Taipei’s Unique People (2) – A Tattoo Artist with Attitude!

wp_20170303_19_07_19_pro__highres.jpgWe would like to introduce you another interesting figure hanging around in Taipei! He is our friend, Benjamin “Ben” Lee (or you can also call him “Ah-Ben“), a man of attitude!!

With a right forearm fully covered with tattoos, Benny looks like a man with stories. But these stories are not so crucial to us. All we have to know is that: HE IS A GREAT TATTOO ARTIST.

“Till this day, there are still quite a few Formosans doing tattoo in their village with traditional methods and designs.”He says.

“So, if you are going to work, you have to use the best tools, which include “heart”, and it has to be the dedicated one.”

A Tattoo artist has to be creative, not just using designs that exist already. A Tattoo artist has to be fully focused on the work with heart.

These are the things which make someone a good Tattoo artist, instead of simply a “tattoo worker”. (Said by him)

As tattoo business is quite small in Taiwan, the competition is fierce. However, only skills matter and the popularity of Ben’s studio has proved this.

In Taiwan, due to the stereotypes, and even bias, tattoo is not so popular. As a result, tattoo artists charges high prices for their services. This has lead tattooing to be considered a luxury.

However, Needle No. 8  keeps thriving, because Ben has targeted foreign customers in addition ­­­­to locals. This approach works out with the aid of the skills and reputation of him and his team. In fact, many foreigners come to Needle Number 8 to get tattoos.

To tell you the truth, we just got our own tattoos!!!

You can find Benjamin and his team on Facebook: Needle No. 8

Tip: If you want to get inked and you are a traveler, don’t leave it for the last day of your trip. The studio is very popular, so you may need to make an appointment at least a week prior!

Address: No. 5, Alley 29, Lane 205, Section 4, Chung-Hsiao East Road, Ta-An District, 10690 Taipei City, Taiwan

What’s Nearby? WA-SHU

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WA-SHU, the Japanese touch in the heart of Taipei

“If you want to see a totally different style of bartending, then you lot have to go to the WA-SHU. There’s a guy there who takes bartending to an entirely other level”

These were the words of Chris – the R&D Lab‘s bar leader – the night we were rioting  in his bar (lol). And of course, there’s no way we would miss such an opportunity!!

Truth to be told, the Wa-Shu (literally “Japanese Liquor” in Japanese), could be described as the manifestation of the word “bar”, from the perspective of space. In fact, the Wa – Shu is comprised only of a wide, long bar with 10-12 stools and a huge freezer behind the bar, which serves also as a showcase for the bottles of liqueurs and spirits, the glasses and the ingredients used for the drinks. Simple as that…. !  Oh, there’s also a mini distillery inside the bar which,  to my surprise, is NOT decorative.

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The bar-leader and owner of the bar is Tomoaki Inabaa, a Japanese gentleman. He is a jittery guy, obsessed with perfection and accuracy in his work. You can tell from afar that, he is very strict with his employees, but at the same time, very patient and devoted when teaching them his craftsmanship. It is evident, that Tomoaki is a person highly respected and admired by his crew.

Not only this, but he is also respected and admired by his customers. His polite manners and devotion to his art give birth to the finest cocktails. Plus, I think he has the cutest smile ever!!!

Admittedly, Mr Ibana has his own personal style in bartending; and without doubt, he is a master of his art!! There are many reasons behind this. First of all, Tomoaki is a master in Whiskey making. He has been to the Highlands – the heart of scottish whiskey – where he learned the craft of Whiskey production. You can easily understand his love for whiskey just by noticing the wide variety of whiskey brands placed in his showcase. Indeed, the finest scottish, japanese and taiwanese wiskey is served in Wa – Shu. So, if you are a whiskey lover or you have a soft spot for whiskey cocktails, you certaily have to go there for a couple of drinks. In addition to this, he used to work in London’s best cocktail bars for quite a while. But he didn’t stop there!!

He applies his knowledge to make various spirits and liqueurs from different materials; anything you can think of – fruits, honey, nuts, vegetables, even black peppers! All by himself, using the mini distillery that I mentioned above.

All of the cocktails served in Wa – Shu, are signature cocktails and they are prepared exclusively by him. He uses the Japanese way to make cocktails, a style completely different to the common Western one. The majority of his cocktails are almost like R.T.D’s. To be more specific, he prepares the basic ingredients of his cocktails in advance and he puts them in the bottles – which are stored in the freezer/showcase -. So, the only thing he’s left to do is to add the special ingredients, freeze the drinks and serve them. You’ll see no extra fancy move nor jugglery, but a simple, yet skillful and dedicated approach. In Japan, it is call an art of Takumi (匠, “Smith”, especially a skillful one).

