Day 2 in Tainan: a city of ghosts

I don’t know whether I should jump out my window into the piss pouring rain or if I should stay in and endure the loud construction that’s currently taking place in this hotel. It’s only 3pm, but our ‘day’ is over. We’ve exhausted all there is to do in Tainan and we’re bored. Countryside living…. I should have known better. 

After breakfast, we head out the door to catch the local bus. There’s one bus an hour, but don’t trust the schedule because reasons. 

1. The Bus Ride

The local bus looked like a tour bus from the 1950s that was picking up customers that have been dead for a long time. It confused the heck out of me. You even need to pay with the exact change. No one seems to know how much that is. How lovely. When we finally get on, the half empty bus squeaked, squawked and quacked all way to our destination. I am not a fan. What is this town? When did time stop here?

2. Anping Tree House

After 45 minutes, we finally arrive at our first destination. A former trading house during the Japanese occupation, Anping Tree House was overtaken by a gigantic banyan tree a long time ago. For years after, local residents considered it a haunted house and stayed far far away. I can see why…

These days, Anping Tree House attracts tourists from all over the world.

If I hadn’t seen Ta Prohm Temple earlier this year in Cambodia, I probably would have been more intrigued. But meh. 

3. Anping Old Fort (also known as Fort Zeelandia)

There were a lot of students on a school trip waiting to go through the entrance when we arrived there. They were all wearing the same bright blue jacket and posing for class photographs. Hmm…

A former Dutch Colony, Anping Old Fort was built to protect Dutch trading interests and was an international business centre. Honestly, it isn’t much of a fort these days. It’s just a pile of bricks and you have to re-imagine the rest of its history for yourself.


4. Luerman Matsu Temple

I was super annoyed before I got here, but when I got here, I was glad I made it. Luerman Matsu Temple is dedicated to Matsu: the Goddess of the Sea. According to legend, she saves sailors and fisherman from drowning; and is even believed to have helped people during their immigration from mainland China to Taiwan.

It’s an extremely large and quiet temple that had me marvelling at the wonder that is Chinese civilisation. The architecture. The details. The design. The symbolism. The opulence of it all. 

People were burning paper money for their ancestors, lighting joss sticks, kneeling and praying. I wanted to take pictures of the deities themselves, but I felt rude doing it given the circumstances. I guess I’ll just have to remember it the best I can. After spending 45 minutes contemplating the temple’s beauty, I was ready to go.

I couldn’t be bothered with the squeaky tour bus or its unreliable schedule so we hailed a cab back to the hotel. It was only TWD 335 (US$10). If I had known, I never would have bothered with the haunted tour bus. Brr…

5. The People of Tainan

Despite all my complaints about this city, I must give credit where it is due. There aren’t many foreigners here right now and my partner in crime and I really do stick out. But still, people have been incredibly honest, friendly and helpful.

Unlike Taipei, people don’t really speak much English out here, but no one’s given me those over exaggerated insincere compliments when I speak to them in Mandarin. 

The food’s also always been good. We keep eating at all these random mom-and-pop places and wow. No complaints from me. Most of the meals are also quite well-balanced.

We also got to see a street procession of I’m not sure what before we made it back to the hotel.

One of the guys even stopped to say ‘hello’ to me in English. Nice. 

It is now 3.35pm. Neither the rain nor construction works show any signs of stopping. Whilst I am glad I’ve had the opportunity to have this rather unusual experience, I thank God we get to leave this city of ghosts tomorrow. 

Till next time. 


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