Sunday, 14 June 2015

Taiwan 11 Days Trip (6) - Taichung & Changhua Part 1

19th November 2014

Reached Taichung from Cingjing. Me and CY directly checked into our hotel (Zaw Jung Business Hotel) for the next two nights, and chit-chatted with the front desk clerk about where and how to go around Taichung area, to my surprise, she was not really knowledgeable in tourism in Taichung, she told us she didn't go to all the tourist attractions, and she went to everywhere in her scooter, so she couldn't tell us how or where to to take the public transport. Well, if someone ask me how to tour Selangor in public transport, I will give the person a blank stare too. Hahaha!

We knew that there's a card called Youyou Card 悠遊卡 or Easy Card that could be used to pay the bus rides, train rides, buy stuffs in convenience store, etc. However, we didn't know where to buy it, so we didn't use the Easy Card for the first few days, we finally got it in the convenience store in Taichung Station. As it turns out, the Easy Card can be bought at any convenience store. We scrambled our pockets, purses for coins earlier few days for coins when we took the bus. It was no fun at all.

Since we couldn't get any information from the front desk clerk, we went to the Tourist Information Centre in Taichung Station, it was not fruitful also. Almost all the tourist attractions in Taichung were not near to each other, and there's no best route to visit using public transport, to visit all the places using public transport would be time consuming and we didn't budget many days in Taichung, easiest way was to rent a car or motorcycle. We couldn't because we didn't apply for the international driving licence, so we just skipped many of the attractions.

Anyway, since the famous Fengjia Night Market was not near to the place we stayed, we rushed to take the bus to the night market. We didn't want to stay in the night market until we missed the last bus. To me, the night market was very big, crowded, and I am not the fan of most of the market's famous snacks or food. However, me and CY still bought and ate some of the famous snacks, like the 大肠包小肠 (literal translate as small intestine wrapped inside large intestine, actual was sausage wrapped with something made of glutinous rice, the name etched an impression in my brain although didn't like it), 碳烤鸡排 (charcoaled grilled chicken), a kind of fried kuih, and yam milk (yam blended with milk, it's ok, but after eating so many greasy food, I should buy iced carbonated drink instead). After all the exercises for the pass few days, we decided to go for foot massage at a shop near the Fengjia Market, most of the masseur and masseuse were visually challenged, I forgot the price, but it's not expensive, initially we opted for half an hour package, and after that, add half an hour more, it's really relaxing, but I had to ask the masseuse to avoid the bruises on my leg (I had an bicycle accident two days before). Then, back to the hotel. 
Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市
Well, my night didn't end there, I didn't brought clothes for 11 days, intended to wash it at half way of the journey. I googled before I came to Taiwan and knew that there're coin laundry near the Taichung Station. I stayed near the station, so when I went back to the hotel, I asked the front desk where I could clean my clothes. She told me there's a shop near the hotel, but she's not really a good person to give direction. I ended up walking until the National Library of Public Information, I think. She gave me the impression that the coin laundry shop was not so near, and she mentioned that once I see a computer shop after I left the hotel, I should turn left into the junction and walked straight until I see a burger shop, the coin laundry shop is around the area. Well, my eyes were focused on the shops in front of me, not besides me, so I walked so far until I felt something is not right and turned back. Then, I saw the computer shop, it was just a few shops after the hotel, the front desk clerk should have just mentioned, turn left at the first junction, I would have save all the energy, the earlier massage wasted. LOL!
the route from the Zaw Jung Business Hotel to the coin laundry shop
20th November 2014

Next morning, we took the normal train from Taichung Station 台中火车站 to Changhua 彰化. Since we entered the station through the "台中後火車站", I thought it's a different station than the Taichung Station 台中火車站. To make sure that we could go back to the same station, I asked the commuter next to me what's the name for the station, she was so bewildered and told me that it was Taichung Station. I asked her again the same question. Hahaha, apparently 台中後火車站 meant the back door of Taichung Station 台中火車站. It surprised me, in Japan, there's only one name for one train station. For example, Kami Kumamoto Station 上熊本駅 is different from Kumamoto Station 熊本駅. In Kumamoto Station, there are two entrance/exit, Shirakawaguchi and Shinkansenguchi. There's no Front Kumamoto Station or Back Kumamoto Station. Wow, luckily I asked, or else we would have trouble buying ticket to 台中後火車站 that didn't exist when we want to return to the same station.

