Lukang, Part 2

21 10 2007

After we finished with Longshan Temple, we set out to look for other historic sights in Lukang, including Nine Turns Lane and Gentleman’s Lane. Nine Turns Lane is a long narrow lane, more like an alley, with lots of sharp turns that was built to repel bandits and cold winds in September. Thus its name is not derived from the number of turns, but rather refers to the month of September. The houses and walls running along this lane are among the oldest still standing in Taiwan.

We had a little difficulty finding this narrow lane, and actually ended up walking through real, modern alleys and the non-restored part of the historic lane before we happened upon the part of Nine Turns Lane that is featured in guidebooks. There are signs posted of all the historic sights, and we had a map, but it was still a little hard to find. I suppose if we had come on an ordinary non-rainy day, we could have just followed the crowd. The easiest thing is to just ask a local, but that mostly only works if you speak Chinese or Taiwanese.

We sought out Nine Turns Lane because it sounded really intriguing and romantic. My first impression of this area was that it was a lot smaller and more rundown than my expectations. Obviously, my expectations were off base, and it makes sense that the scale of these historic buildings would be much smaller than modern abodes. People grouped themselves close together to defend against strong winds and pirates, as the name implies.

Lukang Alley

With crumbling structures and mold surrounding it, this part of the lane was not as “touristified” as the official Nine Turns Lane. Old structures, some abandoned and some still occupied, were surrounded by teardowns, more modern but ugly buildings, and empty lots full of detritus, which I felt no need to photograph. There were still some historic gems among the signs of modern living, however. The non-restored buildings also seemed more authentic.

Lukang Alley

As you can tell by the scooters parked outside and the trash piled next to them, local residents still live here. They must have thought it odd that people would find their homes interesting when Lukang first became a tourist attraction. I’m sure they are used to the gawking tourists by now, though.

Lukang Alley

I love the woodwork and brick on these buildings.

Lukang Lane

My mother was not impressed with these houses because they brought back bad memories for her. To her, these buildings represented the poor conditions people lived in when she was a child in Kaohsiung before more modern homes were built and people’s living conditions improved. Her comments really gave us a different perspective of these historic lanes and brought home the point written offhand in many guidebooks – that Lukang only had historic buildings because it refused to modernize when other parts of Taiwan had. So while it is good that these buildings have not been torn down (especially since Taiwan is generally bad at historic preservation), the people of Lukang did pay a price when the town did not modernize. Ideally, the townspeople of places like Lukang should recognize and preserve historic buildings, but then move to more modern abodes either in Lukang or elsewhere. Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to do this.

Lukang Lane

Ugly, more modern (but not that modern), buildings peek out behind the historic buildings.

Lukang Lane

A neighbor has beautified this corner of the lane.

Water Pump

My dad was intrigued by this old water pump. He used them a lot when growing up because there was no running water inside the home. Also, he is an engineer.

Brick Window

Old Windows were made in this brick formation, as you can see in this abandoned building.

Brick Window

Window

The slightly more modern version of these windows, circa 1950. Actually, I think Taiwanese buildings still use these type of security bars on their windows.

Start of Nine Turns Lane

Ah, we have finally reached the “official” part of Nine Turns Lane!

Start of Nine Turns Lane

Signs like these are all over Lukang, so look UP!

Nine Turns Lane

Oh wait, we are still seeing cement buildings!

SHIH YIH HALL
Shih Yih Hall

Shih Yih Hall

Shih Yih Hall

Shih Yih Hall

Shih Yih Hall

Nine Turns Lane

Looking back to Shih Yih Hall

Nine Turns Lane

This door looks hundreds of years old.

Approaching one of the many turns of Nine Turns Lane…

Nine Turns Lane

Nine Turns Lane

Here a Turn…

Nine Turns Lane

There a turn…

Nine Turns Lane

Hi Dad!

Nine Turns Lane

Around the bend…

I guess on nice days, vendors sell food in this lane.

Nine Turns Lane

Description of Nine Turns Lane

Here is official description of Nine Turns Lane.

Nine Turns Lane

Looking Back at the Last Turn

Nine Turns Lane

Another Turn…

Nine Turns Lane

Nine Turns Lane

Nine Turns Lane

Another twist and turn.

After we reached the end of Nine Turns Lane, we came to a large (modern) intersection that had lots of food stands. We asked a vendor where to find Gentleman’s Alley, aka “Touch Breast Lane.” It was just a few blocks from Nine Turns Lane.

Gentleman’s Lane was so named because it is so narrow that only one person can go at a time, because otherwise touching someone else is unavoidable.

Gentleman's Alley

It was so narrow, we nearly missed it but for this sign. It looked like a gutter from the street.

Gentleman's Alley

We were kind of scratching our heads about why this was an attraction, but I believe the whole of Lukang is better than the sum of the parts.

Lukang

We were rewarded with this juxtaposition between old and new, although the picture looks a lot nicer than the reality.

Next: Lukang, Part 3.

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6 responses

25 10 2007
MJ Klein

Sandy, i’ve been to the Gentleman’s Lane before but not 9 Turns Lane, so i really appreciated your article and photos, which captured the ambiance of the place so well. the water on the streets just added to the effect i think. now i want to check out 9 Turns Lane myself!

25 10 2007
travelswithsandy

Thanks for your comment. I think the one clear benefit of the rain was that we had 9-Turns Lane all to ourselves!

26 10 2007
cfimages

I’m enjoying this series of Lugang posts. As I live in Changhua, Lugang is only 15-20 minutes away, so I go there fairly regularly.

26 10 2007
travelswithsandy

Thanks Craig! Your Lukang pics are far superior to mine though. I think I did ok considering the weather and the fact that I was using a lowly Canon point and shoot camera. πŸ™‚

8 12 2007
TA

I hvn’t been to LuKang. But oh how much I love the streetscape & alleys of Taiwan! Yr pic coverage is tempting me to visit LuKang haha.. πŸ˜‰

9 12 2007
travelswithsandy

Thanks TA! I have always found your comments helpful on Tripadvisor, so I am happy you came to see my blog. πŸ™‚

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