Monday, September 28, 2009

Taipei Travel Log: A Day in Danshui - 淡水一日游

On a glorious sat, I decided to take my husband out to Danshui for sightseeing. Due to our prior dinner appointment, we couldnt stick around for the sunset at the fisherman wharf. Plus, we figured we wont be missing out too much since we have seen so many sunset round the world that we figured this sunset wont be any much more different or more spectacular than the rest. Not that we think any lesser of the sunset at Danshui, but rather there wasnt much incentive for us to stick around since we were already there since 2pm. It's a pretty tiring day just from walking around.
In Danshui, quite frankly, the best thing is to eat. Just walk through the old Street (老街), you will pass by so many stalls that will set your senses alight, if it hasnt confused them from the varying fragrances and tempting visual delights. From the very first store, we were lured by the piping hot Taiwan sauage made from wild boar. It was much meatier, lengthy and juicer than the ususal Taiwan sauage. Next, we spied on the seasoned squid store and bought another cup of squid to munch on as we soldier on towards the Unesco heritage site.

Along the way, I was tempted by so many things. From the muahchee, to the mochi balls, to the Ah ge, and huge slab of chicken cutlet...crap..there are so much to choose from that I had to restrain myself from overeating so that I wont be too full for my BBQ dinner tonite.

For dessert, we stopped by this store which allows you to choose from an assortment of ingredients such as yuyuan, grass jelly etc to go with the shaved iced soya beancurd. It's basically similar Singapore version of Ice Kachang without the Kachang (red beans) and different set of flavors combination.
We walked along the riverbay. hot hot hot. It was a really clear sunny day. I cursed aloud for forgetting my cap but at least i rem my shades. My husband had none. I gloated at him in glee...

We were pretty lucky. It was UNESCO heritage day in Danshui (淡水认识古迹日) that weekend, so for all the buildings and sights we visited, we didnt have to pay any entrance fee. One of the more interesting building was the Red Castle (淡水红毛城), initially built by the Spanish in the 17th century (secretly sneaking behind the Dutch rule of the area then) and later after a period of desolation, under China's rule, the building was rented out to the Brits as some diplomatic embassy office and holding cells. While inside, I was lucky to bump into this Malaysian group threesome who was being led around by a Taiwan guide explaining the history of the place, throwing in rumoured myths and stories of the hidden tunnel between red castle here in Danshui to the building in Kee long. My husband doesnt understand mandarin so we split up as he checked out the place on his own while I was more interested in what the guide was explaining about the building.

There was also a pretty ancient looking Chinese temple which was built based on numerous and generous donations by the locals back in 1782, showing the height of belief of the population then. It is the oldest Mazu (妈祖庙) temple in Danshui. Inside the temple nearest the main entrance on the left hand side, there is also an inscription of the history and orgins of the temple, as well as the remains of a stone tablet embedded in the wall. the tablet is actually an inscription declaring all the people who contributed to building this important lighthouse in the Tamshui region back then (which serve as a bustling port and shipping trades), to prevent ships from crashing and sinking, as well as guilding them around. Unfortunately, the Japanese had bombed and utterly destroyed the lighthouse during world war and hence, only the tablet remains to remind us of the little bit of history.

We walked further up to the Litle White House, which building is a small building that shows all the history of the place. Ok alittle boring, so we scouted out there in a jiffy since the building itself is not very interesting.

While strolling back to the station, we stop by this store which served this muahchee thingie, not made of glutinous rice but with fresh milk. I decided to try it since it sounded interesting. truthfully, while its not as sticky and filling as the glutinous rice version, this milk version was lacking in something. I cannot se exactly what but perhaps the milk flavour doesnt blend well with the black sesamee coating we chosed.

There are alot of cafes lined along the waterfront, which are all fully filled by 5pm of course. Its a nice respite from the sun and fatigue but you will have to go early to grab the best spot. The only thing is, they are directly in the sun during the afternoon sun so you wont want to be there too early either.

The only thing I didnt quite try was the black eggs called 铁蛋, literally translated as metal eggs. There is nothing metallic about it but rather its just fermented shrunk chicken eggs. I am no fan of eggs so despite all the advice that I should try it, I politely declined.

All in all, another good day, especially when it all comes free and a day filled with good history of another place. Throw in great snacks and food, what else is there to say.

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