Monday, November 02, 2009

Tainan Holland Days

The Tainan Holland day has become one of the annual routine activities held in Tainan. I participated in the event last year, it was eye opening to see how traditional Holland wooden shoes were made from a piece of wood by master Martin Dijkman and those tasty Holland snacks were a delightful treat. This year, I looked forward to participating in the festival with high expectation, however, it gave me a déja vu when I walked into the tree house. The setting of the venue was almost the same as last year: a tent for Mr. Martin to make shoes and next to it was a souvenir shop; food stalls on the other side of the game area and the sjoelen game at the back against the building. Despite the fact that the event of this year was in association with the Siraya National Scenic Area Administration, it seemed to me they were just there to give away pamphlets, I couldn't see any interactions and the reason why Siraya was included in the Holland day puzzled me until I read the letter from Menno Goedhart, the representative of The Netherlands, "The Siraya tribe had many interactions with the Dutch in the 17th century. In fact the Siraya were the first Taiwanese meeting the Dutch." Even though special puppet shows, photo sessions for everyone in traditional Dutch clothes and Miffy, etc. were staged on the other side of expanded tree house this year, call me greedy, but I was expecting something more from the festival.

I actually love the idea of separating the event into 2 weekends: the Holland bike tour (Oct.17-18) and Garden party (Oct. 24-25). The route for bike tour connected the major Dutch historical sites and Taiwanese temples in and around Tainan City, a great way for a mixed cultural feast (go to iTainan for the routes on google map). However, the information for such event wasn't announced to the public until Oct. 15th at 13:52:17, first posted on Tainan city Government website, and the information regarding the possibility of bike rental was absent. There was no propaganda about the event elsewhere even though the official website was built before Oct. 15th.

Tainan and Holland not only shared common histories at some points but also their city features: the canal systems. It seems a great place to hold the Tainan Holland day along 2 sides of the canal where visitors can circumnavigate the venue which can dilute the crowd. Most of the canal sections have space that is big enough to accommondate all activities that represent Holland such as the Queen's Birthday section for all kinds of orange accessories; a section for master Martin wooden shoes making; the Cheese Market, Alkmaar, where men making trade in a traditional way; traditional food sections; A windmill surounded by tulips; Jazz festival; Maastricht Carnival and a cruise on the canal for those who are looking for a different perspective of the event, etc. A full Holland experience can be had if they choose to expand in the future, the canal area would be a great place.

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