What do agricultural technology, mud flats, and jade statues have in common? Perhaps not much, but we made all of them a part of our recent excursion to Taichung, Taiwan’s second largest city. Excursions are one of the ways we create opportunities for our teachers to explore different parts of Taiwan and experience the local culture together. We packed a full day with some of Taichung’s most famous attractions.
Our first stop of the day was the Taichung World Flora Expo. This is the first time for the world event to be hosted in Taiwan and we went to check it out. The expo featured latest technologies in agricultural and horticultural practices from around the world, with a theme focussed on sustainable production and a harmonious relationship between people and nature, optimizing production without destruction of nature. The floral pavillion featured beautiful displays that married ecology with art. There was also a house ranch, where dressage competitions were held, and a farmer’s market. The grounds were so vast, it was impossible to see everything!
After lunch, we headed over to Gaomei Wetlands, located on the south side of the Dajia River Estuary in Qingshui. The first thing to draw our attention were the huge wind turbines along the horizon. Their strategic location immediately became clear; we were almost blown away by the typhoon force winds! Thankfully we didn’t lose anyone, but we all came away with voluminous new hairstyles. Because the Gaomei Wetland has both mud flats and sand beaches and is also connected to the estuary's swamp area, it’s home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, making it an important ecological conservation area in Taiwan. In this small area alone, over 120 bird species have been recorded! We were also entertained by a variety of small, colourful crabs scuttling across the mud and creeping in and out of their holes.
The final landmark for our day was the Dajia Jenn Lann Temple. With over 200 years of history, it’s one of the most famous temples in Taiwan and is filled with pilgrims all year long. The temple deity's name is Mazu, Chinese goddess of the sea, and is considered one of the three treasures of Taichung. We arrived late afternoon and the temple was buzzing with people that had come to pray and make offerings for health, safety, and prosperity. We received a private tour of the temple and its treasures, the the violet jade Mazu of Jenn Lann Temple and the Golden Mazu, which are housed in the Mazu cultural museum underneath the temple. Around the temple, there was an old street bustling with street vendors selling different snacks and drinks. We followed our eyes and noses to discover interesting new foods to try.
What a full day! The fantastic weather and quality company to share it with made it even better.
Special thanks to Sara, Toby, and Diane for planning and organizing this great day!