Reached Changhua, our first destination was the Fan Shaped Train Head Hotel 扇形車庫. It's near Changhua Station. So, after we got some travel information from the information centre, we walked there. Initially, we couldn't find the Train Head Hotel, it looked like dead ends. Then, we met a very nice lady who told us to cross the tunnel, we found the place after pass through the tunnel. By the time we reached there, it's not open yet, so we just waited outside, however, although the official opening time is 10am (I think), the person in charge let us in before the actual opening hour, it's free, however, one needs to register (just fill in the name) to enter. Not much tourists came here, other than me and CY, the other visitors were groups of kindergarten students, so cute, their uniforms rhymed with the colour of the trains.

This train depot is a functioning workshop for train parts maintenance, it's special because it's fan shaped from top view. When I read about this earlier in another blog, I couldn't grasp how it works, but after seeing it in action, I understood finally (*can refer to the gif file below). The design is quite ergonomic, the train head can enter and exit easily, the train head can be driven into a centre circle rail, and from the centre rail, it can be turned until it reaches the rail of the desired workshop and reversed parking into it for maintenance. So cool!
Fan shaped train depot in action
Fan Shaped Train Depot
Fan Shaped Train Depot
Fan Shaped Train Depot
After we toured the fan shaped depot, we walked back to the Changhua Station to take bus to go to Lukang. There was loop bus, however, the waiting time for next bus was quite long, so we just took the normal bus to Lukang. The bus was quite old, but we reached Lukang safely. Hahaha! After we got off the bus, we had to look around for the old street of Lukang 鹿港老街. Well, when one takes the public transport, instead of travel loop bus, the one who got off the bus is normally not a tourist. Luckily, the bus stop was near to the entrance of old street of Lukang. On the way there, met a woman who sold citrus juice (椪柑汁) and kept telling us that her drinks was pure and clean and based on conscience 良心食品, well, me and CY bought one bottle each. During that time, the Taiwan food scandal was quite big on the news, I was surprised that I was not afraid to actually swallow all those food!

