Taiwan Fun Magazine, January 2003   

Hey Song Pavilion

By Ken Lin  Translated by John Johnson

       One afternoon, I accompanied my friend, a "shopping queen," to the Breeze Center. Dressed in expensive brand-name clothes, she casually picked up a five-figure purse and shoes, and when she gave her credit card to the cashier, it seemed as if everything was free to her. Within two hours we had stuffed shopping bags full of name-brand items, and when it was over, we did not even know how much we had spent.

      Later we chanced upon the Hey Song Pavilion, which is located on the second floor of the Breeze Center¡¦s section B. In this high quality department store, we unexpectedly found ourselves in an entirely different era--a museum which celebrates how Hey Song Enterprises has changed over 50 years. It was if we had entered a time capsule of fifties-era Taiwan, a time when telephone numbers had five digits, a filling bowl of noodles cost NT$1, and admission to a movie theatre cost just NT$5.

     Strolling down a reconstructed 1950's street, I was overcome with nostalgia at seeing everyday things from my past. It was an era of vinyl phonographs, yellow street lamps hanging from wooden pools, noodle shops, lottery shops, barbershops, and phonograph stores. Back then, assorted shops sold "marble" soda, toy tops and shadow puppets. Immersed in this environment, one becomes nostalgic: There is a place to shoot marbles; there is place where one can see vintage underwear cut from 20kg flour sacks hanging out of a second floor window drying in the sun; there are two steel horses supporting wooden boxes for peddling Hey Song Soda; there are red-bricked two-storied buildings in which you can feel quite tall; and even from the attic of some buildings, you can hear the sounds of children playing.

      A film is shown every half an hour providing a glimpse of life, from morning to night, of a small alley. It is complete with the sounds of frogs croaking, birds chirping, and roosters crowing. Under the evening stars, I felt myself slipping back into my memories as if I saw myself playing barefoot in car-free streets, playing with marbles and tops: My house is over there, producing smoke in anticipation of my father's return for dinner. I am eagerly awaiting post-dinner entertainment, at Simao's house, where I watch the village's only TV--black and white and the most precious thing of all. In this time, we had to wear my brother's and sister's hand-me-downs, making us feel all the more guilty about the Bally and Burberry shopping bags clutched in our hands.

     If you are one who shares these same memories, like drinking Hey Song Soda at banquets and eagerly waiting at the foot of the table to collect gold-colored bottle caps, then the Hey Song Pavilion will bring back memories. If you are only a visitor to Taiwan, or even a member of the so-called XYZ and E generations, you will also enjoy Taiwan's past and its joys. Maybe you want to reminisce, or even revel in the abundance of clothes and food and the convenience of today's lifestyle. Or if you want to go there for the same reasons as my friend, the "shopping queen," you can come to think of the hard work and toil of the people before you, and develop some control over your shopping impulses.

39, Fu-hsing South Road, 2F, Section B
Free Admission
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-8pm (Closed Mondays,
national holidays)
(02) 6600-8888, ext. 3890 or (02) 2752-5589
Guided tours by appointment