Exploring Chiayi

April 1 - 5, 2016

After a fun filled Children's Day at school Tina, Arial, and I had big plans for our 4 day weekend that lay ahead! {Thanks Tomb Sweeping Day!} On my quest to visit each of the 15 counties on mainland Taiwan, I am getting to the point that I only have a couple left on my list with one county being Tainan. Luckily, Arial's family to the rescue! Her mom's side of the family lives in Tainan and her aunt was gracious enough to allow the three of us to stay at their house for several days while we explored the area. {Bonus points to her cousin who also volunteered to drive us around saving us from the headache that easily follows trying to figure out public transportation in a new city!}

Sadly since Ariel lives on the other side of the country from Tainan (Tainan is in the southwest part of the country) she couldn't make it to Tainan until Saturday early evening {don't even get me started on this, I know it's crazy! Taiwan is a TEENY country but because of the mountains in the middle it takes FOREVER to get from point A to point B} Well, Tina and I are not easily discouraged, so we decided to head down early, Friday after school and get the weekend started right away!

Friday evening I met Tina late at the Chiayi train station {the county directly above Tainan} where we grabbed a quick dinner of Mos Burger (a Taiwanese fast food joint) and headed to our small hostel we had booked near the center of the small city of Chiayi. Arriving to the hostel we talked with the owner for a bit asking about what to do in the area before we headed out for a late night snack at the local Wenhua night market...turkey rice...a southern specialty that I was more than glad I tried! After our late night snack we found our way back to our hostel {lucky duck us had the room to ourselves} and stayed up talking far too late into the evening before we finally called it a night.

Saturday morning we woke up with only the most tentative of plans as we quickly found out there wasn't a ton to do in Chiayi, but we were bound to enjoy our day and cross yet another county off our bucket lists! First on our list for the day was the Chiayi Park. Naturally though we stumble upon a crowd of people at a local tea shop and I stop and ask what the specialty is and order myself a tall glass of the local fruit tea. After our tea break we continued on to the park still with few expectations of what we would find.

Surprisingly for us though, the park was quite large and there was an art exhibit going on that day with local artists spread about painting the scenery while others sold their works. One man in particular was selling his wood burning and invited Tina and I over to try our hand at making a bamboo woo burning on a key chain. After spending a little more time checking out this park {imagine a mini Central Park in Taiwan!} we headed to our next destination; the Chiayi Prison Museum. Was the museum neat to look through; yes. Was a one hour tour in Chinese necessary for 2 non-Chinese speakers; no. Were we forced to take the tour if we wanted to see the inside; most certainty! Being honest, the prison was neat to look at, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it if you don't speak Chinese unless you REALLY LOVE prisons!

By now it was early afternoon and we had one more spot we wanted to hit before we hopped on the train to meet Arial in Tainan. Hinoki Village was last on our list and sadly we would have loved to spend more time there! This cultural village is made of Japanese forestry homes and contains "crafts" from this historical time period in Taiwan's history.  Leaving Hinoki Village we grabbed our things from the hostel and headed to the train station to meet Arial and the remainder of our weekend down south!

After meeting up with Ariel, her cousin picked us up from the train station and took us to an old sugar factory that is now the home of a band called 10 drums and their cultural village that they have set up within the old factory. The drum performance was amazing and the views from the city on their many elevated walk ways were beautiful.  We spent the evening walking around, relaxing, and snacking our way through the old factory and warehouses. Afterwards we went to the movies to watch Batman vs Superman. Needless to say at 11:30pm + it being dark in the theater + it not being my type of movie + my popcorn running out...I snoozed for a couple minutes and woke up wondering why one of the main characters was dead...clearly it was bed time for me at this point!

My bamboo wood carving along with my Chinese name.