchpad in the middle). You can log into Google to instantly see the latest videos, songs and games you’ve played right as your Favorites and on top for ease of access.

Smartphone TV Remote

Best of all, you can connect your smartphone to the Sharp AQUOS 4K UHD TV and it will act as a remote control!

Android Cast TV

The user interface is also improved and the experience of navigation is very easy and intuitive with the new AndroidTVTM OS. This is made for television and it feels like it was made for your remote (instead of a smartphone) – bigger icons, better organization, slicker navigation.

Smartphone TV Voice Search

I love how the Sharp AQUOS TV remote also has a Voice Search. Yup, this is the very same Google voice search so it already recognizes your voice. I just had to press a button and say “NOFX” (it’s pronounced “No Eff Ecks”, as in “No Effects” not “N-O-F-X” and the Voice Search got it right the very first time and showed me the YouTube videos of my favorite band.

AndroidTV Remote

Check out more of what the Sharp AQUOS TV remote can do in this video:

I can also use a third-party controller to play games. This is hooked up via Bluetooth and it works perfectly while I’m playing Google Play Games.

Mi Bluetooth Controller

Your smartphone can also be used to view photos and videos using Android Cast. You just need to connect to your home WiFi for this media server feature. This mirrors, or rather, casts the content of your smartphone to your TV so you can view it in a larger format. You can cast just about anything from YouTube videos to the pictures you took using your smartphone.

Smartphone Connect TV

Yes, this also includes the stuff you have in Google Drive and Dropbox – it can stream files in your cloud storage too. The Google Cast feature is not just limited to Android smartphones but also to iPhones and other iOS devices like your iPad!

Android Cast 4KTV

You get the benefit of full 4K resolution when watching YouTube videos filmed in 4K and play games at 4K resolution too.

Android Cast

The premium UE630X Sharp AQUOS TV comes in three sizes – 50″, 58″ and the 65″ you see in the pictures here. I love it, I’m planning to get one…after our Bali and Japan trip. :)

Android Cast YouTube

If you’re interested in what Sharp AQUOS have got to offer, check out the links below:

Sharp AQUOS Facebook page:
Global 4K Android:

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I’ve seen a lot of resources offered to people who’re contemplating (Befrienders etc) which is good and all, but some people don’t want to talk and they’re past the stage where they want to talk.

If you’re one of those people, I can totally vouch for this site. I had linked it in the past, in 2004 and it’s a very good read.

It has helped a lot of people and I highly recommend taking a minute to read this before you decide anything:

If you’re thinking about suicide, read this first.

Saturday Night Fever The Musical 2015 in KL (and backstage tour with cast!)

Saturday Night Fever KL

I was at the opening night of the Saturday Night Fever The Musical in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday night. This is not the original or Revival version, the song list is similar to the 2014 UK Tour Production that premiered in Bath, England with different casting. The main character Tony Manero is played by Brandon Rubendall, who pulled it off perfectly.

Saturday Night Fever Kuala Lumpur

I got to meet him and Carla Guevara-Laforteza at the end of the musical during the backstage tour.

Saturday Night Fever Backstage Pass

Yeah, I was lucky enough to get a media and backstage pass, courtesy of Nuffnang (thanks Jack and Samantha!) and it was an awesome performance by the cast overall. A lot of the cast came from Broadway backgrounds in New York.

This is the second time I’ve seen Saturday Night Fever and during the first, I never heard the word “spic” and was quite surprised to hear it here.

Saturday Night Fever The Musical

That word is considered a racial slur nowadays, along with the n-word (though the latter did not make an appearance due to its offensiveness to every single culture). My theory is that not many Malaysians are familiar with the term – interestingly, the term is missing from Strictly Ballroom The Musical, but IIRC appears in the movie version.

Saturday Night Fever Merchandise

I managed to get an official Saturday Night Fever The Musical fridge magnet for my dear.

Saturday Night Fever 2015

The opening night of Saturday Night Fever The Musical was slightly marred by bad weather – it was flooding in some places and visibility was down to almost zero but it started more or less on time. There were constant interruptions in terms of people who came in but I thought the ushers did a pretty good job in waiting until musical numbers were done before getting the late-comers seated.

I actually didn’t know that we could take photos or I would have brought my dSLR. We were allowed to take photos and videos not exceeding 2 minutes during the first four (4) numbers. I managed to use my better half’s iPhone to do it, my apologies for the quality.

Saturday Night Fever Stage

The seating was perfect too – the tickets we were allocated were VIP tickets so it was right in the middle of the action. Istana Budaya has pretty good acoustics too and I thought the cast did a really good job.

