Some of Adam’s customers will have noticed my surname being plastered all over our products and perhaps wondered why another name was on the box. Well it is because I am the bloke who is organizing the production of these models here in Asia where I have lived for almost half my life although I am Australian originally.
In a fit of stupidity more than 20 years ago I started to learn Chinese when I went to university long before it had become considered economically sensible to do so. This lead me to years of struggling to learn lots of strange squiggle hyrogliphics things that constitute a writing system and studying textbooks that gave us useful phrases like “Comrade, I want to do something for socialist construction” before we could ask “Where is the toilet?”
Likewise we learned how to ask are you from Mali in one of the first lessons which all seemed a bit odd but in all seriousness one of the first foreigners I ever spoke to in China was in fact from Mali.
It also meant living in a country where in my early 20s during the mid 1990s it was still easy to see steam trains in regular use. China was the last country to produce steam locos, the last being built in TangShan in 1999(!). In those days train travel in China was cheap although often somewhat uncomfortable.
But it was the best way to travel there then and not a small part of my Chinese was learnt from conversations on trains that were long enough to allow me to get somewhat beyond the usual questions along the lines of “where are you from?, Australia… The one at the bottom of Asia with kangaroos and koalas, not Hitler.”
Although I have to admit for a long time in China I did not know a QJ from an SY or a JS (the 3 most common Chinese steam engines) that train travel did perhaps do something to re-ignite a childhood liking for trains that included an excessively big train set.
Fast forward some years and after having worked in mainland China I later moved to Taiwan where I have been living ever since. After a few years here I opened an import/export company. Whilst we have tried our hand at other things as diverse as DJ equipment and slot cars our strongest line for some time has been trains. Some as big as 7.25 inch gauge for a museum.
I have installed these in many restaurants in Taiwan and a few in mainland China.
Within Taiwan we have been producing models of Taiwan trains in HO for many years.
It is from this that our logo stems as the engine roughly represented is our first model (the Taiwan R100 diesel) and a map of Taiwan. I have had a go at making layouts with Taiwan outline. All of these were used commercially so we avoided actual points but I tried to include all sorts of daily life things from Taiwan.
When we first started selling model trains here I found one of my biggest advantages over other was an understanding of English (ironically it is now the reverse for making models for Australia, that I speak Chinese helps) as I often had customers wanting me to help explain things they could not find out information about in Chinese and asking me to translate instructions from English for western models.
What started out as an FAQ on our website later led to me completing what is perhaps the most difficult project I completed with model railways. A more than 100 long A4 page book called “An introduction to model railways”. It was written in the complex character Chinese of Taiwan.
Later a revised, modified for mainland China style and updated version was completed in the simplified Chinese characters used in mainland China and Singapore.
A few people have been pushing me to make a similar beginners book in English for Australia but so far time and other concerns have prevented it.
Perhaps next time Adam’s corner will revert to being written by Adam, but all the work done in Asia has managed to bring out certain Asian influences in him, so we are not sure if we will be able to get him back. But as always, we shall see how we go.
Something turned up in the mail today…
This is our second review in Continental Modeller.
Click on the image below to read the whole review, and many thanks to Peco Publications for allowing us to share this with you here.