Travel with me #117 : Taichung City, Taiwan & Dance Competition Results!
Dear Steemit friends:
Today we are going to take a tour all over many different places in Taiwan, reached from a base in Taichung City. I wanted to show you many of these different places that I visited, but many of them were little side trips or diversions that didn't feel like they fit into any particular blog. As such, my post today is quite exciting because you will get to experience many different places and sceneries from around Taichung City, all under one blog.
We travel around Lukang Township, to visit its beautiful old streets and historical buildings, take time to visit the Gaomei Wetlands just north of the city, and see more of the temples around the beautiful Sun Moon Lake. As an extra treat we'll also go to visit Feng Chia Night Market within Taichung itself, with it's beautiful sights and smells of fresh cooked dinner.
I cannot help myself but to document everything where ever I go, but not all things feel like they fit with the theme of any one post. We have visited Sun Moon Lake in the past together, but the temple here just didn't fit with everything else I saw there even though it is most beautiful in its own right. Same goes for many of these areas we will explore today. They represent short trips that I wanted to make but that didn't end up feeling right for their own blog or to be included with another blog from the same area. The result, is today's post which I have found very rewarding to write, to remember these beautiful side trips!
The historical Lukang Old Street just south of Taichung City
Lukang Township is famed for its historical buildings and long cultural heritage. The town itself is one of the oldest in the whole of Taiwan and is located just on the west coast of the country in Changhua County. Once one of the busiest ports in the 1600s, during the Qing Dynasty, it remained a very important place of trade until 1895. In 1895 the Japanese came and that changed Lukang's role. We are now left with hundreds of beautiful old buildings for us to explore.
Lukang means 'Deer Harbour' as it was primarily used to export deer products to the rest of the world. There used to be thousands of wild deer around the area and their hides and meat were highly sought after, particularly in Europe. The area became very wealthy due to this export, and many of the houses you see around the streets of Lukang Township are left over from the homes of wealthy merchants and traders.
The town is now famous for its history, not its port, as well as its food. Lukang is very busy nowadays with tourists, both internationally and nationally. People flock from miles around to try the different foods you can sample here, with many of them being as old as the buildings themselves (the recipes, not the food itself!).
Of course, built long before cars, the streets are narrow with only room for pedestrians within the Lukang Old Street area of the town. This makes it a quiet sanctuary, away from the normal noise, traffic and pollution of most towns in the world now. It meant I could really take my time exploring the place and the hundreds of street vendors and food stalls, as well as the ancient Taiwanese architecture.
Lukang Old Street is a mix of stalls, shops, food stalls, restaurants, residences, temples and general architectural curiosities. You find many beautiful examples of old Taiwanese architecture, with beautifully carved wood, tall heavy solid wood doors and old brick stone work. It's very interesting because so many of the old merchant houses have been turned into restaurants and shops, while some of them remain as homes!
Here I saw a beautiful example of one of the many shops that have made residence in the Lukang Old Street. It's lovely to see a place once the centre of trade and commerce, so immensely important to the economy of the island with it's shipping port, now thriving from a different kind of trade. Aimed mostly at tourists, the wares seen throughout the area seemed mostly classy, with beautiful art, items for the home and souvenirs of the history of the place.
I had heard that near Lukang Old Street there was a famous alley way called Molu Lane or 'Chest Touching Lane', which was named because it was so narrow that only one person could walk down it at a time. If two people tried to pass each other they would have to turn sideways and may end up having to touch chests! I looked for this alley for quite a long time, but in the maze of ancient streets I don't think I ever found it. At least I found no sign for it.
This street, however, was a great representation of the many small winding streets that grew up as the buildings of the town grew closer and closer together. Apparently, 'Chest Touching Lane' was one of the more rude terms for the alleyway, it later being renamed 'Gentleman's Lane'. Presumably you were a gentleman if you walked back to where you came from rather than risk brushing chests with someone!
There were so many good photo opportunities in the small winding streets. I really felt like I could get lost here quite easily! Though the area was so beautiful to walk around, I don't think I would have minded!
I found this restaurant down one of the side streets that had an old sewing machine as a welcome table. Inside there were sofas to sit on while you had your tea, complete with cuddly teddy bears to keep you company.
As you can see, this style of architecture is predominant around the area. The classic tall, imposing wood doors with their carved barred windows were extremely common, and very beautiful. As is common with this style of home, the front would mark the entrance to a very long and deep home, feeling more like a corridor of rooms from front to back. As you can see each of the homes is quite tall and thin, as the rooms would extend backwards rather than outwards.
