And finally the city god temple

Whenever I return to Hsinchu I go to the city god temple which dates apparently back to 1746.  The adjacent food market is a century old. When l lived here ten years ago I never ate at the place. I couldn’t tell you why but I just wasn’t able to embrace the culture back in the day. During one of the business trips I went there and tried the pork ball soup. It was good. Really good. l go back when l can since and eat the pork ball soup and sometimes an oyster omelet.  The place is always busy. People are in and out, buy or eat their food right there.


I order my food pointing at some pictures. The decision which stall to choose is more difficult. There are so many. l guess eating at the most crowded places should be a safe bet.  I usually walk around a little bit, take some images and watch the people. l could do that for hours but the market is busy and bystanders don’t belong. Not that I look anything like a local anyway. It’s just a feeling that makes myself part of the chaotic mess.


After three rounds around the stalls I take a look around the temple and do some shooting there. l think it was here back in 2002 that l asked for my fortune by means of these wooden half moons. What started as an experiment became reality and somehow fate.So be aware of asking city gods They might feel responsible for you.


Back to the food. I order my pork ball soup and this time an oyster omelet as well. While waiting l take some pictures even though the people working here don’t like it. They seem shy about it and giggelish. But I try anyway.


Happily, l sit there watching all the action around me and I enjoy the porky taste of my meat ball soup. i might sound sentimental about this place but I’m actually not. Just a creature of habit.

Find some good info about the place check here or here since I’m not the expert on describing the food and giving it the correct names.


The old market in Hsinchu

Hsinchu is a town in northern Taiwan, about one hour south of Taipei. It’s home to the Hsinchu Science Park where once Taiwan’s semiconductor industry launched its way to the top. Hsinchu isn’t a fancy or touristy place. Mostly engineers and their families live, eat and work there. And I was one of them more than ten years ago.

I lived in a two bedroom apartment on Bei Da Road in the middle of the city and close to shopping, eating and drinking since this is most there is in Hsinchu.

The old market was located quite close to my home but I didn’t go there very often. The lanes were dark and crowded. Meat and fish would just kick around all day without refrigeration. Many stores sold dry foods which I couldn’t even identify.


The two storey market is part of an old apartment building which must be a pretty large complex. However looking up and seeing the fenced apartment windows is a bit scary. The place is clean just old. I mean just very old. I never dared to eat from the little food stalls since I knew where the chicken spent the last couple of hours. But than again, it’s cooked …


Two or three times each year I go back to Hsinchu on business. My schedule is usually so busy that I hardly go and stroll around. The first days I’m usually hit by jet lag and than I usually can’t wait to go home again. During the previous visit I went down to the city center on a Sunday afternoon and took some pictures with the Hasselblad. The market was just closing down, most stores were already closed and others were going to shortly.


I quite enjoyed the almost empty lanes and the sparse action of the last people closing store or leaving. It wasn’t just the quiet Sunday afternoon but the the feeling that places like this are slowly dying out and with them some history. So, feeling sentimental I wanted to get the black cat in the empty lane but she was smarter than me and ran.



A day at Sun Moon Lake 日月潭

Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s largest body of water located in the middle of the country. The lake is surrounded by lush green mountains. According to the tales, a white deer led the hunters of the Thao tribe to the shores of this beautiful  and rich in fish place.

Lalu Island in the middle of the lake is holy ground for the Thao tribe, It was renamed several times in history but received its aboriginal name back after more recognition was given to the tribal roots. Large parts of the island sank into the lake after the big earthquake in 1999.

I visited the lake for the first time during a day trip from Hsinchu where I lived in 2002. Nearly at the same time I got my first digital SLR a Fujifilm S2 with one of the best sensors at the time and the advantage of being compatible with my Nikon lenses. The two color images were taken at the Wen Wu temple which was still under construction after being totally flattened during the 1999 earthquake. I still have the original raw files but these are edits I did a long time ago.




I went back to the lake in May 2003. Taiwan was taken over by the SARS crisis and public life stood still for a couple of weeks. I decided to go on a little Taiwan round trip including Sun Moon Lake. Hotels were of an occupancy below 20% and discounts were steep. At Sun Moon Lake I stayed at The Lalu which was at the time one of the best hotels in Taiwan. I took a number of pictures of the hotel and the lake. I need to find some time to look through the images again and edit them.

A couple of weeks ago I went back to the lake. I rented a car drove down to Taichong on a Friday after work to get an early start on Saturday morning. I was surprised to find a new highway full of buses and cars going East, going into the mountains and going to Sun Moon Lake. The traffic never became better and a long cue of cars moved slowly forward. I didn’t recognize much after arriving at the lake. I saw quite a number of new hotels, a large marina and an new urban strip with stores and restaurants including Starbucks along the north shore. So I went straight to Wen Wu temple to walk around and take some shots. I was equipped with a Hasselblad 500CM and lots of film.

So I climbed up the temple to the place were I took the photos before. It was a warm sunny day but the light was already very bright and not so good for taking images.






The temple entrance is most impressive. Looking from the temple one can see the gate, the lake and the mountains beyond. These views make the place so special and of course attractive for people to visit. Then years ago the view was still unspoiled by boats and other signs of civilization. Today people claim the place for their way of recreation. Let me come back in a while and look at the place again.


Opposite the Wen Wu temple are some stalls selling food, refreshments and souvenir. There are also 365 stairs leading down to the lake representing each day of the year. One can hang a little golden bell on the fence which contain prayers and wishes.






After visiting the temple I took off to go a bit into the mountains planing to be back later in the day for better light. However, I miscalculated the time a bit and came back late to find a extremely crowded shore and a beautiful sunset that just wouldn’t work on a b&w film. Good that I got my phone with me. Here is the sunset shot.

Here is the last one from Wen Wu temple, a stone carving of women playing an instrument which reminds me somehow of the classic chinese novel “Dream of the red chamber”.



The b&w images were taken on Ilford Delta 400 and developed in Spuersinn Sam Classic.