NO SIGNS OF TEMPLE SHORTAGE here in Tainan, last time I counted, there are 3 temples within a couple of blocks from the place I stayed for the night. Ancient and historical architecture overcrowd this city, and this is what it is famous for. I do enjoy some cultural stuff, but I had to admit that I’m bad in history (sorry to my history teacher), and even worse, I did not do my homework before visiting all these historical sites.
Not having an idea which site to go, I hopped on the 88 bus, and let it lead my way. I ended up at the Anping Fort, also known as Fort Zealandia, which I think is a Dutch settlement many years ago (I can’t figure out how many years). The buildings here resemble those that can be found in Malacca, Malaysia. Red bricks and long walls, all similar to the scenes I had in my mind of Malacca from all the school excursions we did when I was young.
Another attraction in the town of Anping, is the Anping tree house. The old house belonged to a British trader a long time ago, before an evil (or sacred, I cannot judge) banyan tree outgrown the walls and filled the house with its evil (okay, I do judge) roots and vines… Sucking away the nutrients and soul of the hopeless house. Even with the laughter and chit chats of the many visitors, I still feel a sense of disturbing sinister-like atmosphere in the house. I imagine how great it would be for it to be used as a filming set for horror movies… no props needed!
The statue of ‘someone’ at the Anping Fort. Look how the Chinese architectural styles blend into the Dutch’s.
This definitely gives me the shivers…
Incorporating the Dutch theme to another level, the restrooms are located in a bright yellow building, with signs of the word ‘Holland’ and their national flower, the tulip.
Next on, I went to Eternal Fortress, which the locals used to protect themselves from the Japanese invasion. French engineers helped build this fortress, and it was even equipped with modern cannons (modern at that time), an important milestone in the military coastguard defense of Taiwan. The fortress bears a square shape, with the center being a field for military exercises. When I was there, there are troops of militia marching on the fields in ancient costumes.
The entrance into the Eternal Fortress…
Funny men dressed up as ancient soldiers, marching around for all to see. Note that the leader is carrying a MODERN loudspeaker.
Another attraction worth visiting is the Chih-Kan Lou. It was first used as an administrative office by the Dutch, and new Chinese architecture was added on until it became an army hospital during Japanese colonization. Many add-ons were inflicted onto the building, but all the changes are still visible through its remains. The building is literally at the center of the city, and thus reasonably became the most crowded place in town. Tourists tootle the streets in search of souvenirs and eats; while inside the Chih-Kan Lou, games and lucky draws are held in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration.
Not far away from Chih-Kan Lou, is a much more peaceful Confucius temple. This place was once the highest learning institution of Taiwan, just imagine it being a national university many generations ago. Old scriptures and writings of Confucius and his students can be seen in calligraphy writings on the walls of the temples. One of them is tablet with the school’s mission engraved on it.
Wheel of fortune – It is the Chinese year of the Ox, and so this Mr. Ox is going to decide your fate when you turn the wheel. So, be very careful.
This guy swears that he is the Emperor’s general.
Red walls give the Confucius temple’s compound a very bright yet calming look.
After being overwhelmed by all those old buildings, I decided to give myself a change by visiting Cheng Kung University. My friend insisted that I go and see the enormous banyan tree (I hope this one’s not evil) because it is one unfrequented sight that only locals know. I went on walking into the campus, and although the school is not as big as I thought it would be, finding the ONE special tree is an uneasy task. After rounds of directions, I finally came to the park where old mighty Banyan stood tall and wide. He is obviously the King of all Banyans, or Queen, I do not know how to differentiate.
Tainan a rich cultural city, with so much OLD to see. Do not get me wrong, I honestly feel that the temples are worth visiting. However, too much for a day and you may end up temple-dazzled.
Welcome to Cheng Kung University.
The school looks old… and so I am wrong about getting away from old buildings, they are EVERYWHERE in Tainan.
Alas, the legendary banyan tree. It really is a sight to remember… Look how tiny the two students are compared to its large shade.