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Seaside pleasures at Wang Gong

By Courtney Donovan Smith
Translated by Angela Cheng

With the opening of the Changhua section of coastal Expressway No. 61, those with cars can now get to Changhua's Wang Gong village in under an hour from many parts of Taichung.

Seaside pleasures at Wang Gong Seaside pleasures at Wang Gong
Left: The space-age-looking pedestrian bridge is very attractive in its own right, though sadly in bad disrepair (cosmetic, not structural) and suffering from the exposure to the elements.
Right: Head toward the shore to catch the sunset.

Unless you're an avid birdwatcher, Wang Gong is best visited starting in the afternoon. Most likely you'll first pass through its downtown--just a few streets with one main drag. The village is largely a working fishing and agricultural center for the area, and is frankly functional with cluttered utilitarianism. Old ladies dot the town, cracking open oysters as they've done for centuries and leaving piles of shells all over the place. Tourists are simply a sideline business here.

Seaside pleasures at Wang Gong Seaside pleasures at Wang Gong
Left: Wang Gong is noted for these doughy, deep-fried cakes. We chose both the oyster and squid varieties (both NT$30). These inexpensive savoury treats were a greasy, fulfilling pleasure.
Right: Wang Gong's iconic lighthouse.

The town's main drag is a great place to stop in at one of the many restaurants, whose signs are almost uniformly images of the proprietors posing awkwardly with celebrities. These eateries specialize in seafood, especially oyster-based dishes, and are great for a quick daytime snack.

Founded in 1639, Wang Gong has a long history and, to get a taste of what life was like "back in the day", there is an old traditional house located just outside of downtown.

Seaside pleasures at Wang Gong Seaside pleasures at Wang Gong
Built from cow dung, oyster shells and bamboo, this traditional house and granary storage evoke harder, simpler times.

As the afternoon deepens and colors grow richer, check out the many wetlands and creeks in the area. A good place to start is from a space-age looking pedestrian bridge not far from the old house. On the other side of that bridge is another set of seafood restaurants that put more effort into decor than the ones downtown and feature some interesting local color, such as heavy use of oyster shells as a motif. Wandering down the road past these spots is a good way to pick out a place to come back to for dinner.

The end of the road should ideally be timed with the arrival of sunset, which Wang Gong is famous for. There are two popular spots for this: The bridge that rises over the sheltered fishing harbor or from the seawall next to a beautiful, iconic lighthouse at the other end of the harbor. With the sundown, a seafood dinner fresh from the ocean rounds out a nice day trip.

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