Tomoaki’s philosophy of cocktails, is “simplicity”. His cocktails are served without any garnitures, not even ice. Probably, this may be the philosophy of the Asian Bartending in general, because like Tomoaki, the bartenders in R&D Lab bar had also the same perspective. They are so confident for their drinks, thus they find unnecessary any kind of decoration. According to Tomoaki, only simplicity can bring  forth the real taste, true to its nature!!

His motto: “Simple is the best. Focus one flavor. Unique and new”.

 

As far as the prices are concerned, we have to admit that it is a little bit expensive, but affordable!!! However, if you are a heavy drinker, it’s better to avoid it. Unless, you have a golden card prepared (lol).

You can find Wa – Shu and Tomoaki Ibana following the instruction below.

Note: He’s planning to leave Taiwan in a couple of years, so don’t miss the chance to try his amazing cocktails!!

Official Website: Facebook (We borrowed some nice photos from there. :P)

Address: No. 39, Lane 101, Section 4, Chung-Hsiao East Road, Ta-An District, 10691 Taipei City, Taiwan

What’s Nearby? Needle No. 8 Tattoo

Taipei’s Unique People (1) Tea Master in Neighborhood

The best thing about traveling is not only the places you visit, but mainly the people you meet. And Taipei City is full of interesting people; each of them has their own personal story to tell.

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A striking example is Bo-Han Chen, the Tea – making – master, whom we had the chance to meet!

By the side of a park in a quiet neighborhood within the downtown of Taipei, there is a “hermit-like” teashop only known by those who seek for a cup of genuine tea. Here, it is not just a place for people to enjoy their tea in a relaxing afternoon, but also a place for social, sharing experience, even a personal studio for art and creation!

Countless boxes of tea on the shelf behind the counter, give away the owner’s persistence to provide tea of excellent quality to everyone who visits his place.

0_rlvBo-Han likes to roll his cigarette, instead of having those pre-made ones. He is kind of guy who does everything by himself.

Likewise, he started his own business -the tea shop- turning his hobby into profession. During his early days in this business, he accumulated knowledge and experiences on tea making, which led to his very own unique style of tea!

He firmly insists that all tea has to be made with natural ingredients. For instance, he uses only honey instead of synthetic saccharin. It is all about quality, honesty, genuineness, freshness, and health. He uses exclusively   premium tea leaves, because he believes that cost is not a big issue when compared to the quality.

If you want to meet Bo-Han, you will find him at his HM Tea Shop every afternoon (12pm to 6pm).

Address: No. 7, Alley 25, Lane 113, Section 3, Min-Sheng East Road, Song-Shan District, 10556 Taipei City, Taiwan

Treasure Hill, a Village in the Metropolis

Taipei City is not a metropolis like the ones you see in the western countries. On the contrary, it’s a place full of diversities and surprises! It’s the ideal destination not only for people who seek cosmopolitan and luxurious life style or vacation, but also for anyone who looks for more alternative and out-of-the-ordinary destinations. In other words, Taipei is your place to be!

Treasure Hill (寶藏巖 Pao Tsang Yen / Bao Zang Yan) is one of the most pleasant surprises in Taipei and a striking example of the many contrasts you can see in the city.

Because the village was built by the hill, there are some big tree in the neighborhood.
Because the village was built by the hill, there are some big tree in the neighborhood.

Treasure Hill is a city within the Taipei City where the old style faces the new and reclaims its position in history, culture and tradition. It is one of the few oldest settlements preserved in Taipei.

Treasure Hill Temple, viewed from the side of its exit.
Entering the Twilight Zone Treasure Hill Temple.

Treasure Hill is originally established as “Kuan-Im Gum-Ah” (觀音巖仔 Kuan-Yin Yen-Tsai / Guan-Yin Yan-Zai)* a small Buddist temple for Kuan Yin Bodhisattva (觀世音菩薩 Kuan-Shih-Yin P’u-sa / Guan-Shi-Yin Pusa, originally Avalokiteśvara) in the 17th century and served as the religious center for locals who were An-khoe descendants. The Kuan-Im Gum-Ah merged with surrounding temples made for other gods and Buddhas under a bigger containing building into “Treasure Hill”, hence the name for the village, which was formed by the settlement built around the temple. The place expanded rapidly from 1960s to 1980s with the squatters. Although part of houses were demolished in 1990s due to their illegal status, the whole area was preserved and now there are various of handicraft shops and artists here.

