Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sanzhi Day Trip II: Li Tianlu Puppetry Museum

Continued from this post

The Li Tian-lu Taiwanese Puppetry Museum (李天祿布袋戲文物館) in Sanzhi is worth a visit for anyone interested in Taiwanese culture, history, Japanese occupation, film or puppetry. Li was a famous puppet master who was also a principal character in the well-known Taiwanese movie "The City of Sadness", was involved in Japanese propaganda, was an international puppeteering champion (so says his museum) and remains internationally famous for those in the know. 

We happened to be in the area and while I'm more enthusiastic about Taiwanese opera than puppetry, it's still an item of cultural importance and a visit is very worthwhile - if only to look at the many finely crafted puppets and costumes on display.

This is a puppet portrayal of Dr. Mackay - seems fairly accurate to me. But...

C'mon, is this a caricature of a wealthy late 19th/early 20th century white guy or what?

Apparently this is what the master of puppet-making who created this thought white women looked like.

A "mosquito god" puppet

Li Tian-lu himself

Admission to the museum is NT70 (no student discount) and they're closed by 5pm. Li's actual residence is across the street. The museum itself is in a lovely old building that I personally found architecturally interesting. There is a small souvenir shop including a place where kids can DIY their own puppet for NT$80-100- or you can buy one to take home and DIY - and both high and low end puppets are on sale, ranging from NT$300 (for a kid who will just destroy it) to NT$4900 (for the connoisseur). There's also a small coffeeshop area. If you're OK with going uphill it's walkable from the more urban part of Sanzhi, but I'd recommend, if you don't have your own transport - which I rarely do! - to grab a cab up here and walk back down. Not far down the hill I spotted a bus stop but didn't have the opportunity to note which buses stopped here, when the service ran and how often.

The area around the museum is a hillside village with a very artsy feel and many small restaurants and coffeeshops. A lot of the small houses and apartments are for rent - you could totally chuck it all and become an artist if you were of a mind!

We got pizza at a "Mediterranean style" place called Pizza Olmo. I wouldn't call it "great" - not the best pizza I've had - but it wasn't bad at all, for boondocks-of-Taiwan pizza. The cheese passed muster and there was no weird mayonnaise, and only nominal corn. I recommend the wild mushroom basil or garlic bacon if you eat here. There are some good views down to the ocean and it's a nice place to hang out with friends. Closer to the museum is a pottery shop and classy coffeeshop with "French desserts" that I would like to check out sometime called Cypress29.

Dude, don't ask questions you don't want answers to.

This area has an artsy feel and is a lovely place to hang out and walk around for awhile

I call this very unfriendly cat "Cuddlemuffins".
It tried to bite my sister.

View from Pizzeria Olmo
We caught a bus back to Danshui at about 7pm, and were home by 9. All in all, a not-too-taxing day trip after a stressful time that allowed us to get out of the city, breathe some fresh air, spend minimal cash and enjoy the sunshine while seeing something new. Worth it for the expat who wants to go up to the coast but has grown tired of the usual spots and isn't interested in bumming around Danshui yet again.

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