Edinburgh should learn from Taiwan and get spectacular ‘Flying Theatre’ – Steve Cardownie

On a trip to Taiwan, Steve Cardownie experiences an I-Ride Flying Theatre which gives the impression of flying over mountains, through valleys, across cities and even diving under the sea.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 6:00 am
Schoolchildren in Taipei work on their Double Ten Day performance. Picture: AFP/Getty

Earlier this month I took part in an International Press Group of some 20 persons from South Africa, Russia, Japan, Nicaragua, the USA and Belgium amongst others, on a visit to The Republic of China (Taiwan) which culminated in meeting the country’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, and attending their “Double Ten Day” celebrations.

On my arrival I met Yiming Chen from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who took the delegation to the I-Ride Flying Theatre in Taipei where we were all strapped into a row of seats which (after we were plunged into darkness) were raised and then proceeded to imitate the experience of hang gliding as a huge screen took us, rising and falling around Taiwan, from the mountains, the valleys, the city of Taipei at night and even under the sea.

The aroma from the fields of flowers, the gentle breeze and the spray of water as we dived into the sea was truly spectacular and provided a completely new dimension to the cinematic experience.

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The company behind I-Ride, the Brogent Group, has installed more than 30 Flying Theatres in 12 countries, including Canada, Japan, USA, China, Spain and Germany and it would make a fantastic addition to Edinburgh’s cultural scene if one was to open here, transporting the theatre-goer over the Highlands and glens of Scotland, soaring over our castles, the Forth bridges and other iconic landmarks, to say nothing of experiencing the sounds and scents of the capital city as you fly over Edinburgh Castle and beyond.

Mainland China denounced

The next day we paid a visit to The National Palace Museum which houses one of the largest collections of Chinese art in the world, including calligraphy, ceramics and paintings making up a collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient imperial artifacts and artworks spanning 8,000 years of Chinese history.

After meeting several senior officials from the world of trade and agriculture, the next day we caught the High Speed Train to the city of Taichung, hurtling (smoothly) along at nearly 190 miles an hour we reached our destination, 150 miles away, in no time and prepared ourselves for the next day’s visit to the huge Central Taiwan Science Park, the Artificial Intelligence Hub and the National Taichung Theatre before returning to Taipei for the next day’s celebrations.

The National Day of the Republic of China – Double Ten Day – commemorates the start of the Wuchang Uprising on the tenth of October 1911 which led to the end of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Chinese Republic. During the Chinese Civil War, the government of the Republic of China lost control of mainland China and fled to the island of Taiwan in December 1949 where it remains to this day.

The official celebration starts with the raising of the Republic of China flag in front of the Presidential Office building accompanied by the singing of the national anthem, after which there is a parade celebrating various aspects of Chinese culture such as the lion dance and drum teams as well as a contingent of indigenous Taiwanese people in resplendent costumes.

The President addressed the crowd where she denounced mainland China for its attempts to force Taiwan to unify with it under the “one country, two systems” model, going on to state that a similar framework was failing Hong Kong and Taiwan’s sovereignty is not a provocation, but her responsibility.

As I have written before, Taiwan operates a holiday programme called the Youth Mobility Scheme or the Working Holiday Programme where people between the ages of 18 to 35 can visit the country for up to a year and can work legally during their stay, which is proving to be extremely popular as it provides the opportunity to get immersed in Chinese culture whilst being allowed to take paid employment.

I just miss the cut-off – more’s the pity!