Friday, November 30, 2012

Wall Remains/城壁

I have written previously about the Tainan city walls.  They were put up around the city in the Qing period, but they were mostly torn down during the Japanese period as a result of Japanese plans to modernize the city's layout.  There are a couple of gates left, but there is also at least one section of wall left as well.  I heard about it a while back, and I had been meaning to visit it when I had some free time and a nice sunny day.  I had both last Sunday, so I headed out on my bicycle to the remaining section of wall that is near the University of Tainan campus.  It's only about a 15 minute ride away from Cheng Kung's campus if you don't get lost.  Of course, I got lost.  But I did find it eventually.
This is my favorite kind of historic spot.  Not only is there no entrance fee to see it, but it's so low key that if you don't notice the plaque, you might never even know that it was something historic.  I'm willing to bet money that there are people who live in the neighborhood who have never realized that the wall they pass by on their scooter every day dates back to the Qing Period.
Exhibit A for how much a part of the neighborhood the wall is: This space here appears to be a garbage collection site.  (Either that or people are just illegally leaving garbage there.)

This is how you know you are looking at history.
A plaque!  I love plaques!  This one says:  "The walls were constructed in 1788 and took two years to complete.  They were originally wood and later converted to mud/mortar(?) and stone.  (There's only an imperial date, no western date, and I don't feel like looking up the Qing Imperial calendar, so I don't know when the walls were converted.)  Afterwards, during the Japanese period, the walls fell into disrepair and weeds grew from them.  (Something like that.)  The wall is 64 meters long (so, like 70 yards maybe) and 5 meters high (a little over 5 yards).  Recently the wall has been fixed up a bit.  (Then there's a bunch of stuff written that I don't really understand.)


Imagine driving by this every day on the way to work.  That's Tainan for you.  It's got lots of random historic stuff scattered around the city, and some of it, like this wall, is very much a part of the neighborhood fabric.

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