Last week I took advantage of the hot summer weather and went on a day trip to Lukang, about 35km west of Taichung city. It turned out to be a not so wise decision as I was literally sweating all over under the heat.
Lukang translates to Deer Port, and rumour has it that there used to be a lot of deer in the area hence the name. Lukang used to be the main trading port in central Taiwan during the Dutch colony and Ching Dynasty period around the 18th century and is rich with heritage and architecture.
Its famous historical district where most first timers go includes a network of streets lined with quaint old houses. These houses are all well preserved with their tiled rooftop and wooden double doors. A lot of them have the traditional Chinese writings by the doors, which are sayings to bring good luck. Some houses have been converted to shops and cafe, whilst many are still inhabited by the local residents, so if you ever visit, please be respectful to people’s homes.
It was really hot that day, perfect for ice cream. A woman was selling traditional hand made ice cream called pa pu which is made using maltose and natural fruit. Pa pu is so called as the stall owners used to sell them on a tricycle, honking as they rode around the streets. The sound of the honk pa pu, pa pu gave its name to the product. The texture of pa pu is very smooth, with a tint of chewiness from the maltose, and not overly sweet. At NTD10 / £0.26 per scoop it was a great way to cool down.
Another famous landmark is Mo-Lu Lang which translates to touch breast alley! This is a very narrow alley, just wide enough for one person to past through, so if two people were to walk from opposite ends it would be quite difficult to avoid touching one another!
No day out in Taiwan would be complete without visiting a temple, and one of Lukang’s most well known is called Lunshan Temple. Built in 1786 it is famous for its beautiful wood carvings, and is regarded as one of Taiwan’s most well preserved temple from the Ching Dynasty. Its most impressive piece of carving is the ceiling of the old performance stage in front of the temple. This is a 16 sided multiple level piece of work based on ancient old Chinese philosophy and said to be the best of its kind in Taiwan.
After leaving Lungshan temple, I suddenly smelt the aroma of steamed buns. It was from the shop across the road and with steam buns being one of my favourite food, I had to take a look. The aroma was from these massive trays of buns which were being steamed outside the shop. The smell of the bamboo steamer and the buns itself was a great way to attract customers, me included. I bought a fresh one to eat immediately, and another big bag to take home.
The thing I really liked about Lukang is that although it is old, it is very well preserved and you don’t feel like it is run down or depressed at all. From the exterior, to the signs, to the windows and balcony, all the buildings have bags full of character, making this place an absolute little gem. Definitely worth another trip back, maybe when it’s not so hot.