8.12.16 Tainan to Chiayi

A short train of less than an hour and we arrive in Chiayi. The hostel checks us in but as we’re in a dorm and its 9.30 we leave our bags and head straight out.

Our destination is the National Palace Museum Southern Branch. In the gift shop of the Taipei branch were replica models of a rock shaped like pork which is a national treasure. We asked where it was and were told Chiayi, so here we are on a museum/food pilgrimage.

A free shuttle bus to the High Speed Rail station and another 10 minute bus later and we’re staring across an artificial lake at an architectural marvel. The museum was opened in 2015 and has a curved bridge over the lake to a stunning steel and glass building which houses the museum.

The huge glass atrium is light and airy and aircon cool. We ascend the curved marble steps as if we are going to a ball. An information on old stuff ball. 

There is a film about Asia and one about the history of Chiayi then we’re onto Buddhist art which all museums seem to start with. There are beautiful copies of the sutras from the 1400s.

There are exhibitions on Korean pottery and Japanese pottery which in my ignorance I can’t put into context.

An exhibition on Asian textiles with some amazingly intricate costumes and including a film on how to wear a sari.

Finally, before the exit is a history of tea which explains how the method of preparing tea has changed with historic examples of the equipment required.

The whole museum is very engaging with information in English and unbiased appreciation of how other countries (Japan, Korea, India) have influenced the Asian arena which we have not seen before.

We get to the exit and haven’t seen the pork shaped rock. We ask the attendants. They don’t understand our eloquent English or mimes of pork shaped rock so get over an English speaking colleague. “Meat?” she shouts at us and points behind the exit.

I’m amazed. Its worth the trip.

Back at Chiayi station we buy bus tickets to Alishan National Park for tomorrow. (Alison loves to be referred to as Alishan by the way so remember that in your texts and emails)

We try the local delicacy of turkey rice which is topped by a fried egg. 

In the hostel we are invited to the launch party of a new local restaurant which will sell savoury food in a waffle cone perched on a pineapple drink. The hostel owner translates the precedings to us and we see photos of the organic pineapple farm and the building where the restaurant will be. After the speeches the guests tuck into various flavours and we share a chilli pork one. It looks so colourful and tastes good.

We chat to our dorm mates which include two Swiss girls, a Canadian/Hong  Kong bloke and a Chinese man who is cycling round the whole of Taiwan in 12 days on his foldable commuter bike. Chapeau!

We crash first in the quietest, most considerate dorm we’ve stayed in.

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