The beauty of Tainan – 25. 2. 2007

Posted in Tainan at 21:21

I started my day with a western breakfast in the hotel owned tea shop. There was a small vegetable salad, some orange cuts, a kind of cold pasta salad, a pancake and especially for me a cup of coffee. Again I was the only western guest in this hotel and I generally also have not seen any western people here in Tainan so far. I was quite worried about my plan of visiting AnPing today because outside it was raining cats and dogs. But like a miracle after half an hour the clouds were gone and the sun shine bright like in Switzerland in the summer. Time to leave…

I decided to take to public traffic due it is very convenient here but working a little bit different than I was used to. There is no exact time table but you can see the position of the bus and its arrival time at your desired bus stop on the bus company’s website. It can also be accessed by mobile via a special WAP page. The price to the 30 minutes away suburb of Tainan, AnPing, was little 18NT$ (CHF 0.90). For a taxi I would have payed several hundred New Taiwan Dollars.

In the 18th century the famous Fort Zeeland was built in AnPing by the Dutch, during their trading efforts with the Asian world. At this time only the place around Tainan was called Taiwan. After the Dutch lost against Konxiang’s army in 1661 and the fort was destroyed it was rebuild again by the Japanese occupiers at the end of the 19th century (photo). Therefore there is not much more left than a few walls of the original fort (photo). After visiting the nearby Taoist temple (photo) I found some preserved plums (ι…Έζ’…, SuanMei), a Tainan specialty, on the local street market.

Again in town center a big program was awaiting me: Confucius temple, TianTan temple, PeiChi temple, ? temple where I was watching a Budisitic worship and finally the Tainan park. A very beautiful place in the middle of busy city life. Generally Tainan has a lot to offer for the interested visitor. Still a lot of historic buildings are preserved and open for visiting. Together with the important history of this city this makes it to a must-have-seen place on Taiwan. Also the people should be quite different here than in the busy Taipei and I will go to find out later.

In the evening I wanted to enjoy the night life and therefore I went to the recommended Armory pub. A place that was quite after my taste. Not many people at the beginning (22h) so I could enjoy a talk to the bar maid and watch the Carling Cup match Arsenal – Chelsea. Some drunken Taiwanese girls on the bar next to me were gambling and the looser had the task to kiss me. Quite interesting these Taiwanese girls here πŸ˜‰ . After a while also some foreigners entered the bar and so I was talking for quite a while with an English teacher who is living in Tainan since six years and with an Englishman who had an German mother. So he wanted to practise some German with me which was a quite special experience. I was not used to speak German anymore. So a very interesting and nice day and I am sure that Tainan had to offer me more when I would not have to leave on the next day.

Hoegaarden in convenient store – 24. 2. 2007

Posted in Tainan at 19:57

After only a few hours of sleep, my friend taught me to get up early during the last few days, I was woken up early. The busy working of the hotel staff could be heard easily through the thin walls. Today was finally my first day traveling for my own and it was full of positive surprises. Already some days ago, I wrote down all the necessary information from the English Taiwanese Railway Cooperation website. On the main station I was checking my notes against the timetable in on-site. Everything matched. Time to prepare some notes for ordering the ticket. An elder man was observing me while I wrote down the target station Tainan 臺南, train type θ‡ͺεΌ·θ™Ÿ (TzeChiang, express train) and so on in Chinese. Of course I wrote some lines in the wrong order, the order of how you write a letter here is quite important, so he finally came to me: “Do you know Chinese?” I denied and so he was started to talk to me in good English and scared me that it is very difficult to get a seat in the next train to Tainan. But I tried my luck. After showing my notes to the ticket clerk I had my ticket one minute later. What was he talking about earlier?! I still had some time left therefore I was looking around in the train station and met the man again. He was a government employee and was very curious about me. When I told him that I would go back to Taipei in a few days he instantly started to recommend some places around Taipei to me, how I can go there and how much it costs. Fortunately he also explained the train ticket to me. There are differences to the Swiss train system I did not knew before. You can also book a ticket for the train, without definite seat. I got one with seat reservation. Some luck for me again because at this time during midday there were a lot of passengers in the train which does not make a longer journey comfortable without seat. After the man explained the carriage and seat number, only written down in Chinese, I was ready to enter the train.

Two hours and some chats with my seat neighbors later, I arrived in Tainan. It is the historically most interesting city of Taiwan. After consulting the tourist information office, I was prepared with English information material and the address of a favourable hotel near the train station. I could easily find the GuangHaw hotel in the middle of computer shops again. It is not that cheap like the hotel in Taichung, about 800NT$ (CHF 32) per night, but this time I have a window, working TV remote and even free official wireless Internet.

Finally I started my sightseeing tour with the interesting places nearby. First the Prefectural City God Temple (photo) and then going on to Koxinga‘s Shrine (photo, photo). It a the place to remember the great liberator of Taiwan. He bravely defeated the Dutch imperialists here in Tainan. My first lesson in Taiwanese history. After visiting the nearby Koxinga museum I decided to visit some places of the ancient Tainan fortification. I began at the Great South Gate (photo) and then made my way to the Great East Gate.

Unfortunately night was already falling and so I bought some beers in one of the hundreds of 24h shops (e.g. 7-11, Family Mart) which you can find here every few hundred meters. It is unbelievable what beer brands you can buy here around the clock. From Taiwan Beer, Asahi (Japan), Busch (USA), Heinecken (Netherlands) over Erdinger (Germany), Corona (Mexico) up to my favorite beer, Hoegaarden (Belgium). Taiwan does not have a bar culture but definitely an individual 24h beer culture. I was hungry and so I bite the bullet and went to McDonald’s. But here too, unknown food to me. A rice beef burger (could not read the name) with rice cookies instead of buns. The rest of the evening I decided to stay in my hotel room and enjoy Internet, music and beer πŸ˜‰