Monday, December 14, 2015

Yunlin (雲林) Special - How to go to Beigang from Chiayi - Beigang Tourist Bridge - Beigang Chaotian Temple (北港朝天宫) - Wude Temple (武德宮) - Beigang Historic Streets - Yimin Temple (義民廟) [Taiwan Day 834: "Yunlin, I Choose You! Part 3" “The Gang of Beigang” - Dec. 13, 2015]


I usually book my hostels through Hostelworld.com or Hostels.com but trying to look for a hostel in Yunlin in these websites was not a success. My google search led me to some homestays that were more expensive than the cost of a bed in dorm type hostels in Taiwan. I was able to find one hostel near Douli Station but its website was in Chinese giving me the idea that I will have difficulty communicating with the staff. The neighboring province of Chiayi was the only place where I can have a place to sleep.
 

Thanks to the efficient train systems of Taiwan, I was able to board a train from Douli Station in Yunlin going to Chiayi Station. The travel time was only 30 minutes and I just walked for 15 minutes to reach my hostel. After getting enough rest, I started my day at 5 am walking back to Chiayi Station. I need to find the bus stop for Bus 7201 which goes to Beigang town. A taxi was following me as I looked for the intersection of Zhongshan Road and Xirong Street. The driver might have thought I would never find the bus stop for Bus 7201 and just instead ride in his taxi. Haha!





Bus 7201 left at exactly at 6am. The sky was still dark until the light rays of the sun woke me up like an alarm clock. “Beigang”, said the driver. I then suddenly saw the Beigang Tourist Bridge with the sun just rising up from the horizon. “Good morning Beigang. I am going to meet your gang”, I said to myself. 




Mazu Bridge






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Beigang town is one of the townships of Yunlin and it is located along a river. Cross that river and and you will be in Chiayi province. Bridges connect the two provinces and one of the well-known bridges in Beigang is the so called “Beigang Tourist Bridge”. The dragon shape of the bridge made it beautiful behind the mighty sun during sunrise and I didn't waste time taking photos. There was another bridge that looks like a bridge in Taipei. It was the Mazu bridge and its tower resembles the coronet of the goddess Mazu.

From the Beigang Tourist Bridge is the Zhongshan Road which is lined up with shops and food stalls. The lively atmosphere of the busy road is matched by the holiness of the Chaotian Temple which is located at the end of Zhongshan Road. So along Zhongshan Road in Biegang are two important sites, on one end is the Beigang Tourist Bridge and on the other end is the Chaotian Temple which is the Beigang's most important temple.


























Beigang Temple may look simple but locals said that it is “rich” temple. It's rich in a sense that it receive enormous amounts of donations from visitors especially during Chinese New Year. It also rich because it is an old temple built in 1694 and the cobblestones at its entrance reflects its grand age. The goddess Mazu is worshipped here and two demon-looking statues welcomed me upon entering the temple and they are Qian li yan and Shun feng er. Qian Li yan can see things from afar while Shun feng er can hear things from afar.























An attractive building beside the Mazu building

A five-storey building stands at the back of Chaotian Temple and I climbed the stairs to reach its top floor where a large statue of the goddess Mazu stands. She looks at the town Beigang like a guardian in the sky protecting the old town. Looking down from the building of Mazu I saw Chaotian Temple below and it is surrounded by a circular road making the temple look like a castle.
 
















 







There is another temple that one needs to see in Beigang and it's the Wude Temple. However, it is located kilometers away from Chaotian Temple and one must walk, ride a bus or take a taxi to reach the temple. I managed to walk under the scorching sun and the big structure of the temple surprised me. It's so huge and even its archway was gigantic! As I walked near the temple, I noticed that there was a ceremony where men “hurt” themselves by using swords or other pointed objects. I followed them inside the temple and tension filled the air as the ceremony ends. The men who performed in the ceremony suddenly got weak in front of the altar like there was a spirit that got out of their body. After the ceremony, I explored the other areas of Wude Temple and I was so surprised of its ceiling. It was three floors high!
 










I went inside the artist center.

















Like Lukang in Changhua which I visited in Taiwan Day 701 (Cha-Cha-Changhua Part 2), Beigang also have historic streets. I entered one narrow alley and I noticed that some houses were made up of bricks. The street was not as preserved as in Lukang town but I saw some resemblance. There was a wall with jars on it. From what I learned in my Lukang trip, jars on walls of homes represent the wealth of the house owner. The wall with a bunch of jars was part of an old home which was converted into an artist center. The arts and crafts of Beigang can be learned inside and there were also paintings of the goddess Mazu.
 





















 
Not far away from the artist center is the Yimin Temple. It was built in 1788 and is a unique temple in Taiwan. I have never seen a temple in Taiwan with three tombs in its premises! Hundreds of years of ago, brave men fought and died against rebels and they were buried here in Yimin Temple. Aside from the large tombs on its left and right side is another tomb located at the back of the temple. A brave and intelligent dog is said to be buried inside. The dog helped in protecting the town of Beigang and was also killed together with the hundreds of men who fought against the rebels. They were all called “yimin” or true martyrs.
 

Exploring the town of Beigang was a whole day affair and one could easily get tired. I got hungry along the way as I visit the tourist spots one by one. I saw many food stalls and my mouth became busy eating delicious foods. What were those tasty local delicacies in town of Beigang? You will find out in the final part of this “Yunlin Special”. (To be continued...)


THE COMPLETE YUNLIN SPECIAL
Taiwan Day 833: "Yunlin, I Choose You!" Part 1 “Catching Yunlin”
Taiwan Day 833: "Yunlin, I Choose You!" Part 2 “Yunlin's Best”
Taiwan Day 834: "Yunlin, I Choose You! Part 3" “The Gang of Beigang”
Taiwan Day 834: "Yunlin, I Choose You!" Finale "The Feast That Never Ends"


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