Tainan is in the South West of Taiwan, much warmer climate in comparison to Dadu, Central Taiwan. I’ve visited few county’s of Taiwan during my earlier trips but visit to Tainan was a first.
I had expressed my keenness to photograph birds to Teacher Ellen in Dadu Elementary School and he invited me to spend the first weekend with his family and him. I was overjoyed and couldn’t hold my excitement. Started counting days from the moment the weekend trip was finalised. Initial plan was to go to Mt. Ali but when Ellen came to pick me up and we settled in the car, he mentioned on change of plans.
In the car I became more friendly with his kids Joan and Jon both studying in Dadu Elementary school and are my students of Grade IV & I. Though they were mainly communicating amongst themselves in Taiwanese but with me they were slowly trying to speak in English and less hesitation.
We enjoyed breakfast of local Taiwanese food which was a bun with pork and cabbage leaves inside for me along with a taste of soya milk and coffee from 7/11. All set with good warm weather we stopped at National Palace Museum Southern part in Chiayi County. This is a miniature version as National Palace Museum in Taipei is huge and a weeks visit even if everyday will not help to finish seeing all as the collections keep changing every week. Any visit to Museums is love of my life and I enjoyed a documentary on India, learning on tea and its history from China, varieties of Taiwanese tea and the life surrounding tea culture, ceramics, Buddhism, textiles, spices and loved my time spent in the Museum. We then stopped for lunch. Now Tainan life is basically slow and relaxing. Food is outstanding to say the least. People like to eat traditional food in comparison to fast food. Looong queques in front of restaurants and not because it was a Saturday but in general popular restaurants are crowded all week long as I understand. I had sticky rice stuffed with porcini mushroom, pork and fish soup. Ended with one scoop of dragon fruit & mango ice cream which was okay to taste.
The highlight of the day was a visit to Taijiang National Park where Black faced Spoonbills are the most significant sights besides herons, egrets, lapwing birds. The Spoonbills migrate from Russia, Korea and stay in Taiwan during the winter months. We saw it from a distance and I wasn’t happy with my sightings though I got some good sightings on egrets. We couldn’t do the boat ride as the time was over for the day and decided to return on Sunday morning.
We went on to the first street food of Taiwan area where I learnt the technique of making ‘peng bing’ or traditional hollow cookies and enjoyed the extreme sugary cookie. Tried my hands on more traditional Taiwanese street food like prawn cookie. We then visited the Fort Zeelandia to learn the history of the Dutch colonisation for 30 years followed by Ching dynasty capture and defeat of Dutch followed by Japanese capture for 50 years. The history was very gripping and I loved my visit immensely.
I was dropped at ‘Hotel Kindness’ for my night stay and very well settled by my Teacher Friends. I enjoyed midnight snack at 8:30pm of spicy hotpot with pig blood, taro and sausage and headed to dreamland.
On Sunday morning after a great breakfast of chicken balls, spaghetti, cabbage salad and coffee, I set out to visit Tainan Grand Matsu Temple and God of War Temple. People of Taiwan follow Taoism as one of their religion and the Taoist temples are very interesting temples where God’s are on various aspects of lives and mostly men God. The inside of the temples are all very colourful and very bright too.
My Teacher Friends picked me up and we went back to Taijing National Park for a one and half hours boat ride where I had such fun trying to catch a fish – of course I couldn’t …. 😂😂😂, watched Black faced Spoonbills from somewhat a close distance and they were such a big group – loved watching. I saw oyster being picked up and large marshy areas too. Very scenic and a small section of mangroves.
Our lunch was exceptional with shrimp balls, shrimp rolls, sticky rice stuffed with small pork pieces and green bubble tea. Now on my first trip to Taiwan I had bubble milk tea everyday as Taiwan is famous for it but I gained sooo much of weight that from my second trip I started having green bubble tea which is sugarless but then again the bubbles are made from sugar.
Our next stop was Chihkan Tower and steeped in history which I loved so much. A fort like structure which was built by the Dutch and took 23 years to build as bricks were brought from The Philippines as Taiwan didn’t make bricks. Other materials used were sand, oyster shells, sugar. The whole Tainan area was under sea and developed first before the country was fully formed as its presently known. A Lady guide was there to explain the history of the Tower and the Chinese occupation. The Dutch built in 1652 and several repairs and refurbishments took place for 300 years to give its current form. Draws hundreds of tourists every day and is one of the landmark of Tainan. Koxinga was the ruler who defeated the Dutch and his kingdoms ruled the country. The Chinese chose not to preserve the door structure or other structures of the fort as its not their nature and instead when the Japanese came to rule over Taiwan they did their best to preserve.
Very enthused about the history of Taiwan, we left to come back to Dadu and my second host family. My second host family are teachers in Dadu Elementary school and with their kids who are my students of Grade II & IV we went to Night Market of Dadu which was a first for me. I enjoyed the short visit and had fried sweet potato to taste.
Returned home and settled for the second week .
A truly fascinating weekend I had
Students Joan & Jon
Indian embroidery ‘kantha’
National Palace Museum South part
The famous ‘pork’ sculpture
Lunch of sticky rice and pork and porcini inside
Flock of Black mouth Spoonbill
Oldest and first street food area in Tainan
Tao temple gateway
Grand Matsu Temple
Taijing National Park
Shrimp balls, shrimp rolls for Sunday lunch
Trying to catch a fish 😄
Black faced Spoonbills
Bao and pork belly soup
Fried sweet potatoes in Dadu Night Market
My second host family