Tainan reminded me of many places.
The traffic light at every single intersection made me recalled my days in Washington, D.C. Back then, I would walk around avoiding stop lights. I hated them. I did the same in Tainan but different from WDC, there are many surprises hidden in the alleyways.
When we were in KenTing, the pace of life was painfully slow. Not much cultural or historical spots to lose yourself. It was a place to spend time with nature. It was in some ways, quaint. KenTing is like the old neighbor you see everyday watering her flowers in the yard exactly at 9am when you leave for work and she would greet you again when you’re getting home in the evening. Predictable.
Tainan is a city full with artists, makers interested in preserving its culture. So everywhere you go you’ll find shops cramped with interesting products made by local craftsmen.
Modern art and design is booming but a lot of the older traditions has survive as well. We stayed next door to this famous wood-carving shop. The shop is now survived by its third generation master. I wish Malaysia is on the same page at preserving its history and culture, there would be a lot of things to talk about!
It’s a city so lively and at the same time filled with treasure. There is always something at every corner if you just look closely enough.
Getting lost in the plethora of temples was enjoyable. There’s so many temples that I have lost count of how many incense sticks I have lit. There are a lot of historical spots in Tainan and most of them are very well preserved. The government takes preservation of its culture and history seriously by turning centuries old building into shops, community centers, galleries, etc. This also opened up a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs.
The two weeks I spent there were comfortable. I forgot all about my worries and truly focused on discovering the city, peeling its many layers one by one.
Secondhand bookshops, cafes, hawker stalls, temples, any alley that looks remotely interesting and I will take that path.