I went on another hiking expedition to Yingge which is a small town about twenty minutes out of Taipei.  Sunday dawned dreary and rainy, mildly cold and humid, and it took everything I had to drag myself out of bed.

We were all meeting at Taipei Main Station which is the mother of all stations. Not only is it a high traffic transfer point between two major metro lines, but it is also the main bus station in Taipei, the departure point for the high-speed rail station and a stop for the regular train station. You can check out a map of it here. It also connects to a city mall, a metro mall, a bookstore, and the Taipei New World Shopping Center, and apparently there are a few hard to find entrances to the outdoors thrown in.

Naturally since I had never had to use the train station before I ended up wandering around for forty minutes before I started to get pissed.  I was on the verge of giving up and going home but ended up calling one of the leaders of the group and he came and got me.

Yingge is known for its old town streets (two) full of pottery shops and kilns. The area has a rich history of pottery making dating back some 200 years.

Oh, and they also have a famous rock.

we hiked up to the rock to check it out. There wasn’t too much to see but I did get a couple of nice pictures of the town below, and it was nice to hike around even if only for half an hour.

On our way back down we stumbled across another temple with some very cool architecture and a lucky brass (at least I think it was brass) one-horned bull inside. Temples are everywhere in Taiwan. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to avoid them, but I enjoy the sense of peace that comes from them, the heady yet relaxing smell of incense and the cool designs. Also, it had a giant one-horned bull.  Hard to beat that. The idea is to rub the bull all over for various kinds of good luck. Naturally we all got some quality rubbing time in just in case it worked.

While we were there we watched a woman dancing around a gigantic incense burner, apparently in a trance. Whether she was or not, I don’t know. It was kinda weird and I didn’t grasp the significance of what was going on, why she was dancing around or anything else.

Later we went down and walked around the Old Town eating at a little restaurant  called the Police Station. The food there was pretty good and a welcome relief after avoiding some greasy looking noodle places and the reek of stinky tofu floating on the air from nearby vendors.

We went to one of the local pottery stores and watched a demonstration given a young professional. It looked so easy when he showed us what to do.

It wasn’t. I think I destroyed about six or seven lumps of clay before I got too frustrated to continue.  Thankfully the staff were true professionals and helped those of us that needed it along the way. It was an interesting experience.  Molding the clay was at once both startlingly simple and yet deceptively difficult to do.

We finished off by decorating our works of art and choosing our glazes and we pretty much headed home right after. We didn’t spend any time looking at most of the other ceramic stores in the area which is a shame, but I think most of us were just too tired to extend the expedition for longer.

Besides, it will give me a reason to go back sometime in the future.


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