Tag Archives: Changhua

中秋節 Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Celebrations 🌕 St. James-Style!

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, when the moon is believed to be at its biggest and brightest for the whole year, has just been and gone, and it was quite some festival! As it fell on Thursday, October 1, so Taiwan had a 4-day holiday weekend ~ traditionally a time for family reunions, moon-gazing, barbecues, eating mooncakes and pomelo fruits. Even Teddy was celebrating, as children do – with the pomelo peel on his head!

Family reunions mean travel – as everyone heads home – which means traffic jams and long queues to get anywhere, but hey, it’s all worth it! It also means family outings to resorts, the beach, countryside, mountains, restaurants, shopping, coffee shops or wherever. Our area here on the NW Coast is always full of traffic on weekends and holidays – including the Harley Davidsons who roar up to the beach each weekend. This was the scene early on Thursday, while the guys were having breakfast…

Near the beach is the Shuang-Lien Care Home, and I started the Moon Festival by visiting my good friend, Mrs. Hsu – she’s always pleased to see me, and in case you’re wondering about Covid-19 precautions, we took off our facemasks only for coffee and this photo below. Visitors are welcomed in the communal areas, with temperature checks, facemasks on – especially when moving around, and booking is required in advance with limited numbers at one time. Thankfully, Covid-19 continues to be under control in Taiwan, and work and schools continue more or less as normal, but the closure of the borders and mandatory, closely-monitored 14-day quarantine for citizens and residents returning to Taiwan means that family members overseas are largely grounded – overseas. Many with elderly parents here are therefore unable to come back and visit, so Mrs. Hsu has not seen any of her 3 children or grandchildren since just after Chinese New Year. Fortunately, they are all very good at keeping in touch with her, and she’s always very cheerful and so appreciative of all their love and support. In the photo, taken with her helper, Linda, we’re in the middle of saying hello to her family, hence the expression!

On Thursday afternoon off I set for Taichung. Of course every seat on every bus, train and high-speed rail was sold out weeks ago, but hey, I still gotta go! So, don’t be put off by lack of a ticket, the answer is to head across Taipei to Nangang, the High-Speed Rail terminus, buy a non-reserved ticket and line up for a train leaving about 30 minutes later. I was No. 8 in my line, so a seat was waiting for me, but behind me were many people wishing they’d got in line earlier. By the time the train left Nangang every seat was taken – and all those queueing up at Taipei had to stand.

I spent the weekend at my old home of St. James’ Church, Taichung ~ lured by the fact that the first Sunday of each month is my Sunday for doing the sermon at St. James’ English Service, so I had to go anyway – but went 3 days early, invited by all the wonderful people there. It’s actually the 4th time so far this year that a long holiday weekend has coincided with the first Sunday of the month, so my visits are many and often!

The kindergarten display boards outside St. James were showing the children’s art work for the Moon Festival, they’ve clearly been learning some of the history and myths around the festival, including the moon rabbit – just love ‘em!

St. James always knows how to organize events and celebrate, so I was invited to join in too. Thank you, all you lovely people of St. James! Rev. Charles C. T. Chen invited me to dinner on his wife’s 85th birthday – then all the family came along too – their second celebration meal of the day, having also had a special birthday lunch only a few hours earlier!

I was also welcomed to join the youth group and young adults’ barbecue at St. James, always a great event!

My good friend, Ah-Guan invited me to join their St. James fellowship group on a trip to Xinshe, up in the hills above Taichung, and yes Charles and MaryJo came too…

Plus we had a visit to a mushroom farm where you can pick your own mushrooms – we even had mushroom ice-lollies! Not bad, not bad!

And we finished that day at a very special coffee place, run by some friends of one of our group in the front yard of their home, located down some very narrow streets in a very rural village, surrounded by vineyards and coffee bushes. Mr. Hsu runs the coffee business with his very lovely Cambodian wife, Ms. Gao, who made up lots of their home-grown coffee for us to enjoy, and shared about her life these last 20+ years in Taiwan. Oh yes, and we sang some karaoke, including the most famous Moon Festival song (more or less the only one I can sing in Chinese!) originally sung by Teresa Teng, 月亮代表我的心 “The Moon Represents My Heart.” And my forever favourite for these occasions, ‘You are my sunshine!’ Ah yes, the atmosphere was really wonderful, it was really the highlight of the day!

Where else did we go over the weekend? Well, we saw the big wheel at Lihpao 麗寶樂園 when we visited the outlet mall for lunch … don’t ask about the bus getting there in all that traffic and how long it took. No photos of traffic jams, but hours and hours is the answer! But hey, buses in Taichung are virtually free of charge – so just sit back and relax!

The most beautiful place we visited was definitely Gaomei Wetlands 高美溼地, where we went on Sunday afternoon, by bus again – to the west coast. The boardwalk leads out to the mudflats, and everyone loves watching the fiddler crabs – see the crowds!…

And finally, on Monday afternoon, off I went about an hour south of Taichung to Yuanlin, Changhua. First stop was to try some tasty Ba-Wan 肉圓 Meatballs, famous local Yuanlin produce – and to check out the local scene…

Then I met up with Rev. Philip Ho and his wife Nancy, who had driven 90 minutes NNE-ish from Grace Church, Tainan, and we went to Chung Chou University of Science and Technology 中州科技大學, Yuanlin, to lead a service in English for a group of overseas students there. Philip led the service, including Holy Communion, I did the sermon, same as the day before at St. James ~ The Kingdom of Fruit (that’s Taiwan!) vs The Fruits of the Kingdom (Matt. 21:28-46). 🤔

There are about 60 students studying at Chung Chou University who are from Eswatini (Swaziland) and Uganda, and the service was timed for after their classes finished, about 5:00 pm. This is a new monthly venture that started last semester at the request of one of the people working in the university international office who knew Philip from her previous work at St. James. Philip is extremely energetic and really good at relating to young people – and overseas people too, so he’s the ideal person! The students run their own Bible Study fellowship groups and some travel far on Sundays to find a church service in English. They were great – and really appreciated us coming! Two young men, both named Solomon, one from Eswatini, one from Uganda, along with Everest from Uganda are celebrating their birthdays about now, and Philip and Nancy had brought along a cake. Thanks be to God for this new ministry!

Ah yes, I have so many happy memories of the Mid-Autumn Festival 2020! Thanks again to all at St. James for making it so special!

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!


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!

IMG_7070 IMG_7074

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!


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!


And OK, one with me too!


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….


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!