[Fragriver in Taiwan] The first day in Tainan

I have left my blog for a long time due to my tight deadline at work and application for Master’s Program. I decide to give myself a break today and continue to write something about my time in Taiwan. Recently, when I checked my blog stats, I am quite amazed at the number of visit to my blog even when I have not written anything new since the end of November. Unexpectedly, my post about Thousand-Island Lake in New Taipei caught a lot of attention. I hope that people would find my information useful and they would love Taiwan as much as I do.

Coming back to my series of posts related to my trip around Taiwan. As far as you know from my latest post, I spent about three days to discover Kaohsiung City. It is time that I move on to write about the next city in my journey: Tainan. On the fourth morning, I woke up early and caught the MRT from Formosa Boulevard Station to Ciaotou Station, or R23 Station of Kaohsiung MRT System. And once again, when I started leaving a city, I feel a little bit of my heart left in this place. While Kaohsiung may not be the most interesting city in my mind, it still impressed me with a distinguished sense of the Southern land, where people are more or less amiable and laid back. It was sunny on the day I left Kaohsiung. On the way leaving for Ciaotou Station, I could not keep my eyes off the scenery outside the train window. Ciaotou Station is located at the northern suburb of Kaohsiung City and I guess there are lots of factories or refineries located there as I passed through Nanzih EPE Zone Station and Ciaotou Sugar Refinery Station.

Tainan Station is located just around 33 kilometres north from Ciaotou Station, therefore, it took me just 40 minutes to reach Tainan. I felt really happy for this short distance as I thought I start to be afraid of sitting on a train for more than 4 or 5 hours like what I did when travelling from Taipei to Hualien or from Hualien to Kaohsiung. When setting my very first foot in Tainan Station, I was impressed with how Tainan welcomed me with a poster written in Vietnamese like this.

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I was very looking forward to my trip to Tainan even when I had not come there. Of my very first Vietnamese friends I got acquainted in Taiwan, there was a girl, who is about 3 years senior to me, studying in National Chengkung University. As I read her sharing on Facebook about her student life in Tainan, it seemed to me that Tainan is a quiet and peaceful city, which is not as modern and busy as Taipei or Kaohsiung. Another friend of mine, my French classmate, Vincent, was also very fascinated about Tainan. He said to me that he loved Tainan for its traditional and peaceful beauty. Right after reaching Tainan, I somehow could feel a totally different atmosphere from that I experienced in Kaohsiung. Everything there seemed to be of moderate size, painted with the color of time.

Tainan is the oldest city of Taiwan and it used to be the capital of Taiwan under Koxinga and later Qing Dynasty Rule. As you recalled from my latest post on Kaohsiung, Tainan and Kaohsiung were the places that found first in Taiwan by the Dutch, the fact that helps explain the shape of Taiwan on the earliest map of Taiwan. When I came to Tainan, it was not difficult for me to find the old buildings or the old temples lying somewhere between the residence area. It was already noon when I reached Tainan. I, however, did not find somewhere to have lunch but walked for more than 1 kilometre to get to National Chengkung University. National Chengkung University, established in 1931 under Japanese government, is often considered among the top prestigious universities in Taiwan, along with National Taiwan University, National Tsinghua University, and National Chiaotung University. It was even ranked the 222th university in the world by QS Ranking. Actually I did not have much impression about NCKU before but the great banyan tree that the above-mentioned friend of mine shared on her Facebook. And then when I entered into its campus, I found that this great banyan tree was not the only one of its kind. The building here somehow resembles the look of beautiful campus building of the prestigious universities in the US, such as the iconic one of Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. The campus is so very wide with many students riding bikes in the campus.

While wandering the campus, I accidentally found out the University Museum. Although things exhibited here are related to NCKU only, I was still impressed at the stories about NCKU presented to us. In addition to the exhibition such as the exhibition about the history of the university, the school has various exhibitions about the stories related to the student clubs, such as the rugby club, or the mountain climbing club. Isn’t it funny to see how your senior climbed mountain or played rugby 50 years ago?

Leaving the beautiful campus of NCKU, I had a quick lunch at a street vendor across the street and then caught a bus to Chihkan Tower or Fort Provintia. When it came to travelling, I thought myself among the most efficient travellers, who always know how to optimize their limited budget of time to visit as many interesting places as possible.

Fort Provintia or Providentia was a Dutch outpost on Formosa at a site now located in the West Central District of Tainan in Taiwan. It was built in 1653 during the Dutch colonization of Taiwan. The Dutch, intending to strengthen their standing, sited the fort at Sakam, about 2 miles (3.2 km) due east from modern-day Anping. During the Siege of Fort Zeelandia (1662), the fort was surrendered to Koxinga,[2] but was later destroyed by an earthquake in the 19th century. It was rebuilt as Chihkan Tower (Chinese: 赤崁樓; pinyin: Chìkǎnlóu; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Chhiah-khám-lâu) afterwards.

Source: Wikipedia

From Fort Provintia, I walked for more than 1 kilometre to the hostel. As my hostel is located in an old residential area, on my way from Fort Provintia to the hostel, not only did I see many old buildings or temples, I even saw a lot of old houses where people have lived in for generations.

I booked a hostel named 77 Hostel, which is located on No. 77 Xinyi Street. Xinyi Street is actually more like a lane. There were many old houses, a small temple and even an old gate (Duiyue gate) on this street. When I went to the hostel, there was no one in the hostel at that time. I made a phone call to the hostel owner (the phone number was printed out and put at the front door), who then told me where to get the key and the password to get into the hostel.

It was often quite weird to me when travelling in Taiwan is that people here seem do not have any idea about security. How come do people trust a strange person that they even have not met so as to give them the key and password to their house? The hostel owner of 77 Hostel even did not appear at the hostel 24/7 and she even left an envelope in the kitchen so that the visitor could put the rent into this envelope when they checked out. It was just weird yet lovely as I love the way life was built up with trust like this, even though, admittedly, I was a little bit scared when stepping in the hostel and found another guy in this hostel too. My fear then disappears when there were two girls coming later. Though the hostel owner suggested me to go to the night market nearby but as night market was not my thing so I just had a walk to Shennong Street (a famous old street nearby) and enjoyed some nice dishes.

It was also coincident that I heard songs of Stefanie Sun played twice during my walk from the hostel to Shennong street. The first time, it was “Kepler” (克卜勒), played on an outdoor event at the crossroad of Minzu and Jinhua Street. The second time, it was “What I Miss” (我懷念的), played in a food stall on Jinhua Street, making me decide to step in this food stall to just listen to the music.

To end this post, you may enjoy this photo taken by mine on a street of Tainan in my first day there. I thought it should be life goal of many men: Having your friends play game with you when you get older.

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