I was impressed by the special effects too – there was a sequence which simulated a train going by right after the death of a character (don’t consider this a spoiler since everyone knows the plot by now) and it did so very realistically with the video screens, strobe effects and the metal scaffolding of the bridge, which we later got to see close up.

Saturday Night Fever Backstage

There is no rape scene in this production though so I thought it was a bit confusing to new viewers for continuity and the end scene isn’t as impactful because of that.

Saturday Night Fever Props

We got to go for a backstage tour after the musical too – it was led by one of the cast members and we got the see the props and set up close.

Here’s a video of the backstage, cast and interesting facts about the production.

Saturday Night Fever Call Board

I loved the backstage tour, I thought I’ll give everyone a glimpse of the magic that goes into a production so here’s your backstage pass!

I got a photo with the lead character of Saturday Night Fever The Musical – Brandon Rubendall (Tony Manero)!

Brandon Rubendall Tony Manero

He was nice and kind enough to do the signature pose with me, which prompted another guy to ask me to re-take a photo with him doing that as well. smirk

Saturday Night Fever Backstage Tour

Saturday Night Fever The Musical runs from 4th – 13th September 2015 in Istana Budaya, KL. You can get your tickets from Milestone Productions by calling 03-9222 8811. Tickets starts from RM 138. I highly recommend it if you like musicals and if you loved the original movie featuring John Travolta.

I accidentally joined the Bersih 4 protest rally

Bersih 4

With hindsight, I should have suspected something was amiss. None of my fellow compatriots spoke a word of Thai. I was more than a little puzzled at their t-shirts saying Bersih 4, since I didn’t know what that meant.

Bersih 4 KL

All I know is that I woke up on the 29th of August and drove to join the PAD (no, that’s not a transcription error for DAP – it actually means People’s Alliance for Democracy or พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย) – the yellow shirts.

Bersih 4 Media

I didn’t know how long I was driving but I got stuck at Kelana Jaya so I stopped my car and went with the sea of yellow to board the LRT.

Bersih 4 Malays

I saw them getting off at Pasar Seni LRT and went with them, expecting to rally against Thaksin.

Bersih 4 Kuala Lumpur

I thought it was great that there were so many foreigners with us, it seemed like the royalist movement is really gaining some serious momentum!

Bersih 4 Police

The crowd got stopped by a veritable wall of police at the barricades around Dataran Merdeka so we walked up the highway flyover.

Bersih 4 Barricades

There was a huge police presence with ballistic vests all loaded up in trucks. These personnel carriers are all full of our dutiful men in blue at the back, and even had drivers at their seats, ready to deploy.

Bersih 4 Protest

Of course, I thought it was slightly perplexing that the emblems spelled “POLIS” instead of “POLICE” but I didn’t give it much thought at the time.

Bersih 4 Speakers

It was, after all, a beautiful day and I managed to go all the way to the front of the stage where the speakers were.

The speeches were a little confusing to me since there were bits I didn’t quite understand – keywords like “1MDB”, “Najib”, and “USD 700 million” were being bandied around. Baffling! I honestly don’t know what that had to do with Shinawatra.

Bersih 4 Me

I sat down in front and absorbed the bewildering and unfamiliar atmosphere, mulling and brooding over what was going on.

Bersih 4 Crowd

Suddenly, it dawned on me – this *wasn’t* about Yingluck…

Bersih 4 Dataran Merdeka

It seems that in my haste, I had driven all the way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! I was at the banned Bersih 4 protest in KL!

Bersih 4 Rally

Words cannot describe how shocked and dismayed I was to have mistakenly participated in an illegal rally, since I’ve always been a law-abiding citizen.

Bersih 4 Protestors

Thoroughly disgusted with myself, I immediately left the prohibited gathering with my Thai Patriots Network shirt. It took me 34 hours to drive back to Bangkok, indignant at my inadvertent blunder. smirk

Huge 5.4 kg Durian from Sang Lee, Pahang

Largest 54kg Durian

I was craving for durians late at night and went to check out one of the “posher” durian stalls near my place. It’s called Kota Durian Red Carpet, named for the red carpets on the floor, I presume. I’ve actually been here with my better half before but we didn’t see anything interesting (besides the dubious A24 and B24 durians, which they claim are better grades of D24).

Sang Lee Durian

However, this time I spotted a HUGE durian among the pile labelled as “Durian Pahang Sang Lee”. Sang Lee is a place near Raub, Pahang which is famous for their durians. These were selling for RM 12/kg and are supposedly durian kampong. It’s slightly more expensive than the RM 10/kg regular durian kampong in the other mound.

