Archive for the 'Places to see' Category

Giant red god temple, Toufen, Taiwan

For the casual observer, once you’ve seen a few temples in Taiwan they all start looking similar.  Intricate carvings, wall and ceiling paintings, statues of ferocious warriors and gentle deities – I started getting used to them.  Obviously, once one starts studying Taiwanese worship and religion, different temples take on different meanings and one can appreciate them more, but I’m not there yet.  So, now I generally drive by them without marvelling at these conspicuous looking structures in the otherwise drab small town landscape.

That is until I drove by this fierce looking specimen:

Big red god in toufen Continue reading ‘Giant red god temple, Toufen, Taiwan’

Lei-cha (擂茶), Beipu, Hsinchu County

Lei cha (擂茶) is a traditional Hakka drink that draws a lot of tourists to the small town of Beipu in Hsinchu county.  Literally translated it means “ground” or “pounded” tea, but the name is misleading.  When I think of drinking tea, I envision a relaxing, quiet time sipping away at a light beverage, but this isn’t the case with Lei cha. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Lei cha is a thick, heavily flavoured brew that will probably leave you more thirsty after you drink it. Continue reading ‘Lei-cha (擂茶), Beipu, Hsinchu County’

Beipu Cold Springs (北埔冷泉), Hsinchu county

Summer in Taiwan can be atrociously hot.  Escaping into the mountains provides some comfort, but finding natural cold springs, well that’s where the money is.  I was surfing the net looking for river tracing routes in Taiwan when I came across Beipu Cold Springs.  2 and a half looks at the online pics and I was sold.  Googled the location and set up a trip for the weekend.

Beipu cold springs are located in Hsinchu county.  From my town, they are about about a 50 min drive.  It’s mostly highway 3 (east) until you hit Beipu township, then south.  There are numerous signs in English as well as Chinese, so you will easily be able to figure it out.  Once you hit Daping Road (大坪路), it’s just a straight drive to the cold springs area. Continue reading ‘Beipu Cold Springs (北埔冷泉), Hsinchu county’

Tainan Confucian Temple – Taiwan’s first school

Tainan is one of the oldest cities in Taiwan.  It used to be the capital, before Taipei swiped that honour.  Being as such, it makes sense that Taiwan’s first organized school was started there.  So today’s poor, overworked Taiwanese students, that lug 50 lb bags to school everyday, can look to this edifice of higher learning and thank the minds behind it for their current academic woes.

The Tainan Confucian Temple was built in 1665 by Koxinga’s son, Cheng Jing.  The actual drive behind the temple was Cheng Jing’s military advisor Cheng Yonghwa.  Imagine that.  A military man pushing for a centre of higher learning.  They used to make them different back then I guess.  Cheng Yonghwa’s reasoning for this was simple – the long term survival and prosperity of the kingdom depended on having wise and learned officials.  Commendable for a military man – he put stock in civil leadership before military might – definitely not a jarhead! Continue reading ‘Tainan Confucian Temple – Taiwan’s first school’

Hsinchu Zoo

Hsinchu is a small, but fast growing city in northern Taiwan.  It’s the home to Taiwan’s semiconductor industry.  I’d been there a few times, but up until recently, had no idea that it had a zoo.  Apparently it’s the oldest zoo in Taiwan (1936), so I was curious to see what it would be like.  After Google mapping the location, we stopped by for a visit.

The entrance was a paltry 20NT ($0.66).  Looking at the map of the zoo, it seemed quite small – what you would expect for 20NT I guess.  As we walked toward the entrance to the main path, I saw this sign: Continue reading ‘Hsinchu Zoo’

Taipei Children’s Recreation Center

One of the upsides to working in a children’s school is that you get to go to places you wouldn’t normally go – unless you have kids of course (which, thank the gods, I don’t).  Don’t get me wrong, I love the little monsters, but I’m also very happy to give them back at the end of the day.

A while back, I had the opportunity to visit the Taipei Children’s Recreation Center.  And I forgot I am a 30 something “grown-up”.  If you are a parent with a little tyke and you haven’t been here yet, you MUST go.  It’s a fun day and super cheap. Continue reading ‘Taipei Children’s Recreation Center’

Tait and Company merchant house, Anping, Tainan

When someone first suggested visiting a “merchant house” I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with anticipation.  Really, what could be so interesting to see in a place where business was conducted?  Dragging my feet, I went anyway because it was close by, and we had nothing else to do.  Upon seeing the place, I was pleasantly surprised, and glad I went.

The Tait and Co. old merchant house is situated right beside the Anping tree house in Tainan.  This building was built in 1867 and has served many functions over the years – the current one being a museum of early Taiwanese life and life with the Dutch.

When they first set up shop (1867), Tait and Co. dealt in tea, camphor and opium.  Yes – legal drug dealers.  Business was booming, until the arrival of the Japanese in 1895.  At this point, the Japanese took control of the opium and camphor, leaving only the tea.  Profits fell, and good times dwindled.  Then in 1911 all the foreign traders were given the boot out of Taiwan, and the Tait and Co. building was converted into a salt company.  Finally, in 1979, it was converted into the museum it is today. Continue reading ‘Tait and Company merchant house, Anping, Tainan’

The ultimate treehouse, Anping, Tainan

Remeber that time when you wanted a treehouse soooo bad?  Nothing would be better than tromping around 20 feet up in the air with wood and walls around you..right?  Well, I found the ultimate treehouse – one that all young kids would drool over and trade their mothers to own.  And it’s located in the Anping district of Tainan city in southern Taiwan. Continue reading ‘The ultimate treehouse, Anping, Tainan’

Sun Yat-sen Memorial hall, Taipei, Taiwan

Sun Yat-sen is a a revered figure in China as well as Taiwan – one of very few who can lay claim to this.  He was a remarkable personage who was in a very large part responsible for the overthrow of the Qing dynasty (last of the Chinese dynasties) and imperialism in China.  In the chaos of the aftermath, he was a unifiying figure.  He also founded the Kuomintang (KMT) party which currently holds power in Taiwan.  On this side of the Taiwan strait, he is known as the “Father of the Nation”.

To commemorate his memory, the Taiwanese government has erected the Sun Yat-sen memorial hall in Taipei.  In Chinese (國立國父紀念館) it says National Father of the Nation memorial hall.  A stone’s throw away from Taipei 101, this monument to the “Father of Taiwan” is pegged as a must see for all visitors. Continue reading ‘Sun Yat-sen Memorial hall, Taipei, Taiwan’

Water-fire cave, Guanziling town, Baihe district, Tainan

I never really paid much attention in science class (or any other class for that matter) at school, but one thing I definitely learned from my poor, long suffering teachers (I know how it was for all of you now, and you may be pleased to know that I’m undergoing the pain I put you thorough!!!) is that  fire and water are incompatible elements – only one can rule in a given place at a given time.  Too much water – flames get snuffed out.  Too many flames – water evaporates.  They simply cannot co-exist.

So, when I discovered that Taiwan has a place where this seemingly solid law of nature is flouted and the impossible exists, I had to see it.  Which brought me to a small town called Guanziling, in Baihe district, Tainan county, southern Taiwan. Continue reading ‘Water-fire cave, Guanziling town, Baihe district, Tainan’


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