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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

NEW

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Attention all Meteor Garden fans:  Another Ying De has been discovered!  The luomujie blog did it again in uncovering one of the important filming locations in season 1 of the phenomenal Taiwanese TV series.   There won’t be any need to spend lots of money going to Chiayi just to see National Chung Cheng University (NCCU).  Because the story of Meteor Garden didn’t just happen in one school!   There is another academy near Taipei which also the setting of “Ying De University”.

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

I know the whole fandom will get crazy about this.  There is a second Ying De and it is Tamkang University!   Located in New Taipei’s Tamsui District, the school is easily accessible by the MRT Tamsui Station.  Yes! You read it right.  The campus is in the suburbs of Taipei.  Those who have a limited budget in Taiwandering can now live their Meteor Garden dream without spending so much on expensive Taipei-Chiayi high speed rail tickets.

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University


And the one-man team luomujie blog didn’t let the opportunity go away.  I went to the school to relive the memories in the drama that are very important in the Meteor Garden universe.  So take a deep breath, because I will discuss important things that the F4, Sanchai and the rest of the gang made us laugh and cry.  

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
Guanyinshan as seen from the field

Upon entering the university by Bus Red 28,  my attention got caught by the grandstand.  The sports complex has the track and field and basketball courts.  Do you remember Hua Ze Lei hanging upside down and behind him is a mountain?  The background is Guanyinshan and the “sea” below is the Tamsui River.  I was not expecting to find the filming location.  Almost two decades had passed and many things could have changed in the school so I was having doubts if I can still find it.  But oh boy! Luo-Mu Jie is so lucky. Haha!

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
The Guanyinshan mountain could not be seen anymore because of the plants and trees.
Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
The view from the monkey bars



Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

The three-level monkey bar was still there but the view was already blocked by the bushes and trees.  Time had already turned some portions of the metal into rust.   Back in the 2001 drama, the metal rods were standing on a cemented ground.  In 2018, the bars are now enclosed in a sandbox making it safer to hang on.  I have doubts if it is still strong enough carry a person weighing 65 kilos but I am sure that this is the place where Lei remember the words of Teng Tang Jing to do an upside-down stunt whenever he wants to hold back his tears.

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
Teng Tang Jing as she was welcomed by the F4


Speaking of Teng Tang Jing she first appeared in episode 2.  The F4 was having a good time when Lei’s love interest arrived in the campus.   The four men welcomed Jing with big smiles, much to the disappointment of Sanchai.  Lei’s “girlfriend” is now in Ying De.  Haha!

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
Carrie Chang Fine Arts Center (CCFAC)

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

It all happened in front of the Carrie Chang Fine Arts Center (CCFAC).  Opened in 2000, it was one of the newest buildings of Tamkang University.  The building was named after Madame Charrie Chang, the former head of the school’s Board of Trustees.  It was envisioned to become the center of arts in the university.  Be it in the music, arts or even calligraphy.  Anything that involves art should be in this place.  Entrance is free of charge and the facility is open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
CCFAC is located beside the Sung-tao Hall (Girl's Dormitory).  This must be the reason why the F4 love to hang out on this place.

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
Sanchai as she holds a lunch box

If our favorite drama was in its production phase in the year 2000 and broadcasted in Taiwanese televisions in 2001, the timing was right to capture some scenes in the newly opened arts building of TKU.  But beyond this shooting location, Angie Chai (the executive producer of Meteor Garden) showed her brilliance in choosing the location for portraying dramatic scenes. 

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

The floor-to-ceiling glass facade of the CCFAC is like a giant mirror that reflects the dreams, aspirations and emotions of our favorite characters.   Love and hatred.  The pain of seeing someone you love go with another person.  The formula for a great Asian drama is here. 

