Time tunnel at Toucheng old street, Taiwan
If Toucheng Old Street in Taiwan is a two hundred year old time tunnel, I would split it into the deep time tunnel and near time tunnel. The deep time tunnel is the northern section which dates back to the Qing Dynasty. I wrote about this recently. The near time tunnel is the southern end with some interesting stores that were built at the turn of the last century. Let’s go for a walk here today.
CHEN CHUN JI STORE
Chen Chung Ji Store is one of the two stores located on the south end of Toucheng old street. It was built around 1920 during the Japanese colonial days in a westernised style using red bricks. This was a sundry store and was made up of three units, each with three archways on the front. These archways are supported by square pillars which are decorated in a simple manner. In the old days, the owners lived at the back of the buildings, and from what I saw, I think people still live in these houses nowadays.
YUAN HE CHENG STORE
This is the other store at the south end of Toucheng old street, called Yuan He Cheng Store. This was built around the same time as its neighbour and the style is in a similar westernised style. The archways and the round pillars here are more refined. For example, the center unit has the store name carved in the front above the arches. Decorative stonework are carved on either sides. I particularly liked the tiles above the front door. These buildings are much better preserved due to combined effort from the local government and the original owners’ descendents still living here.
XIN CHANG XIN SHU JI
This was a trading house built in 1924 and was the largest store in Toucheng in those days. In its heydays, it was a reflection of the prosperity, and subsequent destitute of Toucheng. Although it was built as a trading house, the front is elegantly decorated in dark wood and wood carvings on the door. There is a set of smaller doors above the main front door which is just as elegant. These doors are the goods delivery access point to the top floor storage area. The drawings on the ceramic tiles makes the store front so much livelier. This is without a doubt my favourite building on the street.
I’m in two minds about the Literature Alley. Literally this was just a normal alley way until they installed some poem engravings on the wall and the canopy overhead. If you read my previous post, you’d recall I mentioned a prominent artist, calligrapher, poet and musician called Mr Kan. He used to live in one of the old houses at the northern end of Toucheng Old Street. Literature Alley is a nod to him and other scholars from this area. As you walk along down the alleyway, you can read the many poems sketched on the wall and overhead. It’s like going to a mini personal open air literature festival with cats jumping off the windows. Just shows how you can always makes something out of nothing.
I really like this community space. It is an unmanned open space available for people to drop by for a rest, has a community fridge and a bowl of bread if people fancy a free snack. The other purpose of this community space is to learn more about the local community and history. There was an exhibition about George Leslie Mackay, a Canadian missionary who came to Taiwan in 1872. During his thirty years in Taiwan, he immersed himself into the local community, and established a large communicant. Mackay is regarded as one of the most remarkable missionary during his days. There were also many books on the book shelf, all of which were free, though a donation was most welcome.
All good things must come to an end and the walk through time tunnel was no different. Time passed, and night came. After dinner I came back to the northern section of Toucheng Old Street again. Fairy lights and lanterns lit up the centuries year old street.
I went back to Lu Zuan Xian Mansion and stood by the lake in front of it. The view at night was just as enchanting as the day.
And finally I bid good bye to Toucheng, leaving by the same train station that I had arrived this morning.