VarietyCurious John

English Service host John Van Trieste is curious. There’s nothing about Taiwan’s many cultures that he doesn’t want to know more about. Join him every week as he gets to the bottom of yet another question. What will he be curious about this time?

What's On

20 July, 2019
English Service

Hidden away in the southern port city of Kaohsiung is an important piece of Taiwan’s military history. It’s a wireless military broadcast station that once sent coded messages and secret instructions to ships out at sea. Later, it became a prison where suspected communists in the navy were held In recent years, people have started to appreciate the station’s historic value. Some buildings on the site have been fixed up, and it’s been steadily promoted to the rank of national grade site. But it’s still a work in progress, and it’s still unclear what the site’s future will bring. Ku Chao-kuang is the military history preservationist behind the station’s rescue and refurbishment. He’s with us on the line today for a look at the station’s secretive past and the uphill battle he’s fought to keep the site in good shape.

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13 July, 2019
English Service

If it wasn’t for a plaque by the side of the road, there wouldn’t be much to announce the Qubing Archaeological Site. Tucked away anonymously behind a chain-link fence, it looks more like an ordinary field than anything else. This and the site’s location among thinly populated mountains mean that most people in Taiwan have never heard of it. Yet finds here have impressed government experts so much that they’ve voted to name Qubing a site of national importance. How has such an unassuming plot of grass attracted so much attention?  Joining us today as we dip our toes into Taiwan’s prehistory is culture ministry official Chang Jen-chi.

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06 July, 2019
English Service

Once, life on the outlying island of Kinmen was tough. For many of the island’s people, there were two options- work the land or fish on the sea. But not everyone was satisfied with these choices, and by around 100 years ago, ambitious islanders were setting off to make their fortunes in the rich markets of Southeast Asia. Among those who succeeded was a man named Chen Jinglan, a man who wanted to use his wealth to make a difference. Chen decided to build a school, the first school his home village had known. Today, the proud, stately school building is still there, and it’s a building with quite a story to tell. Here to fill us in is Ms. Yang, who works in the building today.

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29 June, 2019
English Service

Taiwan has a range of historic sites that still serve some function today. But there are some sites that are a bit tricky to find uses for. They may be beautifully restored and well-cared for, but what do you do with these places? One solution that’s been tried to great success in Taiwan is to let private companies step in and find their own ways of giving these sites a new life. The central city of Taichung is home to one notable success story. It’s an old martial arts hall  that’s beenturned into a popular weekend hangout  called the Natural Way Six Arts Cultural Center. The center’s director Chen Yujie is with us this week for a look at the history of the site and its transformation into a hip part of the local cultural scene.

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22 June, 2019
English Service

Stretched out along Taiwan’s southwest seaboard are miles of rich mangrove swamps and marshy wetlands. The whole area is full of wildlife, scenic views, and history. Protecting it is the job of Taijiang National Park, one of the newest members of Taiwan’s national park system. Taijiang’s waterlogged, salty landscape may not be the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Taiwan’s national parks. But the park’s Mr. Chen says, that’s not due to any lack of attractions. He joins us on the line this week to introduce this unique park and what it is that sets it apart from the rest.

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