Yanchao's Jinshan Community –a Hidden Gem Waiting to be Discovered/燕巢金山社區處處精彩


Yanchao's Jinshan Community –a Hidden Gem Waiting to be Discovered

◎English translation: Peng Hsin-yi

◎Photos by Lin Yu-hung, Hou Ya-ting


賴林省阿嬤和阿嬤們聚在一起做紅龜粿 Grandma Lai Lin-sheng and the "girls" gather to make red turtle cakes.  Jinshan Community in Yanchao District is known for having some of Kaohsiung's most famous natural wonders, among them Jiguan (Cockscomb) Mountain, the badlands around New Taiyang Valley, and the mud volcanoes at New Yangnyu Lake and Wushanding. It is also a site of cultural heritage, as there is a complete neighborhood full of intact three-sided courtyard houses. In addition, Jinshan is an energetic neighborhood where the elderly participate in all kinds of community activities, such as Gran's Rice Cake Squad. It is heartwarming seeing these grandmothers add a touch of color and fun to mundane daily life. A visit to Jinshan is always fulfilling no matter what your focus, and you will always want to come back and experience more.

  Surrounded by hillocks, Jinshan Community appears to be an isolated paradise, but it took a great deal of hard work to achieve the beauty we now see. According to the village's elected chief, Mr. Lin Shun-fu, around ten years ago the residents started a community movement which organized all kinds of activities. One aim was to get people to do something together outside of their very busy farming lives. Gradually, neighbors became friends.

新太陽谷 New Taiyang Valley  "It means a lot more to people when they accomplish something together" says Mr. Lin. In fact, people in Jinshan Community have accomplished quite a lot, including the legendary Jinshan Elementary School construction project. In 1958, the locals recognized the importance of education and unanimously decided to build an elementary school for the neighborhood. Back in those days, no heavy machinery was available, so the whole village dug, shoveled, and carried dirt away by sheer determination and manpower. They carved out the land that was needed from the side of a mountain. Half a century later, members of the community are still as close to each another as ever.

  These days, the stars of the community are the members of Gran's Rice Cake Squad, a group of grandmothers aged 66 to 90. Working together, they make rice cakes for the entire community during major holidays such as Lunar New Year. What is more, each year when Jinshan Elementary School celebrates its anniversary, the squad calls on all of its members, 40 to 50 grandmothers and grandfathers, to go to the campus and make rice cakes for the teachers and students. It is the way they show their love for the community's only school. Tradition is passed down from one generation to another through the flavor and taste of these rice cakes, and they have become part of the very being of every child who attends the school.

麒麟山景致 Scenery at Cilin Peak  If you visit Jinshan Community on a normal day, your initial impression that life here is slow may quickly be replaced by an appreciation of the energy which buzzes beneath the surface. These days, a lot of senior citizens take literacy classes. Meanwhile, a few members of Gran's Rice Cake Squad gather at Grandma Lai Lin-sheng's home, to make a fresh batch of "red turtle" cakes. Grandma Lai's home has the kind of traditional brick cooking-range that is essential to making rice cakes. Grandma Lai is also a student in the literacy class, but sometimes asks for special leave from the instructor so she can join the cake-making party. Creating such cakes is a very elaborate process, and that is why they are usually made only for holidays such as Lunar New Year. These days, very few homes still have traditional brick ranges, but thanks to the support of the squad, concocting these treats has become easier and more fun.

  According to the grandmas, "red turtle" cakes are relatively easy to make, but it is nearly impossible to learn how just by watching a demonstration. If you ask them what the secret is, the only answer you get is "experience." The team works together with practiced harmony. Sticky rice powder is kneaded into dough while another person toasts ground peanuts for the filling. Meanwhile, another member of the squad fills the readied dough. On the other side of the kitchen, a roaring fire is burning in the stove, warming up the steamer for the cakes. As they work, the grandmas chat, and discuss their recent appearances in a movie! When asked what roles they played, they all stop their work and pretend to be motionless in their chairs. In a dramatic fashion, they answer, "We were refugees!" and all burst out laughing.

  While chatting and laughing, the grandmas' hands never stop moving. One after another, filled pieces of dough are pressed in a mold, out of which come flat rice-cakes bearing turtle-shell patterns. Each cake is placed on a banana leaf and then steamed. Once in a while, the steamer is opened so the grandmas can check how the glossy red-colored cakes are doing. They look especially enticing with clouds of white steam swirling around them. When the red-turtle rice cakes are ready, Grandma Lai sends some to her classmates in the literacy class. The elderly students say coming to class is one of the happiest things in their lives. The residents' sense of kinship is the community's most precious treasure.
  Jinshan Community is also rich in physical heritage. It has a block entirely consisting of well-preserved three-sided courtyard houses, a sight rarely seen these days. These houses have withstood the trial of time. They carry themselves with an elegant grace that comes from another era. Most of them are still occupied; in fact, the only mom-and-pop grocery store, Jin 30, is located here. Walking through this neighborhood is like stepping back to an era when traditional culture was still a very active part of everyday life.

