Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Toucheng old street 頭城老街

Toucheng is the oldest permanent Han settlement on the Lanyang plain. This isn't saying much, since Han pioneering in Yilan only began in the nineteenth century.

The name Toucheng means "first town," so of course it has some of the oldest buildings on the east coast of Taiwan. These historic buildings are concentrated along Heping Road, which has been branded the town's "old street" and promoted for tourism. A few bilingual signs explain the history of the street and some of the important buildings.

The street isn't very impressive, but it's worth a quick stop if
you're passing by Toucheng on the way to the beaches and
other attractions in the northern part of Yilan county. A few of the buildings have been kept in good condition or renovated, but most have the sad dilapidated look typical of historic buildings in Taiwan. There is a mix of Qing dynasty and Japanese colonial buildings, alternating with more recent concrete monstrosities.

The street is narrow and not very long - just three short blocks. At the far end is a tiny temple, which
is the most important attraction. It's the oldest surviving temple in Yilan county. There are also some old shops, little row houses, and an impressive Japanese colonial mansion.

The old street's real name is Heping Road 和平路. To find this street, take Road 2 north from Jiaoxi. This is the main road for the northern part of Yilan. When you get to Toucheng, you will cross Heping East Road 和平東路. Turn left onto this street. After driving one block you will see a large bilingual sign marking the old street. Just park where you can
and take a walk down the length of the street.

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