Destination: Seediq Bale Park, New Taipei, Taiwan
IT’S almost the cherry blossom season in Taiwan. This year, you know what you should not miss. Opened in early September 2011, the “Seediq Bale” Park in Linkou District of New Taipei City is designed to last six months only. Visit now if you can because it is either now or never.
Perhaps the name of “Seediq Bale” doesn’t really ring a bell. This is alright because “Bale” is etymologically ambiguous. Most people know it as an English last name, but it is used in this context to mean authentic Seediq people, who are an aboriginal people from Taiwan.
The “Seediq Bale” Park features a reconstruction of Wushe Street as it is depicted in Taiwanese filmmaker Wei Te-sheng’s latest film Seediq Bale (2011). This film is by far the most expensive Taiwanese film ever made and the highest grossing Taiwanese film. It was shown at the 68thVenice International Film Festival and is marching on to the 2012 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. For all intents and purposes, though the “Seediq Bale” Park is not the original film site, it is built just like the original.
Wushe Street, as this virtual tour by Ilisin Studio may show you, is lined up exclusively with Japanese architecture. In 1930, when the famous Wushe Uprising took place, Wushe Street was the center of Wushe Village, which was then an established town by Japanese colonial powers in central Taiwan, or more specifically in Ren-ai Township as it is known today. As you may see in the picture below, Wushe is a beautiful mountainous village shrouded in mist. Its Chinese name literally means a misty place.
Walking down the street, you will see shops, residences, a colonial health clinic, a post office, an elementary school, two guest houses (see interiors), as well as a dojo or a Japanese martial arts training hall. Visitors may go inside to look at all props used in the film up-close.
The red flowers in the pictures above are in fact fake flowers. But don’t worry, real cherry blossoms will brighten up the park in no time.