Treasure hunting and travel adventures in Taiwan Part 2

A trap for young players. It just pisses the old boy off.  How  dare they try to find fault and belittle this incredible treasure. He dismisses the bargain seeker with a raspy growl ( the rasp probably came from the fact he was a chain smoker and hey at a buck twenty a pack why wouldn’t ya).  and a flick of the wrist . Ever observant and looking to make my opening gambit I pick up a bronze statue of Buddha. I will try the opposite approach. I start by telling him that never in all my life have I seen such an incredible example. And that I can now die happily in the knowledge that I have held in my own hands a true miracle of ancient metalwork . finding taiwan antique

 I go on…surely I, a mere foreigner, a man of little to no means could never afford such a valuable thing. And that Even if, I like the great Buddha Gautama was to live 557 lifetimes,  I would still not even in my wildest dreams possess a piece such as this.  Okay, truth be told…it was bloody hard nigh impossible to try and say all this using Google translate but at the end of the day he got the picture and he felt the sentiment.   

And then I heard those words I’d been dying to hear, the words I’d flown 9000km across the Pacific Ocean to hear ‘’ HAVE I GOT A DEAL FOR YOU” or “ Wǒ yǒu yōuhuì gěi nǐ ma”. 

 taiwan market  I put my phone and with it Google translate away. He picked up his calculator and we began proceedings.  He started with X and gave his reasoning all in Taiwanese of course. I retorted with X and gave my side of the story using the Queens English. He came back at me with X and let me know in his mothers tongue that we were quite close.  I smiled my best smile and gave him my final price and said great let’s meet in the middle. You’re happy I’m happy everyones happy and by this stage the “everyone” was between 30 to 40 locals gathered around to see this momentous trans-pacific deal go down.  We shook on it!  My first purchase in Taipei apart from the green onion pancake and iced coffee I had brought from the seven eleven. I was now the proud owner of one Bronze Buddha statue.  Or more precisely a lost wax cast bronze Buddha. Also know Budai in Chinese Hotei in Japanese or as we affectionately know him the Laughing Buddha. Although not quite the ancient museum quality artefact I desired.  I was assured by my market messiah and his band of loyal followers this one was at least 70 to 80 years old.  And that it was skilfully hand made using a very ancient technique. And best of all that I had got myself a bargain!


After diligently wrapping up my prize the old boy bid me Bye Bye and wished me good hunting. I paid up, we shook hands again and I was on my way, or so I thought. Within an instant one of the on lookers from the gathered crowd broke ranks,  stepping forward he introduced himself. “Hello I’m Mr Han “.  He took me firmly by the elbow and beckoned me to come and take a look at his wares. Not too far just over there. Not much further just over here. Here it is just around the corner…. Mr Han had been a very busy boy. By the looks of things he had spent the better part of a lifetime assembling an impressive collection of antique artworks. He had a whole delivery truck full of Chinese Taiwanese and Japanese scrolls. All rolled up with no place to go. Except perhaps Into my bag beside a lonely laughing Buddha. The subject matter represented all types of flora and fauna, mountain and city scenes, cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums and birds of all manner and styles. Reams and reams of Chinese and Japanese Calligraphies all proclaiming longevity, good health and great fortune along side the religious messages of faith hope and the belief in Taoism Buddhism and Confucianism. There was a lot to take in. Luckily Mr Han knew what the westerner wanted. Maybe I wasnt the first guy from Auckland to come here after all.  He handed me a scroll and said “Laohu” something something. I did my smile I do when I haven’t got a clue what someone’s saying but I want to give the appearance of yeah I know exactly what you’re saying, in fact I couldn’t agree more. Xie Xie I replied in my best Taiwanese accent. I started to unrolling the scroll….first some stylised bamboo closely followed by a misty mountain that lead to a waterfall…then BOOM jumping out from behind the bamboo rove a Tiger and not just any Tiger. Here in front of me captured forever in ink pen and watercolour a fearsome Formosan man eater.




Back to blog