I've never thought about going to Changhua for a day trip as the only scenery there that I can recall is the giant buddha in Bagua Shan. As I screened my photos trying to select some of them that fit my 2010 calendar theme: of human constructions, I couldn't find enough photos that I liked. Then I saw a photo of the Fan-Shaped Wheelhouse in Changhua, which is the only wheelhouse for trains that is still operating in Taiwan, so I made a day trip to Changhua and discovered that the city has more than a wheelhouse and a giant buddha to offer. Take a look at the tourist map made by Changhua City Gorvernment for more information.
The Fan-Shaped wheelhouse is connected to the Changhua train station, however its entrance is loacated about 700 meters north of station (No. 1, Changmei rd, Sec. 1; opening hours 08:00-12:00, 13:00-17:00; Mon-Sun, Tel: 886-47-244537; free entrance). One must exchange ID and fill out the visitors log at the left side of the entrance before entering. A free group tour can be arranged by calling in advance. The wheelhouse is where technicians fix and maintain the electronic and steamed train engines. A bridge of rotatable rail aligns train engines that need maintenance to a radial rails network, each rail leads to a garage and the 12 garages are arranged in a fan-shaped and that's how it got the name. Since 1998, the number 12 garage accomodates the oldest steamed train engine, CK101, in Taiwan that was built in 1907 and had stopped traveling in 1979 while the railway system was gradually electrified. There is another steam train engine, CK124, also parked in the fan-shaped garage attracting steam train afficionados nationalwide here for their pilgrimage.
Buried in my fading memories, Bagua Shan Scenic Area to me was just a temple with a big Buddha in front of its courtyard. I arrived in Changhua on a Saturday night and was not ready to settle down in a hotel so I drove around and found that the Bagua Shan Scenic Area was even more beautiful than I remembered. A restaurant (Gua Shan Yue Yuan, 卦山月圓) on top of the hill serves BBQ meals for 2-6 persons and various dishes in a garden with a view of the city lights as a background, making it a great place to have dinner.
The highlight of the Bagua Shan Scenic Area is the landmark of Changhua city which is a giant Buddha statue. Inside the statue are displays of stories from buddhism. A wooden platform provides the best 180 degree panoramic view of Changhua City. The giant buddha, probably is the biggest in Taiwan, overlooking the city also has a 9 dragons fountain in the center of its plaza and miles of trekking paths along the surrounding hill. It seems to be a good idea to go later in the day to get a sunset picture and enjoy the night view with a BBQ dinner at the restaurant.
I did some research online before the trip and found a hand made noodle house in FuXing township, Changhua County. It's a traditional san-ho-yuan (三合院) style building with a big square in the center of the complex where they can hang the freshly made noodle in the sun before packing. It would be a great cultural experience to see the traditional way of making noodles and a great theme for photography, however, the day I visited Changhua was raining so I gave up this site and went to my next destination. Here is some information about this place if you are interested: address: No.9, Lane 129, Fuxing Rd., Fuxing Township, Changhua County; Tel: 04-778-3133; Geotage: Lat:24.047111, Lon:120.426167, the best time of visit: 10:00-13:00.
First Tainan, Second Lugang and Mengjia the third (一府 二鹿 三艋舺) is a Taiwanese adage that tells a chronological development of Taiwan from south to north during the Ching dynasty. Lugang was the second largest city in Taiwan, as a result the high density of historical sites in Lugang is one of the reasons that attracts tourists flooding in and why the name Lugang overshadows Changhua. In fact, many people don't know Lugang is actually one of the many townships of Changhua, well I admitted that I was one of them before. The historical sites in Lugang are free access to the public and are all located in walking distance. The Tienhou temple (Matsu temple) is the center of tourists attraction, most people take it as a start point to other sites such as old market street, half-side well and 9 turns lane, etc. Walking in these renovated historical sites with the crowds was a journey back in time that offers a glance of those opulent old days in Lugang, but I couldn't stand the crowds and the only place that I was comfortable with was the Longshan temple. Without a flood of tourists, the wooden temple still keeps its dignity and serves the locals as an spiritual asylum. Exploring every corner of the temple at a leisurable pace, feeling its age from the fading gilding roof, it was a peaceful visit. For more information, visit Lugang township official website or Ugo's Taiwanese Secrets Lugan entry.
Lugang not only has a bunch of historical sites but also has 3 museums located in Changhua Seafront industrial park (free entrance), about 7 km away from the Tienhou temple. Show Chwan Health and Medical Science Museum, exihibits modern medical instruments and a series of anatomical diagrams of human body (No.6, Lugong Rd., Lugang Township; opening hours: 08:00-17:00, Mon-Sun; Tel: 886-4-7813888 ext. 71190) whereas the BRAND'S Health Museum has a skywalk that allows visitors a glance of the BRAND'S production line (No.18, Lugong Rd., Lugang Township; opening hours: 09:00-17:00, Tue-Sat; Tel: 886-4-7810077, a reservation is needed).
I visited the Taiwan Glass Gallery which is sponsored by the Taiwan mirror Glass Enterprise Ltd. It's a 2 level building, the ground level is the office, gift shops, tourists rest area and half of the building is deserted space. A fortified glass staircase next to the office leads to a tunnel that connects to the exihibion hall on the second level. The floor of the tunnel was made by merging 3 pieces of 8mm thick fortified glass together that can support 1000 kg in weight, the images of galaxies were embedded into the arch ceiling glass along with different pattern glasses in different lighting on the right, the dreamy glass tunnel certainly elevated my expectation of the gallery that was dampen by the look of the ground level. On the other side of the tunnel, a bright broad exhibition hall unfolded, I couldn't stop taking photos of those delicate creations and had a great time wandering in a maze that was made of mirror. A high tech eletronic curtain was able to transform a transparent glass into a ground glass, I would like to build a house with this kind of glass. I kept runing back and forth at the two ends of a tube that consists of 3 mirrors, sticking my head in the end of the tube, triangle shape in one end and round shape in the other, to create my unique kaleidoscope patterns. The only part I gave up on trying to see was the golden tunnel because of the huge queue. (Address: No. 30, Lugong S. 4th rd., Lugang Township; Geotag: lat: 120.3954, lon: 24.0687; Opening hour: 08:00-18:00, Mon-Sun; Tel: 886-4-7811299 ext. 266; a reservation is needed for a group size over 20)
On my way back to Tainan, I stopped by the Wanggong fishing port for a sunset picture. There were a bus load of photographers taking position for the view already when I arrived at the port. I took my time circumnavigating the area, from food stalls to the octangle lighthouse tower that was colored black and white stripes. Wooden platforms were built along the coastline reaching out to the sea for tourists watching the sunset. The blue bridge connects 2 sides of the port as a guardian watching over the peace of the port. I waited patiently for the bridge to light up but it didn't. It was 15 mins to 19:00, photographers were all boarding a bus so I asked one of them and realized the lights of the bridge would only be turned on for special occasions such as new year. With disappointment, I packed my gadgets and ended my day trip in Changhua.