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?
Chinese New Year is here again! More than any other holiday celebrated in Taiwan, the lunar New Year makes its presence felt. For a few days, Taipei especially puts on a very unusual face. On New Year’s Eve, the highlight of the festival, you’ll hear loud conversations a the clatter of mahjong tiles coming from behind brightly lit windows.
Chinese New Year is a magical time of year to come to Dadaocheng, one of Taipei’s old quarters. The historic area pops into life as shoppers throng to the New Year market. Centered on Dihua Street, the market is one of the highlights of Chinese New Year in Taiwan, and it brings out a carnival side of Taipei that you don’t often see anymore. People from all over the city come here to do last minute shopping by the ornate stone carvings on stately old houses.
Aboriginal singer Balai has had a strong affinity for music since his childhood. But turning that affinity into a career has involved a lot of sacrifices. Last week, he told us about how he gave up a law degree and faced the strong disapproval of his parents. Now, after eight years in the business, he has released an album called “The Modern Ancient”. Today, Balai will be giving a special performance of his two favorite songs from the album, but first, I’m curious about his remarkable optimism, his unorthodox way of recording, and how successful he has been overseas.
Aboriginal singer Balai has spent eight years pursuing a career in music. His new album “The Modern Ancient” came out last year. But to get to this point, Balai gave up a degree in law and felt his parents’ disapproval. And there were times where he went hungry. But his story and his work are interesting. That’s because unlike many aboriginal artists you’ll see, Balai never thought of himself as aboriginal growing up. Today, I’m curious about Balai’s road to music and about what it was that put him on his way to discovering his heritage.
Meet Li Ming-hsiang, a master umbrella maker from the southern village of Meinong. The village is known for its beautifully painted umbrellas. Like most Taiwanese people, the Hakka's ancestors come from China, but they have their own language and culture. These works of art are well-known symbols of Hakka culture, but they aren't the grand, ancient Hakka tradition many people would imagine.The story actually starts in 1924. And it lifts the lid on questions about what tradition really is, and who Taiwan’s Hakka people really are.