Another small town, day-trip location, Nanzhuang in Nantou county is nestled in a cocoon of natural surroundings. Once harbouring coal and forestry industries, Nanzhuang’s population shrunk when these declined and people left looking for work in the cities. Now, because of the fact that it has been virtually untouched, it’s a popular tourist destination.
Nanzhuang is primarily peopled by Hakkas. It also has a sprinkling of Atayal and Saisiyat peoples (Taiwanese aboriginals) up toward the mountains. Besides the serene natural scenery, Nanzhuang boasts an “old street”. Like so many others in Taiwan, it’s filled with all sorts of trinkets, food and relics from the past.
Most “old streets” are pretty crowded, but in Nanzhuang, it stands out even more because sections of the street are incredibly narrow:
Both sides are chock full of stalls hawking all sorts of Hakka and aboriginal things. Besides the normal small snacks, things of note are millet wine (traditional Taiwanese aboriginal wine):
Sticky rice cooked in bamboo:
And a hoard of edible bamboo cooked in different ways with different spices.
And, something I haven’t yet seen in Taiwan, a sugarcane juice stand at the entrance of the old street. They crush up fresh sugarcane and sell the juice by cups or bottles. Incredibly refreshing on a hot Taiwan day!
In addition to the food and drink, Nanzhuang old street also has a renovated Japanese era post office. This relic from the past is a big draw for crowds because it’s a throwback to a different time, and the architecture is unique. Inside the post office there are various maps and guides to other attractions in Nanzhuang. Here’s a look at the front of the post office:
Finally, there is an ornate temple behind the post office which I didn’t have time to get to, but managed a quick snap:
Like a lot of temples here, it has incredibly detailed artwork with a hill/mountain for a backdrop – beautiful.
Finally, across the old street there is an open area where, on the weekends, a local drum troop puts on performances. I think we were there around 3 – 4 pm on a Saturday, so were fortunate enough to catch the show. Not only do they do the drums, but they also put on costumes and dance. Most of it is to traditional drumming, but some is to modern music – currently, the Korean pop-hit “Opa Gangnam style” is in vogue – so they danced around to that a little bit.
Here’s a video of the drumming:
And here’s where you can find Nanzhuang old street: