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)


orang utan

Heh! I’ve always wanted to title a blog post like that. In this case, there is at least some semblance of logical justification for it. I was in Singapore a few weeks ago and one of the things that we did was have breakfast with orang utans. There were also pythons for you to hold, it was a great start to the morning, truth to be told.


However, the highlights of my trip there were mostly towards the arts and theater scene that Singapore has to offer. I bugged Kristine to organize my itinerary around this show by Yukichi Matsumoto which I have been itching to catch. It showed at the Singapore Arts Festival 2011 and this is the first time the Ishinha theater group has done a performance outside of Japan.


Ishinha has very high standards for their stages and choreography. They build the set and props themselves and they’re quite partial about how it turns out. It was one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen. It’s held outdoors and I love the passion they put into their work – “This is a rain or shine event”.

rain shine

I expected this to be a niche show but I was surprised to see the packed. There were two Japanese men seated to my right and a bunch of Caucasians on holiday on my left. The seats are stadium type wooden boards – no frills but we managed to sit very comfortably by NOT sitting on the seats itself but on the one below you and using your seat as a backrest.


I can’t credit myself for that though – the bunch of Caucasian ladies started sliding down and I thought that looked like a mighty fine position to be sitting in. You’re not disturbing anyone and your chiropractor would thank you for it. It’s all about the back support. Thus, I slid down as well and the woman grinned at me and said “It’s much more comfortable this way, eh?”

Yes, it is ma’am. Yes indeed. :)


When A Grey Taiwanese Cow Stretched is a 120 minute performance with no intervals. You have to come in before it starts or the doors close. That’s the way to go about it. No disturbances from late arrivals.

I was actually very surprised by the performance. I expected it to be good but it just went and blew my mind.


The stage structure is built in front of a city landscape which is integral to the story as a juxtaposition. When A Grey Taiwanese Cow Stretched explores a lot of themes from migrants, to the war and occupation of Japanese troops and how it affects their people. It’s all in Japanese and there’s subtitles to the side but what I really enjoyed was they way it was performed.

In lieu of dialogue, they use a form of rap to communicate. Known as Jan Jan Opera language, it’s a kind of Osakan street rap – it goes from a rapid staccato to a slow, ponderous chant. It’s quite unique and a very effective way to get the narrative across.

when a grey taiwanese cow stretched

It’s a very intense performance, especially if you have good seats (Thanks Kristine!). Don’t be surprised to see a troop of performers staring you down and intensely shouting about the pain they feel. One particular bit of dialogue that I found very well executed and poignant is:

You had affairs!
South American women.
With big bottoms!
Did you notice their breasts?
Paradise, isn’t it?

I just wish I had enough money leftover to buy the soundtrack, it’s definitely worth it.

artscience museum

I also visited the ArtScience Museum for Salvador Dali’s work. The museum is shaped like a lotus (though some say it looks like a baseball mitt, including myself) and it’s actually quite vast inside.

I don’t think captions would do the great man’s work justice so I’m just going to post up the photos:


melting clock


The other thing that I really enjoyed was The Lion King at Marina Bay Sands Singapore.

pride rock

I’ve seen the West End production but the Singapore one was even better. The acoustics and the seating arrangements beats the one in Lyceum Theater near Convent Garden.

It’s just progress – the Marina Bay Sands theater is just more modern.

I also loved how they localized The Lion King Musical with a sprinkling of Mandarin and references to the Merlion. Don’t expect them to break into a refrain of “The (Mer)lion sleeps tonight” but there’s enough little touches that differentiates it and it’s an awesome performance by a new cast assembled from around the world.


Now, why don’t we get all this stuff in Malaysia? Oh well, at least I can visit Singapore instead of flying all the way to London next time I want to see a good theater performance.

lion king cast

Oh, by the way these are some of the upcoming performances in Singapore:

Cirque Éloize iD – Now until 26 June 2011
Kylie Minogue – Aphrodite Live -29 June 2011
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber – 7 to 17 July 2011
Korean Music Wave 2011 – 15 July 2011
Paramore Live in Concert – 21 Aug 2011

If you’re interested in all that Singapore has to offer, hop on over to where there’s something for everyone!

