Day Trip 2010
During my first year in Taiwan, during the academic year 2009-10, I spent part of the winter break in Hsinchu, dog sitting for one of my friends. On one of those days, a mutual friend, Mei-Hung, came and took me for a day trip. This was the first of several day trips I would have with Mei-Hung while in Taiwan, and right from the beginning, I learned that a day trip with her is to be treasured. She starts out with a loose plan, but she’s always open to opportunities that present themselves. On this first trip, she took me to the historical Hu-Kou Street in the mountainous area near Hsinchu. What an amazing place, full of culture and things to see. Best of all, it wasn’t crowded, so we could really just wander around and enjoy the sights.
On both sides of Hu-Kou Old Street (300 meters long), vendors of all kinds offered merchandise and foods of all kinds. According to information found here, Old Street first started in 1893 when a north-south railway station was established. However, the economic development didn’t last long because the station was relocated in 1929. In recent years, efforts were made to restore Old Street and make it a center of economic growth and culture again. You can go to http://travel.hsinchu.gov.tw/page.aspx?wtp=3&wnd=142&id=510 for more information.
One interesting building located on Old Street is the Catholic Church established in 1965 and featuring Italian architecture. After being shut down in 1993, “Old Hukou Catholic Church Museum” was reopened in 2001 as a center for local arts and literature. Here, you can see us in the interior of the museum. I love the traditional hakka fabric that is draped from the beams. This fabric is also made in bright blues, greens, pinks, and purples. I know that before I leave Taiwan, I will make some kind of quilt with these fabrics or bring some back with me. They always attract my attention, regardless of the color.
An interesting cultural phenomenon, especially among young people in Taiwan, is to take photos of their meals before they eat. This is one case where it would have been great to have photographed lunch. Mei-Hung ordered a variety of traditional hakka dishes, which I remember thoroughly enjoying. Without any pictures of my own, I offer this one I located on the internet.
After lunch, there were more shops to visit, and we headed out for afternoon coffee. This tea shop below was tempting, but my host had other plans–a trip to a particular coffee shop that would lead to a magical afternoon involving three of my favorite things.
NEXT: Three of My Favorite Things (Hu-Kou Old Street, Part II)