Tag Archives: Changhua

Old and the New, Ancient and Modern ~ Welcome to Changhua 彰化!

Changhua is at the heart of rural Taiwan.  Honest, it don’t get much more rural than Changhua!  It’s just south of Taichung, so it’s the beginning of southern Taiwan.  Flat farmland stretches for miles from the coast inland – with rice and fruit growing, and wind farms galore. Last Saturday, my good friend En-Yu (Rebecca) and her daughter took me around Changhua City and Changhua County for the day.  It’s a real mix of old and new, ancient and modern – all mixed up, like this old house with painted wall…

Pride of place goes to the Changhua Roundhouse, mentioned in my previous post.  That is so special it needs a post of it’s own.  And last August we visited Changhua Art Centre, the new skywalk and the big Buddha at Baguashan, for that blog post, check it out here.

The oldest place we visited this time was DaoDong Tutorial Academy 道東書院 in Hemei, built in the Qing Dynasty, about 1857, an early school, and also now a shrine.  It’s beautiful!

It’s also free, and nobody else was there except a gardener.  Fascinating!

We then move rapidly into the 21st century with some new street art in Changhua City. Dull and boring grey walls of homes are being painted in different colours all over rural Taiwan, inspired maybe by the success of the Rainbow Village in Taichung.  In Changhua Chung-Chuang Local Community they have taken a 3D art approach 彰化忠權彩繪社區 which is attracting a lot of visitors, especially children – and brightens up the area ~ there’s even snowmen ha ha!

Moving along, we also visited 2 factories that are open to visitors, one making biscuits (cookies) and another making cakes.  Both offer DIY baking and cooking sessions for children.  The cake factory is new, and looks like, yep you’ve guessed it, a cake. I like it. Factories all over the world are famous for being the most unattractive and terrible-looking designs, so this one takes the biscuit (well, cake)!

And then to the Rainbow House 卡里善之樹, which is full of umbrellas.  This village used to be famous for making umbrellas, and one of the homes is now set out to show the world that a few umbrellas can brighten up a place immensely.  Success!  A boring old alleyway has been transformed by hanging umbrellas.  And as for the tree, well, yes, it’s an umbrella tree.  All quite amazing!

So that’s Changhua. Changing fast.  Mixing old and new.  Ancient and modern.  There’s plenty more to see, plenty more painted walls all over the place that we drove past but had not time to stop. This is the one at the Rainbow House…

Ah it’s fun, yes Changhua is a great place!

Changhua Roundhouse 彰化扇形車庫 ‘Fan-Shaped Train Garage’ ~ must-go, must-see!

This place is really so gobsmackingly amazing, it’s definitely a MUST-GO, MUST-SEE (note the capitals) kind of destination!

And not just for train-lovers either.  For anyone.  And especially for anyone who has grown up with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends.  Which is pretty much everyone today in the UK, either with the original Railway Series books (26 written by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry from 1945-72, and a further 16 written by his son, Christopher Awdry – 14 between 1983 and 1996, and 2 more in 2007 and 2011) or through the TV series, Thomas and Friends from 1984 onwards.  In the stories, the engines have their own roundhouse where all the engines live.  Well, Taiwan has its own real live version of the Thomas the Tank Engine Roundhouse ~ welcome to the Changhua Roundhouse in central Taiwan…

First you must check out this wonderful article about the Changhua Roundhouse on the very excellent Synapticism website – the author (Alexander Synaptic) has done a lot of homework, so you’ll find all the information there, and I quote:

‘One of the most unique attractions in Taiwan 台灣 is the historic Changhua Roundhouse 彰化扇形車庫, originally built in 1922 during Japanese colonial rule and still in operation today. Although information is hard to come by it seems that it might be the only roundhouse still operating in Asia—and certainly one of the oldest still in regular use anywhere in the world. Every other roundhouse I researched for this article has been abandoned, demolished, repurposed, or converted into a museum, and those rare few that are still operational have been mighty hard to date. As such, the Changhua Roundhouse is a dream to visit for a railway enthusiast like myself, particularly since the ambiance hasn’t been ruined by the sort of tacky treatment you’ll often find at Taiwanese tourist attractions….. This roundhouse is one of six that were built in Taiwan 台灣 in Japanese times; others were once found in Taipei, Hsin­chu, and Chiayi 嘉義, with two more in Kao­hsiung. Like most of the others this roundhouse is semicircular – hence the name in Chinese, 扇形車庫, which translates to “fan-shaped train garage”.’

