Saturday, April 14, 2012

being traditional in lukang

Lukang has been recently been named one of the top 10 small tourist towns of Taiwan. The other cities on this list can be viewed on CCNGO's website and might have to be added to my bucket list. Lukang has been on my bucket list for awhile now because of all its ancient temples, the city itself has over 200 of them! Of course besides temples there are also a lot of old buildings and streets to be explored. Traditional architecture and handicrafts still exist in Lukang because back in the day the citizens of the town refused to allow major highways or railways to be built. This has allowed the city to escape complete modernization and hence why amongst all the ancient buildings, you'll also see a lot of crumbling homes. Lukang literally translates to Deer Harbor and while walking around I saw a lot of deer iconography - Lukang should be the sister city of Nara! The harbor and the deer are gone now and with the only method of public transportation being the bus, the city went from the second largest in Taiwan to being a "small back water town." I actually quoted that straight from the official Lukang website. Lol nice to see that is how the government views itself, I wonder if they understand the negative connotation implied by using the words "back water." 

To reach Lukang from Hsinchu we took the train from Hsinchu to Changhua which cost a little over 200 NT and then a bus from Changhua to Lukang which cost $53 NT. Apparently I could have used my EasyCard to pay for the bus fare. I'm waiting for the day when the EasyCard will cover all train fares too and not just the trains in Taipei. The bus ride takes around 30 minutes and you'll want to get off when you spot a train station building on your right hand side. The train station is actually the local tourist office. I grabbed a map which was really helpful even though there are English signage everywhere.

First thing I did in Lukang besides grabbing a map was to eat a pork bun. They are apparently well known here and we got ours at this place with a dragon mascot. These stores were everywhere and we would see one every couple of blocks. Each bun cost $18NT. The pork bun or rou bao didn't taste particularly delicious to me, just tasted like every other juicy, yummy meat bun I've had before...
The first place we checked out was the Lukang Longshan Temple. The temple to me is pretty unique in that it's not brightly colored like all the other temples. The woodcarving on the beams and pillars are beautiful and the muted colors just makes it prettier in my opinion.
Next up on the list was Gentleman Lane or Breast-touching Lane. Follow the signage for Mo-Lu Lane and you'll find it. It's a short walk from Longshan Temple. So why is this lane called Breast-touching Lane? That is because this lane was so narrow (less than 70 centimeters at its narrowest) that when a man and a woman would walk through they might touch each others breasts. Haha.
This lane is so narrow that two people wouldn't be able to walk next to each other. Also if someone was heading from the opposite direction, one person would have to back up or do the whole breast touching maneuver mentioned above. Can you said awkward? It got renamed to Gentleman Lane because a lot of scholars ended up settling in this area. Also around this area are a lot of old traditional housing. It was really cool cause it looked like it was straight out of the movies but I can imagine how uncomfortable it must be to live in these small shack-like houses.

if there wasn't a scooter wouldn't it be like i was in ancient china?
I love how the houses here actually look old unlike all the old streets I've seen where the houses just look like all the other houses in Taiwan but are just "older." Nine Turns Lane is another area where you can view older houses. The name is derived from the fact that the people here built their houses in such a way that the lanes curved rather than form straight lines. They built it this way to diminish the power of the September winds (September being the 9th month hence the nine in the name). 

trying to show the curves
The whole day I've only eaten one pork bun so I was pretty hungry so when I saw some samples on a table I leaped on them like I hadn't eaten in a week.
Sad to say these weren't really filling unless I was planning to shove the entire plate down my throat. The above are samples of a famous delicacy in Lukang, the fengyan or Phoenix Eye cake. There were different flavors but I just tried the strawberry, lemon and almond flavors. The almond was the best. The fengyan has a chalky texture and made me really thirsty. I would probably enjoy this more if I had a drink to accompany it but the samples didn't excite me enough that I would actually buy some. Stopped by a little stall for some dessert.
Initially I thought this jelly was just aiyu jelly which is seen in every night market in Taiwan. However my Chinese teacher told me it's a Hakka dessert and is made of sweet potato powder. Apparently there isn't an English name for it so the Chinese name is 粉 粿. It tasted like something I've had before in America I call it "gute foon" but I think that might be Taishanese rather than Cantonese and its a dessert my grandma makes. It took me such a long time to think of the name for that dessert and for the life of me I can't find information about it. Most likely cause I'm not using the correct pinyin to find it and I'm not sure of the Cantonese pronunciation. Arg. Anyways the dessert came with noodles and Eamon says the dish is popular in Taiwan but I've never seen this before...Cost $25 NT for a bowl.

Too much for one post. Stay tuned to see how I brought shame to America and English speakers everywhere!

No comments:

Post a Comment