.[ It is no exception in Taiwan that spouses - mainly women - are from abroad, mostly Mainland China, but also Vietnam, Indonesia or other South-East Asian countries. ]
After breakfast I walk through the village, which has actually been nicely restored and some former military facilities have been turned into tourist spots
. A large wall protects the village from whatever may come from the sea - storm, floods, enemies. Behind the wall is a small bay with sand beach and a few small fishing boats are floating in the calm sea. The entrance to the bay is guarded by soldiers. Two bunkers are turned into a photo galary and video show room. From outside they are painted or plastered with small mosaic stones. A wooden fishing boat and stone jars are exhibited.
I walk to Matsu village on a very nice path along the coast - the one I should have taken yesterday! How fast and easy I can arrive in Matsu village. The first sightseeing point I get to is the famous Matsu temple,
also called 'Palace of Heavenly Empress'
adjacent to the harbor. The temple is said to contain her sarcophagus. I step into the temple's front yard from where I have a great view of the magnificent temple and the harbor with navy vessels. It's the oldest temple in the Matsu islands and one of the most holy temples dedicated to Matsu in whole Taiwan. I sit down for a while under a tree and listen to the buddhist chants sang by some worshippers with intermittent gongs - you should for sure listen when you will be in Taiwan, it is very soothing. [ Goddess Matsu is the most worshiped folk deitry in Taiwan. The goddess' names Matsu or Mazu mean " mother ". She is the Taoist ' Goddess of the Sea ' and the 'Protector of fishermen and sailors '. In Taiwan there are some 800 to 1000 temples dedicated to Matsu, mostly in coastal areas. Who is this goddess? Many legends has it, but most agree that she was a real person born to a fishing family on the island of Mei Zhou, off the coast of Fujian province in China. As a young child she was very intelligent and studied Buddhist scriptures very young. ---From there on much of Matsu's life belongs within the realm of legend .1) She was sitting at home with her mother when she fell into a trance and saw her father and brothers in trouble on their fishing boat. In her trance she reached out and transported her brothers first to safety. Her mother seeing that her daughter fainted, cried out loud. This brought Mazu out of trance and she dropped her father, who then drowned in the sea. The bothers reported about their miraculous saving and the loss of their father. Since then it is believed that she has used her powers to save many seafarers. 2) Mazu loved the sea and was often seen standing on the beach dressed in red, guiding ships to the safety of a harbor during storms. Also her young death is shrouded in mystery. 1) At the age of 29 Mazu climbed the hights of a mountain in mist and ascended into the realms of the gods. 2) In a stormy night she drowned while she attempted to save a sailor from a sinking ship. 3) Another story goes that she drowned when she searched for her father who was lost at sea in a storm. Her body was washed up on the shores of Nankan island. In the night of her death her spirit was seen flying up to heaven dressed in red. ---- Her popularity spread along the coasts of Mainland China and Taiwan, later to Singapore and Japan. Her birthday falls on the 23rd day of the third lunar month, when each year the eight days and seven nights lasting Tachia Matzu pilgrimage with 100.000s of followers is celebrated. If you want to see a different Taiwan than its hightech image, that's the place and time to watch. ]
I walk on through Matsu village; many soldiers hanging around there in the comic book stores, Internet caffees and so on. On my way north I pass by the couple's house that gave me the brilliant homestay suggestion the day earlier and ring the bell. They are there and I thank them again for their support. We say good-bye and I continue to the village Szuwei ( soso )and down to a small Fishery Museum.
Open, but nobody there. I look at the fish tanks with life fish, mostly outside as the inside seems to be reserved for the more bizarre exhibits hanging dried on the walls and from the ceiling or standing in bottles filled with formaldehyde. I thought its pretty interesting to see all the creatures in the waters around.
After via Matsu village up to the top of the 248m high Yuntai hill - Ok, but not a must. Then down th the coastal village of Jenai
, only 2 or 3 km away from Chincha village along the coast
. On my way down I have my lunch and a coffee shop at a small, but modern hotel ' Coast'
- great view on coast ( nomen est omen ) and the sea. The only 10 rooms are really tastefully furnished. All this for the price of 120 USD - not in my budget! I visit Peihai Tunnel,
very impressive. I walk on a small way around a harbor in the tunnel. As I visit during high tide I take off my shoes when walking through ankle deep water. Soldiers carved the tunnel out of granite rock with only hand tools. It took them three years from 1968 and many young men lost their lifes. It was designed to hide up to 120 smaller military boats in case of an attack - worth to see!. Outside the tunnel is an information center about Nankan. They show me an English video in a cinema - again just for me. I go to Jenai village, which is nothing special, except for the short promenade along the harbor bay - actually more bay than harbor. The small coffee shop with modern, tasteful, young decoration and a small veranda with two or three tables is very invitened, especially in the late afternoon sun. I sit down with a cappucino for about an hour. The coastal way ( wooden walkway beside military road seize for one car ) between Jenai and Chinsha is really phantastic, especially in the evening sun. I pass by another reminder of the politically and militarily tense times of the 50s and 60s, the Iron Fort.
It's built on or partially in a strip of granite rocks reaching like a finger into the sea. Nowadays the fort is not used anymore and tourists can visit its full length
. I walk through the different quarters and look through the sniper slots. Gruesome stories are being told about Chinese frogmen sneaking onto the rocks by night and slitting the throats of Taiwanese soldiers, bringing back an ear as proof - my ears are still at their natural place. Back in my hotel I find that I have two neighbors, workers from Taiwan for some job. My dinner for 180 NTD, which I had ordered by phone, is rice, sweet potato, vegetables, 3 shrimps, 2 pieces of fish with bones - be aware and warned: in Taiwan everything has still its bones when served and to make things even more challenging they chop the meat with the bones - fish ball soup - no bones - and a coke. At my table an older man also has its dinner and as he speaks some English .We have quite a nice conversation exchanging fragments in each others language. I understand that he is an engineer from Taiwan's Taipower, stationed here since a months to supervise a power plant. The other lady at the reception has been a former secretary at the plant and is recently devorced - now we are getting the interna.
I go to sleep - my neighbors snore. They saw right through the wooden walls, but with a whole day on my feet and in sea air even this cannot stop me from my well earned sleep.
Good morning - I have decided to stay another night and keep this place as my base. I have breakfast in the restaurant, this time its local: Mantou, Hsifan ( rice with water ), preserved/pickled cucumber, peanuts, tofu. The young lady who picked me up yesterday at the village entrance turns out to be the wife of the owner, the landlady. She tells me that she is from Mainland China, married to her husband from here in Nankan. She has a very active personality and seems to run the whole place with another employee. Later she will go to a field at the entrance to the village to look after the vegetables