This is a continuation of the family trip that started here.
- Luodong Forestry Culture Garden
- (interlude) Crayons
- Yilan Biscuit Innovation Museum
- Traditional Arts Heritage Center
- No. 9 Cafe
Luodong Forestry Culture Garden
We started out here bright and early. Despite the rain there were still many buses and groups of people here. Actually, the rain might have brought more people here, because it’s more pleasant to walk around in the woods than to sit on an uncovered boat getting rained on.
I wanted to check out the different bamboo exhibits, but they were closed on account of CNY, so I just peeked in the windows and saw darkness.
There’s also a lake here, and it takes about 25 minutes to walk around once. This area was used very heavily for the transportation of logs, and the trees would float here awaiting for transport via train. I haven’t quite figured out how the logistics of this all works but I’m sure someone must have thought it through.
These are the ramps for rolling logs in and out.
Trains and tracks, now out of service.
Exciting news! As I was circling the lake I heard the sound of a train and whipped out my phone just in time to take a picture of the tail end, thus completing my mission from the last post. Maybe someday I’ll get a picture of the first car. Or I’ll just pretend the last car is the first car.
Also on the other side of the lake is a wooden house that is a mini library with books about nature and ecology. The hut is Japanese style, and it has a forest theme with cute figurines everywhere.
The ceiling is low, and there are lots of windows to let in natural light. Most of these books are donated, and the librarian explained that they only allow books solely about nature here, nothing with political or religious commentary.
In the corner is a section for floating books, which are read by one person, then left for the next person to pass on knowledge. If it weren’t raining and my socks weren’t wet I would have liked to take my shoes off, sit on the couch, and read a book about a tree.
On our way to the biscuit museum, we drove past these crayon buildings.
Later I found out that they’re part of a crayon museum, which is mildly disappointing because how cute would it be if someone just decided to buy land and build three crayons for no good reason?
Yilan Biscuit Innovation Museum
We got to make DIY Yilan biscuits here! Yilan biscuits, colloquially called cow’s tongue biscuits, are long, flat biscuits made with flour, butter, sugar, and milk. There is no meat. The DIY classroom is massive, and I’m guessing could fit at least 100 students at a time.
As soon as you walk in they instruct you to wash your hands, so I didn’t take any photos for the rest of the class. Whenever I wasn’t touching dough, I was holding my hands up like Cristina when she’s scrubbing in for surgery. I didn’t even touch the table.
The class is led by a teacher who voices funny accompaniments for the instructional video. He said that we had to follow his beat to roll the dough and filling out to exactly 10 centimeters, then beatboxed at an increasing tempo and ended with a bang. Mine was sort of 10 centimeters, I guess. You then cut the the dough and filling into 6 chunks, wrap the filling in the dough, then roll it out into long thin strips. Those are then taken to be baked, until they come out crispy and fragrant. Mine are the upper ones. Before baking you have to use your knife to draw a line down the middle, otherwise your biscuit will puff up à la row two column two.
It took 30 minutes to bake, and in the meantime there are production lines and sampling areas for you to see.
The production line was incredible to watch. This company produces thousands of boxes of Yilan biscuit, and literally each one is rolled out by hand.
Once the rolled out dough are done baking, they are placed into plastic boxes, put into foil bags, then placed onto a hot air machine to seal the foil.
Then you get boxes and boxes of biscuits! Gifs of M&Ms tumbling down a conveyor belt are amusing to view, but I’d rather my food be made by a person than a machine.
This is the sampling area, where they display all of the companies different foods and offer plenty of samples. The PA system is constantly on, with sales reps urging you to buy before the next crowd gets here, LOL.
Traditional Arts Heritage Center
This is a big park area dedicated to preserving and showcasing arts both modern and old. Entrance with multicolored umbrellas and a dragon train that drew a lot of hype when it came in, but it turns out it’s not to tour the park, it only takes a lap around the parking lot and then comes back.
Each art has a storefront, or a building, or a display cart, and the inside is built like a village. I didn’t get a chance to see everything, but I’ve highlighted my favorite ones below.
A. An exhibit on Bichoutan (a type of Japanese charcoal) that features multiple experiments to showcase its properties. Fabric made with bichoutan is inflammable.
It is also very hard, so will have a distinct ring when you tap it with a wooden stick. Yet it’s also brittle, so if you tap too hard it snaps.
Bichoutan can purify water, remove odors, improve blood circulation, and conduct electricity. So if you’re ever out in a thunderstorm, grab on to a piece of bichoutan (because you just carry it around with you all the time) to avoid getting zapped by lightning. The charcoal presents the path of least resistance for electrons and you’ll be safe.
B. This is a showcase on indigo dying. The artist was making clothes in front of us! First he melts wax to draw on the patterns, then he dunks the whole thing into a vat of blue ink multiple times to get a deep blue color.
C. A store for wooden arts. These pieces have won design awards, and you can buy them to assemble for yourself.
D. A chef cutting up pieces of traditional malt crips. Culinary arts need preservation too!
E. A traditional Taiwanese theater performance. This is the taken from the back of the stage, because I couldn’t find where the stage was, but the music brought me to the back. Enjoy the back of the speakers and the back of people’s heads.
F. An old style camera from the photography booth. I didn’t know that cameras used to use soft materials to connect the lens to the body of the camera!
G. Chinese lanterns and introductions to the artists behind them.
H. A store selling assorted crafts and small gifts.
A fishing mug for couples.
This one is a double-pun necklace. The original statement is “good things will happen”, but the charms are of a persimmon (same sound as things) and a peanut (similar sound as happen)
Porcelain radishes. One day if I found radishes that are this round I shall make soup.
No. 9 Cafe
Wrapping up our day of learning at a popular coffeehouse. There are two floors, and each floor has plenty of windows to show off the view.
They also sell handmade desserts, but I thought this one tasted really, really weird. It’s cheesecake with bacon and black pepper.
In the summer, you can come here to rent a beach motorcycle and make your merry way down the coast. Goodbye, Yilan! See you next time.