In celebration of Moon Festival and to take advantage of having the day off, Dan and I headed to Lugang for the weekend. We left early Saturday morning, heading into town to take the train to Changhua and then a bus to Lugang. Once arriving, we checked out the visitors center - which your Lonely Planet guide said would have maps in English and they could assist with finding a place to stay. We fortunately found maps, but had little luck with getting a hotel. After walking to the only hotel suggested by the clerk at the visitor center - a 15 floor highrise, that was WAY out of our price range - we consulted our guide again finding a resonable hotel. Then set out to locate the hotel. After about 20 minutes of walking, we stumbled upon it - HOTEL said the sign out front! We paid, were given a key, TV remote & a/c remote then trudged up 3 flights of stairs, numerous hallways, and an array of interesting archetectural features to our room, which happened to be at the end of the hall next to a balcony that overlooked a nearby park.
After we were settled, we headed out for some lunch before checking out an Art Museum. Lunch was bowl of meatball soup - two fat meatballs in a bowl of broth! Unfortunately, we had arrived just as the market was closing down for the day. We did, however, find what looked like a farmers market where they were still had meat and vegetables for sale. There were so many kinds of meat, many with parts still attached that I would rather not see!
With our stomachs atleast settled, we headed to the Art Museum. According to our book, it was to be located on Jhongshan road, however when we arrived, the doors were locked. After looking further into the article, we had to enter through another address, which was the Din Family Old House. This old home has been transformed into a beautiful temple like building with two courtyards that when walked through connect two parallel streets. It was absoluetly beautiful.
Once we stopped taking pictures of this old house, we headed to the museum. As we came closer we were overcome by this majestic old mansion that was the museum.
It cost NT$130 to get in, but was well worth every penny. This museum was once the home to a very wealthy family. It consists of a beautiful courtyard on three sides complete with an arboritum, stream with fish, and wooden swing hung from a tree. We walked around the outside before venturing into the building. The main house was a square shaped, two stories, with a courtyard in the center, where each room was filled with different artifacts from Taiwan's history. There were clothes, tools, dishes, furtiture, paitings, statues, etc. Next we ventured into what we believe to be the guest house, or servent quarters. Here we found more artifacts as well as an art gallery with a wide variety of beautiful orchids decorating it. (I sure do love orchids - and they're everywhere here!!)
We could have spent all day in this museum, it was so calm and tranquil. Before we left, we tried out a number of toys from the past. One of which was stilts - neither one of us were very good, but it was fun to play!
Next we headed to what was called Nine Turns Alley - an alley built with many turns and curves so as to block the wind and dust. However, as we were nearing the entrance to the alley, we heard bagpipes, so decided to check out where they were coming from. Next thing we know we were in the midst of a parade. Dan and I looked at each other with the excitement of a child and began to follow the parade, only to find that we were at the beginning and there was still more to come. In celebration of the Moon Festival, this parade was touring the city, stopping at each temple to pay respects to the temple gods. We stood outside one temple as the parade came through.
After the parade, we headed back to Nine Turns Alley and enjoyed a peaceful walk through this very beautiful alley. We ended near the market we had eaten lunch at and wandered around a bit as the shops and food stalls were opening up again for the evening. Then we headed to Old Market Street, similar to Nine Turns Alley but straight. It's has a quaint, small historic town feel to it with many shops and restaraunts.
As we emerged from this quiet street, we were spat out onto Jhongshan road again amidst the hustle and bustle of the night market. Being that it was near dark and we had only eaten a few meatballs for lunch, we grabbed what food we could find at the market. Dan tried an oyster omelet, while I tried cow tongue (not really). The oyster omelet was great (so Dan says - not much of an oyster eater myself), and the cow tongue, which is actually a pastry filled with a honey-like center in an oval shape, was delicious. Unfortunately, beyond this the market had little to offer besides moon cakes!! We decided to head back to our hotel when we heard the drums and bagpipes again...so we joined the crowd around a nearby temple and watched the show again.
We finally headed back to our hotel near 8:30 - an early night for us - but we spent the next few hours enjoying the boom and color of fireworks from our balcony. There were fireworks in all directions. It went on for hours - imagine the Grand Finale on the 4th of July lasting for hours on end!! I can only imagine what it's like for the Chinese New Year?!?