Saturday, April 14, 2012

old street, random sights and english fail

I think of all the old streets I've been to in Taiwan, the ones that make up Lugang's Historical Preservation Area are one of my favorites. Not only do the houses look old as in architectural wise, not just broken down old cement blocks, there is also a lot of English signage and information posted around. Unfortunately there was a lot of people so they took up most of the street and blocked me from taking pictures of the cute buildings and a lot of the buildings have been renovated to host shops and restaurants so that also kind of ruin the old street ambiance. On one hand it makes sense that locals are using the old street to earn money but I would really like to explore an old area that still felt old and authentic.
One of the highlights of the old street is this half-side well.
It's actually not a half well but a full one. The other side extends beyond the wall into the private residence of the Wang family. Not every family could afford to build a well so the Wang family had the well built so that their less fortunate neighbors could also get access to the water. There is also a shop that sells flour mush tea which isn't a tea at all but more of a paste. They were handing out free samples which was a good thing because it saved me from having to pay to try this traditional delicacy.
It's been so long so I don't really recall how this flour mush tea tasted like but my mind is telling me something like sesame and I wasn't a really big fan of it. Besides it was super hot that day so "eating" this tea wasn't that appealing. Apparently this place,Yi Gu Zhai Tea House, is known for turning the flour mush tea into a shaved snow version that is supposedly very delicious. Right after the historical preservation area saw another temple which isn't a surprise since Lugang has over 200 temples. The thing that stood out for me about Sinzu Temple was the beams that were wonderfully painted - by far the prettiest beams of any temple I've seen.
Wondered off the main street to check out the Guihua Lane Art Village which wasn't very impressive. Most of the buildings were closed off and there wasn't anyone there but I loved how quaint all the white buildings looked together - so peaceful after the crowds of the old streets.
Nearby was a park that paid homage to Lugang's namesake and its importance as a harbor back in the day.
No real deer to take pictures with but bigger than life size statues of them work just as well especially with boats that are floating on grass surrounded by deer. Lol so random I love it! Now onto the story where I failed my role as an English teacher or rather where the American education system failed me. Lugang besides having a lot of temples is also known for its arts and crafts. Six of the 36 National Artistic Heritage Award winners are from Lugang and are known for making their specialized crafts in the traditional manner. One of these artists is Mr. Wu Dun-hou who is about 90 years old now and specializes in making lanterns.
That is actually Mr. Wu Dun-hou standing at the doorway even though I didn't know it at the time. He had driven away by the time I had crossed the street and entered the shop. Pictures aren't allowed inside the store but I didn't know until Mr. Wu Dun-hou's son told Eamon who translated for me. There was a whole conversation about me being a foreigner but looking like a local which gave me a chance to look around the shop and I even managed to get some stamps for my souvenir stamp book. It was funny cause he thought I meant postage stamps which apparently the shop also sold. They do have them you just need to ask. They also had some information about the shop in English. So here is where the embarrassing part comes in. After talking for awhile Mr. Wu asked me to help him write a sign in English - No Bargaining. Well instead of bargaining I wrote "bargining". Honestly, I have no excuses I even wrote it on my hand and tried to decide which was more accurate but I suck at spelling and I was under pressure to not look like a fool. But you guys have to agree the word "bargaining" is hard to spell right? Right?? I'm only reassured that Mr. Wu would not know that I spelled it wrong. So here are some excuses and reasons behind me "deliberately" spelling it wrong.

1. I wanted it to look like a local spelled it - you know engrish. :P
2. Now if he ever shows the sign to people and anyone mentions it I know it would be my sign he's showing to peoples because I'm pretty sure no one else would give him a incorrectly spelled sign. How awesome if he kept my crappy sign around for a looonng time. ahaha.
3. It's ironic cause I "teach" English
So awesome I got to take a picture with him. I love how awesomely nice everyone is to foreigners. Eamon states that people are nicer to foreigners than they are to locals and I don't know about that but I do know that I've always gotten treated pretty awesomely. Maybe because I can pull out the cute admiring foreigner card who can't speak Chinese but is Chinese card. Mwhaha.

The Details
Mr. Wu's Lantern Shop
312 Zhōngshān Road, Lukang, Taiwan

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