Cultural Connections
In Kaohsiung, local customs are overshadowed by the
accomplishments of rapid growth and industrialization.
However, there is a traditional side to the city.
Every neighborhood boasts shops, markets and gathering places
that offer "Cultural Connections".
The careful observer will be rewarded, and surprised,
when it's least expected!

To access Mandarin addresses,
just click on locations that are highlighted below!
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zTea Shops zCalligraphy Shops
zTea Houses zFraming Shops
zAntiques zMarkets
zTemples zResources for Children /Educators

Tea shops are fun  places to investigate!  In addition to tea leaves, shops sell canisters, strainers, draining trays, tea bowls, and other unique utensils that may inspire use in your home.  The most interesting places are tucked away down Kaohsiung's narrow lanes or back alleys.   The Brick Tea Shop in Yen Cheng District takes great pride in offering "ancient" pressed brick teas  to their customers.   The most valued bricks are those preserved from the earliest days of the Republic and which were processed on the mainland.  This type of tea yields a strong and pungent aroma prized by the Connoisseur.   It is not unusual to see executives and salaried workers huddled together trying to identify a tea's origin simply by its fragrance.   There is no class distinction or social boundary when it comes to tea!  Everyone takes time in their hectic schedule to relax and enjoy a cup or two with friends. Return to top

Finely crafted items await at calligraphy shops.  Hand wrapped writing brushes of animal fur and bamboo, perfectly carved and polished ink grinding stones,  creatively shaped water droppers, and drawers full of fine papers make for delightful browsing!   Many calligraphy shops are stationed along Chienkuo Road  near the train station, but a trip to the Bamboo Brush Maker  on Hoping Road in Lingya District is suggested.  Here you can watch brushes being made.  Special orders include those fashioned from baby's hair for use in birthday rituals. Today in Taiwan, the birth of all children is cause for celebration.  Yet it was not that long ago when attention was only given to male offspring.  At that time, various trinkets were placed on a table and whatever Baby touched first determined his future.  Mothers often prompted their sons to reach for a bamboo writing brush which forecasted intelligence and a distinguished career (and guaranteed them comfortable care in their old age!) Return to top

Take a taste of the traditional at a local tea house!  Sample several kinds of flavored teas, or special tea meals and snacks.  Interiors are inviting, and the atmosphere is congenial. Tea houses are favorite meeting spots for discussion groups, mah jong games or just quiet reading.  Reading Garden Tea House, located near the Science Museum in Sanmin District, organizes periodic exhibits and musical performances.  Craft items are always on sale.  Secluded tables overlook a sheltered courtyard pond where children can feed the fish.  Relax on the floor or sit at the table side.  It's a surprising oasis in the city! Return to top

You can observe  traditional methods used to make hanging scrolls at local framing  shops.  They are easily spotted.  Look for rows  of  boards stacked outside where paintings are stretched to dry in the sun.  Often, shop owners are artists themselves who enjoy explaining the dramatic calligraphy and colorful landscapes that are  on hand.  A good framer can work wonders even when your masterpiece seem hopeless!  Creases, soil marks and tears can be easily repaired.   And, the cost for this service in Kaohsiung is significantly cheaper when compared with other cities in Asia. "Paul" at Gaugin’s is especially knowledgeable and loves to chat with English speaking visitors no matter how busy he is!
TAIWAN TIP    "Rice" glue is a wonderful stain remover, and it's easy to identify in stationery shops (it has a thick and semi-transparent consistency and comes packaged in plain plastic bags).  Rice glue is a good bargain when compared to more fashionable brands.   Just brush a healthy amount on the stain and let it dry completely.  Then, wash paste AND stain away!   This works on indelible calligraphy inks...the "Taiwanese Mother's Nightmare"! Return to top
See Stationery Store listings in
Around Kaohsiung. A Community Guide