We found the blue signage of the old street, it was not really obvious from across the street. The buildings over  there was quite special, most were wooden structures which still retain the original design. We could just admire the beauty from the outside, of course. Most of the buildings were converted into souvenir shops. However, the souvenirs were quite generic, not so special.
Lukang Old Street
Lukang Old Street
In the old street, there was an artist who make glass accessories, it was special. I once brought two necklaces with glass beads from Japan, and it was still in the storage. So, I didn't buy anything. 
glass artist
Anyway, the most memorable thing for me from the old street was the mullet roe 乌鱼籽. I know it was quite odd, hahaha, initially I wanted to buy dried mullet roe (it was one of the famous food stuffs from Taiwan), however, after actually seeing it with my own eyes, I felt it was not that appetising. So, I give it a pass. I like fish roe, especially the fresh one, I had a lot of it in Japan. However, the dried one looked so different. 
mullet roe 乌鱼籽
One of the famous attractions in Lukang is the Breast Touching Lane 摸乳巷, so we went around to find it. We came across a street with beautifully painted walls. It was a good place to take selfie. Very colourful and not so many people. 
Lukang Old Street
Lukang Old Street
We passed by many temples along the way to the Breast Touching Lane. The name came from the fact that the lane was so small that if two persons came in different directions, they might accidentally touch each other breasts. Funny, now it became a tourist spot. Well, with my size, I could comfortably passed though the lane alone. 
Breast touching lane
Then, we went to the Lukang Longshan Temple 鹿港龍山寺. It was special, in my understanding, temple is covered in red, but this temple is more to natural tone, It made out of several wooden structures and not painted bright red. I particularly like the wall of the outside perimeter, I think the brick wall arrangement was very beautiful.
Lukang Longshanshi 鹿港龍山寺
Lukang Longshanshi 鹿港龍山寺
After that, we tried to find Lukang Station, however, whenever we asked any locals, they told us that there's no train station in Lukang, which was weird because it was listed in the travel brochure. Anyway, we walked and walked and reached a museum, the Lukang Folk Arts Museum. The ticket costs us 130 NTD each, and in my opinion, worth every penny. It was very informative. There are informations about the cultures in Lukang, or maybe early Taiwan, one can read about the wedding rituals, funeral rites, all the festivals, etc in this museum. Me and CY spent two hours here, if we weren't in a rush, we could spend more time here. Compared to the old street, this museum was certainly quieter, it's good, I could read and stare at the exhibitions peacefully.
Lukang Folk Arts Museum
Lukang Folk Arts Museum
Lukang Folk Arts Museum
After a short moment with all things cultural in the museum, we went to look for Lukang Station again. Along the way, we passed by many interesting buildings. It's good that the folks in Lukang are still preserving the old wonders.
Around Lukang
Anyway, one thing I couldn't accept was the fake urn wall 甕墙, it was so wrong. When I saw the urn wall in the travel map, I was really interested, I mean, how often one can see a wall lined up with urn, instead of the normal brick, the most I saw before was just walls decorated with broken pieces of ceramic. However, after I saw it, I was dumbfounded, it was just a wall lined up with a canvas with the pictures of urn wall! So unbelievable!
Fake Urn Wall 甕墙
Then, after the 'urn wall', we finally reached the Lukang Station 台糖鹿港車站, apparently it was an old station for the transportation of sugar cane, and now served as a tourist information centre, it was closed that day though. Outside the station, there's a preserved train head. There's a loop bus station outside this Lukang Station, so we waited for the loop bus, we wanted to go to the Brand's Health Museum or the Taiwan Glass Gallery initially. However, the bus didn't come, well, the correct word would be the bus didn't stop at the side we were waiting, we saw a loop bus stopped on the other side of the road though. Since the time didn't allow it, it would be to rush to go to the Glass Gallery, we decided to go back to Changhua Station.
Lukang Station 台糖鹿港車站
We got off the bus before Changhua Station, I just followed CY, initially I thought CY wanted to wait for the night market in Changhua. I just followed her. Apparently, she wanted to have the famous pork rice 夜市爌肉飯, it was featured in many Taiwanese food programs and blogs. When we reached the shop, it was not open yet, I forgot whether they started on 3.30 pm or 4.00 pm, but there was a huge crowd waiting there already. We got a not so early number, the business was very good. Then, once the restaurant started the business, we could see the chefs were very fast in their movements, very efficient. One in charged of the rice, another in charged of the soups. Then, people with the earliest numbers started to have the very fatty looking pork rice. There was a man who sat on the counter who kept re-ordering the pork rice, I think he ate 4 or 5 bowls of that, I was thinking that was too excessive. However, when I had my first bite of this pork rice, I was smitten by that, I was not a fan of fatty part of the meat, but the meat and the fatty layer was really nice, it literally melted inside my mouth, it was sooooooooo delicious! I think I became hungrier after I had that. I was talking to CY the other day, I told her that the meat must be cooked inside a pressure cooker to achieve that kind of tender texture, but she said that if it was cooked with pressure cooker, then the meat will become too soft, CY said that in order to achieve that kind of texture and taste, the meat must be cooked for a long time in a stove, the traditional way, there's no way that pressure cooker can achieve that. Well, I am not a very able cook, so I will have to take her word for it.
famous pork rice 夜市爌肉飯
After the very fulfilling pork rice, we walked to the Changhua Station and we passed by a shop called Ahzhangrouyuan 阿璋肉圓, when we were waiting for the pork rice, we struck up a conversation with a local woman and she said that for the Changhua people, they would choose this 阿璋肉圓, not the one introduced in the guide book. Since we already at the place, we decided to have it. Luckily, both of us ordered one set only, I am really not into that. The dish was weird for me, on top of it was a layer of thing like jelly and underneath was meat ball (a huge one at that). To me, it was kind of horrible, but for CY, it was nice. Everybody had their own taste preferences. Hahaha!
彰化 老担 阿璋肉圓
Then, back to Changhua Station to take the train back to Taichung Station.

Day 1: Reached Taiwan
Day 2: Fenqihu
Day 3: Alishan 
Day 4: Sun Moon Lake
Day 5: Cingjing
Day 6 & 7: Taichung & Changhua (1, 2, 3, 4)
Day 8: Taipei
Day 9: Taipei
Day 10: Taipei
Day 11: Home

No comments:

Post a Comment