Durian Monthong

I was quite surprised at the size of the durian – it weighed in at a staggering 5.4 kg! That comes up to RM 65 for the durian, but since it was almost 1 am, I managed to convince them to let it go at RM 40. The durian was opened up and I saw the flesh was reasonably decent, although in such a gigantic durian, there’s bound to be irregularities.

Huge Durian

I suspect this durian is really a D159/Monthong/Bantal Emas that has been chucked into the pile since Monthong Durians generally don’t sell well in the local market. Yup, that makes it the bigger brother of the frozen durians you’ll find in Asian groceries abroad – Monthong has less odor and the flesh is inoffensive to first-timers. However, this isn’t a pure bred Thailand Monthong durian but the D159 Golden Pillow cultivar planted locally which is a colossal 4-6 kg beast.

Monthong Seeds

The 5.4 kg durian had so much flesh that I found that I could only eat two rows before I was full to the point of being stuffed! It took me 24 hours to finish the entire durian – eating it for every single meal. The flesh was sweet but mostly tasteless – fluffy like a soft marshmallow (it’s almost like eating foam) and very filling since the seeds are quite small.

Monthong Durian

It took a lot of effort to finish the durian and although I can’t say it tasted very good, the distinct lack of a odor and the relatively bland taste of the flesh together with the size makes me believe this is a D159 Monthong. It’s unusual to find durians of this size and it’s certainly one of the more interesting durians I’ve eaten this year. :)

Goldfish (Kim Hu) Durian

Goldfish Durian

Goldfish Durian is known locally as “kim hu” in Penang. Kim Hu is the Hokkien word for Goldfish. I have no idea why this durian is called Goldfish, maybe due to its large and round shape. smirk I had wanted to eat this right after the Susu Durian but was too full so I came back later at night with my better half and the kids.

Durian Goldfish

The Goldfish Durian is a big fruit with a short, thick stubby stem that weighed in at 2.4 kg. It was slightly cheaper at RM 16/kg so this one cost RM 38 (RM 46 inclusive of a bunch of rambutans). The durian tasted sweet to bittersweet and the flesh was nicely wrinkly with completely no fiber. The skin just comes off and it was very, very creamy.

Kim Hu Durian

I had specifically come to Penang for these varieties and wanted to have Ling Fong Jiao, 604, 600 durians etc but they’re all early season durians and Susu Durian, D15 Durian and Ganja Durians are the late season durians that were left. Most of the varieties here are available in George Town and meant for local consumption only. I was quite pleased at the chance of being able to sample the Kim Hoo Durian (Goldfish Durian). It was good – although the kids wouldn’t touch it, my dear liked it too. :)

Durian Susu (Milk Durian) in Penang – it really tastes like milk!

Susu Durian

Susu Durian! This literally means “Milk Durian” (Susu is the Malay word for milk) and it was one of the durians on my To Eat list in Penang. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this durian and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it.

Susu Durian Penang

However, I was a little wary about the durians I came across since they all didn’t have a stem. This is usually a VERY BAD sign – especially since all three (3) of the Susu Durians were missing their stem. The likelihood of all 3 falling on the stem (it happens, but rarely) is quite small so a durian missing its stem can mean a range of nefarious things – it was cut before it was ripe or a chemical agents were used to induce ripening.

Durian Susu

Nevertheless, since I’ve never had a Susu Durian before and this was the only stall carrying it, I took a chance. I really wanted to try the famous (among durian connoisseurs) Susu Durian. The husk can range from green to yellow and doesn’t seem to indicate ripeness, I chose my own for this one. This cost RM 18/kg and weighed in at 1.7 kg for a total of RM 31 for the durian.

Susu Penang

The Susu Durian was slightly overripe in some places, slightly under in some places and absolutely perfect in some. I want to emphasize the slightly bit – the over/under is barely noticeable, it just so happens that I was alone and had this durian to myself so I could think and savor at the same time. This could be due to its unusual shape or to possible abovementioned roguish intervention. I can’t really tell, to be honest.

Durian Milk

Amazingly, it has several different tastes in the durian – one segment was bittersweet to bitter and one *perfect* segment was intensely sweet, with only sweet tones and that one smelled and tasted remarkably like milk (which, I gather, is why it got the name). The flesh really tasted so much like cow’s milk that I was quite taken aback. A very nice durian, among the best I ate this year.

Milk Durian

There’s little to no fibre in the Milk Durian and the snow white flesh rates as one of the creamiest durian I ever had, in the literal sense. It’s as creamy as a good Black Thorn with some of the stickiness you’ll find in a Ganja Durian (also known as D158 Ganyao/Kan Yao/Tangkai Panjang). I highly recommend a Penang Susu Durian if you come across one. :)

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