Treasure Hill Temple, viewed from the side of its exit.
Treasure Hill Temple, viewed from the side of its exit.
  • Gum-Ah” (Choâⁿ-chiu accent) or “Giam-ah” (Chiāng-chiu accent) originally refers “cave”, but most of time it means a temple by the mountain.
  • There is a also statue of Kuan-Im in Da-An Forest Park.
Treasure Hill Temple is surrounded by houses nowadays
Treasure Hill Temple is surrounded by houses nowadays.

In this picturesque village, you can find old temples and houses; a post office forgotten from time; small shops where hand-made “treasures” are created by craftsmen who preserve the traditional techniques and style; a lovely hotel where you can spend the night and enjoy the amazing view – the village is by the river and the nature all around is fantastic.

Surrounding environment of Treasure Hill
Surrounding environment of Treasure Hill.

Finally, you can meet some enthusiasts who cultivate organic groceries.

Vegetable gardens in Treasure Hill
Vegetable gardens in Treasure Hill

The best thing about Treasure Hill is that you can reach the village easy because it is within walking distance from Green Line subway station “Kung Kuan” (公館 or Gong Guan).Therefore, for all of you who want to live in the country side without leaving the big city, Treasure Hill is the ideal choice!!

Visiting Information: Take MRT Green Line to [G07] Kung Kuan (Gung Guan) Station and leave from exit 1, following the map as provided here:

*Phew*, this is our journey today!.
Phew, this is our journey today!

Oh wait! I forgot to tell you, the journey isn’t end yet! After we left the village, we found that there is a river neighboring the village!! We’ll go on in an adventure into this area next time!!

Well, sun is say goodbye to us. See you another day!
Well, sun is saying goodbye to us. See you another day!

R&D Cocktail Lab

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R&D Cocktail Lab is the ideal place to be on Tuesday night. From the moment you enter the Bar, you will notice the wide and long bar; spacious and without unnecessary decorations. The dim light creates an ideal atmosphere like the one a Bar should have.

To my surprise, there was no menu. Instead of this, a very refined man approached us and asked what kind of flavors we prefer. Then he proposed a variety of cocktails according to our tastes. The most impressive thing is that some cocktails were made up on the spot by the bartenders.

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The service was fast and the employees were extremely polite, either be bartenders or waiters. Everyone was trying to create a friendly environment.

Not only this, but also the cocktails were tasty and original in comparison to western standards. To be more accurate, the minimal style prevails in the bar. There are no garnitures on the cocktails – like fruits, fancy strokes or trimmed ice. However, this minimalistic aesthetic is combined exquisitely with the powerful cocktails.
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Moreover, the music was alluring, just to make you keep drinking.

The bartenders were also easy to approach and very proficient in their job; polite and cheerful.

The most interesting and impressive thing, which I have never seen before, is that all the employees work in rotation. To be more precise, all the personnel are bartenders and they switch positions (waiter, manager, bartender etc.) according to the schedule.

WP_20170301_01_42_15_Pro__highresSomething extremely important: All the employees are fluent in English, despite that their customers are mainly locals.

Last but not least, the prices were reasonable matching the excellent service and the quality of drinks.

Tuesday, 28 Feb. 2017, 21:30

Bar Leader: Chris Kim

Official Website: Facebook

Address: No.36, Chia-Hsing Street, Hsin-Yi District, 11052 Taipei City, Taiwan

ps. It’s really close to the Taipei 101. Why not spend your night here after enjoy the night skyline of Taipei?!

More to than meets the Sky! Taipei 101 World Financial Center

Taipei 101
Taipei 101. (Too cloudy? Click me!!)

Everything begins from ground zero. You may wait in the line for a while – however, the moment you see the groom, you know that in less than 37 minutes you will be on the top of the world. And indeed, this is exactly how it is going to be.

As the elevator’s door closes, the light goes dark and the only thing you can see are the constellations shining above your head. And then, you suddenly take off. Without doubt, the entire atmosphere conspires to what’s coming next, meaning the 89th floor.

Truth to be told, the reality surpasses your expectations. Even for those who have already climbed another skyscraper, Taipei 101 is a completely different experience.

«Note: The Taipei 101 is designed to resemble a bamboo tree, which signifies the constant prosperity.»

The design of the building itself ignites an urge in you to
approach the windows, so as you get a clear view of the face of Taipei City. The spectacle is simply striking. It will take you a while to decide to move to the other sides of the building, only to find yourself astound again.

