Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tamsui (淡水) - Guandu Nature Park - Guandu Temple - Tamsui Wharf-Guandu Wharf River Cruise - Tamsui Presbyterian Church - Hobe Mackay Hospital - Former British Consulate - Aletheia University - Tamsui Old Street - Museum of Strange - Tamsui Fishermen's Wharf (淡水漁人碼頭) - Lover's Bridge - Fullon Hotel Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf - Lover's Tower [Taiwan Day 651: I Heard the River - June 13, 2015]

Rivers tell a lot of stories. From Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq to the Yellow River in China, life flourished in this body of water. Not only life multiplied but also the people's culture. Like any river, Taiwan's Tamsui River has a lot of stories to share. It has its own culture, history and people that you will like to know. Its water tempts anyone who wishes to unwind and relax. Francis, Bryan, Ciara, Jonalyn, Austin and I were called by the Tamsui River. It sang a song that reached the dorm.

at Guandu Nature Park
Along the banks of Tamsui River is a protected area and it's the Guandu Nature Park. It’s accessible by the Guandu MRT and it’s the perfect place for bird-watching. Ciara's skill in bird-spotting was tested in the air-conditioned nature center. Powerful binoculars showed us the world that our two eyes can't see from a distance. If you want to make it more natural, try the bird-cabins. But beware! It was hot inside like an oven.

Thousand-Hand Buddha

Guandu Temple boasts two tunnel systems for its believers. We entered the first tunnel and Buddha gods stand along the walls of the golden tunnel. Locals prayed at them like the Stations of the Cross. At the end of the tunnel was the Thousand-Hand Buddha. It acts as the main god and was beautifully adorned. It faces the Tamsui River like serenity that lasts forever.

We have our lunch at Guandu Food Court and after our lunch we boarded a speedboat with a one-way ticket of NTD 110. The passenger boat took us to Tamsui Wharf within 15 minutes and it passed under the famous Guandu Bridge. Its red color and three arches make it photogenic while standing at the back of the passenger speedboat. Our boat docked at Tamsui Wharf and we searched immediately for Tamsui's historic sites.

The red bricks architecture of the Tamsui Presbyterian Church got our attention. Beside the church is an old hospital, the Hobe Mackay Hospital. It was named after Dr. George Mackay. He is a Canadian missionary and has a large influence in the development of Tamsui. The hospital is just beside the Tamsui Presbyterian Church which is under its supervision.

Other interesting places to see were the Former British Consulate Office and the Fort San Domingo which I have visited in Taiwan Day 323 (Game of Thrones). The campus of Aletheia University is open to visitors who want to enjoy the unique architecture of its buildings. The eye-catching bell towers of the Aletheia Church was so stunning that I can't stop myself from taking photos. Am I in Europe? Another intriguing building was the Oxford College but I was not able to enter its museum. Maybe next time I will visit the campus again. I've heard that the scenery is different in the campus during the cherry blossom season.

A delicious cookie in Tamsui Old Street

I don't know what is written on the card that I'm holding. Whatever!

For food lovers, Tamsui have a lot to offer. Its famous “Iron Eggs” is a must to try while the Ah Gei dish has a distinct taste. The fun continued in the Museum of Strange where weird dead and alive animals were displayed. Tickets cost NTD 89 and you can see a chastity belt for women. Have you ever heard of a condom for women? Yes, they have it. We also have taken our mug shots inside. Ciara and Jonalyn showed their evil faces while I smiled with joy. I'm a happy criminal!

Lover's Tower

Another speedboat ride took us to Tamsui Fishermen's Wharf where the Lover's Bridge is located. Somehow my Travel Buddies became emotional as they told their stories of love lost that can never be regained. The changing colors of the Lover's Bridge added drama to the night scenery - red, blue, green. Another colorful attraction is the large rotating observation disk of the Lover's Tower. It adds romance to the hot summer nights in Tamsui River.

Bus Red 26 took us back to the Tamsui MRT Station. From a nature trip to the bridges of love, Tamsui River can really tell a lot of stories and there are still a lot of untold stories. When will I come back to Tamsui again? Maybe when I hear it sing again. My heart and soul will listen to it and tell me once again that I heard the river.

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