The 41st Annual Scientific Meeting and Dental Exhibition of Chinese Taipei Association for Dental Sciences brought me to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I flew to Taipei via Hong Kong (HK). The first leg of the flight was 9 hours. Then, I spent 3 hours at the HK airport during which I attended a meeting via zoom video conferencing using the excellent wifi network and the HK airport. Arriving in Taipei, I managed to get through immigration in just under one hour to be welcomed by Professor Allen Ming-Fun Hsu, Dean of the School of Dentistry at the National Yang-Ming University in Taipei. He traveled with me to Kaoshiung by high speed railway. The Taiwan High Speed Rail is a high-speed rail line running along the west coast of Taiwan from Taipei Main Station in the north to Kaohsiung in the south. The line opened for service in 2007, using trains with a top speed of 300km/h covering the journey in as short as 96 minutes. The HSR is most commonly referred to as Gaotie (prounounced Gāotiě), and is generally the preferred method of transit for travellers to cross the island due to its simplicity and speed.
The hotel was 10 minutes away from the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (KEC).
Taiwan has unbelievable production facilities over tens of kilometers, one adjacent to the next. Industrial parks in Pittsburgh where a few square miles, here I was driving in a bus 45 min on a highway alongside them (or was this just one?).
They were only interrupted by aquaculture ponds.
Our destination was the Southern Taiwan Science Park where we visited the medical device industrial cluster founded in 1977.
It includes a large building full of dental manufacturers, including several implant companies, like Anker, and hand piece makers, like codent. Several companies started out as OEM manufacturers for established German and American companies, for example, codent made handpieces for KAVO and Siemens but distributes now under their own name.
We also visited Eped that does tracking systems for education and implant placements as well as for brain surgery.
They also use a Google-glass-style device to overlay the field of vision of the surgeon when doing minimal invasive brain surgery.
Interestingly, all these companies look for partners in industry and academia for running clinical trials and obviously to get into the market. I also learned that there are 7 dental schools in Taiwan and that dental care is part of the public health insurance scheme with wait times of less than a week to get an appointment in one of the public dental care facilities.
Next day, we embarked on a cultural tour that started with a visit to Chi Mei Hospital, part of Chi Mei Medical Centre which has 4000 staff for 2400 beds. They performed 191 kidney transplants in last decade with 90% survival rate and have also advanced da Vinci robots for surgery. The Chi Mei Hospital was founded by Chi Mei who then converted it to a public hospital. He also founded the Chimei Museum that we visited next. The museum is built in European style and features a Fine Art section as well as section for Musical Instruments, a Sculptor Hall, Arms and Armour, Natural History and Fossil and a Rodin Gallery. We were equipped with English-audio tours and spent 2 hours roaming the museum followed by a nice lunch in the museum’s restaurant.
In the afternoon, we visited the Koxinga Shrine that had been established in 1662, dedicated to Zheng Chenggong (aka “Koxinga”). At one point, the Japanese rulers named the shrine “Kaisan Jinja”. Part of the shrine is the Koxinga Museum. The gate and the monumental archway are built in the traditional Sanchuan style, the independent entrance. We learned that “real" dragons have five claws instead of three or four as often depicted.
Then, we headed off to Fort Provintia (Chicken Tower), a national historic site built by the Dutch VOC and located at the Taijiang Lagoon. We could still see the entrance of the Fort that was erected in 1653. It has witnessed the rise and fall of Koxinga, the Qing dynasty and the Japanese regime. In 1886, the Taiwan County Magistrate built the Wenchang Pavillion to encourage education, dedicated to Lord Kuixing. He was believed to be in charge of academic achievements and job promotions. People in imperial China prayed to Lord Kuixing for passing the state exams in much the same way that students do nowadays. We were able to observe some of them doing exactly that. Lord Kuixing was also the one who laid siege to Fort Provintia in May 1661 and after the Dutch surrendered he established it as the Chengtian Prefecture. In 1980, the Lions International, Chicken Branch erected a memorial statue depicting King accepting the surrender of the Dutch VOC with the Dutch kneeling. It was later renamed in “Statue of Compromise Between Koxinga and the Dutch” with the Dutch standing on their feet—this apparently sealed the deal for a submarine contract between Taiwan and the Dutch.
More pictures are here.