Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In and Around Tainan

Another week with three days spent in photogenic Tainan -- only this time I brought my son down with me to enjoy the sights and keep me company. (As always, clicking on any picture will take you its Flickr page and my photos of Taiwan; click on read more to see more!).

On Monday we visited the Dutch era Forts Provintia (Chih Kan Lou) and Fort Zeelandia out in Anping. Across from Fort Provintia Falun Gong volunteers were busy collecting signatures from passersby.

I have numerous pictures of this interesting site, so I won't bore you with many more.

Stone lions ca. the 19th century line a railing.

Cleaning up a temple near the fort.

Fort Zeelandia in Anping has a wonderfully long history, occupied by the Dutch as a base, later by English traders (see my post on the English factory in Taiwan), by the Qing in their occupation of Taiwan, the Japanese, and finally, by hordes of tourists. The site is kept up well, but the bulk of it appears to date from the Japanese period. In 1869 the English attacked and took it in one of those dreary colonial gunboat diplomacy incidents.

Working out the cultural programming of tourists everywhere.....

The site is well maintained.

The English presentation is excellent, and kudos to whoever did it.

Cannon from different periods grace the fort.

Children play in the park

From the tower atop the fort there are excellent views of Tainan and the various waterways the fort once commanded. I took some photos along that waterway in November of 2007.

My son inspects the ruins of a wall from the Dutch period. The bricks for the wall came from Batavia, the Dutch base in Indonesia, according to the sign.

Excavations on-site have revealed the extent of the old Dutch presence.

The remains of a Dutch bulwark and well.

Unfortunately many of the presentations are not accessible to people who do not read Chinese, and the information is not well maintained.

Near the fort are several homes over a century old, and we stopped by one of them. Here a large tree, like so many in Taiwan, is an object of veneration.

A beautiful mural adorns a building in the alley near the historical site.

Like many small towns, Anping has a hideously conventional tourist trap "Lao Jie" (Old Street), where totally unique souvenirs can be purchased at prices any Rothschild can afford.

The next day my son, me, and Johnny Z of the Real Taiwan drove out to Lu Erh Men in search of things to look at. Here among the aquaculture fields an incinerator from the Dutch Period still stands.

Ok, just kidding.

Although I have been here many times, I still love the unusual terrain and the large numbers of water birds.

Driving around the countryside we ran across this octagonal temple to Ji Gong. We decided to climb up to the inviting roof with excellent views of the area.

A view of the aquaculture farms surrounding the temple.

The interior was a nifty octagon. The temple was immaculate but deserted.

The town nearby.

In the distance broods the Shengmu Temple, one of the island's largest.

The temple stands alone in a vast countryside.

My son on the roof.

The utter flatness of the area, under water only a few centuries ago.

Here Johnny grabs a shot of this memorial park to Koxinga somewhere out there among all the fields. I asked the nice old betel nut addict drinking tea in a building in the park why there was a park to Koxinga out here in the middle of nowhere, and he informed me that the park was the place where Koxinga, who was either a Chinese patriot, a Japanese patriot, the first national leader of Taiwan, and/or a pirate and rogue, first came ashore on The Beautiful Isle. A few minutes after that he was struck by a scooter in downtown Tainan and killed.... the exploits attributed to him were actually performed by a different man with the same name....

We drove into the little town, which is Luerhmen, I suppose, adjacent to the massive....

...Sheng Mu Temple, dedicated to the Goddess Matsu, who aids fishermen, mariners, and local gangsters-turned-politicians all over the Sinic world.

More on the temple later, because we decided to put off visiting it while we explored....

....the remains of this abandoned water amusement park complex right next door. This involved teaching my son the fine American art of trespassing. Given the state of the US economy, I thought about teaching him the fine art of scavenging as well, but then I realized it was traitorous to imagine that huge bailouts for the wealthy owners of financial institutions wouldn't immediately return our economy to 5% annual growth, as they had always done so many times in the past.

Ozymandias, eat your heart out!

Great photo ops everywhere.

The temple makes an interesting backdrop for a photo by Zeb. It was amazing, all that metal just there for the taking; not just steel, but also copper parts and machinery.

The water looked inviting.... did the pirate ship.

This lovely fellow waited patiently for me to take the shot.

Taiwan seems overrun with abandoned amusement parks....

It seems to almost beg for children to play on it.

After much testing, we crossed onto the little island.

Zeb marvels at the poignant wreckage.

We left the park and headed over to the temple.

Gigantic, it also offers excellent views of the countryside.

Goes on forever.....

A group of comely lasses inspects the incredibly unique souvenirs.

Zeb grabs a shot.

Seen one, seen em' all?

Checking a photo.

Johnny Z and family enjoy a relaxing moment.

One view of the courtyard.

Ornate like religious institutions the world over....

Asking the goddess for help.

Old men playing chess, mandatory at temples in Taiwan. I think the Ministry of Culture must license them....


Anonymous said...

Actually, the majority of the bricks in Anping come from "The Works" in the old Dutch East Asian base at Batavia (Jakarta), Indonesia. Later brick was brought over as ballast in Han trading vessels.

The didn't Kiss get stuck at that haunted waterpark once?

skiingkow said...

Great shots as usual Michael!

Suggestion: When posting these photo series, maybe have a map identifying where in Taiwan this is (for those not familiar with the geography).

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael

Thanks for a wonderful blog , I always enjoy it immensely most of all the photos.
If I may I would like to invite you to the Londoner in Hwa Mei West street this Sat at 10 where we will have an Improv Comedy night ala 'Whose line is it anyway?" style. It promises to be loads of fun.

Josh Myers

Steven Crook... said...

There's a temple near Luerhmen (can't remember the name of it) with an ossuary out back containing (according to a plaque) the bones of Dutch soldiers from the 1600s. Several years ago, the ossuraru was unlocked. You could go in and handle (if that's what you like to do) the bones and skulls, which were kept in big urns. Now they keep it locked...

Anonymous said...

Hi, Michael!
How are you recently?
Why do you always not show up in photo?
I'm Dana. -cyut-
Hope you still remember me:)

Michael Turton said...

Of course Dana. Nice pictures of yourself on your blog!

I don't put many pictures of myself because I don't take many! When you take pictures, you don't have the chance to take pictures of yourself.