Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tripping to Tainan

My son captures me posing.

Yesterday I had occasion to trip down to Tainan. A gorgeous day and ultra clean train windows enabled another picture taking session, as well as some good dad-son photography bonding.

The Japanese-period train station in Tainan.

The wall outside the Chih Kan Lou.

After taking care of some business in the morning, my son and headed out to visit some of Tainan's innumerable historical sites. First on the list, a ten minute walk from the train station, was Fort Provintia, known in Chinese as the Chih Kan Lou.

The wildly political plaque at the entrance.

The plaque describing the fort is a leftover from the authoritarian period, for it refers to "Chinese patriot" Koxinga "regaining" Taiwan in 1661, although China had never owned Taiwan and Koxinga did not retake it on behalf of the defeated Ming Dynasty. Eastasia is at war with Oceania, Eastasia has always been at war with Oceania. The plaque was informative in other ways, in addition to the semiotics of authoritarianism and colonialism.

The English presentation at the Chih Kan Lou is excellent, so it was a jolt to discover this awful offering from the Tainan city government, which looked like someone had crossed Babelfish with e.e. cummings.

Today the grounds are pleasant and the fort is a repository for a number of tablets and stelae commemorating various incidents, such as the suppression of local freedom fighters bandits in the 18th century.

The beautiful array of tablets offers inscriptions in both Mandarin and...

....Manchu, the language of the Ching Dynasty.

Other archaeological relics are scattered on the grounds.

This section of foundation here is pretty much all that remains of the original Dutch fort.

A model of what the fort must have looked like.

Zeb brought his camera, thus rectifying one of my chief complaints about being a photographer, namely, one has few pictures of oneself. On the other hand, after seeing my stomach, I decided that perhaps I was better off being the anonymous photographer....

After visiting the Chih Kan Lou we caught a taxi out to Erkunshen, a fort constructed in 1874 as the Ching tightened their hold over Taiwan. Prior to the 1860s Ching control over Taiwan had been loose -- the highlands were not under Ching sovereignty at all -- and several Powers had angled for the island. Originally the US envoy to Japan had actually proposed that the US buy it, but Congress refused, so he tossed the idea to the Japanese, who ran with it. As outside powers started sniffing around, the Ching rulers began incorporating Taiwan more fully into the empire, sending expeditions into the mountains to subdue the aborigines, and constructing fortifications and other monuments to Ching control.

Erkunshen was proposed by a local official, designed by a Frenchman, and supplied with British cannon, 250cm Armstrongs. The original guns had long since disappeared when the 100th anniversary of its construction took place in 1974, so the city put in the replica cannon now visible today at that time.

The presentation in English is excellent.

My son's photo of the grounds.

After that, it was just too hot, so we retired to the train station where we hopped a ride home...


Anonymous said...

I'm based in Tainan now. Next time you're around send a pre visit email and we can go to lunch.

- John from


Anonymous said...

Maybe you have seen this link before, if not your son may find it interesting. Its a small website on an
Fort Zeelandia Archaeological dig.