Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Trip To America. Part 6 - A day in Taipei

Arriving in Taipei, Taiwan at 5.30 am with no sleep and 12 hours of jet lag after my flight from LA. I stumbled to the information counter running on pure adrenalin and quite dehydrated and malnourished from the minimal food and beverage served on the flight. The lady behind the desk was really helpful. They offered free tours of the city for the passengers who were in transit and as my flight would be leaving at 8.30 PM I had plenty of time for a day tour of the city but was keen to be my own guide and director. "Good Morning, Where can I buy professional Chinese Flutes and other musical instruments?" A quick search and she had a few places and wrote them on a piece of paper and then marked the subway stations on a map for me. Great start I thought. I then made my way around the airport to the bus terminal to board a bus to the city. About 40 Min's later I boarded a bus bound for a main subway station near the city. And off I went on my search for some nice Chinese flutes, particularly the Xiao which my friend Sahayak recently introduced me to. I board a train and make my way to a part of the city that I was told to go on the map by the lady. A long walk from the station I find the street and walk up and down the street twice and there is nothing but shops selling wedding dresses so after finding a nice fruit shop on a side street and buying huge mangoes and smearing them allover my bearded face in an attempt to sufficiently nourish myself, I decide to head back to the station but find myself curious about this interesting building on the opposite side of the street. I go to explore and find out what it is, I assume it's a temple. But it's actually an art gallery and museum.

Gates to Museum

From gates you then walk to the entrance, amazing building inside and out.

Inside I find a pottery and art exhibition, but with limited time I rush myself through feeling that it would be great to have more time to spare and do it more slowly. I snap a few pics of the pottery.

Pottery display.

Big and small Blow Fish.

Interesting cracked Pot

Nice piece, a house in the Chinese style.

By now its really warming into a humid day that feels like a sauna. So I head back off to the station where I somehow lose the details of where the other shops are located. Well time is ticking away now and its 11.30, frustration and disparity tempt me to feed them but I refuse and with a positive attitude and intuitive guidance of the Great Spirits powerful homing device, I decide to head a few stops back up the line to find a big famous and expensive department store I am told by a lady at the Museum sell musical instruments, maybe someone can steer me in the right direction there. I find myself there a half hour later. I ask at the information desk. No sorry Sir we don't sell flutes here. OK well where might I find professional quality Xiao please. The lady says please wait and very kindly calls someone on the phone and comes back to me with a positive response, not far away apparently and draws me a map. Great this is exhausting and realising my huge mistake of wearing Levi Jeans and a thick hemp T Shirt which is literally stuck to me now in the highly humid weather of Asia, I again set off on the search. I locate the rough area and walk into a camera shop for help with the directions, the man shakes his head with confusion and walks outside, I follow then he smiles and points to a doorway to a building. Upon approaching I see a sign with all these lovely instruments and flutes on it. Feeling relief as I am now in the right place and moments from looking at some real Xiao's I proceed up the lift and open a door into a bright Air conditioned room. I greet a Man a d a lady both with warm smiles and friendly personalities. It turns out I have found the best maker of Xiao, Shakuhachi, Chinese Gourd Flutes, and many other Chinese flutes and wind instruments Lin Ku-Jen. Lin is the Director of The Chin Yuan Chinese Orchestra.The lady I mentioned Lydia is a teacher at the shop which is also the location of Lin's workshop where he makes the flutes. Lydia I believe plays in the Orchestra also.

I am very impressed by the quality of his flutes and stay for some time talking and playing the flutes.They are very welcoming and honoured to have another flute maker present from another part of the world. I ask to have him finish a flute I chose that needs only fine tuning and signing and he happily does then plays a song with Lydia who is more than happy to demonstrate for the camera some of her playing. See the YouTube video here that I made of Lin and Lydia playing together. Coming soon.

Matt and Lin meet, Lin passionately demonstrates his love and skill for the end blown Xiao and and other Asian flutes he makes like the Sahkuhachi and many others.

Lin Playing the super long Xiao, way too big for me!

Quite impressed in the presence of another master.

Lydia, Matt and Lin

Lydia Plays the Pipa and shows the skills she has acquired in some thirty years of study with this instrument. More Info on the Pipa and all the Chinese Stringed instruments here.

Chinese Gourd flute.

Xiao and Transverse Chinese style flutes.

Chinese String Instruments.

Stock of Xiao and Shakuhachi made by Lin

If you are considering buying a
Xiao or any other Chinese instruments Please contact me for Lin's contact details, I certainly recommend the high quality of his instruments and his expertise in this field. Visit Lin's Website here.

More Info on the various Chinese flutes.

Lin's son then takes me to a near by vegan reaturant called love where I buy beautifully prepared vegan food that strangely for me is made from tofu to resemble all different kinds of meat. Isn't that why I became vegan! So hungry I hardly care, I load up on protein before jumping in a taxi to Taiwan's tool shop district to buy woodworking tools to bring back to Australia. I make it back to the Airport just in time. What a great day. Looking forward to a rest on the plane, before I arrive in Australia at 7 am, wow no darkness since I left LA. Thanks China Airlines for the Taipei stop over experience. Thanks Lin and Lydia for your friendliness and sharing your knowledge and music with me.

No comments: