Taiwan : Tainan and Central Mountain Range

2014 January.

After a night in Taichung I traveled 186km south to Tainan city.  Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and was once the capital of Taiwan during the imperial times. In Tainan you rarely see any tall buildings and most of it’s population other than high school students do not speak English. However the old folks here can converse in Japanese. Tainan is the home for the famous Ten Drums Percussion Group that performed at the opening of 2002 Sydney Olympic as well as the opening of the 2002 Korea World Cup. I’ll be visiting their campus in here. After Tainan city I’ll travel another 30km inland towards the Central mountain range to a family run leisure farm called Dakeng Leisure Farm.


I took off from my hotel after breakfast at 9am. A nice drive on the No. 1 National freeway heading south. In Taiwan all the cars are left hand drive just like in America. 3 sections of the No. 1 National freeway of Taiwan are intentionally built really wide and straight for at least a few kilometers with no lamp post on the side for the purpose of military jets emergency landing and resupplying in the event of war and when all major airbase are attacked. Parts of the sections of No. 1 National highway are Madou and Rende in Tainan, and Huatan in Changhua.


M-2000 Mirage (L and 2nd L) and F-16 fighter jets taxi into position on a highway used as an emergency landing strip during the Han Kuang military exercise in Madou, Tainan, southern Taiwan, April 12, 2011. Photo and caption from far-maroc.forumpro.fr


Local residents watch a Taiwanese Air Force Mirage 2000 jet fighter take off from a closed section of highway during the annual Hankuang military exercises, Tuesday, May 15, 2007, in Changhua, central Taiwan. Photo and caption from www.militaryphotos.net


A Taiwan Air Force IDF fighter jet lands on a highway used as an emergency landing strip during the Han Kuang military exercise in Madou, Tainan, southern Taiwan, April 12, 2011. Photo and caption from far-maroc.forumpro.fr


After nearly 3 hours drive I’ve arrived at the Ten Drum Cultural Village.


Ten Drum cultural village is situated in a century old Rende Sugar Refinery which consists of 16 old fashioned warehouse from the Japanese era. Taken over by the Ten Drums Percussion Group in 2005 after it was idle for a long time, on New Year’s day of 2007 it was opened to public. Designed by world-famous Mr. Liu Guocang, after 2 years of planning and restoration work with limited budget it was transformed into the 1st of its kind drum themed international art village in Asia. The chimney of the old refinery is the first thing you will see when you reached this place.



 Restaurant at the Ten Drums Cultural Village.


An old transport rail cart converted into a dining area for the restaurant.


 Wooden drum sticks or commonly known as drum beater in the wooden drum barrel on the wall.


 Animal skin on display in the drum making workshop.


Finished and partially finished tanggu drums also known as Chinese ceremonial drums. There are 2 common types of tanggu; da tanggu means big tanggu and xiao tanggu means small tanggu.


 Tools in the drums making workshop.


 A cut out display wooden drum barrel.


 Animal drum skin being tensioned on the da tanggu with ropes and hydraulic jack before it was nailed onto the barrel.


After tensioning and tuning the animal drum skin were nailed onto the wooden barrel and the skin cut. This is the xiao tanggu.


 View from the top.


Finished Chinese da tanggu ceremonial drums.


 Drum skin cut out hanging in the drum making workshop.


 Drum skin cut out.


 Wooden barrels of xiao tanggu.


 A drum smith installing decorative nail onto the the animal drum skin onto the wooden barrel of a xiao tanggu.


The animal skin is first tensioned and nailed onto the wooden barrel and the left over skin cut. Then the drum smith will install decorative nails on top of the holding nails.


 Drums on display in the drums making workshop.


 Drums workshop for school children during school holiday.


The trail of time. An old rail track running in between the old warehouses. These rail tracks are about 100 years old.


Inside the Rende Sugar Refinery. These are some of the old fashioned machines in the refinery. They are kept in their original place.


Huge boilers.


 Sugar tank.


 Each and every piece of machine and parts of the refinery has their own story to tell.


 More tanks.


 A tank level marker. Each of the markers are connected to each tank by a thin rope.


