Free time to explore Tainan City
Trip Start Apr 26, 2008
20Trip End May 09, 2008
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Where I stayed
The drive to the Eternal Fortress did not take long, 10 or 15 mins in the car. Once there we paid the $50NT entrance fee and crossed a bridge over a wide moat to the tunnel entrance to the fort. It was built in the typical 4 corner style familiar to me from viewing revolutionary war forts in the US. This fort was built by the Qing Dynasty in the late 1800s and it sits on the Taiwan Strait. Once through the front entrance you walk on to a very large parade ground
Ted picked up a trail of pre-teen admirers who did a lot of giggling and pointing. He was gracious and let them take his photograph. They were there with their tutor who lucky for us spoke English and gave us a brief description of the purpose of the fort. At 10am, there was a demonstration with 3 men in costume describing the use of the fort, and reenacting what was done when there was an invasion. Of course, I don't speak Chinese so I'm not entirely clear what was being said, but when it came time to fire the cannon it shot out fireworks over the fort wall. Quite a neat effect.
After departing the Eternal Fortress we drove the the old fort at Anping. We parked about 2 blocks away because the area was packed. Evidently this is also a common weekend market, so it was bustling with people. Shuying was hot and tired so she opted to sit on a bench in a nearby park while Patrick and Alan took us to see the fort. Before entering the fort itself, we walked through the grounds of a traditional Taiwanese temple, and the starting point of the market place
Again the cost was $50NT, but instead of entering the fort through a moat, we walked up a long set of brick steps. This fort was built by the Dutch (who occupied Taiwan) in the 1600's using bricks that they imported from Java. It is the oldest fort in Taiwan and only part of one wall is original. In the late 1800, the Japanese who occupied Taiwan, leveled most of the original fort and constructed a 3-level platform (reminiscent of mezoamerican pyramids), upon which was built a house for the director of customs. In order to get to the house, we had to walk up many steep steps. At the top of the steps is the house, which has now been converted into a small museum displaying historical relics, drawings, and photographs. On the Taiwan Strait side of the fort there was a large observation tower that we could walk up into and see the Tainan City from above. It was neat to learn some of the history behind Tainan City and Taiwan.
We left the old fort at Anping and explored the market place. There were a lot of food vendors and merchants peddling their wares. We bumped into Ted and Alan who were shopping to
We left the market about 1pm and headed for lunch. Patrick wanted to take us to Jamy's, a sandwich shop that used to be a Subway, until Subway pulled out of Taiwan. Some enterprising soul took over the shop and kept the same exact menu, including the different bread types. They even had a combo meal with chips and a drink. Ted, Melinda, and I were very happy. Even Patrick ate a sub. Alan and Shuying went off in search of a more traditional lunch.. Since there was no where to sit down to eat at Jamy's, we walked around the corner to a Chinese dessert place and ordered dessert so that we could sit down to eat. Dessert was not ice cream, but rather was a fruit drink ( passion fruit in my case) that included ice and some gelatin to give it thickness. It was not one of my favorite desserts. Melinda ordered one with lemons that she didn't care for either. But, it's all part of the adventure, right?
When Shuying and Alan returned, we took off for the shopping mall. After driving about 15 mins we pulled into an underground parking garage and rode the escalator into the mall called "Carrafour". I was expecting a mall like the one in the bottom of Taipei 101. Not quite
There were not real walls separating vendors, but everyone seemed to know their place. In the downstairs there was a food court that I didn't explore, but I could see a Japanese Hibachi place and Burger King (the first I've seen in Taiwan). In one corner on the 2nd floor was a big box store that could have easily been named Walmart, as it sold the same stuff. I could have picked up socks, an aquarium, a TV, and a moped all in one store. Again, the 4 of us sort of accidentally split up and went our separate ways. I had Alan as my interpretor and I asked him what he thought of the big box store. His comments sounded a lot like American opinions--it's very convenient but it's driving the smaller merchants out of business and what affect with that have on economic stability.
It was now about 4pm and we set off for the hotel so that Melinda and I could do some laundry. Along the way we stopped at a small pet store so that I could take a photo of a type of pet fish that is for sale in Asia. Seth (my son) and I had watched a show about jelly fish and in the show they described how the gene for the fluorescent green light jellyfish produce has been isolated and bred into a type of tropical fish. The addition of the jellyfish green DNA makes the tropical fish glow a ghostly green under black light. Since I can't bring them back to the US, I wanted to take a photo of them, and Patrick was happy to oblige me
Shuying decided that she needed a nap, while Ted took hung out with Alan and Patrick. We agreed to meet up in the hotel lobby at 6:30p to go get dinner then visit the night market. With clockwork precision, Alan, Patrick, and Ted returned to pick us up at the hotel. Patrick suggested that we go get spaghetti at an Italian restaurant, which we were all to happy to eat. Dinner looked very promising from the outside. There was an Italian flag outside the entrance, and inside there was a specials board sitting on a easel. The board was topped with a drawing of an obese Italian chef. So far so good. We walked upstairs and found a seat.
The usual fun began with menu interpretation. Shuying realized rather quickly that there wasn't a whole lot of Italian food on the menu. Ted wanted ravioli or spaghetti marinara. I was looking forward to chicken Parmesan. Even Shuying, couldn't find anything she was overly interested in. The pasta descriptions were like "spaghetti with milk and chicken" or "spaghetti with pork"
Patrick and Shuying returned about 5 mins later saying that the milk sauce for the chicken is really butter, and that there is definitely not a spaghetti marinara. There is good news though. They have bread that can be served with dinner(but we will have to make do without rolls). According to Shuying, the reason this is an "Italian restaurant" is because they put cheese on top of the spaghetti, a completely foreign concept in Chinese food. We all choose what we want and off goes Patrick to place our order.
Dining out in Taiwan is completely different from the US. At many restaurants, you find your own seat and use an order form menu to choose your meal. Then you go turn in your order and pay. Then, your order is brought to you, but not all at once. Meals are released from the kitchen as they are finished being cooked, not gathered and delivered to the table all at once. Also, they do not generally drink anything with a meal, instead they have soup with a clear broth. Our hosts keep laughing at us because we seem to drink an enormous amount of bottled water, though I suspect we would drink more if it was cold or we had ice
Patrick and Alan's meals arrive first, then mine, Ted's, and Melinda's arrive about 5 mins later. Melinda and I both had ordered sodas and they didn't come until our meal was almost finished. Plus they were warm. Shuying's meal never arrived. Off goes Patrick again and the manager returns saying that her meal will be ready in about 5 mins, maybe. Shuying opts to skip spaghetti and find dinner at the night market. By the way I ordered the spaghetti milk chicken which tasted like turkey tetrazini because it also had red, yellow, and green peppers in it.
Last stop, the Tainan City Night Market. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the nightly equivalent of the NC State Fair. Despite negotiating a small traffic jam, we were able to find a parking spot close to the entrance. The night market was ablaze with floodlights, and there were red and yellow flags in the air everywhere. Near the entrance were port-a-johns, complete with eastern style toilet. Although I have finally mastered how to use one properly, I will hold it until I die rather than use one of these port-a-johns. There is no amount of hand sanitizer that could make me change my mind.
Once inside, Alan and Shuying went in search of food, while poor Patrick got stuck herding the cats again
We drove back to the hotel, said good bye to Alan and Patrick, and agreed to meet them tomorrow morning at 8:30p.