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Photography – Bada Tower 小金門八達樓子

Bada Tower 小金門八達樓子

Bada Tower 小金門八達樓子
Bada Tower sits in front of Xizai Village in Little Kinmen, Taiwan. Sculptures of seven armed soldiers stand atop the fortified walls. In a battle against the Japanese at Gubeikou in 1933, seven Chinese soldiers of the Changcheng(Great Wall)troop fought and lost their lives in a die-hard defense of the base. In 1963 when the Great Wall unit was garrisoned on Lieyu, a recreation of the Bada Tower and statues of the seven heroes were installed to inspire future arrivals.

 

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Taiwan – Kinmen: Re-living Paradise in Service 金門探访《軍中樂園》拍摄场景

《軍中樂園》Paradise in ServiceOne of the places where you can get a glimpse of Kinmen 金門 during its military period is at Yang Zhai Old Street 陽翟老街. This was once a bustling street built in 1958 after the 823 Artillery Bombardment when 100,000 soldiers were stationed in Kinmen. After the army left, it was left derelict with only a few stores continuing to operate. Acclaimed Taiwanese director brought new life to this place by choosing it as one of the key scenes for his movie Paradise in Service軍中樂園, sprucing it up and returning it to its past glory. Plus – it’s an awesome place for photo-taking :)

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

A lot of effort went into 鈕承澤 Doze Niu’s latest movie – he spent 8 years conceptualizing the movie, 2 years preparing and 1 year filming it. Not to mention re-creating an entire street for the movie.Set in the island Kinmen, often seen as the most dangerous military base due to its geographical proximity to China, Paradise in Service follows the adventure of a boy who serves his military service in Unit 831 from 1969 to 1972, in preparation for a war that could erupt anytime. Through an unlucky lottery draw result, Pao (Ethan Ruan 阮經天), a twenty-something young man from Southern Taiwan has to serve the military in the remote and perilous Kinmen. Moreover, he is assigned to the Sea Dragon, a unit noted for the toughest physical training. It never occurs to Pao, however, that the greatest challenge in his military service lies not in the Sea Dragon but in Unit 831, a special task he is later appointed to… In this peculiar assignment, Pao vows to keep his virginity against all odds.
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Yang Zhai Old Street was re-stored to its former glory for the movie
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page 

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

The lonely and rundown street before restoration
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

The street after its facelift. Storefronts and shop signages were re-created, retro advertisements painted on walls, and the craziest of them all – the original cement flooring re-paved just for the movie, and removed after filming was completed.

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

The man who made it all happen Doze Niu Cheng-Tse 鈕承澤
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

If the compelling storyline nor the director’s credentials didn’t motivate me enough to watch the movie – this scene from the movie certainly did…look at those pecs! :p
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

金东电影院 Jindong Cinema
This cinema was built in 1960 as a leisure venue for the military stationed there. The calligraphy of the signage comes with much heritage too – they were written by Yu Youren 于右任, a scholar of calligraphy and highly regarded as one China’s modern masters. The building has been gazetted as a heritage building.

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

This Military Post Office was created for the movie. The original location of this post office was further away.

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

One of the few shops still in operation. I am so digging the retro signboard!

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Fancy taking a photo at this photography studio?

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

This iced dessert shop 冰果室was really nicely done up. I can imagine the soldiers coming here to have an iced dessert to escape the blistering Kinmen heat.

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Interior of the iced dessert shop
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Main actors Ethan Ruan 阮經天 and Ivy Chen 陳意涵 running down the street in the movie. Don’t they look hot? :)
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

The interior of the shops were all decorated as close to the original back then, complete with Taiwan flags proudly flown.
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

As Kinmen was a military base, a number of shops sold military supplies like this one in the movie.
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

One of Kinmen’s iconic trades, mee sua making, re-created for the movie.
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Bookstore
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Long Ling Public Bath 龍陵浴室 was where the soldiers would come to take a hot bath in the past. Being at war, getting a nice bath was a luxury – which we have since taken for granted.

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

I think I just spotted one of the actors in the movie, hello doggy! :D

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

The hairdressing and barber shops is an awesome place for taking photos. Kai shows us his moves here :D

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Interior of the hairdressing salon. Have you been to one like this before?
Image: Paradise in Service Facebook page

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Soft drinks were very expensive in those days, and you only got to have one (or shared with other kids) during festive seasons. I bet the kids must have leapt for joy like I did!

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Military-inspired murals and slogans painted on the walls

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

The slogan “Long live President Chiang” was re-created on the front of this Minnan-style residence

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

The movie has done something good for Yang Zhai Old Street – it has become a spot for visitors to take photos. The Kinmen county has also recently announced that 17 of the shops will be rented out for businesses to re-create the boisterousness of this street.

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Awesome backdrop for a Look of the Day :)

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Good job, Sir!

