Reliving the 'good old days' at Taiwan Times Village
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by S. Ying
A sure sign that Taiwan has become a modern, fairly westernized nation is the current nostalgia for what is perceived as the simpler, more sedate and less-complicated days of decades past. Images, items and reminisces from old Taiwan rural and small-town life--'mom-and-pop' neighborhood stores and little eateries; vintage candies, snacks and toys; old Japanese train stations and other structures; early music, signage and slogans from the Japanese and ROC eras--are all the rage as older generations grow misty-eyed recalling the past while trying to educate younger ones about how it was "back in the day".
There is arguably no better, or bigger, place on the island to immerse yourself in "old Taiwan" than Taiwan Times Village, which opened in Nantou county's Caotun (a 30-minute drive from downtown Taichung) over three years ago. This thoroughly enjoyable and impressive, completely-enclosed attraction covers an enormous 15,000 pings (approx. 50,000 sq. meters) of space and has plenty to occupy young and old alike. It is all part of local businessman Jiang Ching Liang's significant efforts to to preserve Taiwan's heritage, with the help of an enthusiastic staff and his TV star wife Xiao Pan Pan.
Surrounded by a huge parking lot (which hosts a night market in the evening), the Presidential Palace-inspired building facade takes one into a maze of recreated old Taiwanese streets, alleys and neighborhoods, complete with a functioning vintage shops and restaurants, pedicabs, police station, photo studio, barbershop, classroom, streets stands, old military village, and even a wooden train station with steam engine--all designed to highlight Taiwan's four major ethnic groups--Aborigine, Taiwanese, Hakka and mainland Chinese.
As impressive as this is, the friendly, often entertaining staff members are equally responsible for creating this journey back in time. These include KMT soldiers, policemen, old grannies, pedicab drivers, doctors, shop owners, street vendors and artisans, all interacting with guests. Many of these--from the "puffed rice man" to the dough-figurine and glass-art makers--are the real thing, offering the chance to watch, or even join them in action as visitors explore, buy vintage-style products, or munch on traditional snacks and meals. Special facilities include a full-size banquet restaurant, food court, and a large stage, where special entertainment and performances sometimes take place.
Taiwan Times Village
1039, ZhongZheng Rd, Caotun Township, Nantoun County
Hours: 10 am-6:30 pm weekday; opens 9:30 weekends/holidays (closed Tue)
Admission: Adults NT$350; kids (ages 3-12) and senior citizens NT$300 (includes NT$200 vouchers for use inside)