These little herds are often spotted grazing through the
shops on Chung Cheng Rd. (¤¤¥¿¸ô
- see Makung city map in center section of this issue),
a newly spruced-up thoroughfare with yellow globe streetlights,
brick paving and a new name; 'Art Street' (ÃÀ³Nµó).
Here is a good place to start a walking tour from. Starting
from the north, the street slopes down nicely, framing a
view of the harbour. Standing in front of the harbour is
a classic statue of Chiang Kai Shek (½±¤¶¥Û
), his pose suggesting he has just heroically tossed a frisbee
into the harbour.
While shopping is in most cases cheaper on Taiwan
than in Penghu, there are some decent handicrafts
and art shops along this stretch. One of the most
interesting is Taiwan Story in Penghu (µâ®q¶c¨Æ)
just off Chung Cheng Rd, the owners of which are some
of the funniest and friendliest people I've ever met
(him: "your Chinese is very good, how long have
you lived here " me: "nine years" him:
"oh, then your Chinese sucks").
Something not in the guide books that I found much more
interesting is just off this alley and was shown to me by
one of the 'Taiwan Story' tea club. It is a plaque embedded
into a wall that was used to deflect evil spirits or bad
luck - presumably over to the neighbours place. These are
not found on Taiwan, and sadly they are almost all gone
in Penghu. Penghu is culturally and historically different
from Taiwan, and this example is just one of many little
surprises that awaits the visitor with a little curiosity.
The gentleman who pointed it out to me was a broadcaster
in Taipei who came to Penghu to do research for a documentary.
He never went back and has spent the last decade learning
and preserving traditional Penghu crafts. Penghu is unique,
and has a special draw to it.
Yet another block over from Chung Yang St. is the
Tien Ho temple (¤Ñ¦Z®c),
constructed in the Ming Dynasty and the oldest temple
in Taiwan. While I must admit to suffering 'temple
fatigue' after being in Taiwan so long, but this temple
captured my interest. Check out the amazing sweeping
roof (I was told it is stylistically different than
temples on Taiwan) and the striking artwork to the
right side of the entrance featuring what looked to
me like dragons cavorting in milk.
Down towards the harbour and to the right is one of the
old city gates (¶¶©Óªù).
Sadly, not much remains of the once important Makung fortifications
- which saw many European navies come and go.
What made Makung so worthy of defense was the port. This
port still serves as a main entryway for seafood. Makung
is famous for it's fresh seafood, and indeed my first meal
was so fresh my cook had to chase after it swinging a wooden
mallet. Like most tourists I started with the outdoor seafood
restaurants near the romantically named Number 2 Fish Port
(²Ä¤Gº®´ä). Next to
each is a whole array of red plastic bins featuring live
seafood. One roams through and picks out the desired seafood,
initiating a small massacre as your dinner is pulled wriggling
from the bins and executed. And was that food ever fresh!
It was easily some of the best seafood I've ever had.
Afterward, however, locals told me that the outdoor restaurants
are widely known to take some liberties on the price and
that as a tourist I'd have been safer to go to one of the
many indoor restaurants in the neighbourhood - because they
post their prices clearly. Even if I was cheated on the
price, I can't say I regret it - sitting out under the stars
with my beer, smelling the salt air and eating the great
food was very pleasant.
Besides the seafood, try the 'Penghu Melon' ("¼ê´ò¥Ê")
as the accompanying vegetable dish. In place of a rice dish,
try ordering the locally popular 'pumpkin rice noodles'
| 2 | 3