Day 238: Taichung, Taiwan. This morning we caught up on some admin and planning, then walked to the bus station to catch a local bus to Lukang.
Lukang is one of Taiwan’s oldest towns, and the Old Street was the main business area of Lukang back in the early days. Lukang literally means ‘Deer Harbour’. We read online that the name was given to the town as it was the main harbour for exporting deerskin during the Dutch colonial period. When we arrived in the town we headed straight for the Old Street, which is famous for its old buildings some dating from 1600.
The Old Street is filled with traditional Taiwanese style houses, many of which are now used as restaurants and shops. There’s a huge array of local foods on offer, and Jim had a field day trying some of them. It’s also full of tiny little alleyways which are fun to walk around.
One of the little alleyways is call Molu Lane, which is also known as ‘Chest Touching Lane’. It’s such a narrow laneway that only one person can walk through at a time. If two try, then chest touching becomes a thing.
Lukang is also known for having some of the most lovely temples in Taiwan. We started our visit to a small temple with a water pump and a small well.
Then we decided to hit the food stalls (let’s face it, it was going to difficult to hold Jim back much longer). He started with a weird concoction called Noodle Tea, which was nothing like tea or noodles. It was some sort of floury substance mixed with water that turns into a sludge (as Lil called it). It was surprisingly good, but very filling.
Next were Taro Cakes, strips of taro and pork mince steamed like dumplings (despite one website saying they were vegetarian). They looked decidedly odd, but tasted pretty good.
Lil tried Cow Tongues flaky pastries that come in a range of flavours – sweet potato, taro, sugar and plain. They were excellent, if a little rich.
There were lots of Chinese New Year pastries, too many to try them all. Jim nearly bought a big bag to take home, but decided at the last minute that might be a bit extreme.
Some very cute cats were curled up outside a shop (presumably not for sale, but who knows).
Next Jim tried a flat cake bun, with curried meat and more pastry. His verdict was ‘delicious!’.
We also popped into a shop that had a huge variety of dried and candied fruits – we tried candied olives, dried dragonfruit, and lots of other treats.
Jim’s final tasting for our visit was an egg yolk and red bean pastry. Which sounds a little weird, but it actually tasted really good.
At this point, Lil decided it was time to drag Jim away from the food area, so we walked to Longshan Temple. It’s a very famous temple in Taiwan that was constructed during the Qing dynasty (c.1690) and has been named a Class 1 historical site of Taiwan. We felt privileged to be there, and able to wander around the ancient space which is still in daily use. The temple is also referred to as ‘The Forbidden City of Taiwan’ – however we don’t know why.
Then we caught the bus home, had dinner and an early night. It was a pretty big day.
Tomorrow we’re undecided what to do – some more sightseeing, or perhaps a long walk. Jim’s already hoping that wherever we end up, there will be more weird stuff to eat.