A guest post from a Taiwanese girl!
Tainan is a southern city in Taiwan which is very different from the modern city look of Taipei. Tainan is very old fashioned as it was one of the first developed cities in the 17th century – Tainan is a city of history. Tainan was first established by the Dutch East India Company as a ruling and trading base which called Fort Zeelandia during the period of Dutch rule of Taiwan. The Dutch some of the very European architecture to Tainan. Tainan is a city of culture as well—a lot of temples, a lot of traditional Taiwanese cuisine, and friendly local people living their lives undisturbed.
We stayed for only 36 hours in Tainan, with no plan as to where to visit. We just got on the car and drove along!
The first stop is an ice cream shop run by Taiwan Sugar Company. In the 50th and the 60th, sugar is one major international businesses in Taiwan. Run by government, there were many sugar cane fields in the southern part of Taiwan. The sugar was exported to most European countries as well as nearby Japan and made a incredible fortune for Taiwan. It was probably the first miracle of the Taiwanese economy.
The scene of grandparents taking grand children out for a late afternoon treat is very common in Taiwan.
By the time we got to Tainan, it was dinner time. Tainan has a fish port and is famous for its seafood, so seafood for dinner makes perfect sense!
Fresh seafood caught on the same day! Taiwanese people are experts when it comes to cooking and eating. It is not the luxurious kind of enjoyment, but a very down to earth type of day to day meal. If you walk into a seafood restaurant like it, just relax and enjoy what is cooked for you!
Fresh seafood cooked when order is taken.
Small alleyways are everywhere in Tainan. This is the place where you can find real life of local people.
It feels like night time exploration. We didn’t really know where we were going to, but Tainan (and Taiwan as a whole) is very very safe, There is no reason to be worried when walking down any dark alleyways.
Old apartments. As we walked along these alleys, it is very common to overhear the chatting and laughter of some random families coming out from their open window. They wouldn’t mind to let people walking by to know what TV channel they were watching, nor would they care to share the great smell of dinner! This is the life of people in its most relaxed and friendly way. There’s no broken bottles, empty cans not nasty smell in these back alleys, so don’t worry to explore the city when everyone is just as relaxed as they can be!
Oh! Late night coffee shop.
The owner of Gan-Dan coffee opened for longer hours just for us. He was busy roasting coffee beans and explained that he made the coffee bean roaster by himself, and roasted all his beans by himself too. He said this is the only way to guarantee that the taste of coffee is exactly what he wants. I bought a pack of coffee beans roasted just for me. It was one of the most delicious espressos I’ve ever had.
Very homely and vintage design of the coffee shop.
To thank the owner’s hospitality, we brought him some Japanese Sake to share!
Coffee machine from Italy.
“Kan-bei!” (Japanese way of saying cheers!)
Half roasted coffee beans. The beans need to be roasted for several times to develop the right flavor.
A old-style lamp.
An antique Vespa. I am very impressed that this thing still carries the owner, his wife and their dog around the city!
Late night street scene. We decided to have some beer and food after coffee, so we went to an outdoor food stall by a huge tree. It was a very relaxing night.
He-cheung canvas. They still insist to make their canvas bag by hand. The old lady in the photo is the founder of the shop. www.onebag.com.tw
This is what we bought. A handmade small wallet, very well built, and suitable for cards and coins. (NTD: 150)
You can’t come to Tainan without visiting any temples. One very special thing about temples in Taiwan is that they are more of a cultural and social place than a religious one. You do see people praying and burning incense, but it should be understood as part of their cultural life, rather than a religious zeal. The standing sign says: serenity and respect.
The red walls in the temple. Red is considered the colour of good luck and blessing. It is also the colour of emperor in the Chinese culture. Most temples in Taiwan have red walls and you will see red signs, wall hangings and other red objects in many places.
The temple gardens
In the Taiwanese religion, getting good grades is one very important thing. This is taken outside the chapel of the God of Study (文昌君), and students hang their wishes on the wall for good luck. The red colour helps to bring them more good luck.
Window decoration of the temple.
Wooden Bwai (筊) for fortune telling.
Incense burner—we see it as the post box that takes the messages to the Gods and Goddesses above.
A sign board saying: Humanity and ethics come first. This is probably the core of the Taiwanese culture.
Burning incense. The incense sticks are again red for good luck. They are made from powdered sandalwood around a bamboo center. The sandalwood gives a pleasant sweet, woody smell.
Bowing to the Gods and Goddesses before leaving the temple. The writing shows the name of the tample which is “Tainan da tien hou gong”
Temple outside. A scene that’s familiar with everyone in Taiwan.
Pointy hats! It is associated by the westerners only with rice farmers. But actually people wear them on sunny days too. Of course, they can’t ward off UV lights. But they are made from bamboo strips with good ventilation and weight almost nothing. Very practical!
Back alleys. Brick wall houses are a sign of the old time Taiwan, and there are still some preserved in Tainan. Modern day buildings use concrete rather than red bricks.
A fortune teller’s shop next to temples.
This is a guest house called “the double luck”. It is run by a local couple and they have a cushion shop at the ground floor of the guest house. I think I have to mention that they basically build the guest house by themselves– the wife makes all the beddings and the husband does all the interior design and decorations. This is one of the most characteristic guest houses I found in Tainan!
I hope you enjoyed the pictures!