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.
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.
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.