PJ Life Arts – The God of Carnage ticket giveaway on!

PJ Life Arts is showing a comedy play called The God of Carnage and I’ve got two pairs of tickets to be given away thanks to Nuffnang! I’ve always loved the theatre and performances – it’s not “just live movies in real 3D” (as a film critic quipped) – it’s much better than that!

God of Carnage

I’ve acted in a play during my high school in New Zealand and it takes a lot of practise, improvisation and quick thinking if you mess up your lines. I have a lot of respect for the people who do this and you’ll be pleased by the cast in The God of Carnage – Lina Teoh, Will Quah, Maya Tan and Megat Sharizal will be the leads in this production!

This is a play that everyone can relate to – the competition, the bottled up anger and the thinly veiled jealousy forms a large part of our daily interactions with others. The script just adds a dose of humor to all of that. You can read the synopsis here.

This show is rated 18-PL so please (as the popular sign on bars go) “B 18 or B Gone”. ;)

Show: The God of Carnage
Date & Time: 25th April 2011, 8:30 PM (Monday)
Location: PJ Life Arts, Jaya One
Ticket Giveaway: 2 pairs (4 tix) worth RM 60 each for two winners

We all need a bit of laughter in our lives. There will be two winners – just like there are two families in the play – who’ll get to watch this for free! The winners will get two (2) tickets each so you can bring a friend along. :D

Nuffnang will contact you to confirm your attendance and hand out the tickets for this 1 hour and 30 minute comedy. I’ll be passing them the details of the winners from the contest on As such, kindly ensure that your email address in the comments is correct so I can get in touch. Join us in watching The God of Carnage at PJLA!

Just share a funny story or incident involving your family by commenting before 6 pm on the 22nd April 2011 (Friday). The two funniest comments will win these tickets! :)

See you there!

Wicked the Musical in London

wicked the musical

Wicked the Musical is one of the best musicals I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s currently showing at Apollo Victoria Theatre in London. Yup, I caught the West End cast in this award winning production! :)


Wicked is actually based on the first of a trilogy of books by Gregory Maguire called Wicked – The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Most of you would have watched or read The Wizard of Oz at some point in your childhood. It’s a good movie but ultimately suffers from being based on a children’s book – it’s all black and white, good versus evil.

wicked book

As you grow older, such concepts are foreign, nay, an insult to your intelligence, in a world you know has no such absolutes. It’s all shades of gray and Wicked will appeal to the older audience. The book and the musical adaptation has quite a few differences though – the book is darker and Dorothy does not make an appearance in the written word.

wicked glinda

However, I love the musical coz it weaves everything together and portrays Elphaba (the name of the Wicked Witch of the West) as a revolutionary who fights for the rights of Animals. She is ultimately a very misunderstood character and you can’t help but feel sorry for her.

wicked ticket

I managed to get reasonably good seats for 62.50 pounds (about RM 300) – it’s the very front row in the middle of the Dress Circle. I was impressed by the props on stage as well – the animatronic bird (?) hovering over the stage like a large pterodactyl that comes alive when the Wizard of Oz makes his speeches is awe inspiring!

apollo victoria wicked

The orchestra playing in front of the stage is so good that I went and bought the CD + program for 20 pounds. Wicked the Musical is probably best known for the song “Defying Gravity” which also appeared in an episode of Glee (the one with the wheelchairs in Season One).

wicked program cd

I won’t spoil the story for you but basically the musical is about Glinda (The Good Witch of the South), Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) and Nessa (The Wicked Witch of the East) during their days in school.


The witches weren’t known as such then (Glinda is such a selfish airhead) and the incredibly sad and touching series of events which culminated in the death of Nessa (damn Madame Morrible) and the vilification of poor Elphaba will bring a tear to even the most stone hearted man.


The production runs for about 3 hours, including an intermission between Act I and Act II and I cannot recommend it strongly enough for those with an interest in theatre (and even those without). If you only watch one musical in your lifetime, let it be Wicked. I got so angry at Galinda and felt so sorry for Elphaba even though it’s just great acting.

I can relate so much to Elphaba. T_T

No one mourns the wicked. :(

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