Reminisce in Old Taiwan
“All aboard!” the conductor shouts as he leans out of the wooden window in the faux railway station. A passing security guard smiles laconically as several visitors look over at the conductor beckoning impatiently. Taiwan Times Village is a window into pre-industrial Taiwan life. Like a real-life play set in the past, the scenes of the village are recreations of many aspects of Taiwanese life from the sixties to the eighties. Fancy a ‘hair-cut’ visit the hair dresser. Want to have your horoscope read to you, see the ‘astrologer.’ Other recreated scenes include a school classroom, a bar, toy shop, and elements of aboriginal village life to name a few. The actors in this ‘play’ are the staff who assume their roles with gusto in their interactions with visitors, As you walk around, you’ll notice the beggar playing his lyre, the rickshaw drivers accosting customers and police officers keeping the peace.
Something for Everyone
Few international visitors seem to visit here, but this isn’t a place purely for nostalgic Taiwanese. There’s plenty to do for the whole family and everyone can gain some insight from a look back at a more insular Taiwan before cell-phones, globalization, and the Internet. Entrance to the village costs $250 NT, ($350NT at the weekend) which includes $100 to spend at one of dozens of food vendors or period-era shops around the interior. You can try at hand at many traditional games like diabolo, hopscotch and hackey sack or watch a daily show at the Taiwan Times’ theater stage. For children, there are opportunities to learn old farming techniques, have their faces painted, or pick up DIY skills such as clay modelling or making candy. For the grown-ups there are plenty of shops, shows, events and no shortage of photo opportunities!
Finding Your Way Around
The interior is set out into four zones representing the four major ethnic groups of Taiwan, Aborigine, Taiwanese, Hakka and Han Chinese – though in practice these seem to merge together as you walk around. The presidential-style entrance opens into a small maze of streets plastered in slogans, posters and photos from the small town life your grandparents once knew. Many of shops here sell real vintage-style products such as glassware, soap, toys and candy. There are also plenty of food stands throughout selling traditional snacks including some very tasty meat rolls. For those wanting more options, a food court and on-site banquet restaurant have more substantial offerings. In front of Taiwan Times is a huge parking lot that also hosts a small weekend night market from Friday to Sunday.
First opened in mid-2012, Taiwan Times Village sits in a huge parking lot south of Taichung in Caotun village about 12 kms from the train station. Take bus No. 108 from the train station to a bus stop across from the entrance on Zhong Zheng Road (中正路). There’s also a shuttle service from Taichung HSR to reach there. By car, it’s a thirty-minute drive to reach the village from Central Taichung