Our Taiwan Travel Memory

台湾旅行の思い出

台湾へは出張で何度も渡航したことがありましたが、残念ながら観光する時間はありませんでしたので、夏休みを利用して息子と共に観光名所を回るツアーに参加しました。出発日直前まで台湾近海を通過中の台風の影響が懸念されていたのですが、我々を乗せた飛行機は関西国際空港を出発しほぼ定刻に台北松山空港に到着することができました。入国審査を待っている時、息子が「嵐だ。」と言うのでてっきり外の天候のことだと思い「台風の影響だろうね。」と返事をしたのですが、「違うよ。ほら、嵐だよ。」とささやき、我々のすぐ横で列に並ぼうとしている若者達を視線で示したのです。どこにでも居そうな普通の若者のようでしたが、よく見ると人気歌手グループ「嵐」のメンバーだったのです。羽田から彼らを乗せた便が遅れて我々の便とほぼ同時に着いたみたいで、そのお蔭で人気芸能人を間近に見ることができてラッキーでした。その後無事に入国審査を終え、預けた荷物を受け取って到着ロビーに出た瞬間、カメラの凄いフラッシュとロビーを埋め尽くした大勢の女性ファンの大歓声で迎えられたのです。我々のすぐ前に「嵐」のメンバーが出たので大騒ぎになっていたのですが、邪魔してはいけないという思いと、こちらまで人気者になったような錯覚が入り混じって妙な感覚でした。翌日の現地新聞を見ると到着ロビーで出迎えを受ける嵐のメンバーの写真が大きく載っていて、もう数メートル接近していれば一緒に写っていたと思うと少し残念な思いがしました。

I have been to Taiwan several times on business, but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time for sightseeing on my business trips; therefore, I participated in a tour of sightseeing spots with my son during our summer vacation.
In spite of our anxiety about the typhoon in the sea near Taiwan, till just the previous day, we left Japan. Our flight from Kansai International Airport arrived at Taipei Songshan Airport almost on schedule. While we were waiting in line for an immigration check, my son said to me, “Here comes Arashi!” (literally meaning “storm”), so I thought he was talking about the weather and replied to him, “Probably because of the typhoon.” He whispered to me, “No. Look, they are Arashi!” and turned his eyes to the young men who were coming to the end of the line just next to ours. They looked like ordinary young boys, but as I looked closely at them, I recognized them as members of a Japanese boy pop group, Arashi. Their flight from Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) was delayed and theirs and ours arrived almost at the same time, so we luckily could see popular artists up close. We passed the immigration check, picked up our luggage and went out to the arrival lobby. At that moment, my son and I were welcomed by innumerable camera flashes and a great cheer by female fans who covered the lobby. Actually, Arashi, walking just ahead of us, caused this turmoil. We had mixed feelings that we didn’t want to bother them or that we were under the illusion of being popular stars ourselves. The next day, big photos of Arashi in the arrival lobby were in local newspapers. If only we had walked several meters closer to them, we would have also been in the newspapers.

このツアーはとても新鮮に感じ主な観光名所を満喫することができました。それに加えて、空港の大騒ぎの一件ともう一つ、フリータイムに台湾に長年住んでいる仕事仲間に会い、とても興味深い体験をさせてもらいました。ツアー二日目、日中の観光メニューを終えて夕方その仕事仲間と待ち合わせて食事をした後のことでした。少しドライブをしてみませんかと誘われ、タクシーに乗って30分ほど郊外へ出て、小高い山の細くて暗い道をくねくねと登って行きます。辺りは車のライト以外の明かりはなく漆黒の山の中です。どこか尋ねると有名な茶畑がある地区(木柵地区、猫空=マオコン)だそうで、お茶を飲みに行くようです。さらに山奥に進むと「茶芸館」(お茶を飲ませてくれる店)の明かりと看板があり、そこでタクシーを降りて店の中に入りました。

In this tour, everything was just new to me, and I fully enjoyed popular sightseeing spots. Besides the uproar in the airport, we had a very interesting experience during our free time of the tour thanks to one of my working companions. On the second day of the tour, after sightseeing during the daytime, we met him and had dinner. After dinner, he asked us if we would like to have a drive, so we took a taxi to the suburbs for about 30 minutes and went along the winding road up to the hill in the pitch-black darkness, where only lights of the vehicles were seen. I asked him where we were, and he answered we were in the tea plantation area (the Muzha District, Maokong) to drink tea. We went deeper into the mountains, got out of the taxi at the tea house with lights and a signboard, and entered the shop.

店内には受付のようなカウンターがありました。いろいろなお茶の缶やお菓子が並んでいる壁の棚から好きな茶葉と茶菓子を買って入りました。お湯と茶器が置いてあるところに行って自分たちで淹れ、好きな席に運んでお茶を楽しみました。その仕事仲間は台湾の大学を卒業していて、学生の頃から茶芸館によく出入りしていたそうで手慣れたものです。

There was a counter like a reception in the tea house. We bought tea leaves and some sweets from shelves with tea cans and sweets on the wall, and made tea for ourselves at the place where boiled water and tea sets were equipped. We could choose seats wherever we liked to enjoy the self-made tea. The working companion, who graduated from a university in Taiwan, often came to this tea house since he was a university student; therefore, he seemed accustomed to making tea.

お茶を飲むお店といっても広大な敷地で、屋外に大きなテラスが3、4層の階段状になっていて、たくさんのテーブルが配置され椅子は数百席あるようでした。すでに夜10時を過ぎていましたが、学生らしき10数人のグループが大きな声で談笑していたり、カップルが仲良くお茶を淹れ合っていたり、たくさんの人がお茶を楽しんでいてとても良い雰囲気でした。木柵地区にはこのような茶芸館が点在していて、観光客は少なく地元の人たちの憩いの場になっています。山の中で市街地より気温が数度低いため、特に暑い時期は夜に多くの人が利用していて、若い人達は明け方まで議論したり楽しく会話したりすることもあるそうです。たくさんの種類がある茶葉や茶器の選び方、お茶の淹れ方、飲み方などとても興味深く、台湾人の生活に密着した文化の一部分に触れることができてこのツアーで一番印象に残っています。旅行ガイドブックにも紹介されていますが、街中にある茶芸館に行く人が多く、実際に茶畑まで行く人は少ないようですので、台北に行く予定がある方には必ず木柵地区の茶芸館をお勧めしています。

That was not a common tea house but had many tables with hundreds of chairs on the large terrace in the shape of 3 or 4-layer stairs on the huge site. It was already past 10 p.m., but a group of a dozen members who appeared to be students were loudly chatting, a couple were happily pouring tea for each other and many others were enjoying tea in a very good atmosphere. Tea houses like this were dotted in the Muzha District. Tourists rarely visited them, but many local people would relax there. The tea houses were in the mountain where it was cooler by some degrees, so especially at night in the hot season, many people came to the tea houses. Young people sometimes had an argument or chatted until dawn. We were much interested in how to choose tea leaves and tea sets among many variations; how to make tea and how to drink tea. This experience in which we came in touch with a part of Taiwanese life was left most vividly in our minds. These tea houses are introduced in travel guidebooks, however, not so many tourists went all the way to the tea plantation area, but they go to the tea houses in the downtown area. Therefore, I always recommend the tea houses in the Muzha District to those who plan to go to Taipei.