Available in Lukang Old Street were peddle cars to hire! It looked like a great fun way to get around, and an excellent way to get some exercise in too while seeing more of my surroundings. Obviously, there were quite a few streets that I couldn't make my way down since they were too small for the peddle car, but I had already explored many of those already. I think they look so cute and it was really fun to drive around in my peddle car, though my little legs were exhausted by the end!
Colourful Buddhist temple in Lukang
In Taiwan, as with much of Asia, colour is very important and most of the significant temples in the country are well maintained to preserve the beautiful paintwork and tiles. This beautiful example shows off plenty of architectural features, typical of a Buddhist temple.
There are places to put incense and to pray right in the heart of the temple. I don't know if you've ever been into a temple similar to this but if you have, you'll know that when you enter those front gates, everything suddenly becomes peaceful and quiet. You could be in the middle of the busiest city in the world, but you walk through the ornate front entrance, and all sound stops. Of course, people inside are being quiet and respectful, but it's like you enter a bubble where sound from the outside world cannot penetrate. It's very special and humbling and I spent a lot of time here just enjoying the peace and being with my thoughts.
Just on the way out of Lukang Old Street I saw this beautifully painted building and this sign for the Lukang Artist Village. I didn't have time to stop but it really reminded me of the the Rainbow Military Dependent's Village from my previous post HERE in Taichung City. The Artist Village was opened in 2010 and offers space for art exhibition, cultural activities and leisure! Looks like the work of Mr. Huang is inspiring many.
Finally, as I walked back to my car, I found Chest Touching Alley. After all that time exploring the streets of Lukang to find the Molu Street, I found it by accident! As you can see from the people behind me, it's very narrow and they would definitely have to touch chests with anyone that needed to pass!
Gaomei Wetland has wildlife and views
Next stop, we get to explore the Gaomei Wetlands. The wetland is located in the mouth of the Dajia River and is, well, a wetland. The only way to really access the area is via the huge board walk that stretches out into the river mouth and into the sea. This area has grown up relatively recently, in geographical terms, as sand and silt have been slowly deposited on this area of the coast by waters washed down the river.
As you can see above, there is a lighthouse that originally protected ships from the shallow waters of the area, warning them away from the silt and sandbanks. First build in 1967 the lighthouse is 38.7 meters high and is painted in the very traditional colours for a lighthouse, of red and white. It worked until 1982, when the lighting unit was moved to a new lighthouse in Taichung City's harbour. It was renovated recently and opened to the public for tours in 2014!
As you would expect from a nature reserve, Gaomei is teeming with life. From these cute little sand crabs to hundreds of different species of bird.
The crabs hide in little holes in the sand, running in and popping back up again whenever they feel threatened. Does anyone know why they have one really large claw and one really small one?
I believe this is a type of Ibis, birds with very long beaks which they can use to dig into the soft mud to find food.
The Gaomei Wetlands are right on the very coast of Taiwan, with a boardwalk extending out in beautiful shapes, 800 meters into the watery grassland. The area is extremely windy most of the year, which makes it an excellent place for a wind farm. In Taiwan, windmills are seen as quite special and beautiful, even romantic. Unfortunately the windmills do actually end up killing a lot of the birds that migrate here to the wetland each year. With that said, they are also helping to reduce pollution so that the bird's habitats will be maintained.
When you get to the very end of the boardwalk, you can take off your shoes and walk on the silt. It feels like you're walking out into the ocean because the boardwalk takes you so far out from solid ground.
First opened in 2005, the area has become very popular with families because it is such an open and beautiful space, that you don't feel crowded at all. You can play in the shallow water, admire the view, and it sometimes feels like you're walking on top of the sea! Apparently in 2015, six of the wind turbines that you see behind me, were blown down by a typhoon!
The enigmatic Wen Wu Temple next to Sun Moon Lake
The next little side trip I want to take you on is one I took when visiting Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County, in the centre of Taiwan. The largest body of water in Taiwan, it has always been venerated and respected as a beautiful and special place to visit. Many of the temples and villages around the lake were flooded in 1919 when the Japanese government built a damn to produce electricity. There used to be two temples located just near where Wen Wu Temple now stands, which were destroyed as the water levels rose behind the damn.
The temple is on a steep hillside, with a lot of stairs. There are 366 steps leading to the temple, representing the days of the year (plus one for a leap year). The staircase is known as the 'Year of Steps at Wen Wu Temple'. There is a little stopping place at the step that represents the first day of every month, in case visitors need a rest.
After the original temples were destroyed, Wen Wu was built in 1938, bringing together elements of both of the previous temples into one place. The architecture of the temple is quite unique with large Chinese Guardian Lions at the front of the temple. These lions are unique because at other Wen Wu Temples their presence is not found. I wonder why these two massive Lions were constructed at this temple but not at others?
