Taipei to Beipu: Into the Hakka heartland

Day 1: 28 May 2007 台北 – 北埔

Tianshui Tang a beautifully maintained private residence in Beipu, Xinzhu County

I set out on my motorcycle at a very early hour to beat the heat. I stopped in Sanxia for breakfast and to fill up with petrol before continuing the journey south. There wasn't much traffic on the road and I passed through Daxi and Guanxi before reaching the somewhat larger town of Zhudong. From there it was only a short ride to my destination of Beipu. 

My first stop in the town was the Beipu Local Museum (北埔地方文化館) where I picked up a couple of useful maps. I then went for a walk around the town. It was pretty quiet on a Monday morning although judging by the amount of shops I am sure this placed fairly buzzes on weekends. 

Citian Temple in Beipu, Xinzhu County, Taiwan

The Citian Temple (慈天宮), at one end of the Old Street, is a focal point of the town. While the temple is not small it is beautifully maintained. I took some photos in the temple and wandered around the town a little. There were a number of interesting old buildings and narrow laneways. 

Guanyin Temple at Wu Zhi Shan in Xinzhu County

I decided to head out of the town for a while and come back later in the afternoon. My first stop was the Er Liao Sacred Tree (二寮神木). I then rode up towards Wu Zhi Shan (五指山) or Five Finger Mountain. I stopped at the Guan Yin Temple (pictured above) which has a shrine built into a huge boulder. I was invited to have a vegetarian lunch at the temple. 

view from Xian Dong on Wu Zhi Shan in Xinzhu County

I then headed further up the mountain to the Bamboo Chan Temple (竹林禪苑). This temple marks  the start of the hiking trail to the top of the mountain. Wu Zhi Shan has five peaks and the highest is 1,061 metres. Had it not been such a hot day I would have gone to the top. Instead I spent an hour resting under the cool shade of a tree in the temple. On the way back down the mountain I made a detour to the Xian Dong (仙洞) where I took the above photo of the mountain view.

Stone bridge near Beipu in Xinzhu County

On my way down the mountain I passed by the Nuomi Bridge (糯米橋). This stone bridge has recently been restored, but I am not sure when it was originally built. 

Hakka Lei Cha at The Well teahouse in Beipu

Back in Beipu I went to visit "The Well" Tea House (水井茶堂) where I had the Hakka Lei Cha (仙洞) pictured above. I think this tea house was a very special place and it was wonderful to sit there and soak up the atmosphere.

Citian Temple in Beipu at dusk

It was getting late in the afternoon and the temperature had cooled down a little. I found a place to stay — the Mingjia Guesthouse (名家民宿). It was nothing flash, but fine for one night. I then wandered around taking photos. The temple is lit up by floodlights at night and it looked very beautiful at dusk. Unfortunately I didn't have my tripod with me so the image above was the best I could capture. (I rested my camera on my camera bag to take the shot).

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