Saturday, August 8, 2015

Discover Taiwan: Off the Beaten Path (Part 2)

Jinshan and Jinbaoli Street

           Jinshan is home to the famed Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming’s museum, which is an open-air museum set on a large estate. 

The scale and number of his works provides an immersive experience for visitors who, like me, like to get lost in someone else’s imagination. You could easily spend half a day exploring the grounds, and you might not be done even then. Ju Ming is most famous for his Tai Chi series, which you

can find dispersed throughout the world, including one piece on Mont-Royal in Montreal. It’s amazing how elegant these massive hunks of roughly hewn rocks can be, and even a clueless amateur like me can appreciate the artist’s talent in finding fluidity and grace in rock. Those rocks probably dance better than I do, too.

            Nearby, Jinbaoli Street offers one of the quirkiest eating experiences in Taiwan. You’re basically asked to “rob” food from a temple, and then find a table somewhere else down the street. Eventually you do pay, but it’s cheap, delicious, and it shows just how trusting Taiwanese are in the honesty of people. You should try the bamboo and the chicken, as both are exquisite.


            Meinong is a small Hakka town in Kaohsiung. It has a Hakka Culture Museum, and the food there will make it hard to leave. It doesn’t hurt that the drive there is spectacular. It winds from Kaohsiung through the “Tianliao Moon World”, Taiwan’s badlands.
It’s a very impressive drive, and the badlands are worth exploring on your own, off trail if you can. There are many spots that have been prepped for tourists, but they civilize the place a little too much for my liking. Badlands should be rough, not all properly landscaped. So go ahead and get well off the beaten path here.
            If you wish to get a taste of Taiwan’s Hakka culture, Meinong is a good place to start. By the time we got there the museum had closed, so Meinong’s place on this list depends entirely on the scenic beauty of Meinong and Tianliao, and a mind-blowingly delicious yet quite simple meal. We stopped at a small restaurant to get bantiao

and it was so good that sharing it was a real testament of our love for one another. Meinong makes for a lovely day trip from Kaohsiung, with the option of extending your stay to explore the badlands.
          Unfortunately, we have somehow managed to misplace our pictures of both Jinshan and Tianliao. So the pictures shown here belong to the public domain.

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