A Look into the Changhua Undiscovered
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Did you know that Changhua is actually one of the first cities to have been developed in Taiwan?

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Translated by Olivia Yang

Changhua is probably not an unfamiliar place for most people. Even if you have never been there, you have surely heard of the place, which is known for its agriculture industry. But did you know that Changhua is actually one of the first cities to have been developed in Taiwan?

Photo Credit: Ted Chi CC BY SA 2.0

The first attraction most people visit when arriving in Changhua is the Lukang (鹿港) in the traditional saying, “First Tainan, second Lukang, third Bangka" (「一府二鹿三艋舺」). The most unique architecture landscape of Lukang is the temples. Are you curious why such a small town like Lugang houses so many temples with historic value? Let’s hop on a pedicab and discover the culture of Lukang in the old streets of the town.

Take a historical look into Lugang on a pedicab

We can’t actually look at Lukang from a modern perspective. During the Qing Dynasty, the town was the trading location in southern Taiwan due to its geographic location and natural coastal terrain. It was where goods from both the north and south were gathered and distributed. No one would have called Lukang a “small town" (otherwise all the other places in Taiwan would be called, “nano towns"). Lukang traded frequently with other coastal towns and temples like Lukang Mazu Temple (鹿港天后宮) and Longshan Temple (龍山寺) were built for the fishermen and merchants to pray for safety on the waters. Even to this day, people still visit the Mazu Temple frequently, and paying a visit to the temple is like seeing the fishermen gathering in the space and praying to Mazu (媽祖) piously.

Photo Credit: y . l yeh CC BY SA 2.0

But trouble was difficult to avoid because of the large amount of people coming through for trade. To prevent being attacked by thieves back then, the locals built “narrow gates" near their homes, which also served as divisions of the territories of different gangs. Once the doors were closed, outsiders couldn’t take a single step across the perimeters. The narrow door behind Lukang Houche Lane (鹿港後車巷) is the only one left and is a historic relic that has witnessed the rise and fall of Lukang.

Photo Credit: Bunkichi Chang CC BY SA 2.0

In addition to architecture, Lukang snacks are also unique. The well-known local traditional seafood snack is a dish called, “fried shrimp monkey (炸蝦猴) ." “Shrimp monkey" is the common name for mud shrimps. In the past, the locals couldn’t afford meat, so once they caught mud shrimps, the people would pickle them with heavy salt and spices. No wonder there is a local saying, “One shrimp monkey to go with three bowls of porridge (一隻蝦猴配三碗粥)." As their lives became more prosperous, the locals started frying ingredients to enhance the crispiness of their food, which also attracted visitors from all places. Taro balls are another traditional snack. Changhua used to grow a lot of taro, but because there were too many, the locals would slice them into slivers, add cornstarch, wrap the taro with pork and steam them into balls to make a delicious snack.

Last mystery revealed: why is the place called Lukang (Lu meaning deer in Chinese)? There’s actually more than one answer to this question. Some say Lugang was originally called “Lu-a-gang." Before the Han Chinese started immigrating over in large numbers, the area was where the Pingpu tribe would hunt for deer. Others say that the name came from the deer-like shape of the region. Some even say the area was where rice was gathered and exported, and the warehouses that stored the rice were also called, “lu." This also led to the term, “Lukang rice," and you can see Lukang’s importance in rice distribution and the flourishing business development in the region.

Stepping into the sea on an ox cart

Near the seashore not far from Lukang lies Fangyuan village (芳苑鄉), which is known for farming oysters. But fat oysters aren’t the only thing the area is famous for; there is also the traditional “undersea ox cart." Ox carts usually appear in rice fields, so why does Changhua have ones in the sea?

圖片由芳苑地方文史工作者魏清水提供

It turns out that in the past, the agricultural community had a shortage of materials, so the locals that lived near the tidal zone usually planted crops and fish simultaneously to make extra money. Ox carts can work in both the rice fields and help harvest oysters in the sea, so they became useful tools for the locals.

圖片由芳苑地方文史工作者魏清水提供

Sitting on an ox cart during low tide and staring out into the vast oyster field, you see oyster farmers cleaning oyster shells for oyster seedlings or taking care of the field and putting on shoes for the ox to make sure it doesn’t hurt its hooves. As you wander around the field at the slow and steady pace of the ox cart, fiddler crabs poke out their heads and greet you, taking advantage of the brief low tide. The clean intertidal ecology is an important asset of the Changhua coastal area, with nature and humanity intertwined being the most unforgettable view of the fishing village.

But with the changing times, the ox carts have been fully replaced by machines in the western plains and those harvesting oysters in Fangyuan are the only ox carts of the kind left in Taiwan. The scene is worth visiting to experience the once simple years.

Cycling in the hometown of flowers

The coast of Changhua coastal develops oyster fields and seaport trade, but the inland is known for its agriculture crops. When speaking of flowers in Taiwan, people immediately think of the Tianwei area (田尾地區) in Changhua. Cycling in the stunning Tianwei Highway Garden (田尾公路花園), vibrant colors meet the eye and one can’t help but admire the exquisite skills of the flower farmers.

圖片由社團法人彰化縣田尾公路花園協會提供

But how did Tianwei come to develop the flower industry? In the 1960s, people brought in different plants from other places and started to grow them in Changhua because of the particularly good soil quality and climate of the area. The region gradually started to develop into a flower settlement and began to promote the planting of flowers through the support of the local government and policies. This is how Changhua turned into the most well known city of flowers in Taiwan.

圖片由社團法人彰化縣田尾公路花園協會提供

Unlike other counties with flower seasons usually limited to one month, the flowers in Changhua bloom all year round and the colors change from season to season. In addition, you can also enjoy the unique scenery of chrysanthemums under lights at night. The lights are meant to adjust the flowering season of the flowers and have now become a unique attraction. A sea of lights like the galaxy peeking out of the dark in the warm evening breeze is worth a visit. Immerse yourself in nature with a trip to Tianwei Highway Garden and forget about all your worries. Simply take in the beauty and the meaning of traveling will surface in these moments.

After reading these three ways to travel Changhua, don’t you think it’s time to re-visit the city? Take a weekend and casually visit Lukang, the oyster fields of Fangyuan and the Tianwei Highway Garden. You can also get free bike rental vouchers if you stay at Forte Hotel Changhua and wander in the flower fields.

Off to Changhua! Let’s go anywhere!

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