Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lugang (鹿港) Take Two!

Friday was this semester's trip for the Chinese Language Center at my school (Feng Chia University - 逢甲大學 ) and we all went to Lugang (鹿港).
Last time Nick and I went to Lugang, we went on a weekend and drove ourselves there on scooter - went spent 2 hours getting there (hopelessly lost), neither of us were feeling very well, and it was very crowded - needless to say, it wasn't a very good day.

THIS time, however, was much better. The weather was fantastic, there were hardly any people around, and the trip was planned by someone else! All we had to do was show up and enjoy ourselves.

Our first stop was to the Lukang Folk Arts Museum (鹿港民俗文物館).
The building was originally the home of a (very wealthy) man from the area and was converted into a museum housing ancient Chinese artifacts. There are some pretty cool things to see inside like an ancient Chinese ear scratcher!

It looked kind of like this:

but much smaller and with only three little metal prongs, I was all about it - I think I should get one and keep it on my key chain, for ear-itching emergencies!

They also had some old Chinese toys outside that visitors could play with, so we spent some time trying out the stilts. My Japanese classmate had no problem walking around on them:

As for myself... let's just say my balance leaves something to be desired. Despite extensive help and support, I couldn't quite make it on my own.

My favorite part about the museum was the landscaping. The inside was cool, but the outside was beautiful. It seemed like the original owners built it as a sanctuary from the hectic city life, it had such a relaxing feel to it. It was a gorgeous day as well, so we spent some time just sitting in the shade enjoying the garden. It was great.

After the museum and some lunch, it was on to a semi-guided walking tour of Lugang. First stop was the Lungshan Temple(龍山寺).

This Temple was by far my favorite stop of the day. It was absolutely beautiful - I couldn't stop taking pictures of it.

From the Lungshan Temple, we made our way to Old Market Street(古市街)

where we lazily meandered through narrow red-tiles streets lined with ancient buildings and lots and lots of vendors. I really love all of the old doors on this street, they're fantastic.

As it was a weekday, there were hardly any tourists walking through the old streets, so we were able to take in all the sites and enjoy a nice relaxing stroll.

Lugang is famous for Oyster Omelets and Ox Tongue Cakes (牛舌餅). We weren't feeling in the mood for the Oyster Omelets again, but we did get the Ox Tongue Cakes. They are sweet flaky pastries which kind of taste like a soft, doughy sugar cookie, I really liked them.

We also bought some Chinese decorative fans as souvenirs. The fans were hand painted and after we purchased them, the shopkeeper (with an awesome comb-over) wrote some calligraphy on them for us so that they would look more beautiful. I'm not sure what it says, but it was pretty cool.

Our walking tour ended at the Tienhou Temple (天后宮).

Although on the inside, it is a beautiful temple, the outside apperance leaves much to be desired. Scores of vendors have planted themselves right out front in order to capitalize on all of the tourist traffic that the temple attracts. They mostly sell Oyster Omelets and other local delicacies. It is amazing how the mystique of an ancient building (17th century) can be totally lost by a flood of entrepreneurs and a digital scoreboard.

The biggest eyesore of them all is the Family Mart convenience store that is actually located ON the temple grounds! It is situated just behind the temple's gate.

All of the commercialization really put me off at first, but once you actually go into the temple, it is quite a relaxing and beautiful place.

Lugang is a photographer's dream, although my attempt to capture it is amateur at best. I really had a great day lazily walking through the town and soaking in all the sights.

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