WP_20170301_16_48_01_Pro__highres (2)The landscape is breathtaking as you see the mount Mu-tzu Shan evading the city. In most cases, we’ve seen humanity violating the nature, but here you will see Mother Nature fighting back!

Certainly, you will feel like leaving your eyes on the windows, thinking that there’s nothing more to see.

But think twice!

WP_20170301_17_24_11_Pro__highres (2)In fact, you can climb the stairs to reach an even higher stage. You can go to the 91st floor where the observation terrace is and have the opportunity to feel the breeze rubbing your face.  You can definitely get a better view of the city! Undoubtedly, there is more to than meets the eye!

Such a unique experience comes with a cost, though. Actually, you may find the entrance fee a little bit expensive. The admission fee for adults is 600 Taiwanese Dollars and for students 540 Taiwanese Dollars. Nevertheless, you can get a small discount if you visit as a group. For more information, simply visit the official website of the Taipei 101 . In addition to this, you can buy souvenirs from the gift shop, which has some very nice things. However, you must be prepared to pay a little bit more than usual.

Finally, the exodus may be a little bit tiring due to the long cue. Our advice…. Just, be patient. There are still many things waiting for you in Taipei. Are you ready?

Visiting Information:
– 9:00 to 22:00 (Ticket counter located in 5F and closed at 21:15) from Monday to Sunday
– Ticket Price: 600 NTD

Address: No.7, Sec. 5, Hsin-Yi Road, Hsin-Yi District, 11049 Taipei City, Taiwan

What’s Nearby? R & D Cocktail Lab

We are …. Just us!

Name: Artemis Emirli

art

Birth Place: Earth

Race: Human

Politics: Freedom

Religion: Love

Occupation: Jack of all trades and master of none.

Apart from being a forever dreamer and fool, I studied law at the Democritus University of Thrace in Greece and I have obtained a master’s degree in the subject of International Law and International Security awarded by the University of Glasgow (Scotland, UK). At the moment, I am a PhD student at my alma mater. Additionally, I speak three foreign languages and I love sports – Judo is the love of my life-. Finally, designing is my burning passion in life.

During my studies in Glasgow I met my pal and brother in life Didier Lee who has given me a great friendship and support. I had the fortune to meet my other half – Eleni Vasileiadou – when I returned from Scotland and my life hasn’t been boring not a single day ever since.

I fell in love with Taiwan (Formosa) from the moment I set my foot on this land and I’ve decided to show the beauties of this country to the entire world.

My motto in life is: “Life is small and the world so big. So, let’s explore it to the fullest.”


Name:  Didier Lee

diMy name is Didier, a local Taiwanese. I met my good-o-pal Artemis in Scotland – more precisely, Glasgow, our second home town.

Nevertheless, Taiwan is my mother land in any case and I love her. I have been an amateur researcher and lecturer of Taiwanese because it is not only my native tongue, but also a symbol of my national identification. I am proud to be part of the world as a Taiwanese, and I want to pass down the memory and culture of Taiwan!

That’s why I joint and provide my fully support to Artemis’ project and together we will explore every corner in Taiwan because I really want to introduce my beloved mother Taiwan to the whole world. I firmly believe “Now, or  Never”.

So, what are we waiting for?  It’s the time NOW!


Name:  Eleni Vasileiadou

elCountry:
Greece – for the time being and in general

Political Believes:
Freedom & self-determination

My curriculum vitae is not very rich; however, I’m pursuing a “portfolio career” which has many experiences rather than achievements.

Art is my passion in life; particularly, painting and the theater. Therefore, I chose theater as my major when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Patra (Greece). However, making a living out of the theater has proved to be extremely difficult so far.  Hence, I’m following a different career now.

Nevertheless, my advice: “Art tames the man. So, teach your children the beauty of art.”

As far as I am concerned, creativity is everything. Thus, I’m directing my creativity in bar-tending at the moment. After attending a few seminars on bar-tending, I have come to the conclusion that it is amazing how many things you can create using syrups, fruits, garnitures and any kind of spirits.  Besides, bar-tending has evolved to art in the recent years. In point of fact, people request for new flavors and experiences and I feel the obligation to answer to their demands.

Regarding our project, I have only one thing to say: “The world is full of diversities. On the one hand, you can see high and peaceful mountains and on the other hand, savage seas. The world is beautiful itself and us people should find a peaceful way to co-exist in it”. Therefore, we want to show you the beauty of our world and then you people should finally find your way though.

Motto in Life: “There is none, brat! Just find good friends and luck will come to you!”

Icons: My mother.

P.S.: Do not resist to flavors. It is a sin…!