Museum and Muffins in Toucheng
Updated: May 21
We do meet the most kind, friendly and generous people on our travels. Soon after we arrived in Toucheng, our host Claudia and her husband Celso invited us around for supper. But before I share with you our evening with them yesterday, what else have we been up too?
Well, we haven't done much compared to our usual travelling exploits, it's been lovely to chillax a bit. We have wandered around the old part of Toucheng. It is very quaint, with murals, statues and charming little homes along narrow lanes, sadly quite a few derelict, which is a shame. They would make sweet little homes.
We’ve made quite a few visits to various supermarkets and thoroughly enjoying cooking each day. Ah, the joys of domesticity. We found some delicious purple sweet potatoes so have been eating healthily with five different coloured fruit and vegetables each day.
Behind our apartment is a pleasant walkway by the beach and it’s lovely to watch the crashing waves and capture various wildlife on film.
Weirdly, there are allotments on the edge of the sand. I can’t imagine that the soil is much good, but the vegetables do seem to be growing ok. At one end of the path is a statue of an Elvis lookalike. Other visitors informed us that he was a lifeguard, but I can’t find anything online about him. I expect there’s an interesting back-story.
One day we carried on the pathway in the opposite direction until we reached the Lanyang Museum near the Wushi Harbour area.
What a stunning building! The architects have beautifully represented the local cuesta slopes using neat slabs of different coloured rocks, glass and cast aluminium panels. It’s as if a giant has wedged the building into the landscape at a sharp angle.
The building overlooks the harbour towards Turtle Island with a lake immediately in front, definitely an insta-worthy location. Sadly our Instagram account isn’t very insta! If you are interested in architecture, like we are, then do have a look at Kris Yao of Artech Architects photos.
The outside ticked the box for me; however, we paid our entrance fee so may as well have a look inside the museum.
The purpose of the Lanyang Museum is to give the visitor a window into the Yilan area. This includes the natural environment: rock formation, hot springs and wildlife, as well as the history and culture of the people.
We were surprised how much was packed into the museum. Displays with birds and butterflies, explanations of the Taiwan Cypress and Beech trees, descriptions of how much rain the area has. What? Rain? Over 200 days in a year? Luckily we read that the driest month is April. We hope so!
Another area had life-sized mannequins of local people who used to trade in the harbour, which was a hive of activity in the past. It went through a massive decline, and now the area is being revitalised with such things as this museum.
We saw a few things that have connected with our travels. Bamboo has been used for hundreds of years for food, shelter and making clothes, boats and paper. As Su Shi said in 1037 “We cannot live a day without bamboo”. There was a figure with a bamboo coracle on his back which reminded us of the brilliant Bamboo Circus we visited in Hoi An where the young people danced with these boats on their backs.
There was also a model of the poles used for the “Qiang Gu” event that we heard about in Hengchun and that Zeph, our Jamaican friend is competing in. We didn’t realise that there are more poles added above the platform and enjoyed watching a video of previous competitors scrambling up the greasy poles. I hope Zeph knows what he is in for in August!
Suddenly one of the staff members called us and led us over a bridge to a small room. A video was just about to start in English about the Atayal people. That was kind of her. We learnt about this tribe on our one day tour in the Taroko Gorge. I wonder if the people in the film really do have tattoos on their faces or were they painted for the performance?
I must admit, by then, we’d had enough and were feeling hungry. I did manage to get a stamp in my drawing notebook, just like the young lady we met at Eluanbi on the south coast. I’m getting into the Taiwanese way of being a tourist now!
In the evening, we walked to Claudia and Celso’s apartment in a very swanky building with a vast lounge with a grand piano playing itself and incredible pieces of marble behind the reception. The view from their 15th floor was stunning with fabulous views of the harbour and over the town.
We were treated to a huge piece of Spanish Manchego cheese - European cheese at its best, together with delicious homemade guacamole, bread and wine, our conversation flowed freely.
Both Mexican, Claudia and Celso met in Taiwan nine years ago, then lived in Chile for four years but returned here. Celso is retired and Claudia now manages about six apartments.
They explained to us about the property market here in Taiwan. Rental rates for long-term stays are surprisingly low, but the price of property has steadily risen. Remarkably I’ve read that the price-to-income ratio makes buying a property in Taipei more expensive than in London, New York, Tokyo, and Singapore!
We talked about all manner of things, culture, families, travel and learning languages; both Claudia and Celso are so easy to chat with. Tim and I were shocked when we realised we’d stayed for over 5 hours! (We were so engrossed that we forgot to take photos of the four of us.)
Within minutes of us arriving back at our apartment, the doorbell rang. It was Claudia. Had we left something there?
Claudia was holding a Paul Smith bag, saying that they had forgotten to give it to us. Inside was a large pack of English muffins and Cheddar Cheese! Wow!
This immediately took me back in time. In my late teens, I would have a toasted muffin and cheese every Saturday morning and watch Thunderbirds on TV. What a very special and thoughtful gift. We are going to enjoy eating all of these – that’s for sure.