Tag Archives: Taiwan

Taiwan → bamboo → Bamboola

At Zhushan bus station

At Zhushan bus station

On a trip to Taiwan earlier this year, I was keen to get to Zhushan to visit bamboo craftsman Liu Wen-Huang and his Bamboola workshop. Like other parts of Taiwan we visited, from the time we arrived in Zhushan, kind and friendly local folk went out of their way to assist us. And we needed a bit help. Arriving at the bus station, we found that the Information Centre had closed down and we no idea how to find Mr Liu. A departing bus was delayed while an English-speaking woman helped us contact the workshop. No one seemed to mind.

tea trays

Tea trays

Mr Liu’s wife collected us from the bus station and drove us to the workshop. On arrival we were offered green tea and invited to open the puzzle boxes. We failed.

The showroom is full of beautifully finished items of original design. Although travelling light, some purchases could not be resisted. Among other things, my travelling companion purchased a set of tea trays and I took home a tea canister. The lid fits with precision and gives an excellent seal to keep tea fresh.

We were just about to be rushed off to the bus station to get the last bus of the day to Xitou, when Mr Liu himself arrived and instantly offered to drive us to the accommodation his staff had kindly arranged for us in Xitou. This gave us time for a factory tour.

Inside the Bamboola showroom

Inside the Bamboola showroom

The factory is high tech. Ideas are developed using specialised computer programs and the laminated bamboo sheets (currently manufactured in China with moso bamboo) are cut with precision by computerised cutting machines. Mr Liu demonstrated the computer programming he uses with a current special project of 5 km of curved book shelves for the National Taiwan University library. Awesome.

Mr Liu then drove us through some very steep back roads to the Ginko hotel in Xitou. The 40 minute trip was very scenic. We passed many moso bamboo groves growing on the steep slopes. Upon arrival we took refreshments with Mr Liu, his wife, and their friend the hotel manager before they left to drive back to Zhushan. Our stay in Xitou warrants a bamboo story in its own right. For another post.

You can read more about Mr Liu and Bamboola here.

Bamboo leads to…

While visiting Taiwan earlier in the year, I had the good fortune to spend some time with two different bamboo crafts practitioners. Following a lead from one of them, I visited a ‘tool shop’ situated in the lounge room of a small house down a narrow lane in LukangI was able to add to my small collection of bamboo tools with some hand-made ones from Taiwan.tools

From left to right: tool to make round holes; double-sided knife; twin set of blades to produce strips of bamboo for weaving. The small blades are extremely sharp. I don’t weave, but use them as trimming/shaving tools.

Longshan templeAfter the transaction (and the obligatory cup of green tea), the daughter of the house escorted me to an old Confucian temple. At the temple, I took the opportunity, under guided instruction, to bestow blessings upon a wedding that had occurred just the day before back in Australia. We did this by offering burning sticks of incense at several different alters within the temple.

bamboo paper moneyAs well as incense, paper money, made from bamboo, is available for purchase at the temple. There are special furnaces within the temple grounds for this purpose. The paper money is burned as offerings for the Gods and ancestors. Burning paper money is not confined to the temple though. Moving through just about any street in Taiwan during the week-long Chinese New Year holiday (when I was there) is to be enveloped in smoke, especially early in the mornings, as householders and business owners make their offerings in small braziers on the pavements.

You can read more about paper money in Taiwan here.