Tainan: Temple Tour
January 3rd, 2015
It was officially the 3rd day of my four-day weekend, which meant it was time to take a day-trip to Tainan. Tainan is one of the oldest cities in Taiwan, so it is choke full of historic landmarks. I had been wanting to go down to Tainan for months so I was very excited to finally be going. Alex and Kristen were coming along on this trip, so since we had three people I was not able to book TRA train tickets to Tainan. Knowing that we wouldn’t want to stand for two and a half hours, walk around all-day, and then stand for two and a half more hours on a crowded train, we decided to take the HSR to Tainan.
At 9:00am we met at the Fengyuan train station to take a local train to Xinwuri station 32NT (1USD), get on the HSR to Tainan 690NT (23USD), and then get on another local train to go to the Tainan station 25NT (.75USD). The total time to get from Fengyuan to Tainan took about 2.5 hours and cost about 747NT (25USD). Although it was a bit more to get there than if we had taken the TRA Express train we did get to sit the entire way, which was worth the money we spent.
The weather was beautiful in Tainan: sunny and 70 degrees. That day we were going to walk the Lonely Planet: Taiwan Tainan Temples Walking Tour. According to the book it is a 6KM walk that should take about 4 hours. So being the trusty tour guide I followed the map around Tainan the entire day. Alex and Kristen were awesome! They followed me around all day without a single complaint while I went up and down different streets following the map. We were able to see all 12 landmarks and see a couple extra historical sites along the way. To make this post a lot easier to follow I am just going to number the sites and share little tidbits that happened along the way.
1. National Taiwan Historical Library -we didn’t go into the library, but I really like books so even the idea of standing outside a library made me happy.
2. This Elementary School is located right next to the Confucius Temple
3. Confucius Temple 25NT (.80 USD) entry
4. Great South Gate – after figuring out our exact location and kind of walking in a circle we made it to the Great South Gate.
There is also a small park next to the Great South Gate that has large old trees in it.
5. The last remains of the wall that protected Tainan during the Japanese invasion. Also, random graffiti next to this cool piece of Tainan history. I thought only America liked to ruin cool buildings and pieces of history with random graffiti, but it looks like I was wrong.
6. Wufei Temple (Temple of the Five Concubines) -this is confusingly named since these five women were actually wives to the emperor, but I know concubines to be known for other things. History has an interesting way of changing the meaning of words.
7. Fahua Temple (Monastery) -This was a very quiet temple that was partially under construction, or the temple is just not being taken care of. We were the only people there except for one woman. This temple was eerily peaceful. I believe it was because of how old the temple was and the lack of people.
We took a little pit stop after the monastery so I could look at my map, and also so we could just give our feet a little bit of a rest. That was when a very strange thing occurred. So since I have been in Taiwan I have seen very few poor people, and if I have they are not very aggressive. I mean aggressive in a comparison sense from when I visited other areas of Southeast Asia. In Tainan there were poor people everywhere. While we were sitting a poor man got off his bike and approached me. He spoke in Chinese so I couldn’t understand him, but he signaled for money for food. I felt extremely guilty so I offered him my banana, but he wouldn’t take it. He kept making the same signal, but wouldn’t take my banana. He eventually gave up and biked away. I was really confused. I couldn’t help but think that the man was silly for not taking my banana, but I also thought that maybe I shouldn’t try to find fault in the man’s desires.
Continuing on our walking tour we came to Koxinga’s Shrine.
8. Koxinga’s Shrine -this particular stop in our tour was filled with tourists. I figured that the shrine must be of some more symbolical importance.
9. There was also a large monument next to the Koxinga’s Shrine. I am unsure of the name.
10. Lady Linshui’s Temple – one of the most colorful temples I have seen. It was also under construction and had a festival going on as well. There were several butchered pigs, bouquets of flowers, and a performance going on too.
11. Dongyue Temple
12. This pond and park area was located behind a building that was marked as City Hall. I am unsure of the location and whether the building was the current or old City Hall building. The only reason we even found this park was because Kristen, who has been in Tainan before said, “Hey! I think there is something cool behind this building”. And there was!
13. Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)
14. Guangong Temple
15. Chihkan Towers – the last stop on our temple tour 50NT (1.60USD).
We had finally finished the walking temple tour and we all could feel it. Our feet hurt and we were hungry! Not only is Tainan know for being one of the oldest cities in Taiwan, but it is also known for its’ food. Unsure of where to eat we decided to walk until we spotted something that interested us.
We found a restaurant with some paper reviews on the outside. In Taiwan if a restaurant displays paper reviews you know it is a good place to eat. The business owners take pride in the review and it is like a small signal for people to look for. Being very hungry and unsure what to order we decided to order the two medium sample platters they have of different types of traditional Tainan street food. It was very good and full of different food. I can’t even remember what most of it was because there were so many small dishes. Even with all of that food dinner only cost 200NT (8USD) each.
With full bellies we walked back to the Tainan train station, took a local train to Shalun station, got on the HSR to go up to Taichung, and then took another local train to Fengyuan. Unfortunately, on the way back home we barely got to sit. Thank goodness we were taking relatively fast transportation.
Back in Fengyuan we were hungry again from all the walking we had done that day. I proposed we go to McDonald’s because I was craving it for some reason. We ate greasy McDonald’s food and chilled out for what seemed like an hour and then headed home. It had been a long, but good day. I had so much fun with the ladies and we all agreed that we didn’t want to see another temple for a week, or more!
(If you are interested in visiting Taiwan and want to get the most out of your trip I would highly suggest the Lonely Planet book on Taiwan.)