Tuesday, April 26, 2016
An Unexpected Sun Yat-sen: Luzhou Wanderings
So a few weeks ago on a rainy Sunday we decided to trek out to Luzhou to see the Li Family Mansion (not to be confused with the Lin Family Mansion in Banqiao or Lin Antai house near Xinsheng Park, which I just found out recently used to be located very near where I live).
First, I strongly recommend you have a read of the Li Mansion's English introduction - it's just sort of wonderfully off-kilter:
In 1895, the Ma Kuan Treaty was signed, surrendering Taiwan to Japan. To console the sadness of losing their homeland to Japan and to meet the needs of a growing family, the Lee family decided to expand their estate in its current location.
Yeah, okay, I'm so sad that one colonial power signed my island off to another colonial power that I'm going to expand my house on that island makes PERFECT SENSE you guys. Sure.
Anyway, we didn't get to see it. The photo above is not of it. We got to the entrance only to learn that we'd taken the MRT out to the 'burbs for naught: the family was praying to ancestors that day and the home was closed to visitors.
So we decided to see what else we could find in Luzhou. We didn't expect a lot, but what we did find is a testament to how much fun it can be to wander in random neighborhoods in Taiwan. I'm not going to tell you where all of these places are, the point is to wander and find interesting places for yourself. All I'll say is that they're in the vicinity of Sanmin Senior High School (三民高中) station.
We found an old farmhouse in surprisingly good condition, with a brick pattern I associate with Qing-era Taiwanese architecture, an old wooden door, picturesque greenery and interesting old tiles:
We found a hideous new luxury apartment building construction site, erecting something that is meant to be private residences but looks like a surprisingly unattractive church:
We found a giant friendly leopard spotted cat:
...and as far as I know Luzhou isn't near the sea, so can anyone tell me what's up with the sidewalks decorated with crabs? Are Luzhou crabs famous and I had no idea? Where do they get the crabs?
We found an old Japanese-era mansion at the far end of a parking lot hidden behind some buildings off a main road:
And most interestingly to me, we found the crumbling homestead of a family with a sculptor ancestor:
Basically, I was looking over the gate and pointed out that the courtyard was full of random sculpture as well as a scooter, implying someone lived here despite its somewhat dilapidated state. Take a look just in front of the house on the right - what do you see?
Well, hello Dr. Sun!
So as I was taking photos a guy came up and wanted to get in the gate - it was his house. I figured we'd better head out and not bother him (I'm happy I did not lift the unlocked gate to investigate - not a cool thing to do at a private residence) but first I just had to ask how he came to have a random Sun Yat-sen in his front yard.
Turns out his grandfather or great grandfather (it wasn't clear) had been a sculptor and had made it - and the others in the yard.
Finally, in a random lane as we were looking for the first Japanese-era mansion (which was mentioned in some travel literature somewhere), we found another mansion! I'm not sure of the age of this one but it says 1930s or 1940s to me. Something about the color of the bricks and the window shape. I could be wrong, though. I'm certainly no expert.
This place was obviously a private residence with a well-kept courtyard, so we satisfied ourselves with peeking over the fence.
But of course, Luzhou is still Luzhou, and it wouldn't be the slightly-dinged-up Taipei suburbs without some random thing on the street:
I really hope they weren't trying to use that thing to sell ladies undergarments, but somehow I fear they were.