UCEAP students went on a 2 day 1 night trip to southern Taiwan in Tainan, hosted by NTU’s Office of International Affairs!
Tainan is 6 hours away by bus, so our first stop upon arrival was lunch. Table food, like the one we had during field geology trip, except much better LOL. The whitish blobs on the right are RouGeng, typically made with pork paste, kind of like the type used for fish balls. And sauteed cabbage in the lower right! Yay cabbage! Yay vegetables 🙂
Pretty fancy restaurant, right? UCEAP took up 2 tables, and the rest were taken up by a large kindergarten (or maybe elementary school) field trip. They had the same food as us, except we cleaned our food within an hour and they still had a ton of leftovers.
Then we went to a river nicknamed Taiwan’s Amazon: Taijiang NeiHai 台江內海紅樹林. To put it in very layman’s terms that would make an ecologist cringe, it’s a river that has a lot of trees on the side that dip over into the river to make beautiful images of blue and green. Along the shore are long wooden houses where there are people who catch mussels in the morning and sit inside cleaning. Hello!
We rode a flat boat through the river, with a well-rehearsed English guide who told us all about the environment and birds that we can see from our boat. Unfortunately it was very hot with an occasional breeze, so honestly I didn’t pay that much attention. I appreciated her enthusiasm very much though, it definitely was not boring.
I love this shot. A very traditional (?) wooden boat with steel beams, and tall buildings in the background.
We pulled up next to this boat, and experienced pulling down the big red thing (there were rocks at the very top for leverage, and the curved red part that dips into the water has a fishing net. Also at this point our guide brought up a jellyfish in a long “centipede net” and showed it to us. Jellyfish! She said it’s actually not good for the river to have too many jellyfish, though, because it means the pH is off.
It was a sunny day–Tainan has lots of sunny days! Kind of like how LA has more sunny days than Berkeley–and there were plenty of other boats out on the river. Everyone was in a good mood and we’d all say hi to each other.
Then we pulled up to these bamboo rafts, where our guide grabbed a mussel/oyster/I can’t tell the difference, pried open part of it, and showed us its beating heart. She also told us to be very careful on the bamboo rafts, because many iPhones have dropped in between the cracks and the sea is now “full of apples”.
We saw three different types of fishing nets, were introduced to some 5 types of birds, and got a ton of gorgeous photo ops. Lovely.
Next up were Anping Tree House and Anping Fort. Okay, after the tour I thought it was a treehouse built for looking at trees by the Dutch, but I just did a Google search to confirm and it turns out it was not built for trees, it was built by as a warehouse, and there just happened to be a banyan tree that has brown so large it has grown through the roofs of the warehouse. At least I got the Dutch part right.
Anyway there are stairs and walkways you could walk around to see the tree, the long whisker things that dangle, and our guide even told us about interpretations you could make from the patterns of branches that twist around on the wall.
If you cross the bridge over the river there are more ecological grasslands, but the guide said it’s rather similar to our boat tour, so we didn’t go over.
There’s a bench by the river at Anping Treehouse where you can eat milk soft serve in a cone. There’s a branch of the ice cream store 蝦尾家 there, which is supposedly famous in Tainan and the flagship store requires a line. Here though, there’s no line.
Gift shop! I think gift shops are a gift from God because gift shops have AC. There’s cute postcards and a cafe inside.
Anping fort was also built by the Dutch, and if you climb up 60 steps (our guide counted for us) to reach the top window area, you get a panoramic view of Tainan. They annotate the windows so you can tell where the important buildings are.
Model of Anping fort. It was quite expansive in its prime! I forgot the actual historical background though. It was hot.
Water pump in front of a local elementary school. Tainan is a lot more green than Taipei is. A vibrant, alive, hopeful kind of green.
Then we toured the Anping Old streets, where local snacks were sold. Still haven’t tried the puffy cakes yet, maybe next time.
Oyster and shrimp omelette rolls! Must try, so fresh. And the omelettes had bean sprouts too, which I rarely see in oyster omelettes.
At around 6pm we headed to Garden Night Market, which is a large rectangle that’s jammed full of food stands, clothes stands, and of course people.
TBH the only other time I’ve been to a rectangular night market was at the Vancouver night market (which I don’t recommend. Low key scam), and it was alright. The foods weren’t super unique in terms of night market foods, but for someone who’s never been to a night market in Taiwan, it has its appeal.
Don’t miss Part 2, because the best food is yet to come 😉