Hsinchu, TWN

Hsinchu, TWN

Sunday, 26. January 2014

Most of us know Taiwan from underneath many things where it says: ‘Made in Taiwan‘. However, how many of us actually know where it is? Roughly put, it’s on the level of Hong Kong, above the Philippines and under Japan.

Here, things remain exciting and interesting for us as communication, as well as finding our way around can be challenging. We can neither read nor understand anything and so feel a bit silly at times when even normal things become tricky. But we are getting better in other ways of communicating. A few people understand English and are friendly and helpful, and for the others we have our pre-written cards in Chinese for the things that we are looking for. We have to cheekily thrust the cards in front of people and after an initial bafflement, they use hand gestures as a reply, which we can understand.

To our relief, we are able to stay with Aisha a la Mei Chiu Tai. She runs a studio here and is involved in the local glass scene. She organises the forthcoming glass festival in the summer with a variety of glass exhibitions in Hsinchu, and is deeply involved in Taiwan’s glass politics. This means having dinner with a variety of people every evening and afterwards posing for photos. If we had a Euro for every photo we’re in, we would have paid for our flight to Hong Kong! So many new people, who we probably won’t see again soon.

Hsinchu is Taiwan’s main glass region, where everyone gathers. There’s a big glass museum with a fully equipped studio, lots of lamp makers and a few smaller glass studios and factories. The glass is colourful and often figurative. Over the last few days we visited one of the lamp makers who demonstrated how to make a teapot. We also saw one of the bigger factories called SEG, which is split into four departments. We visited two of these; one in which all used glass from Taiwan is recycled and another one where smaller articles are produced in the furnace.