Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Museums in Old Anping (FYI SOUTH)

For a place that depends on antiquity and history to attract tourists, Anping sure changes fast. Most, but not all, of these changes are positive.

To the dismay of preservationists, Yanping Street - said to be the oldest road in Taiwan - was widened in the early 1990s. For years afterward, the appearance of this thoroughfare was spoiled by the various abandoned buildings that had been wrecked in the process.

The street is now tidy and conspicuously prosperous, and it boasts two of the four small museums that reveal aspects of Anping's long history. These places are excellent refuges if it's raining, or if the sun is too strong for comfort.

The names of the Anping Cultural Assets Museum at No. 86 (open Sat-Sun only), and Luo's Taiwanese Folkore Collection at No. 132 (call 0929692221 to confirm opening times), tell you what to expect inside.

Tainan Canal, which in recent years has been cleaned up, used to be an important transportation route between the coast and the city. The very new Canal Museum (open Sat-Sun only) tells this waterway's story. The museum is inside a 78-year-old former customs building.

If you've already visited Fort Zeelandia, you'll know parts of it were made using oyster-shell cement. Nowadays oysters are regarded solely as food. Until the early part of the 20th century, however, oyster-shell cement was used in house construction and boat building. To find out more, visit Anping Oyster Shell Cement Kiln Culture Chamber (open Tues-Sun), which opened in 2004.

In addition to these places, there are historical displays inside Fort Zeelandia, the Tait & Co. building, and some of the district's other landmarks.

Finding parking spaces near Yanping Street isn't difficult. Alternatively, take bus no. 2 from Tainan TRA Station or the Confucius Temple.

This short article is on the FYI SOUTH website. The first link in the text above goes to a lengthy article I did back in 1999.

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