 Worker’s storage locker and safety hats.


 Old safety hats on the worker’s storage lockers.


 Portholes on the tanks for inspection.


Sugar silo. The designer Mr. Liu Guocang conceptualized the use of all idle space of this refinery. Elevated walkways called “skywalks” were constructed to connect the refinery with all the storage silos.


 Preserving it’s surroundings, skywalk were built around this century old tree that has grown as tall as 6 storeys high.


 Skywalk connecting the refinery plant to the silo.


A century old happy tree.



A sign inside one of the silo.


 A children’s playground inside 1st silo.


 A cafe inside the 2nd silo.


 One can chill and have coffee and pastries in silo number 2 after walking around the village.



 Pastries, anyone?


 Taiwanese delicacy, anyone?


Drumwave Cafe.



 Some Taiwanese chicks for you guys.


They are pretty shy in general.


It’s nice to see how they preserve nature around the area. They either built the buildings around the trees or let the trees grow over the building.


 A floor plan of the village.


Chinese lanterns out side one of the warehouse.


Now this is a very interesting addition of the old structure. This is actually a unisex toilet, though the cubicles for male and female separated. Note the standing urinal on the left side. While the glass door in the middle is the entrance to the gift shop.

It’s time for lunch.


 Pork and prawn with mushroom soup.


Smoked chicken.


 Boil squid with ginger, cucumber, lettuce and soy souce.


 A vegetarian lunch set.


 Deep friend meat balls.


Steamed thinly-sliced pork belly with soy sauce.


 Steamed fish.


 Pork ribs and white carrot soup.


Double boiled prawn with herbs served in a xiao tanggu drum.


 Boiled cabbage.


 A bird’s eye view of this lovely meal.


 With my driver, editor and writers from other publications.


After lunch, we went for a ride on the century old train. This train were used to transport the raw material around the refinery when it was still in operation.


 Some visitors on the train.


Century old rail track that runs through the refinery.

When Ten Drums Percussions took over the abandoned refinery, their key guidelines to the restoration of this place is preservation of the architecture and it’s surroundings.


After the train ride if you feel hungry, you can snack on tea eggs.


Tea eggs for sale in a huge wok.


A trip to the Ten Drums cultural village is not complete without taking part in the percussion class. The cultural guide explaining the basic of reading the drum chart. X means 2 beat with the beater left and right. Triangle means both beaters beat at the same time.





The group from the media paying close attention to the chart.


Next stop, the refined sugar storage bunker.


 Refined sugar were stored here, a storage bunker built below ground level.


A taste of time.

Sugar deposit from condensation remains on the pillars of the underground bunker. They are as hard as rock.



Movie set.

Rende sugar refinery is also the movie set and the movie premier venue for the movie Good Luck! Boy.


Movie poster showing still from the movie Good Luck!! Boy.


Good Luck!! Boy is about a boy named Ah Ze ( played by Roy Chou) who is a music expert being forced by his uncle to compose a theme song for an upcoming concert which will take place at a sugar mill.


 Learning that the venue is scheduled to be demolish after the event, he felt depressed as he has precious childhood memories with the place.


 He worked to produce a perfect theme song to convince the local authorities to preserve the sugar mill.


 An abandoned place that others considered worthless, he must discover for himself the beauty of this place and translate it into the theme song.


 The movie Good Luck!! Boy premier took place in Rende sugar refinery on Oct 19th 2013. Attended by the mayor of Tainan city Mr William Lai.


In 2011 the Tainan city authority decided to have the place shut down. But the founder of Ten Drums Percussion Hsieng Shih made a plea to the government to preserve this place. Good Luck!! Boy is a movie that addressed this issue.


The Tainan city mayor appreciates Hsieng Shih’s effort in the preservation of this heritage site. Part of the profit from the movie’s ticket sells were donated to the preservation of Rende sugar refinery.



Dakeng Leisure Farm

 After Ten Drums Cultural Village, we head off to Dakeng Leisure Farm.