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Bookstore inspired by Chang Chun Bookstore 长春书局
The owner of Chang Chun Bookstore Chen Chang Du has written a number of books about Kinmen during the military period, and also played a part in the setting up of a 特约茶室 museum.

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Hungry? You can try Qun Ying Lou 群英樓, a traditional Kinmenese reataurant just nearby.

《軍中樂園》Paradise in Service

Come by to visit when you are in Kinmen, and don’t forget to watch the movie! :)

陽翟老街 Yang Zhai Old Street
Tel: (082) 324 174
Address: 金門縣金沙鎮光前里陽翟1 號

Getting There
By Bus
– Take Bus No. 18 or 31 from Sha Mei Bus Station 沙美车站. Alight at Yang Zhai 陽翟车站stop .
By Car
1) Jin Sha Station 金沙车站 -> Huan Dao Dong Lu 环岛东路 -> Yan Zhai Gong Che Ting 陽翟公车亭 -> Make a left turn and you are there
2) Jin Cheng Shi Qu 金城市区 -> Huan Dao Bei Lu 环岛北路 -> Gao Keng 高坑 -> Turn right into Gao Yang Lu 高阳路 -> Turn right at Huan Dao Dong Lu Yi Duan环岛东路一段 into Yang Zhai Gong Che Ting陽翟公车亭 -> Make a left turn and you are there

軍中樂園Paradise in Service
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/paradiseinservice
Website: http://www.paradiseinservice.com/

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Taiwan – Getting acquainted with Taiwan’s Celebration Drink: Kinmen Kaoliang 金門酒廠一游

金門高粱酒

If you have been to a banquet in Taiwan, you would probably have said “gan bei 干杯” with a shot (or more) of Kaoliang/sorghum wine高粱酒. The iconic liquor is a must-try for any visitor to Taiwan, and I was fortunate enough to be invited for a tour of 金門酒廠 Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc. which produces one of the most popular brands of kaoliang in Taiwan.

金門高粱酒

Welcome to Kinmen Kaoliang!
Our guide is so cute! I think I am high even before drinking any kaoliang lol
A form of white liquor (baijiu 白酒) originating from the Ming period, Kaoliang is a distilled cereal liquor made from fermented sorghum with an alcohol content between 38 and a hefty 63 percent. It is the mainstay at any Taiwanese celebratory banquets, and also gaining popularity in Korea where it is called goryangju 고량주. Kaoliang is produced today on the Taiwanese islands of Matsu and Kinmen. Kinmen Kaoliang produces an astounding 200,000 bottles of liquor daily.

金門高粱酒

Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor has two plants, a historic facility overlooking the sea, and a new one right in the center of the island fronted by two giant bottles of kaoliang. The new plant is open for public visits(blue areas). The restricted red areas are the liquor production zones, so was feeling fab we were allowed access for a closer look.

金門高粱酒

3D architectural model of the factory
Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor is fully owned by the Kinmen County Government. The distillery is the primary economic source of Kinmen county, providing a vital source of employment and funding for local construction and welfare programs –that it earned the nickname “Golden Hen 金母鸡”. The benefits are not bad at all: the liquor company’s profits are used to provide free milk for junior high school and elementary school students, offer each resident NT$3,600 in liquor company coupons during three major holidays, give local students as well as the underprivileged NT$4,000 transportation vouchers annually, and every student between NT$5,000 and NT$10,000 in tuition stipends. No wonder Kinmen was voted as the most fortunate place in Taiwan, 好幸福哦!

金門高粱酒

The popular spirit comes in a wide range of packaging and alcohol content, with the standard being 58 percent (men like this) and 38 percent (ladies prefer the milder version). Many drinkers like Kinmen Kaoliang not only because of its taste – the liquor, although stronger than most brandy and whiskey, does not give them a hangover. I think I know some friends who would appreciate not looking like Dracula the next morning.

金門高粱酒

Commemorative wine for the 100th Anniversary of Kinmen County’s Founding
Apart from the standard 38 and 58 percent offerings, the winery also produces many types of commemorative and limited edition bottles. In fact, these bottles hold better value than LV bags – a 2011 limited edition bottle with a production of only 2,000 bottles sold for more than twice its retail price of TWD29,800 (USD993) at the first selling.

Throughout my Taiwan trip, I kept seeing people go into wine retail shops, and even provision shops asking about availability of commemorative bottles. Looks like I should buy a few bottles to keep too…that would be my visit-Taiwan-again investment fund.

金門高粱酒

How cute – a wine specially for celebrations, complete with a bowtie! :)
The taste of kaoliang is clear, fragrant, smooth with a mellow sweet aftertaste that warms the stomach. It tastes great drunk neat or as a cocktail, and pairs well with Chinese dishes such as stir-fry and hot pot.

金門高粱酒

Pssst, the best way to enjoy kaoliang is to hold it in the mouth for a few seconds before swallowing.

