Sometimes you can have some of the greatest unexpected experiences when traveling. You visit a town or site you placed little or no expectations on and it turns into the highlight of your day. Maybe your whole vacation! While on a day-long motorbike tour of The Penghu Archipelago of Taiwan I stopped at a place that turned out to be the highlight of my day, and my trip. The Erkan Residences.
The Erkan Residences is located on Xinyu island of the archipelago, connected to the rest of the island group by way of The Trans Ocean Bridge. If you are traveling from Makong, the largest city on the island, a motorbike ride to the residences will take up most of your day. You will have plenty of time though to stop and see some of the other sites in the area. Of course, a lunch of some local specialities like the spicy little squid and cockles will help fuel your long day.
I started my day on route 203. It’s good to have a map with you but it’s such an easy route. One way in, one way out. You could probably get by just by watching the road and signs, most all in English. You’ll end by traveling over 4 other islands from the main township of Makong all connected by bridges. It’s a fun ride with lots of wind in your face and not a lot of traffic, depending on the season. Summers are the busiest.
The Erkan Residences are on the last of the group of islands you’ll visit, Hsiyu. There are other sites along the way. The Whale Cave, basically a whole in the rock of basalt rock that kinda looks like the outline of a whale. It is worth a visit. On the same stop you can also visit the Hsiaomen Geology Museum and learn about how the islands were formed.
As I stated earlier I really didn’t have any expectations for my visit to Erkan. I appreciate architecture and restorations of buildings and old sites. Sometimes though that’s all they are. Buildings that have been restored. Erkan was different. It had a spirit. People that live on the main street open up their homes to visitors. Special local food can be sampled and purchased.
To be invited into someone’s home is a completely different experience then staring from outside. Beautiful courtyards. Organic materials on display used for everything, including amazing sculptures. Walls made out of coral gathered from the beaches. Wood, obviously scarce on the islands due to it’s geology, gathered up and used for sculptures and decoration. Old fishing floats are painted and displayed. Everyone seems creative and artistic here.
One house had almond milk they were offering to guests. Other local items and bake goods were for sale. I couldn’t get over how friendly everyone was, considering they had strangers moving in and out through their houses on almost a daily basis.
I still had other places to visit that day. An old fort, the Yuwongdao Lighthouse at the very end of the island. But Erkan will hold a special memory for me. A spirit of a village and hospitality that goes far beyond the sight of buildings or historic stops.
Flights to the Penghu Islands are available from Taipei and Kaohsiung daily. Makong is the largest town on the islands and a great place to have as a base. Most hotels and B&B’s can help you arrange a scooter or motorbike rental.
I am a broadcaster, photographer, writer and videographer with a passion for travel throughout Asia. I love making connections and engaging with people. I am spiritual and seek adventure wherever I go.
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