So I’ve known about the Changhua Roundhouse for years, after all, you pass it if you’re heading north out of Changhua on a train, but it’s gone from view in a flash, and I never knew it could be visited, nor that it was still being used.

On Saturday I had the chance to go to visit, along with hundreds of others. It is very very popular with families, groups, young couples, old people, everyone!

Entry is free, just sign in the visitors book. There’s even a 2-floor viewing tower.  And photo opportunities galore!

While we were there, a train was being driven in and out of its shed to be inspected.  The turntable was not used that day, but it’s clearly well-used.

There was plenty to see, including an old black steam train sitting on the left side….

And plenty of others, all orange!

Some getting inspected….

And others just taking it easy…..

Plus an empty shed or two….

Ah, yes, it’s a great place to visit – it’s real history still in action, and so much fun! Definitely Changhua’s most interesting destination, and so easy to get to.  And free!  Must-go, must-see as soon as possible!

A big thank you to my friend En-Yu, who lives nearby and who met me at the train station and took me there, along with her daughter.  Afterwards, the next place to visit is the nearby iced dou-hua stall (temps were in the 30’s, so iced anything was very welcome!), followed by all the local Changhua delicacies, all within walking distance!

Beautiful people and places of Dadu 大肚 and Changhua 彰化 ~ Thank you Rebecca 劉恩渝 and all the family!

Such a fun day, and we got to go on the new skywalk ~ YES!

In September 1999, I started working at St. James’ Church, Taichung, about the same time as St. James had a new church administrator, Rebecca Liu.  We shared the church office together, along with Rev. Charles C. T. Chen, the rector of St. James’ Church.  Rebecca was our right-hand person, always so willingly on hand to do whatever needed doing whenever it was needed, and she was always always so lovely!

At Chinese New Year 2000, Rebecca kindly invited me to her home for the Liu family celebratory meal on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Their home is in Dadu, on the very edge of Taichung, towards the coast. Dadu 大肚 means ‘big tummy’, which is what happens to you if you enjoy too much the good hospitality of the wonderful Liu family in Dadu!

That evening, Chinese New Year’s Eve 2000, Rebecca’s oldest brother, his wife and 2 young children were also living there.  Their little boy was called Bo-Shen, he was toddling around, and his baby sister, Yi-Ting had been born only about 2 weeks before, and their mother was spending her one-month of confinement after the baby’s birth.

That’s the history!  While Rebecca was working at St. James, she was baptized and also changed her Chinese name to 劉恩渝 Liu En-Yu.  Later she married very handsome Mr. Huang, moved to Changhua, and now their delightful 10-year-old daughter Han-Han is part of their lives too.  This past Saturday I spent the whole day with Rebecca and her family, and y’know what, I also got to meet little Bo-Shen, baby Yi-Ting and the whole family, and yep, those kids are all grown up!

First Rebecca and Han-Han took me to the Liu family home, where her mother still lives, the same house in Dadu where we had spent such a happy Chinese New Year celebration all those years ago ~ YES!

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Rebecca’s mother is now 68 and as energetic as ever, she helps at the local Dadu Community Centre every Saturday.  All the old people in the local community are invited there for morning exercises, chat, lunch and karaoke, and funded by the Taichung City Government.  Dadu used to be in Taichung County, but in 2010, Taichung County merged with Taichung City, and everyone says things are much better since, including the provision of special activities like this one.  We went to the community centre to visit, and even had some lunch with the volunteers, all smiling away!

