Continuing with my traveling adventures this summer, our next destination is none other than Tainan (臺南), located in southern Taiwan and the former capital of the country.
Once colonized by the Dutch, Tainan was controlled by the Chinese during the Qing Dynasty until the late 19th-century, when the capital was moved to Taipei in the north. Rich in culture, food, and religion, Tainan is quite an experience for many travelers (including myself) upon visiting.
From what I’d experienced during my two-night stay, Tainan definitely has more of a rural feel to it than I had whilst in Taipei or Taichung. Less cities, more villages and landscapes. Another thing is that Taiwanese is spoken more in Tainan than in the other cities, even though the country itself has a lot of people who speak it. Personally, I do not speak nor know Taiwanese (although I know Mandarin Chinese, but even then, it’s still not the best. #abcproblems), but can understand bits of dialogue, especially when it comes to food-related topics… 😛
Any case, we took a two-hour train ride over to Tainan from Taichung, arriving around 19h00. From the train station, we walked over to our hotel, checked in, and went out afterwards to get dinner at a small mom-and-pop shop that was famous for serving eel noodles (鱔魚意麵), a local Tainanese dish. We got our food, and it was pretty good. Thing was, though, it was a hot evening, and having hot food definitely doesn’t cool you down! If anything, I was perspiring like crazy while eating, which wasn’t pleasant, but it’s all part of the experience, right?
While in Tainan, I really wanted to check out its night market and try more of the city’s local dishes, but unfortunately, we didn’t go out later that first night, as we were too tired to do so. Instead, we retreated to our hotel and crashed for the rest of the night.
Next morning, we had another private tour excursion for the day, in order to visit as much of Tainan as possible. Our first destination was Baihe (白河), a district known for its lotuses. Of course, we visited the Lotus Park, where we saw plenty of the colorful plants half-submerged in the ponds, some even growing to be taller than us! Absolutely lovely~ ❤
We drove around that morning, hopping from lotus farm to lotus farm (can I say “farm?” Guess so…). Our next stop was at the Water and Fire Cave, located near the mountains. It is an interesting attraction, for the cave naturally expels gas and water simultaneously, which creates an image of fire burning on water. Folk legend tells us that this cave is supposed to give off the image of a fire-breathing dragon urinating- how pleasant. 😛
Our tour guide took us to an outdoor market nearby, where my mom ended up purchasing a whole basket of mangoes (think 15-plus)! Seriously, we had three bags full of them, and while crazy, I wasn’t *totally* complaining, considering that I absolutely love Taiwan’s mangoes. They’re so much better than those we get in the United States, which are imported from Mexico. Smooth, juicy, and not stringy, Taiwan mangoes are uttermost perfection. ❤ ❤ ❤
We returned to Tainan proper, where we spent the afternoon in the Anping district. Got lunch at a famous shrimp rolls restaurant, where it obviously sold shrimp rolls. Also got other Tainan dishes to try out: lots of grease and sodium, but regardless was the ultimate comfort food experience.
Our next visit was to the British Tait & Co. Merchant House, a colonial-style house that used to be the site for the British Trading Company back in the 19th century. Today, it’s a museum dedicated to the history of colonial Taiwan, as it used to be occupied by the Dutch, Spanish, and the Japanese.
Adjacent to the building was the Anping Treehouse, a site of overgrown roots and branches alongside the walls of an abandoned warehouse, which over the years gave way to the trees’ growth. There’s an expression that describes this fairy tale-like place: “There are walls in the trees, and there are trees in the walls.” 😛
Afterwards, we got some Anping bean jelly as an afternoon treat. Cold, refreshing, and novel, it was definitely a nice touch to a hot day. 🙂
Next, we made our way to the Anping Fort, a fort from the 19th century. Didn’t spend too much time there, as cannons and old, fortified walls aren’t really my thing, but it’s a piece of Taiwanese history that’s acknowledged.
Our final stop for the day was at another fort, Fort Provintia, which was located more central of the city. At first, I thought it was a temple, since it looked so colorful and elaborately decorated, but that’s not the case!
Once our visit to Fort Provintia was done, our excursion ended for the day. The tour guide took us back to our hotel, and we ended up spending the rest of the day in our hotel rooms, tired after a long day of exploring Tainan.
Altogether, Tainan was a pleasure to visit, but compared with other cities like Taichung and Taipei, it is more focused on the history of its city in relation to its monuments. From the forts to the temples to the districts, everything contains a bit of history. Which is good to know as a traveler who wants to discover a place, and I do appreciate that. But I guess Tainan just wasn’t the most memorable city for me to have visited during this trip. Nevertheless, I do encourage people to go, as it’s one of the prominent cities in Taiwan.
More stories to come soon. Next up: Hualien, Taiwan!
— The Finicky Cynic
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