Lovely Museum Nestled in Taiwan Hills Reflects One Man’s Passion for Kites

Ben Ruhe
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It’s an authentic labor of love, one man’s tribute to the kites he has admired since childhood.

In an unlikely part of Taiwan, steep mountains 25 miles from the capital Taipei, Weng Hsiang Lai has created his own small, intensely personal kite museum, open to the public year around.

The Chiou Fen museum consists of the first two floors of a square, five-story hotel commanding a gorgeous view of several small fishing ports on the Pacific Ocean. The town of Chiou Fen was a mining camp until the gold ore ran out in the 1960s and most of the population decamped to find jobs elsewhere.

Owner of a prosperous printing business elsewhere, the stocky, intense Lai, who was born and raised in the village, seven years ago took over the large building with its sweeping views and in addition to establishing the kite museum made the upper floors into a hotel with excellent sleeping and dining facilities. As Taiwan prospers and the mountain town with its precipitous streets and walkways now makes a strong comeback as a tourist resort, with many dozens of small craft shops and other attractions, his hotel and museum has slowly made its way. It’s not in the black yet, he says, but he has hopes.

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