For centuries, Kyoto was regarded as the most important city / capital in Japan. Tainan can be seen as the ‘Kyoto’ of Taiwan. Good food, beautiful architectures, traditional culture, and rich history associated to foreign trades and business can all be related to the city called Tainan. I have been wanting to visit Tainan for quite sometime now. I think the first time I wanted to go down south to visit was when L. was still studying college there. Somehow things never worked out… and finally, this trip back to Taiwan for family L. and I finally planned this short weekend getaway to Tainan! Our first girl’s trip since 6th grade (I know, it’s kind of ridiculous :/)
We took the high speed rail down south late Friday, checked in our hotel and began our sightseeing of the old capital. I was super excited because it’s my first time, and I was expected to be embraced by the hospitality of people from the South, interesting historical facts / learnings, and also beautiful buildings.
Unfortunately… things did not really turn out the way I dreamed. I suppose we could call reality reality, imagination imagination especially in my case lol
First evening was alright. High spirit – I loved everything I tried, and it was also a lot of fun exploring the streets and shops of souvenirs. Me being a tourist, I bought some postcards, and fun little things that’ll remind me of my girl’s trip to Tainan with L.
Shennong street reminds me a lot of Jiufen with the red lanterns. I definitely think it’s a street worth visiting in the evening because it provides that mysterious vibe of the old capital. Lots of fun shops and souvenirs that represent Tainan for tourists to browse. Also some hidden bars, lounge, and ice cream / cake shops on the street for tourist to stop by to get some coolness after sweating so much walking everywhere 😉
To my understanding, Chihkan Tower could be traced back all the way to Ming dynasty. Very impressive and it was great to finally see the architecture in front of my eye. Everyone would have to pay $50TWD entry fee to enter. What kind of disappointed me was I was hoping there would be more interesting information to share such important building. But I think the ‘museum’ side of it was poorly done. I really wish to learn more about the culture and perhaps foreign trade / what not that was done here!
Second day started off poorly, and probably the worst but almost most hilarious day of the trip. I am sure when years go by L. and I will still laugh about all the interesting and sad things happened. When it is reality, you get frustrated and disappointed, but when the incident becomes history, you look back and can laugh at the moment because it happened. That’s life right?
I was a little bit under the weather but couldn’t find a hospital to see me, the only one that would see me (within walkable distance) refused to take insurance… Then it took me a long time to finally find the medicines I could take at the pharmacy because surprisingly it was out of stock at many shops L. had a bird pooped on her arm when she was drinking almond milk, and then we were tricked by a vendor for selling overpriced poor quality food…
Bad things happened, but we still had so much fun seeing the city. It was so nice for once I didn’t have to be the tour guide to plan the trip and just had to follow my friend around! I enjoyed that very much! I didn’t like the humidity and the sun but most of the food we had were awesome! I love food!
There’s an awesome Tainan beverage shop called “Bo Ge” right across from the National Museum of Taiwan Literature. I’d say the specialty is must try. I did not regret trying it even though I was sick and coughing all day… Super worth it! It was nice for us to walked around seeing famous sites, but also managed to squeeze in times to relax a bit and enjoy local food. I actually had the best dou-hua I’ve ever had in my life today (and this is a big deal because I am not a big fan of dou-hua)!! :P)
National Museum of Taiwan Literature is a very beautiful architecture that used to be the government building when Japan colonised Taiwan. I had a great time learning more about Taiwanese literature. Free admission was plus! We were lucky to also see a temporarily exhibition comparing Japanese and Taiwanese literature in the late 19th to 21st century. I thought that was an awesome exhibition that I learned so much from different perspectives! The year-long exhibition was alright, but definitely not as fun as the temporarily one that L. and I enjoyed very much. I loved my experience at the museum. It is beautiful, and lots of neat information for people to learn and explore!
Nothing much to say about Confucius Temple. It was (I believe) the first one in Taiwan. As L. said, just came for the photo to kind of proved I was here :p To pay tribute at the temple one would have to pay for additional $50TWD to access. For the general park admission is free. L. and I only walked around the park for photos.
The street right across from Confucius temple is a must go too. A lot of interesting shops for tourists to browse. L. showed me an old-fashioned notebook shop that sells old-fashion binding notebooks for dirt cheap price. (I forgot to take a pic 0_0), and the most delicious almond milk could also be found here! It was very hot so we mainly just walked around… Make sure to try to see if you can pass the “Narrow door” cafe. It is a super narrow space between buildings were you can find a hidden cafe in the middle of it 🙂 I thought that was cherry on top touring Confucius temple area.
Been wanting to come visit the department store since re-opening under a group’s organisation and image-branding (now selling original Taiwanese artist designed products) few years back. According to my grandfather who frequently visited Tainan to do business back in the days, Hayashi department store was the biggest and most famous department store in the south offering customers a variety of selection of goodies. I was super glad to finally visit this amazing place. Had a lot of fun checking out original Taiwanese local artist designed materials… Bought a 50s styled hair clip 🙂 The department still uses old fashioned elevator, which if you’d like the experience would need to wait in line. (Tip: line is longer going from ground floor to 5th floor, less people the opposite direction!). Something worth noting about the department store other than the old fashion elevator is at the top of the building, one can still see the bullet holes damaged by the Japanese when they were attacking Taiwan before colonisation was completed. Additionally, it is the only department store in Taiwan that still has a shrine at the top of the building – a tradition that could still be found and seen in Japanese department stores.
Last day we took the tour bus to Anping. Came to see one of the oldest trade firms opened by the British and actually still in service now in Taiwan (learned at the museum) but the title and company were sold to Taiwanese company for awhile. I personally thought they could’ve done much more on the museum… All I saw were cardboard / take-a-picture stands… A shame because I am certain there are so much more to be shared about this company that lasted for so long and been through so much from British operation to Taiwanese operation… Products, histories, stories behind operations… I am so interested and would love to know more!! The one cool feature at the museum was a computer where it would give you random quizzes under short period of time. I am surprised I still managed to get everything correct except 2 wrong! Reading and knowledge is our friend! Read all the time 🙂
For $50TWD admission fee one gets to see Tait Marketing & Distribution, Anping Tree House, and the formal residence of a well-known calligraphy artist. Worth the price for sure, and I definitely agree with L. the tree house is a must see! It’s definitely wonder of nature to have the banyan tree covered the entire house to create such a spectacular view! Stair ways and deck for visitors to see the entire building and take amazing photos. According to L. there was also a little banyan tree covered tunnel tourists could walk pass but now been permanently closed for safety purpose. Bummer!
We’d definitely had our ups and downs visiting Tainan. But I wouldn’t trade for anything because it was so much fun visiting and traveling with best friend since childhood like family!! We shared all the moments together and that was amazing 🙂
Tainan is a beautiful place to visit, but I wish the people we ran into were nicer to us… Oh well, I would still love to come back… perhaps to take A. to check out the awesome buildings one day, but I will be smart and make sure to come in the winter time because even April it is burning hot there x-x
Have you been to Tainan? Do you want to visit Tainan? Cool or fun memories to share? What’s your most wanted to visit location or best food you had? I’d love to hear stories… I love stories!!!
It is raining Tuesday over here, and I am definitely feeling stressful… some wanderlust post would help me feel better, and I hope the same to you too! Allow your mind to go on a little trip 😉
*photos used in this post are by instagrammer klisbeth831 (follow!)