Donglong Gong Temple
Donglong Gong Temple in Donggang is the religious center of Donggang residents and one of the biggest traditional temples in Taiwan. The 99.9 gold plated arches have a cost of nearly 100 billion Taiwanese dollars, and is the pride of the region. Donglong Gong Temple was established in 1706. The settlers salvaged vast quantities of wood with the lacquer mark of Wen, which was revealed to be a divine miracle from Lord Wen. Realizing that a Divine Being lived in the vicinity and that Donggang would become a famous place, the people hence erected a Temple with the name of Donglong (Prosperity to Donggang). In 1894, the place was hit by a great flood. After receiving a divine revelation, the local residents moved the Temple to Fushui Lianhua Caves (the current location). With the completion of the second temple, the residents asked and welcomed Lord Wen to His new residence. The new Temple attracted numerous pilgrims and visitors. To date, the Temple still maintains the atmosphere typical of great religious sites. Retainers of the Temple have their work divided in shifts, and sincerely invite visitors to stay in the Temple and guide them in fortune-reversing rituals. The Royal Ship next to the Temple is also part of the link that joins Donglong Gong Temple with the Seven District Temples in Donggang. Such qualities make the Temple the best place for a tour of Taiwanese religion for visitors of Donggang.
The Temple of Mazu (Ancestral Mother)
The Temple of Mazu (Ancestral Mother) can be regarded as a landmark representing the coastal regions of Taiwan. Chaolong Gong of Donggang (Temple of Mazu) boasts a long history and is part of the District Temples (in the Xiazhong Street district) responsible for the Ceremony for Receiving the King. To local fishermen, Temple of Mazu shares equal importance with Donglong Temple. Lady Mazu makes a biennial Ritual Tour which may coincide with the tri-annual Ceremony of Receiving the King, linking the religious cultures of Donggang residents together. Historical research reveals that soon after the construction of Chaolong Gong, great schools of shrimp appeared along the coasts of Donggang. This is interpreted as a divine miracle by the local residents, with Lady Mazu being held as the one responsible (and earning her the nickname Mother of Shrimps). In 1973, the original temple had become worn after two centuries of use and reconstruction began to create the modern Temple. The traditional settings and the dragon-headed and phoenix-tailed palanquins of Her Lady are both peerless in craft.
Fu’an Gong Temple is one of the Seven District Temples responsible for the Ceremony of Receiving the King. The chief deity of the Temple is Prime Deity Fude (the Earth Lord). Construction began during the reign of Emperor Daoguang of the Qing dynasty. With the help of donations, the Temple was rebuilt under the leadership of Temple Manager Mr Chun-he Xu and local elites in 1978. Construction was completed in 1981 after three years of work. The Temple hires masters of southern tunes to provide lessons for the local residents and provide the necessary musicians for the ritual ceremonies for Receiving the King. Unfortunately, the rise of modern materialism meant that the traditional ritual musical offering of zither and lute during the formal ceremony exists only as frescoes on Temple walls.
Dapeng Wan (Albatross Bay) National Scene Park
Dapeng Wan (Albatross Bay) is located at Nanping Neighborhood of Donggang Township. It crosses both Linbian village and Donggang Town, and is where the two rivers Houliao Creek and Linbian Creek flow into the ocean. Dapeng Wan is a lagoon with a rich diversity of fish and mollusks. The lagoon occupied a total area of 1438 hectares over both land and water and once provided rich aquatic resources that Jiading Manor was dependent upon. The richness of the lagoon gave the manor a nickname of “Golden Jiading Harbor”.
During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese constructed a seaplane base in Dapeng Wan as a base of operations for their southern campaign. After Taiwan was returned to Chinese rule, the base became a junior academy for the Republic of China Air Force and later transformed into a training center of defensive artillery for the three military branches. The military camps were moved to Fangshan mountains when Dapeng Wan was to be developed as a national scene park.
National Scenery Development Park of Dapeng Wan includes the lagoon regions, camping areas and Qingzhou recreational zone. It is a project developed by the Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Transportation. It is also the first national scenery park to be developed by using civilian contractors using the BOT system.