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
sad Dao Ming Si

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University


While Sanchai and Dao Ming Si have their own scenes standing in front of the building, the most emotional and intense part of Meteor Garden is when they are together.  Like a cat and dog fighting for dominance,  the series will never be complete them.  And this is where TKU’s arts center have its own fair share of Ying De University scenes which fans can never forget.   Do you remember when Dao Ming Si was about to go the to US?  He was talking to the other members of the F4 and he was suddenly slapped by Sanchai?  It happened here in front of the CCFAC.

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
Meteor Garden is not Meteor Garden without a slap from San Chai and some bullying. Haha!

Aside from that scene, other intense parts of the drama was when Dao Ming Si grabbed San Chai’s fake friend (the one working in Burger King) near the neck.  We know how furious the leader of F4 can be, especially if it is about the love of his life.   We should also not forget when San Chai’s last boyfriend confronted the members of the member together with our female protagonist.  That scene was filmed beside the glass facade.  

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

How about Qing He?  The epitome of being friendzoned forever.  Haha!  Like the scene in the Tranquility Lake in NCCU, the two childhood friends still have some good time together.   It was very easy to identify which place it happened.  It was near the boy statue.  Still, in front of the CCFAC, the two were sitting on the staircase and on the left side of the background scene shows the sculpture.  Well, Lei came and Sanchai left the place together with his crush.  So Qing He was left alone.   Bwahaha!

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
The F4 climbed the staircase of CCFAC.

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
The F4 at the second floor of CCFAC.  They were standing on the glass tiles.

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
Luo-Mu Jie on the same glass tiles that the F4 had stepped on.  

Not all of the action happened outside the building.  Going on a weekday, I felt so lucky to find it open in the afternoon.    I went inside and saw the glass staircase.  A quick photo of my printed screenshot with the stairs confirmed the location of the segment of the drama.  

At the time of my visit, a calligraphy exhibition was being held on both floors of the building.   I knew that F4 had a scene on this spot in the building so I went upstairs and hit the jackpot again.  The upper floor is another filming location!  A selfie with the right angle of the scene preserved the memory of my trip.  Haha!

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University
Teng Tang Jing in "Ying De" after she had cut her hair.


Perhaps the spot in TKU that can be likened to the lockers of NCCU is the place where Sanchai pleaded Teng Tang Jing to not leave Lei to pursue her dreams in another country.  I tried my very best to find that filming location.  Close to 20 years had passed since Meteor Garden was release and many things have changed in the campus.  But I have a strong hunch that this is the place where Sanchai and Teng Tang Jing had a heart to heart talk that really annoyed Lei. 

My investigation led me to the staircase leading from CCFAC down to the nearest road.   My printed screentshot helped me identify the background of the picture as the Main Enginerring Building.  The camera could have been zoomed to emphasize the face of Lei’s love interest as a short-haired woman.   

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

In the last episode of Meteor Garden Season 1, Xi men and Mei zou were seen walking in front of the Carrie Chang Fine Arts Center of Tamkang University. I followed their footsteps to know what does it feel to walk like an F4.
Meteor Garden school - Tamkang University

I counted the number of instances where TKU had been part of the drama.  The school had been shown in 11 episodes in 24 different scenes.  This is just my conservative estimate because only the people who worked on the TV series know exactly where all the segments in TKU were shot.   CCFAC was never forgotten even in the last episode.   The last minutes of the drama featured and Sanchai and Dao Ming Si, but before that Ximen and Mei Zuo was seen walking along the arts center for one last moment.   That’s how important Tamkang University is to the creators of “Liúxīng huāyuán”.  You can never ignore it.

Time to add this to your Asian drama notes: If NCCU is the original Meteor Garden school, then TKU is the second Ying De University.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Get high with a shaved ice dessert overloaded with tapioca balls in Opium Fen-Yuan.  The name of the store already tells what you can expect.  It all depends on you if you'll get lost in looking for this dessert shop. It's quite far away from the MRT Zhishan Station but I was able to find it and gave myself a try of its best-sellers.   Locals come here to beat the summer heat and I was so curious if their food will pass my taste test.