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And then off we went, about 30 minutes drive away to Changhua, where Rebecca lives with her husband and daughter.  Her husband, Mr. Huang is a teacher, artist and sculptor, and in his spare time belongs to a group called 醉石創藝協會 (Tsui-shih Creative Arts Association). They are currently having an exhibition at the 國立彰化生活美學館 Changhua Living Art Center, so we went to visit.  Mr. Huang himself was at his pottery class all day, so we didn’t meet him, and the museum staff are very strict in enforcing the ‘no photos’ rule at the museum, so these photos are from Rebecca, and from the museum facebook page. Oh, I did get one photo from outside the main entrance, looking in.  Mr. Huang’s amazing stone sculptures are mostly of turtles, and they are beautiful, just so life-like! The biggest one is actually the main exhibit in the main entrance ~ so you must go if you have the chance!

Just outside the museum is the start of the brand new skywalk that was only opened last month and is proving to be a major tourist attraction for Changhua.  The Taipei Times article about it is here.  The skywalk goes up to heights of 16m and it is just over a km along to Baguashan (八卦山), famous for its 26m-tall Buddha statue.

Saturday was a very very dull, overcast and muggy day, hot and humid with no breeze whatsoever, and no sun. So the photos are dull and overcast too, but maybe such weather is better for walking on a skywalk!  The flame trees were in full flower and the walk is safe and secure. Taiwan has a number of high glass bridges and they are scary, but the skywalk feels very safe!  At Baguashan they were selling eggs of every kind, including huge ostrich eggs, the biggest NT$ 550.  It’s many years since I went to Baguashan, and we wandered up into the big Buddha as far up as shoulder-level to see the view and the exhibition.  But it was very hot and the skies were getting greyer and blacker ~ so we were pleased to get back to the car before the rain started!

We went into town to visit Rebecca’s parents-in-law, in fact we parked outside their house to go for lunch. Mr. Huang senior is also an artist, and their house is full of his paintings; but he couldn’t stop long to see us as he was rushing off to attend an art exhibition grand opening ceremony along with his younger brother who lives next door, and, guess what – he’s also an artist!

So our next stop was back to Dadu to visit Rebecca’s eldest brother and his family, who now live in their own house not far from Rebecca’s mother.  This is the same brother whose wife had just given birth to baby Yi-Ting in January 2000.  Wow, and they haven’t changed a bit!  Their son, Bo-Shen is now all set and ready to start in September studying Mechanical Design Engineering at HuWei 國立虎尾科技大學 (National Formosa University) in Yunlin, about an hour’s drive south of Dadu.  Wow, such a nice, polite young man!  We all sat around drinking tea and more tea, then coffee, and munching on snacks of every kind for several hours, catching up after 16 years, and talking about what life might be like at university.  And we later switched to English.  And here they all are!

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And then Yi-Ting came home, who I haven’t seen since she was a baby.  Of course she’s now 16, and plays the French Horn in her school wind band.  There were 2 other band members with her and they were off to a concert that evening. Here’s everyone, Yi-Ting is the one down in the front with Han-Han!

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And OK, one with me too!

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And to finish off the evening, we went up to Dadu Plateau to Tung-Hai University Night Market for BBQ.  Of course it was delicious, and y’know what?  When we walked into the BBQ place, there was a family from Advent Church, the Yang family, whose son Paul was married only a few weeks ago to Christine, and the whole family was there having BBQ dinner! Wow, it’s such a small world!  Here we all are….

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And yes, I know you can see I’m there clutching Winnie-the-Pooh!  It was a gift from Han-Han, who has inherited her father’s great art skills, and her mother’s great people skills, and just loves everybody and everything, and just didn’t want to go home!

But home we had to go, as I had to be speaking at the English Service at St. James’ Church on Sunday morning!

What a great day, such lovely people and such a fun time!  Thank you Rebecca and all the family for such a wonderful welcome, and thanks be to God for such great friends and happy reunions!