金門高粱酒

How Kinmen became a success in producing kaoliang is a pretty interesting turn of fate – the idea of starting a liquor factory originated in 1952 from Kinmen’s first defense commander, General Hu Lien 胡璉. With 100,000 soldiers to feed and an infertile land with soil so poor only drought-tolerant plants such as peanuts, wheat and sorghum flourished, the general had to think of a way to ease the financial burden while fighting the war with mainland China. He came up with the idea of encouraging local farmers to grow sorghum and barter their harvest for an equal quantity of imported rice. The sorghum was then used to produce liquor.

金門高粱酒

It wasn’t a bed of roses as the liquor had to be sold secretly during its first 23 years due to the country’s tobacco and wine monopoly system at that time. Over time, Kinmen gained a reputation as a producer of quality kaoliang, sorghum and wheat cultivation expanded, growing into a significant economic contributor of Kinmen.

金門高粱酒

Lucky Wine 开运酒 – I want one of this!

金門高粱酒

For a minimum order of 50 bottles, you can choose to customise your bottle of kaoliang – definitely a great way to make a lasting impression.

金門高粱酒

I shudder to ask how much this set is worth.

金門高粱酒

Oooh, this is uber-retro.

金門高粱酒

Kinmen kaoliang is made in three major stages (ferment-making, Fermentation and Distillation, Packaging) over more than two months, with repeated fermentation and distillation to produce a clean liquor.

金門高粱酒

Off we go on our plant visit!

金門高粱酒

In the first phase wheat and water are used to produce yeast, the foundation of all alcoholic beverages.

金門高粱酒

It’s a flurry of activity at the plant

金門高粱酒

Sorghum is cooked and mixed with yeast to begin fermentation, followed by two hours of distillation.

金門高粱酒

金門高粱酒

The grain goes through another fermenting process before being redistilled one month later.

金門高粱酒

金門高粱酒

He ain’t no Harry Potter, but looks very nifty with the broom

金門高粱酒

Liquids from the first and second distillations are then blended to create a fine tasting kaoliang at an appropriate alcohol content.

金門高粱酒

This first distillation has 80 percent alcohol content. You can’t even smell it without flipping over – literally.

金門高粱酒

Kai looking visibly happily after a sip :) Actually, it tasted sweet and smooth, and comfortably warms to the stomach. As long as you do not inhale.

金門高粱酒

We spotted this man scooping along the walkway, What is he doing?

金門高粱酒

That’s where the sorghum from the first distillation is collected. I was so tempted to scoop some up to try…

金門高粱酒

At another plant, the other essential ingredient, wheat, is made into ‘bricks’ and allowed to ferment. The finished product is then ground and added into the sorghum for fermentation.

金門高粱酒

They sure look like building blocks! And pretty heavy.

金門高粱酒

金門高粱酒

Ferment Cultivation
The environment is kept cool and dry.

金門高粱酒

Wanting to eat something again. But I am more likely to break my teeth.

金門高粱酒

Off to the last stage of production…Packaging!

金門高粱酒

金門高粱酒

The products from the first and second distillations are blended to achieve its appropriate strength, after which the liquor is allowed to mature in a cellar to remove any unpleasant flavors of the mash.

金門高粱酒

Finally, the liquor has to pass through quality testing before it can be bottled and sold.

金門高粱酒

Looking so intently…for what???

金門高粱酒

I was a little baffled what the ladies staring at the fast-moving bottles against a lighted box were looking out for…they had to spot if there were any impurities in the liquor. The offending bottle would be taken off the line and poured away.

金門高粱酒

There goes another bottle. It’s such stringent measures that ensure the reputation of a Kinmen Kaoliang.

金門高粱酒

She must have the most stress-free job in the world
The rejected glass bottles are smashed and sent for recycling. I don’t mind doing her job for a day. :)

金門高粱酒

And TA_DAH! All packed and ready to go to the shops! :)

金門高粱酒

Thank you for a very informative plant visit!
I have no doubt the popularity of Kinmen Kaoliang will continue to grow, and in time to come the tasty drink will make its way to other parts of the world. The company is not resting on its laurels too – it has launched an award-winning whitening mask and a facial gel—both made from extracts of kaoliang!

Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc. 
Address: No.1 Tao Yuan Road , Kin Ning Shiang, Kinmen County 892, Taiwan 金門縣金寧鄉桃園路一號
See here for directions
Tel:+886 82 32 5628
Opening Hours: Daily 8:00AM to 12:00PM; 1:30PM to 5:30PM
Guided Tours: 8:30AM to 11:30AM; 2:00PM to 5:00PM
Places of Interest
– Scenic Park
– Museum of Liquor History
– Welfare Department (this is actually the retail shop, what a name! LOL)
Recommended Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours
Visiting Kinmen? This map of Kinmen will be useful for you (Source: Kinmen County website).

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