Dayeh Takashimaya Department Store

Opium Fen-yuan store in Tianmu

Located in Tianmu in Shilin District,  Opium Fen-yuan's is hard to find for first-time visitors in Taipei.    So I have doubts if foreign tourists in Taiwan would make a stop at this restaurant.  Now being slowly covered by towering buildings, its unusual spot still attracts those people who are always craving for sweet foods.  Opium Fen-yuan has other branches in Taipei and the suburbs but if you are planning to visit the Shilin Night Market then why not check this branch in Tianmu.  You can get here by boarding the MRT to Zhishan Station, walk to Zhongcheng Park and then board a bus going Tianmu Baseball Stadium.

The menu

To order, I just pointed my finger at the topmost and bottommost picture.  Tell also the staff that you want to eat inside the restaurant. 

“Yi ge, yi ge”, I said as I pointed at the giant menu in front of the store.  I ordered the basic tapioca balls dessert and the version with the banana-like slices.  There are only five variants of the shaved iced desserts.  The others have tofu pudding, jelly, and lemon jelly.  The pearl and ice dessert will serve as my basis in evaluating the one with the banana-like slices.  I've heard that a lot of Taiwanese prefer to eat the latter and I was so intrigued if they were fruits or not.  Haha!

tapioca balls

the banana-like slices





Sweeter than the usual Taiwanese shaved ice desserts.  The cup of tapioca balls was like a bubble tea without the tea component.  Haha!  Just imagine pearls as the main ingredient with a layer of ice underneath.  I believe there must be something on the syrup that gives it a unique taste, like the “arnibal” of the Filipino's taho (soy pudding drink).  It could be just brown sugar.  I'm not sure but I really like it.

Underneath this banana-like slices is the layer of tapioca balls.  Visitors are supposed to see two colors of the slices but only one color can be seen in this photo.




when the ice melted



After getting bloated with the original flavor, I focused my attention on my second order.  The ice beneath had already melted while I was eating my first cup.   One scoop of the toppings and into my mouth revealed the true nature of mysterious banana-slices. They weren't really the fruits that I was expecting!  They tasted like the tapioca balls but chewy and tastier.  Now, I know the reason why this variant is also popular among locals.


For a price of NTD 50 per cup, international tourists in Taiwan deserve to taste this shaved ice desserts.  Aside from the summer coolers, customers can also order lunch or dinner like any typical restaurant.  Their branches near MRT Guting and MRT Gongguan stations also offer their best-seller tapioca balls but with a surprising twist.  Don't miss the chance to eat them at this dessert shop. Come and enjoy the sweet life in Taipei with Opium Fen-Yuan.

*****************************
Opium Fen-Yuan (天母鴉片粉圓)
Address: No. 2, Lane 89, Shidong Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, 111
Open: every day from 12:00 noon to 9:30 pm
[Google Map]

How to get here:
1.  by MRT then bus
MRT Zhishan Station (Red Line)-> walk to Zhongcheng Park bus stop [Google Map] ->  board Bus 203, 279, 606 -> get off the bus at Tianmu Baseball Stadium stop [Google Map] -> walk to Opium Fen-Yuan [Google Map]

2.  by tripool taxi (https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji)
Destination: Opium Fen-yuan (Shilin branch); Origin: Taipei Main Station
Taipei Main Station -> board tripool taxi -> Opium Fen-yuan

My orders:
 Tapioca balls dessert (鴉片粉圓): NTD 50
(4.5 out of 5 luomujie stars)

Three round ice (三圓冰): NTD 50
(4.5 out of 5 luomujie stars)

Rapsa is a slang for the Filipino word "sarap" which means delicious. Delicious -> sarap -> "rapsa" (inverted syllable order). The Rapsa Edition of the "My Beloved Taipei" Travel Series will take readers to the tastiest and yummiest foods in Taipei. Get to know the best desserts and local delicacies that Taiwan's capital has to offer, through this subprogram of the luomujie blog.


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