Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Hear a big-cat rumble in the urban jungle of Nangang

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

Height of excitement: The tiger show generates the most cheers during the circus portion of the outdoor education day-camp in Nangang.


Before setting off on a journey to find the African fair and circus show in Nangang be forewarned -- it starts at 10am and doesn't end until 3pm. Perfect for a 10-year-old, torture for someone looking for a quirky way to spend a day off.

What began as a long haul to the Taipei suburb Nangang in search of the "African Cultures on Show" advertised in a local newspaper, ended at the arrival of a fenced-off park filled with hundreds of children being led around by once-famous kids entertainer Dai Nan Siang (戴南祥).

Dai, who is most remembered as TV personality Dai Laoshi (戴老師), hasn't lost his signature style of teaching that uses large-animated actions or his ability to turn every topic into a sing-a-long. It still entertains the kids.

The newspaper ad read, "An exhibition featuring the cultures of 40 African countries and a circus including various animals from Africa."

The reality was a day camp geared towards kindergarten and students that offers clowns, magic and dance routines, along with a few caged farm animals -- and six tigers from Thailand.

The events organizers, the Association of Promotion for Student Outdoor Education (中華民國學生戶外教學推廣協會), does however, provide anywhere form 500 to 1,200 kids with a day full of child-pleasing activities and semi-educational African-themed events.

The scheduled day of activities begins with a circus that includes a Mongolian acrobat routine followed by the most popular event, a tiger show. After lunch there's juggling, sing-a-longs and an Indian magic show.

Apart from the short Q-and-A section near the start of the day and a 20-minute Egyptian dance performance at the end of the show all other activities have little or no African content. To be fair, however, there is an "African Fair," pavilion with a collection of some 40 photos and artifacts from various countries in Africa.

A yearly summer event around the island, it's the first time the circus has made a stop in Taipei. Dai Laoshi, who doubles as the organization's program director said each year they choose a new theme with the purpose of introducing different cultures to young learners in Taiwan.

The entire exhibition is open to the public, but for a shorter version the weekday camp activities are condensed into a two hour circus on the weekend.

The event is disappointing for anyone expecting a full fledged circus complete with trapeze artists, but the general consensus among the swarms of young people at the show suggest it's a lot better than a day spent inside a classroom.

For your information:

What: African-themed student day-camp and fair

When: Now until Aug. 29. Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm, or Saturday and Sunday performances at 10am to 12pm, 1:30 to 3:30pm and 7:30 to 9:30pm

Where: In the field area adjacent to the Nangang Software Park, a 10 to 15 minute bus ride from Kunyang MRT Station (Blue Line) Bus: 51, 203, 281, 311, 620, 629, 645, 817.

Cost: NT$350 for the day camp, or NT$200 for the African Fair tent.

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