Introducing Kaohsiung Cultural Buses／專人深度導讀 文化公車嬉遊高雄
Experience Kaohsiung's culture in depth
◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting ◎Photo by Li Yun-yu
Kaohsiung is filled with modern and ancient culture. If visitors take a journey to Old Fongshan City (located in what today is Zuoying District), the different district now called Fongshan, or Hamasen by the old harbor, they will see how historic relics blend into modern lives, creating new cultural fusions. People interested in exploring these areas will find Kaohsiung Cultural Buses are an ideal means of transportation. Kaohsiung City Government has launched six Cultural Bus routes: Old Town (Old Fongshan City), Fongshan, Hamasen, Mount Dagang and Dashu District. The Old Town, Fongshan and Hamasen routes have Mandarin-speaking tour guides, but English-language brochures are provided to foreign tourists who hop aboard.
The Old Town and Fongshan routes operate only on the weekend, with one service every half hour. The Hamasen route runs every day except Monday. On weekdays, there is one bus per hour; during weekends, the frequency increases to one service every half hour. For each of the three routes, tourists can purchase a jump-on, jump-off ticket allowing unlimited sightseeing throughout the day.
Zuoying, often lauded as a historical and cultural center, preserves many intriguing relics and major temples. The Old Town bus route take visitors through the heart of this area, via Jhouzih Wetland Park, Kaohsiung Museum of Military Dependents Villages, the east, north and south gates of Old Fongshan City (sometimes called the Old City of Zuoying), Chongsheng Shrine, and the Confucius Temple near Lotus Pond.
The 9.1- hectare Jhouzih Wetland Park is an urban wetland. To preserve this natural habitat, which attracts the Pheasant-tailed Jacana and other unusual bird species, access is strictly controlled. Anyone hoping to enter the park must book a tour in advance.
Kaohsiung Museum of Military Dependents Villages displays items and documents from the era of military dependents' villages. These settlements were inhabited by military servicemen and their family members who had retreated, along with the Chinese Nationalist government, to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland back in 1949. Because Zuoying is a naval base, this area once had as many as 23 military dependents' villages in which thrived unique cultures, lifestyles and cuisines. All but three have been demolished, yet the culinary legacy of these mainlander enclaves fascinates many visitors. Popular restaurants and stores include Sanniou Beef Noodles, Liu's Braised Chicken, Zuoying Shanghai Deep-fried Shredded Radish Cake and Rongyuan's Meat Puff and Millet Congee.
Remnants of the Old City Wall, which was rebuilt in 1826, includes three gates. Both Chongsheng Shrine, located within Jiuo-Cheng Primary School, and Confucius Temple pass down the spirit of Confucianism.
The Fongshan cultural bus route stops at Dadong Arts Center, Fongyi Academy, Fongshan Train Station, Pingcheng Emplacement, Chenglan Emplacement, Binzih Market (Solidier's Market) and Fongshan Longshan Buddhist Temple. Fongyi Academy, established in 1814, was as a flourishing center of classical Chinese culture. It was here, during China's Cing Dynasty (which ruled Taiwan between 1684 and 1895) that residents would study for imperial civil-service examinations. Pingcheng and Chenglan gun emplacements are proof of Fongshan's economic and political status; for much of that era, it was the administrative capital of much of southern Taiwan.
Pingcheng Emplacement is adjacent to Caogong Temple, where Cao Jin, a magistrate who served here in the middle of the 19th century, is honored. He is remembered for constructing waterworks and irrigation systems. Fongshan Longshan Buddhist Temple is also worth visiting. This temple, which is over 300 years old, preserves fascinating architecture and art works created by nationally-recognized artisans. In addition to exquisite stucco and wood sculptures, there are splendid examples of jiannian, three-dimensional mosaics made by cutting porcelain into small pieces, then pasting the shards onto a framework. These traditional crafts have been treasured by many generations.
The Hamasen route takes in what used to be Kaohsiung Harbor Train Station, Wude Martial Arts Center, the Former British Consular Residence at Dagou, Kaohsiung Daitian Temple, Gushan Fish Market, Pier-2 Arts Center, and Kaohsiung Museum of History. The former Kaohsiung Harbor Train Station has been converted into Takao Railway Museum (Takao and Dagou are spellings of Kaohsiung's previous name). Visitors can look over the old railway from Hamasen's Sky Balcony. Wude Martial Arts Center was established in 1924, during the Japanese colonial period, and was a place where police officers learned martial arts. It is one of just a few martial arts halls to have survived from that era. The Former British Consular Residence at Dagou is a witness to how the harbor was opened up to international trade. The residence is also a great spot for enjoying panoramic views or a delightful afternoon tea. While in the neighborhood, one can also visit Kaohsiung Daitian Temple and savor snacks from the food stalls around the temple. This place of worship sometimes holds free Taiwanese Opera performances. Art enthusiasts can also head to Pier-2 Art Center and Kaohsiung Film Archive to experience the city's rapidly developing creative industries.