Exploring the Miracles of Neiwan

Posts Tagged ‘People

Comic Artist Liu Hsing-ching

leave a comment »


Born in 1934 to a farming family in a Hakka village in Hsichu country, Liu found his inspiration for drawing cartoons after witnessing a flyer dropped by a US bomber world war II and decided that cartoons could better than words, portray the meaning of events and daily livelihood of people and wildlife.

In the 1950s, primary school students in Hong Kong were infatuated with comics and there was a craze for comics on the supernatural powers. Many of these students skipped school to visit the comic stands and would even run away to the nearby mountains in seek of these supernatural powers. This cost the lives of many students who lost their way.

Seeing this, Liu grabbed the opportunity to create a comic book entitled “Fairy Tales” which relates a story about a boy so infatuated with comic books and their tales of supernatural powers that he decides to go into the mountains in seek of them. He ended up having to suffer much hardship and was finally found by his family. This book was very well received and he became famous overnight. Many parents bought the book for their children to read so as to remind them the dangers of being bewitched by fantasies. Building on to this success, Liu’s subsequent cartoons had a more educational aspect to them as they taught about filial piety and compassion. He created the much famed comic characters Big Auntie a clumsy spinster, who represents her mother, and Brother A-san, a country bumpkin, taking after himself. Most of his characters and comic tales were inspired by villagers from his hometown.

Liu did not perform well in school but was a natural genius and problem solver. He came up with simple solutions to everyday problems and had invented more than 300 devices and patented more than 138 of them in Taiwan the US.

Liu Hsing-ching and Neiwan

After his retirement in Florida in 1993, Liu’s comic helped to revive Neiwan, a mining village near his howntown. Liu licensed the village to use his comic characters for free. As a result, life size statues and street signs of Big Auntie & Brother A-san turned Neiwan into a comic strip village attracting droves of tourists in recent years. Liu also licensed several restaurants and street stalls to use Big Auntie and Brother A-san  as their brand name and operators had to show that they are constantly providing quality product and service in order to renew this license.

A Comic and invention museum in Neiwan showcases Liu’s work and is a must-visit tourist attraction of the village. Life size comic characters in attractive-looking huts make a great place to snap beautiful photos. You can see many comic characters scribbled on the wooden walls of the museum and even in their toilets. (People in his time could not afford Pencils and paper and he had to draw on walls with charcoal instead). Below are some photos of this museum.





Written by clarine chai

June 16, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Posted in History, Neiwan, People

Tagged with , , ,

Dedication and commitment to making the best black sugar cake

leave a comment »

This uncle here sells the best black sugar cake in the whole of Taiwan. He has recently won an award in a country-wide competition and has his black sugar cake listed in a book “2011 The Taiwan Hakka Specialty”. His shop is called “Mudan black sugar cake” in English. Mudan is his mother’s name.

There are a few stalls selling black sugar cake in Neiwan but you will definitely get the best quality one if you buy from him. Why do I say so? One day I noticed he wasn’t open for business when he was supposed to. I asked him about it and he told me that some people were drilling holes in the road outside his shop and the dust might land on his cakes. He said he is responsible for what his customers buy and would feel uneasy to continue selling the cakes in such condition. I was really surprised by his response. I mean I didn’t find the drilling problems actually because his cakes were wrapped in plastic were a distance away from the construction site. I guess he truly wants the best for his customers

Anyway, he believes that anyone can make good black sugar cake if they have the heart and commitment to do so and he is generous enough to share his secrets with us. He buys his rice from Miaoli because the quality of imported rice or rice from the North of Taipei tends to vary but he needed consistency in the quality of the grains in order to ensure that every cake turns out perfect after being cooked in predetermined temperature. He makes a fresh batch of cakes every morning which he sells all by the end of the day. Preparation begins the night as he has to soak the rice in water. He makes sure he leaves the rice overnight to that they have absorbed sufficient water. Next he uses the F-16 high speed grinding and separating machine to separate the grin and separate the rice I think haha. He then uses a white semi porous bag to squeeze the water out of the rice. This is the key to why his cakes are so good. Most shops will just use a large sieve to remove the water, but he wanted to retain the flavor of the rice threads I’m not sure what it is actual term but it’s the stuff you get after soaking rice in water for a long time. It has much similarity to the process of making beancurd (tofu hua). They also use a white semi porous cloth to sieve out the water. Another secret lies in the brown sugar. He stocks large quantities of brown sugar in his storeroom for months before use. He told us that the longer it is kept, the sweeter is will become. All I can say is that I’m truly amazed by his professionalism, dedication and commitment to making the best black sugar cake for his customers. It is a lot of work but he uses his heart in making every single one. You could tell by how he carries each and every of his cakes out like they were precious stones making sure that they are wrapped nicely and in perfect condition at all times. He is doing really well now. He makes and sells a huge quantity every day and sometimes he even has to turn away customers because they are all sold out before closing time.




This is a picture of his pet parrot and he chirps “Ni how! mu dan hei tang kao (Hi mudan black sugar cake)” out of the blue sometimes. How amusing!

