29 – 30 December 2013
Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan- a great place for food and history. Tainan city holds few interesting sites- a few temples here and there but compare it with Anping- the latter is the best.
Anping is the historical heart of Tainan and home to the Anping Old Fort (50TWD). Europeans came to trade and develop colonial outposts in the early 17th century.
The Dutch occupied present-day Anping in 1624 and took a decade to build Fort Zeelandia. In 1662, the name was changed to King Castle/Anping Castle and when the Japanese rebuilt it and gave it its present name. The only Dutch remains are the ruins of a semicircular bulwark, section of the outer fort’s brick wall and the root of a banyan tree.
A walk around the old town with its alleys, unique shops and residential areas is soothing. Everything is walkable.
Although this empty building lies in ruins, it is nevertheless alluring ….not to mention how random it is.
Anping Road as one of the oldest roads in Anping is filled with local snack stands. From coffin toast to oyster and thin noodles to elite cakes, you are able to find any local snacks. There are also some areca nut stores nearby and believing that they are coconut puffs, I went up to buy a packet. The lady smiled and said ” Girls don’t chew it. It’s not good. It’s addictive and gives you oral cancer.” Clearly, I wasn’t thinking clearly.
Anping Road is also in close proximity to various stores and open air markets which reminds me of the more carefree younger years.
Anping is the hometown of the Sword-lion. The Sword-lion square (www.slion.com.tw) with its gift shops, open markets, gardens and cafes celebrates this unique tradition. Everywhere I went, Anping is filled with sword-lion symbols from parks to souvenirs to residential homes. You can get your individualised birthday sword-lion.
The origin of the sword-lion dates back to the days when Anping was a key position for the Koxinga’s navy. Koxinga is a Chinese military leader from the Ming Dynasty who defeated the Dutch during their reign in Taiwan. After drilling, Koxinga’s soldiers would put their lion-face shields on the main gates of their home and insert their swords to indicate that they have returned home. The thieves knew that the houses belonged to the soldiers so dared not to intrude. The locals started to imitate this and gradually over time, the sword-lion become a symbol of protection and a mascot of Anping.