Saturday, October 13, 2012

Where are we? 船仔頭

On the weekend of October the 13th I had a chance to join my fellow Shida classmates on a trip to a small village called船仔頭 (chuan zi tou). It was a unique experience to say the least. Together with the comradery, the new friends I met, the dragon boat rowing and the midnight oyster grilling, it was an experience I will not soon forget.
            From the video showed to us at the very beginning of the trip, we learned that 船仔頭 had a population of 300. It was a long forgotten and run down village until a recent renewal of the village brought in tourists and business. It still remains a village of traditional three-section courtyard houses with the three houses enclosing the courtyard. Many of the other houses still haven’t been renovated and still have the feel of a sleepy old ghost town. It’s a stark contrast to city life in Taipei. I found it relaxing and easy going as if life slowed down for those two days.
The accommodations were very acceptable for a tiny village in the middle nowhere Taiwan too. I’m a bit of a stickler for well-kept and clean living quarters and I’d have to say they held up their end.  The bathrooms were new and clean. The sleeping quarters were traditional style (Japanese style?). We sleep on a mattress that is on top of a platform (like a stage), so it still feels like sleeping on the floor without being on the floor. I slept so well that night. Better than I’ve slept in a while. And since it was a bed and breakfast place, we woke up to a typical Taiwanese breakfast in the dining hall. Toast, rice porridge and soymilk!
The annual 朴子 temple paradeOur Shida coordinator, Lisa, was kind enough to arrange many wonderful activities for us to participate in. These included two days of dragon boating and kayaking down the Puzi river, making red turtle cakes, Chinese embroidery, bicycling and a night of oyster grilling. The last one is my favorite. I can’t deny the beer, oysters, good food and great friends. The staff at the village was kind, friendly and courteous. They helped us setup a grill, a table and chairs. In addition, they also brought a giant basket of oysters and several large bottles of beer. We all ate, drank and laughed into the hours of the night until everyone passed out. Might I add, the weather was perfect. Slightly warm during the daytime and cooling during the evening. You could have asked for better weather. Oh I almost forgot to include the awesome picnic lunch we had outside under the whispering trees. 米粉, shrimp, earthen jar oven roasted chicken, deep fried king oyster mushrooms and earthen jar cooked sweet potatoes. There’s still the surprising large 朴子市觀光夜市 night market that went to, Garlic’s Sugar Factory (Garlic is the town name) and a tour through the town and it’s traditional farming techniques. Thinking back on it, we experienced a lot of activities on such a short and slow paced trip.
In the end, it is a memorable departure from your usual touristy spots in Taiwan and I appreciate it. My thanks goes out to Lisa for organizing this for us and to the friendly townsfolk of船仔頭 for the wonderful time I had.