Written by clarine chai

June 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Random acts of kindness – “Pork guy”

leave a comment »

On the way back to our homestay, we saw the roast pork stall still open. The owner doesn’t have a place to sleep so sleeps in his stall at night. He was packing up when we passed by and were surprised when he called out to us. He cooked us each a stick of roast pork with extra chilli (because we wanted it spicy) and even gave as a box of salad for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Taiwanese (wild boar) sausage

leave a comment »

This is the shop owner. He is a really nice guy. Once he treated us to a bowl of pork rib soup which he made for lunch.

I have always preferred Chinese sausage to the western version. This sausage is really good. It’s crunchy, fatty and tender. The boss taught us to eat it with garlic to bring out the flavor of the meat. He peeled a few cloves of garlic for us to chew onto while we bite into our sausages.

The owner rears a pair of roosters and when we are bored, we love chasing them to try and catch them.

The roosters love to perch on this particular branch of the tree in front of Neiwan’s train station.

Look here’s me posing with the roosters

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

YAM (Taro)

leave a comment »

This is a picture of the boss and his wife. They used to live in Sanyi but later moved to Neiwan to set up this stall because they wanted to let the younger generation learn about this hakka delicacy.

They sell both fried taro meatcakes and non-fried ones. I tried the fried meat cake. It is made of flour, taro, and shrimp, and it tasted quite good. I think it will taste better with more taro and shrimp, and less of the flour in it. but well this is already quite good for 25 yuan.

This is peeled taro flown in from Natou which they use to make their taro meatcake.

Nutritional factsheet of taro, think it said something about being good for diabetics patients and for lowering high blood pressure.

they also sell homemade shrimp paste which is used for cooking

The lady boss invited us to join them for lunch. They made noodles with garlic sauce and it one of the best noodles I’ve ever tasted. I think it’s because of the sauce.

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 5:16 am

Posted in Food, Neiwan, People

Tagged with , , , ,

You don’t have to ask for help in Neiwan – Kind strangers at 7 eleven

leave a comment »

There are times when you are in need but no one comes forward to help and there are times when you are in need but others are unable to help.

Today was a time when we are in need but not out to seek help, yet we got all the help we couldn’t have asked for. ..

Mr Li was not in the past few days and we couldn’t access the internet. We decided to try our luck with the 7 eleven down the street which has wi-fi. Unfortunately we needed an internet account which only Taiwan citizens would have in order to use it. 2 guys sitting at the table saw us struggling to access the internet and offered to help us. They lent us their accounts to use and as we chatted, we found out that they were from Taipei and were here to see the fireflies in Neiwan.  One of them is a professional photographer and managed to take pictures of them.  Those were just what I needed for my blog. We added each other on facebook and he said that he could email me the photos if I wanted. I think they pitied us for not having internet access at our homestay so they gave us their passwords and told us not to give them to anyone else. He even said that we could contact them the next time we go Taipei and they could bring us around. How nice!

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 4:36 am

Who says policeman only catches thief?

leave a comment »

Here in Neiwan..policeman also grows vegetables! Ahah..

Well you know why? That’s because there are no baddies to catch in this little town.

So it all started when we wanted to check out the police station atop a hill.

Nearing the entrance, we saw 2 big & burly policemen in their uniform at their desks. I smiled at them. One of them stood up & I was thinking..erm I should get going but guess what.. He struck a conversation with us & invited us to come inside for tea. WOW they were so friendly and easygoing so I asked if

We could take pictures with them..

Then cheekily asked if we could wear their policeman hats.. (I didn’t think he would really allow us to do so– you see, I can’t remember where I learnt this from, but a policeman’s hat has to be treated with atmost respect because it’s a symbol of justice & integrity, a representation of the country & your responsibility in protecting the rights of ordinary civilians)

So I was really surprised when he took out his hat & put it on my head. He even said he wanted me to email him my picture because I look pretty in it. Haha!

Okay so back to growing of vegetables. They simply have too much time on their hands I think. Besides the occasional fines they issue for illegal parking & some administrative work, there’s really nothing much left to do. Well they can punch at their beanbags to train their muscles, but that doesn’t occupy the whole day ..  Soooo.. they grow vegetables! Look at this! They have a mini plot of vegetables in their backyard – long beans, cucumbers, lemon. He even plucked some cucumbers & lemon for us to bring home! How nice! & I must say – the freshly plucked cucumbers are really sweet 😉

Okay next he gave us a tour of the police station & the lush greenery around it.

There is the 100 year old “gui hua shu” & according to him, if you haven’t seen this tree, you haven’t been to Neiwan. Okaaayy. It looks pretty normal to me. Can’t tell it’s a 100 year old.

Then there’s this wishing pond with a “green guan yin” sitting in the centre. A bit peculiar-looking but then again, I need all the luck I can get. Grant me my wish pleaaaaseee ahah!

Okay we got bored so we sat down inside & chit-chatted with them. They started talking about politics & economy & asked us how the policemen are like in our countries. Hehe.. &  then one policeman suddenly took out his cuffs & handcuffed me !! ahah so playful! & we managed to snap a picture of it.

It’s getting late so We bid the policemen farewell, left our contacts & promised to drop in again sometime 😉

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 4:33 am