Thursday, April 5, 2012

pingxi and jingtong

After Shifen, we headed over to Pingxi and Jingtong. On my first trip to this area we only saw Shifen and Jingtong so I was excited to see Pingxi since it is so famed for its lantern festival.

pingxi old street
The Old Street wasn't much of a pleasant sight and all the peoples crowding the streets sure didn't help. All the brochures and such always rave about the old streets in the different cities but in Taiwan they aren't much to brag about when the houses are all made from cement or aren't maintained well. There isn't a huge offering of restaurants here, most every tourist was waiting in line to buy a sausage. I'm not sure if its cause the sausage was famous or cause there wasn't that much of a food selection.

Buddha Rock is a place which overlooks the city of Pingxi and has a statue of Guanyin Buddha for people to worship. You can find the few attractions this city has to offer near Buddha Rock. The Bomb Shelter was built during World War II and is a set of five inter-connecting caves.

The caves don't go in really far and are of different floor levels. Some led into tiny crawl spaces that were really dark. It was fun hopping around, making scary noises to try to scare one another. Look closer at the rocks surrounding the caves where rock carvings of the Buddha can be found.

Head towards the right of the Bomb Shelter and go up some stairs and you'll arrive at one of the other attractions, the Bell Tower. The Bell Tower was also built during World War II and because of its location was used as a guard tower to send warning messages. But now it is a pretty pitiful sight and not that many people bother with the trek up there to view it.

The last attraction, the Eight Immortals Cave was a bit harder to find. There were signage in Chinese that Cody completely overlooked until I decided to take it upon myself to check the other side of the Guanyin Buddha Shrine.

The Eight Immortals Cave consists of a bunch of caves that are connected to one another. They have been converted to little rooms with tables and benches for people to sit in. So cute and rustic! If someone made this into a restaurant that would be so cool. I could see this as a restaurant type thing for weary travelers set in some historical Asian drama.

There was a food cart where this lady had these glutinous rice cakes that she would sprinkle with sesame or peanuts. If that liquid was brown sugar I would have much preferred that instead of the sesame since there was a slight cross contamination with the peanuts and it left my mouth very dried. Still it was good to eat and it was something I've never tried before. I recommend heading to your left once you arrive at the Pingxi Train Station instead of taking the stairs at the back, you'll reach the old street much faster that way.

By the time we arrived in Jingtong it was getting dark so we couldn't see much. Everything looked pretty much the same as it did when I came here last, one long continuous street with not much to offer except for sky lanterns. Most likely everything was closed due to the time. I did discover that if you head right after exiting the train station and keep walking straight and then turn a corner, you'll discover the shop that sells Jingtong's famous chicken rolls.

Can't seem to recall how much one roll cost but it was something like 30-50 NT. The chicken roll is made up of a bean-curd skin that contains pork, taro, onion, carrots and chicken, which is then deep-fried. With all the other ingredients I could barely taste the chicken. It was good but nothing special, I wouldn't go out of my way to order it again. Supposedly this dish was only offered to the gods the 1st and 15th of each month but has now become a tourist attraction in itself.

Since my last sky lantern contained wishes for other people and was so selfless, I used this one to write messages and wishes about my friends. So this one is for you guys :P

Of course there were too many people to mention by name so I took to drawing stick figure faces as a representation of all my friends and family that I've missed since I've been in Taiwan. Can't wait to catch up with you guys so very soon!

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