Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Down South

Off we went from Taipei to Tainan via the High Speed Rail on our second day. The efficient 2-hour train ride moved us from the northern tip of the island to the south, arriving slightly after noon. Got to try the famous Taiwan Railway Bento on board too - the warm Yilan cherry duck bento was so neatly arranged and delicious with nice smoky flavor. Can definitely rival those ekiben so famous on trains in Japan. 

We made a stopover at Just Sleep Tainan for a quick lunch. This hotel chain might target more over-the-road young or family travelers, but I am very impressed with the industrial chic decor and the friendly facilities including an IG-worthy swimming pool. They are certainly providing a more complete experience than "just sleep". Just Cafe, with the view of the swimming pool, was lovely, serving an all-day menu in a casual space. We enjoyed the chirashi-don served Japanese style completed with soup and salad, including one served with seasonal sashimi (including uni!) and caviar, which was my favorite.  

We spent the night at Silks Place Tainan, the more luxurious property in town owned by the same group. They gave me a suite and it was huge  with separate living area, a dining section and also a tatami space for meditation or drink. The 25-meter, temperature-controlled lap pool downstairs, from which I could see from my room, is one of the highlights as far as on-premise amenities are concerned. 

Next to the pool was the vast space for events or family/friends hangout, and the Glasshouse next door was the perfect spot for an after-dinner drink - we all got a little tipsy after finishing their signature 36 shots tea cocktails and then the 108-shot "Tower of Devils". Breakfast was served in 2 separate restaurants over two floors - one serving western-style dishes and the other more local style including the popular beef soup, consistent with the overall theme of promoting local culture throughout the property. 

This is my first visit to Tainan and we went on a quick guided tour of the city which at one point was the "capital city" of the island since the 16th Century. Some of the remains from that period can still be found, including the walls of Anping Old Fort which has became part of a park. The Confucius Temple was first built in 1666 and kept the ancient architecture style common during the Ming Dynasty period - the main building still serves a place of worship and respect and the former school next door has since turned into a museum and exhibition space. 

We stopped by the Old Tainan Magistrate Residence (原臺南縣知事官邸) the next day before leaving town by car. The building was completed during the Japanese Colonial Period in the early 20th Century by Japanese architects and craftsmen in Western architecture style and served as imperial residence during the Royal Visit in 1923. The building survived the war and natural disaster and now turned into a museum and event space completed with a cafe and bar downstairs. Symmetrical facade, red bricks, large columns and corridors, all typical of English colonial style architecture, along with the well-preserved wooden furniture inside including the 100-year-old staircase, all made this a perfect spot for photos or drinks and snacks. 

More photos of Tainan: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72177720312128991

Silks Place Tainan: tainan.silksplace.com/en
Old Tainan Magistrate Residence: www.mrlc.tw/en

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