The temple itself is absolutely massive. There are three main halls with shrines to the First Ancestor Kaiji, Guan Gong (God of War) and third being to Confucius.
More steps! When the temple was first built, visitors would have to take a boat from the other side of the lake, to the bottom of the stairs by the lake side, and climb the rest of the way. When this was the only way to access the temple, you had to climb up many more steps than the 366 that I had to climb, because the scenic road that you can now drive along takes you up much closer to the temple, which stands at 954 meters above sea level. It is the dominant view for miles around the lake, and its beauty is so worth seeing up close.
To make your visit to the temple and to Sun Moon Lake there were selfie frames and movie clacker boards to take photos with! I, of course, had to get myself a few selfies to prove I'd been there.
Feng Chia Night Market has so many smells of YUM!
This little excursion was a real favourite of mine because there was so much food... Well you know me by now! I was excited to explore the market because I had heard it was the best in Taichung City, and one of the best in all of Taiwan, and it was getting quite late in the evening and I was starving hungry. Apparently there is nearly 1km of market stalls and over 30,000 people visit most weekends.
Established in 1963, the market has grown and grown and grown. Starting off just in one street, you'll now find stalls stretching into Wen-hua road, Fuxing road, Xi'an street and Fengjia road. It really was huge and it was very friendly, well organised and inviting. I was proudly told by one of the stall owners, when I made this comment, that it had received a commendation by the government of Taiwan for it's excellency. Located just 1km from the university, it was packed with young people, and had a real fun and happy vibe.
Check out my video!
Thank you so much for enjoying this mix of different side trips with me. I've really enjoyed re-visiting some of these places that have been a bit over-shadowed and didn't quite fit in with my other posts. I really loved writing these different little 'episodes' that show snap shots into some of the excursions I've made. I really couldn't choose a favourite.
As I was writing I was imagining those TV episodes where they have five or six little mini stories, within the episode. I felt like I was getting to write five different mini-blogs and it was really fun. I think I might try it again in the future! If you've enjoyed the blog post today please comment below if you have a favourite part, or if you can tell me why those crabs only had one large claw! As always, follow me for more blogs and thank you kindly for your upvote if you liked the content.
Dance Contest Results!
Thank you for all the participants to my 2nd anniversary dance off contest, it was a real pleasure and so much fun watching all of your submissions and I'm very thankful to all the people who set aside time to put together an entry.
Below are a list of all the submissions and my comments for each. At the bottom you'll find the results of the winners!
|@mrpointp||Link||Very groovy with the rhythm and you have a very smooth and natural way of moving. It's a very cheerful dance and full of positive energy. I love the character you display when you dance, mrspointm must be very blessed!|
|@odillegogh||Link||Youthful and sexy dance steps! You are a very beautiful lady with a shining aura. I can see you have a dancing foundation which is brought out very well with your very eye catching moves. It was both confident and fascinating!|
|@splendorhub||Link||A very sexy dance with a very cute puppy cameo. The dance really brought out the feelings of happiness and joy, particularly the interaction with the puppy. Can we get more beautiful people dancing with puppies?!|
|@Mrchef111||Link||A very impressive and serious attempt at the dance which I appreciate very much! I loved your attention to detail, so much as to change outfits 4? times! The dance was very freestyle which I liked a lot. I particularly liked your expressions throughout the dance which I can only imagine were a result of all the fun you were having! I thought you said you couldn't dance? You're too modest!|
|@mashiliyanage||Link||Can I call you little sister? Your dance was full of playfulness and glowing with so much vitality. I can see a lot of talent in you, I hope you will continue to dance!|
|@chamudiliyanage||Link||Wow, I really envy your long legs! This dance has a more effeminate feel to it but the movement looks to be very natural which I thought made the dance very comforting to watch!|
|@mightyblueberry||Link||This was the entry which surprised me the most. Actually the whole video was just a whole lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. It was so fun, like watching a variety show! You have wonderful knack of making people laugh mightyblueberry, so much fun and thank you for a very enjoyable show!|
|@ukchong||Link||Very impressed with this dance. You have such a good grasp of rhythm and clearly you're a secret expert at this! The feel of the dance was very spot on, are you sure you're not Puerto Rican?? Although the dance was short, it was a very high standard!|
|@azucenita||Link||I can tell you have a lot of talent for dance. With more training, maybe you could become a dancer one day. The only downside was the quality of the video which wasn't very clear! I would love to see a higher resolution video so we can see your charm more clearly!|
|@josegregori||Link||I really enjoyed this entry, dancing together with family is always a wonderful way to enjoy each others time. You really stole our hearts and gave us so much happiness in this video. Bravo!|
1st Place - @Mrchef111
2nd Place - @ukchong
3rd Place - @splendorhub