  In Jinshan, you may see a charcoal-maker busy taking chunks of charcoal out of the kiln, while the fragrance of starfruit hanging from the tree in the courtyard of a nearby house envelops you. The Chen Residence is one of the better known old houses here; six longan trees have stood guard beside it for well over a century. Summertime is when the community's Delonix regia trees blossom; the fiercely red flowers surround the old houses. The natural elements in this neighborhood serve as ever changing decorations, giving a different impression to visitors each time they come.

  While in Jinshan, one cannot help but noticing the famous landmark, Jiguan Mountain. So named because it resembles a cockscomb, the top –called Cilin Peak –can be reached via a hiking trail. It is a very enjoyable walk made all the more worthwhile because of the unique landscape along the trail. Tropical trees grow on chunks of coral, and two trees have grown into each other and formed an H-shape, prompting locals to bestow the nickname "Husband and Wife Tree."

  The simplicity of the Jinshan impresses visitors. Those who come here are received like children returning home, rather than as strangers. Your memories of Jinshan's appearance may fade, but you will remember forever the warmth of the welcome you receive. 


阿嬤們一邊聊天一邊做粿 The grandmas chat while making cakes.燕巢金山社區處處精彩





  四面環山的金山社區宜居的生活環境看似天成,但美好的背後有些路程。里長林順輔表示,當地10年前投入社區營造運動,透過不同活動,吸引鎮日忙於農作的居民走出來參與活動,於是家家戶戶逐漸熟識,建立好交情,「大夥共同完成一件事,比較有意義。」里長林順輔一語道盡社區營造運動的意義。事實上,金山居民一起完成的事情還真不少,最讓人津津樂道的是當地1958 年整建山坡地興建金山國小,在缺乏機具設備的年代,全村居民以人力鏟地、擔土,歷時1年多將山坡地移平,只因居民體認教育的重要。半世紀後,金山居民團結依舊,籌組了盛名遠播的「阿嬤炊粿隊」,號召社區20多位66歲至90歲的阿嬤,每逢過年等大節慶齊聚一塊炊粿,此外,每逢金山國小校慶,「阿嬤炊粿隊」登高一呼,找來了總共40~50位阿嬤、阿公,大隊人馬一起到校為全校師生做粿,這些阿公阿嬤是如此守護著當地唯一一所學校;於是乎,炊粿文化透過粿的香氣和味道,細膩地傳承下來,在孩子們的記憶裏生根。


金山居民感情融洽 The residents have a strong sense of kinship.  阿嬤們示範製程較簡單的紅龜粿,阿嬤們各個身手不凡,卻很難偷師,因為每個製程問破了嘴,還是全憑「經驗」這個最高原則。首先將糯米粉搓揉成糯米糰,另一頭阿嬤們炒著花生餡料,接著包裹花生餡料,另一端大竈燒著柴火,準備蒸煮紅龜粿,一邊包裹花生,阿嬤們透露,前陣子她們一起拍了電影!當被問起在劇中扮演的角色?阿嬤們模擬劇中情節,全攤在椅子一動也不動地說:「難民!」大夥哄堂大笑,談笑風生中,阿嬤們手捏動作沒一刻停過,將裹有餡料的紅龜粿放進模具中塑形,取出後置於香蕉葉上放進蒸籠,期間會掀開鍋蓋確認蒸煮情況,捲捲白煙從蒸籠裏竄出,映著紅龜粿美麗的紅色,讓人垂涎欲滴,待紅龜粿出爐後,賴阿嬤不忘將紅龜粿分送予識字班的同學,識字班的阿公阿嬤收到溫熱的紅龜粿,直說上課好幸福,濃濃的人情味是金山社區最出色的亮點!

三合院聚落 Jinshan's traditional courtyard houses  金山社區文化的精彩可由當地保存完整的三合院聚落窺見,一座座歷經歲月洗禮的古厝群顯得大器而優雅,這些古厝迄今仍被使用中,包括當地唯一一家甘仔店「金30」,繞行其中,遊客也許會遇見了製做木炭的居民,忙著處理剛燒製好的木炭,在古厝群裏遇見了老行業,體現生活即文化的意涵。漫步紅磚道巷道之中,古厝群裡裏樹形優美的楊桃樹結實纍纍,散發濃郁果香,著名的陳家古厝後方6棵高聳百年龍眼樹,襯得古厝空間綠意盎然,而古厝周圍植有整排鳳凰木,夏天鳳凰花季時,一片火紅的鳳凰花綻放著;隨著季節遞嬗,不同顏色的樹木妝點著古厝聚落美不勝收。