Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taiwan Travelogue: Tamsui (淡水) Old Street

To the north of Taipei is the little township of Danshui(local Mandarin pronunciation), or Tamsui (English name), known for the many attractions and historical past and a perfect location to boast of for the stunning views of sunset. These are just the few to name of Danshui's offerings, which did well to attract her own share of visitors as compared to the other top ranking tourist spots in the country.
Danshui 淡水 (in Mandarin) or Tamsui (translated to English term) literally means "Fresh water".
It was initially known as Hoba, in the aboriginal Ketagalan (who were the earlier settlers in this location) which means 'Stream's mouth' and was then adapted into the local Taiwanese language to be known as 'Hobe'. When the Spanish arrived in the early 17th century, they named the place Casidor and the Tamsui River Kimalon.
The development and urbanization of the town maintained its name; though today the government has emphasized that the name Tamsui is used to refer to this town in English, rather than Danshui as seen in most MRT and guides.
However, it is still not uncommon to see the two words being used interchangeably in the context of referring to this quaint little town.
(For official purposes, I will use the official term to refer to the town; Tamsui).

Formerly a prime location as a commercial shipping hub in its heydays, Tamsui was slowly replaced by Keelung in the early 20th century. While the town owes its past to the shipping activities, today it continues to flourish as a tourism hub with the picturesque scene overlooking the harbor; or the ferry pier and the fisherman wharf located downstream and reachable via a ferry ride.
The history from the colonial ages of both the Dutch and Spanish stayed on the town and is evident from the styles of the buildings and the Tamsui Old Street.

The Old Street of Danshui or Tamsui Old Street, is a long street filled with shophouses and stalls beckoning to the daily visitors to this town with their local products and merchandise.
There are many to see and do here; just like most of the streets or markets in Taipei, there are just so much food and drinks, and apparel on sale here.
Take in the lively scenes on the streets; filled mostly with tourists rather than locals (or perhaps Taiwanese on weekends).
Browse through the stalls on the side of the streets, and also some of the shops; confectioneries and eateries which offer things unique to this little town.

For instance, Iron Eggs is something to look forward to here.
Made of quail eggs or normal chicken eggs, the Iron eggs is a home-developed recipe by an old grandma, Grandma Huang, who, during the earlier days of her business, struggling in the ominous times had to
re-cook the eggs she had on sale several times to last through the days.
The result ended in the slightly harder and chewy textured, dark-colored eggs which have shrunk at least half of its original size which then became an innovation and boomed as an interesting product known as Iron Eggs today.
While this can be seen and found in many stalls along the street, the most famous and original shop is the Grandma Tiedan/Grandma Huang's Iron Eggs.

The Tamsui Fish balls are supposedly famous; fish paste balls stuffed with minced meat and garlic.

Tamsui Old Street at a glance 

There's even an outlet from the famous Naraya, all the way from Thailand!

Tamsui Old Street is truly a delightful window to the blend of history and modern living with the colonial-inspired buildings as part of the background and fronted by the hustle bustle of the jovial contemporary crowd; filled with the locals making a living amidst the eager tourists and visitors every day.
One could easily lose track of time when taking a walk down this street, it is that enjoyable~

The Old Street runs along the Tamsui River, with a pier overlooking the harbor and across to the Fisherman Wharf.
It is indeed a romantic stretch to walk down with the breeze blowing in your hair and with mesmerizing views of the waterfront

To be the next part of Tamsui...

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