Sunday, September 2, 2012

Going Around Taiwan (West Coast)

the city of: Tainan! (Day 4)
We traveled to Tainan on Day 3 by train. First we checked into the place we were staying: a cute bed and breakfast. http://www.trip235.com/room.php  Here's some pictures of it by day!
Looking from our back porch
Our room number!
Part of the lobby


Then we decided to visit a couple of the nightmarkets since we wouldn't get a chance the next day. I think it was a little too much traveling for me. I was dead tired by the time we got back, which was early in the morning. The nightmarkets seemed more local than the ones in Taipei. I got some stickers with my name on it (English and Chinese ;) )
 
Tainan is a very cool and VERY OLD city! Well, actually, it's the oldest city in Taiwan. It was originally the capitol from the late 1600s to the late 1800s. It's pretty big and has lots of old, historical buildings and temples. It has the country's highest concentration fo temples, there are almost 300 of them, and some dating to 17AD!
 
Our first stop was to visit the Chihkan Tower. BUT! We kinda left at lunch time so we needed to stop for food. I wanted to try something special and local to Tainan so we found a place that had: 鱔魚意麵... later I find out it's "eel noodles!"
I'm actually not feeling to hot by this point- it's either the staying up too late, the heat, or the weird food..... but I get better later!!!
Chihkan Tower originally was a dutch fort (Fort Provintia) and you can still see some of the original remains there. The dutch fort dates back to 1653. It was later captured by Koxinga, a Japanese pirate who helped to rid Taiwan of the Dutch for China's benefit. This place was named Chikan or "red haired" because the Dutch were known as red-haired people to the Chinese. Earthquakes and war basically tore down the fort and it was rebuilt in 1875 as a temple to a sea god.
 
 
 
The front has nine stone tablets on top of tortoises. It was erected during the Qing dynasty.
 
I believe this is a picture of Koxinga...
 
This is a lion ;)
 
I loved the architecture!!!!
 
This door was very interesting!
The inside of the building had different exhibits on Chinese culture
Next we get to see the original ruins that the Dutch built. This section was originally hidden underground until a typhoon came and revealed it. It was so cool to be able to see and touch something from the 1600s!!!!!!!!!
 
 
Here are some more original ruins in the fort!
The same area also has the Penghu Academy, a former school established during the Qing dynasty. An earthquake in the early 1900s took care of it, however.
 
Then there's some walking to get to the next temple:
 
 
Ta da!!! We made it! :) This is the roof, obviously...
This is the Grand Mazu Temple. If you remember from former posts, Mazu is the goddess of the sea and she's very important to Taiwanese people, seeing as it's an island surrounded by sea. This place is very special because it is the very first official built Mazu temple. It is one of the largest and oldest temples in Taiwan!!!!!!Also built in the 1600s...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The gold statue in the middle is Mazu!
The place was really huge! So many different rooms dedicated to other gods. I got  a set of lucky beads blessed by Mazu to wear as a bracelet. Later found out they glow in the dark!
 
Offering some incense as respect. Maybe it's not very Catholic of me, but I believe that every "god" is actually the one true God. Different cultures just cause Him to be portrayed and worshipped in different ways. :)
 
I have so many pictures of this temple and there are still more places to cover so I'll keep this brief. If you want to see more of the pictures please visit my facebook galleries! :)
 
 
Next we got some refreshing wintermelon juice (because it was so hot!!!).
This funny looking fruit is wintermelon! And it tastes pretty good!
More walking... the streets are so quaint and definitely have a historical feeling to them!
 
 
We found a tiny temple smooshed between two large apartment buildings. I'm not sure who it was dedicated to... there are so many gods you know.
We pass a few more temples and construction on the way:
But then we reach the family shrine of Koxinga (the pirate who kicked the Dutch out, remember?)
 
 
 
There was a really nice old man inside who basically gave us a tour of the whole place, telling us about Koxinga's and his son's lives. Apparently Koxinga allowed the Dutch leader in Taiwan to leave with his family after they were defeated, a HUGE mercy at the time. Although when he returned home the king ordered him to a life in prison for losing Taiwan. The Dutch guy, however, was super grateful that his family line was allowed to continue, by Koxinga's mercy. So he said to his son that when someone in their family has the opportunity to go to Taiwan they must come to this shrine and pay their respects to Koxinga because otherwise they would not even exist. And it did happen that one of the descendants came here, sortof recently I guess.
 
Another interesting story about the places, is that a former general of Koxinga's betrayed him and because of it I think it lead to Koxinga's downfall. Later, after his death this general came to this shrine to beg forgiveness and the area on the courtyard where he kneeled to apologize has stayed the same color ever since. You could really see that all the other bricks around it had changed color over time!
 
OKAY! The next and last stop of the day was Confucius's Temple! Tainan's Confucius temple is the oldest and most complete one in Taiwan! Remember, Confucius is thought of as the world's greatest teacher according to Chinese culture? He believed that education should be available to all, not just the privelaged. Koxinga's son actually commissiond the temple/school in 1665 and it was the most prestigious school until the end of the Qing dynasty (1900s).
 
Some men were playing Chinese chess outside. PS- I know how to play!!!
 
 
Here is the entrance!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is one of Confucius' writings in beautiful calligraphy!
 
 
 
This is the main pavillion dedicated to Confucius
 
Here's the inside with Confucius' plaque in the back!
 
This was my favorite part! Although you're not supposed to go on the grass... oops?
That was a very long and satisfying day! I felt like I understood a lot more about Taiwan's history, being able to see it in person! :) Next, on to Taizhong!!!!!

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