Dakeng Lsisure Farm is located on the mountain of Dakeng in Shinhua District. Originally farming native chicken on this huge plot of land on the hill slop, Mr. & Mrs. Tsai decided to transform this family run farm into an agriculture leisure farm in 1991 when the local government started a policy where by farmers can transform their quality farm into agriculture leisure farm.


With the new local government policy they managed to get agricultural leisure farm financial support from the local government and they converted the whole place into a resort farm.


When you are here, you don’t actually feel like you are in a resort. It is a home. Wholly operated by the family members, the three generations kept this place homely.


 There are a few types of accommodations available here. Multi-storey or terrace villa and forest huts.


Forest huts made of crude wood built on the hill side of Dakeng mountain.


 This is where I stayed for the night.


A nice huge room with 2 king sized beds.





Or you can stay in this type of villa.


 Late afternoon sun over the villa and forest huts on the hill slop.


 There are a few walking trails by the hill around the farm.


 And there’s a trail that leads you up to the top of Dakeng mountain where they have an observation deck.


Along the trail to the observation deck, you can either walk across the hanging bridge made of ropes.


Or if you prefer the faster alternative, you can take the “aerial lift” and slide over to the other side just like Nini Yang. Nini did a selfie with her iPad while she slide across the valley on the “aerial lift”.


 Nini and her friend.


 Not satisfied with the thrill, Nini decided to walk back to the other side of the valley on the hanging rope bridge.


You wouldn’t believe how crazy Nini is. She stopped in the middle of the hanging bridge hanging hundreds of feet over the valley doing selfie with her iPad. With a camera strapped around your wrist or your neck is safe but with an iPad? LOL.


This hanging rope bridge is about 70 meters long.


My turn to walk across the hanging bridge. And, no, I didn’t do a selfie with my MYR 30,000 set of gear around my neck. I don’t wanna risk dropping it. LOL.


 A view from the side.


Point of view video of me going over the valley with the “aerial lift”.


 With Nini Yang at the observation deck on the top of Dakeng mountain. 168 feet above sea level.


The observation deck gives you a 360 degree view of the surroundings.



Ruby is the deputy president of the leisure farm resort. She’s also the 2nd daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Tsai.

The multi level observation deck has a place for you to chill and recover from the hike up.


Qian Hui.

Everyone chilling while waiting for the sunset.


Wan Shin.




 My editor Vandy.


 Zheng Huan.


This is Siaw Hwang my driver and guide. Siaw Hwang means Little Yellow with direct translation from his Chinese name.




 Huat ah!! 168 feet above sea level on top of Dakeng mountain.


 We wanna go higher! LOL.


  Qian Hui and Wan Shin.


 Qian Hui and Jocelyn.


 Sunset view from Dakeng mountain.



 On my way down I came across these geese.


 And piggy.


 This is Ruby’s ah ma ( grandma ).


 After a beautiful sunset, it’s time for a nice home cooked dinner.


Everything served here are grown and harvested from their farm.



Native ferns.


Deep fried spinach and sweet potato.


 Mint tea.


 Chillie padi!


 Home made Taiwanese sausage.


 Deep fried fish.


 And best of all they are cooked by Ruby and her mommie.


 This deep fried spinach is crunchy and really tasty.


Backed sweet potato.




 Native chicken or what we Malaysian call it kampung chicken which means village chicken if direct translation.


 The Tsai family poster.


The service center and also part of the dining area.


 The courtyard at night.


 Night view of the front yard.


View from the House Boat.


The House Boat is a tea house bar.


A concept by Ruby’s elder sister who has always wanted to own a tea house and bar.



 Menu of the House Boat.


Local Taiwanese delicacy.

Taiwanese chick making Taiwanese tea for me. =o)


  Ruby’s sister making tea for us.


 Keeping it warm.


Ruby serving tea.


 Ruby and her sister.


Some scribbled notes left by visitors.


 More scribbled notes on the bar.

I called it an early night as I had to wake up at 5am tomorrow to hike up to the observation deck at 530am to catch the sunrise.

To be continued……



Pages from Travel Leisure Chinese edition (issue 038) where my images were featured.


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