Treasures can be found if you’re willing to search.  The Taiwanese are avid collectors, and many convert living quarters into show rooms or shops. Make the effort to visit second floor display areas.  The stairways are often out of sight, but shopkeepers will gladly lead the way.  Because there are few local museums devoted to classic Chinese art, antique stores and curio shops can  provide an afternoon “Arts Outing” even if you don’t make a purchase. Old Folk Craft,  past Chengching Lake, is worth the drive.  There are additional shops in the compound where you can count on a good supply of pottery, crafts and collectibles .
"Princely Breeze" is Kaohsiung's newest antique gallery.  The displays are inviting with   exceptional Qing Period furnishings. Return to top
Around Kaohsiung. A Community Guide
has a complete listing of Museums & Galleries!

You won’t spot the Jade Market on any map, but this is THE place for treasure hunting. It covers the whole block, and many fun stores line the streets nearby. The “Pros” recommend that you shop on Wednesday when all vending spaces are occupied. Bargaining is required and respected! Purchasing a number of items is one way to get a better price, and repeat visits to a favorite vendor help to establish a relationship.  Remember: returns and refunds are not a part of the sales package!
A trip to your neighborhood "wet market" can be a fruitful experience! Here you’ll find the best in fresh produce year round thanks to Kaohsiung’s topical climate, plus lots more! Markets are everywhere, yet they are not limited to an exact address. Brightly colored “beach umbrellas” or raised entry ways signal locations.  Sometimes, vendors cluster together under covered spaces well off the main road making them easy to miss.  Be on the lookout for shoppers with bags and bundles.  Hours vary.  Garbage Market  is open later in the day (approximately 2:30-5:30 PM) and in spite of its name, you can be sure of GOOD produce at GOOD prices.

You can buy fish at just about any outdoor local market, but at the Chien Chen Fishing Harbor Market you'll land the "catch of the day".  This market hints at earlier days when Kaohsiung was nothing more than a sleepy fishing village.  Fishermen only set up shop here to sell fish fresh off their boats! Return to top

See Around Kaohsiung. A Community Guide  for more Markets

Temples in southern Taiwan still retain an atmosphere of mystery and magic. Requesting favors, resolving dilemmas or paying filial respects are the daily rituals that you can expect to encounter.  During holiday times, the mood is especially festive.  Each celebration has a unique character and special attractions. Tien Hou Matsu Temple, strategically situated within protective reach of the harbor, is an historic landmark of Kaohsiung.  It is devoted to Matsu, the beloved patron of fishermen and all who travel by sea.  Sacred space is also reserved here for the "3 Mountain Spirits" revered by the Hakka people.  Return to top

Book selections to inspire, educate and entertain the kids.
C is for China
Sungwan So
Alphabetical introduction to
culture in photographs.  Secondary
Celebrations Around the World
A Multicultural Handbook
Carol Angell
Fun & easy activities to
celebrate every day.  All Ages
Chinese Mother Goose Rhymes
Robert Syndham
Colorful drawings and rhymes. Elementary
Count Your Way Through China
Jim Haskins
Picture book and cultural primer. Primary
The Mouse Bride
Monica Chang
A Chinese mouse goes through a marriage
ceremony with some scary mishaps. Elementary
Red Thread
Ed Young
An ancient tale of love
and matchmaking.  Elementary
Stencils from Ancient China
Carol Balanger Grafton
Festivals, folk tales and
paper stencil projects. Secondary
Tales of a Chinese Grandmother
Frances Carpenter
Chinese folk tales retold by a Grandmother. Elementary
Why Cats Chase Mice
Mina Eimaon
A story of the 12 auspicious
animals of the Zodiac. Elementary
Titles may be obtained through:
Asia for Kids (Master Communications)
Asia for Kids has it ALL!  Asia related resources for
parents, teachers & children.  Books, maps, language learning aids and
traditional greeting cards for all occasions. (the cards come complete
with message translation and design explanation) Return to top

 Return to  Around Kaohsiung. A Community Link

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