Dapeng Wan was originally the chief base of oyster farming and cage system aquaculture. Oyster racks at Dapeng Wan became one of its most famous characteristic sights. An island of oyster shells, left over from oyster harvests, gradually formed and became a grazing site for seabirds. People can also walk onto this island where daily tours in bamboo rafts are provided to take tourists to the lagoon for fishing. Tours on bamboo rafts hence became a famous tourist activity prior to Dapeng Wan becoming a national scene park. There is also a restaurant on the sea in the lagoon.
A large mangrove forest is located along the public road leading from Donggang to Linbian next to Dapeng Wan. The management has designated the mangrove forest as a protected site and enacted relevant management measures. Renpeng recreational park is constructed by the roadside where visitors can enjoy an intimate tour within the mangrove woods. The mangrove forest is also a haven for bird watchers, attracting large numbers of nesting seabirds. Dapeng Wan National Scenery Park is also planning other facilities such as an international tourist hotel, theme park, marina and golf course.
Qingzhou Recreational Park
Qingzhou Recreational Park was originally a wind-breaking forest of she-oaks at Nanping District. It is a famous in Donggang as a venue for water games and BBQs. Numerous shellfish and horn-eyed crabs can be seen crawling along the beach. The Park was also the designated venue for many National Sailing Competitions. Qingzhou Recreational Park is now part of the Dapeng Wan National Scenary Park. Reconstruction was completed and the place opened to tourists in 2001. There is a Visitors’ Center, Membrane Observatory, Scenery Gazebo, Coastal Promenade and Children’s Waterfront. The Membrane Observatory is unique for its modern designs. Dapeng Wan Exhibition Hall is located on the 2nd floor of the Visitors’ Center.
Huaqiao Market (Chinese Market)
Huaqiao Market is a traditional Dusk Market and is located near the harbor front of Donggang. Tourists embarking from Okinawa would usually buy fresh seafood from this place. The locals called these honored guests “Huaqiao” (Chinese), and the market eventually became known by this name. Huaqiao Market opens at 3 PM and closes at 6-7 PM. During sunset, the market is full of people from every region trying to buy fresh seafood. Numerous stalls offer the famous “Sailfish Wheels” fried on the spot. The dish is so popular that buyers would have to take a number card to wait for his/her turn on weekend sales. The market also serves freshly cooked seafood, and the excellent business gives the market the semblance of a wedding banquet.
Donggang Coastal Café
After reorganization of the levee next to Donggang Jinde Bridge, numerous mobile cafes have set booth at this place. With the atmospheric outdoors setting, the Coastal Cafes has become the best place for having nightlong conversation and relaxing fun with friends.
Donggang Fish Auction Market
Donggang Fish Auction Market is the most famous tourist market for marine produce. It is also an important hub of fishing harvests in southern Taiwan. The Auction Market boasts large varieties of fish at reasonable prices and high qualities. Some goods are so good that they’re taken aboard flights to Japan. The Market is divided into 2 main sections. Towards the left is large auction market, mainly providing for large scale and mid-scale suppliers of fish. Auctioning begins at 10 AM and closes at noon. Smaller auction markets are located to the right, where bidding begins from 3-4 AM till dawn, providing for most traditional market vendors. An early auction at 3-4 AM allows for vendors to buy their stocks early and return to their home markets on time for business. The buyers provide the money while the sellers provide the goods. The mutual benefit of such barter is yet another famous aspect of the Fish Auction Market.
There are three auction markets in the region. The shrimps and crabs are auctioned at the Old Fishing Society Market. Tuna and catches from open-sea trawlers are auctioned at the New Fishing Society Market. The long pier is located to the left of the entrance, while the short-pier at the right leads one to the Auction Market for other types of fish.
Tuna and sailfish catches make up the majority of exports to Japan of Donggang fisheries. The fish are unloaded from the ships and auctioned directly at the market. The method and methods are both sights to behold. Fish up to 100-200 kg in weight are dragged along the ice by sellers using a curved sickle. In order to preserve the freshness of the tunas, broken ice is laid throughout the vicinity. Fish merchants would wear rain shoes and walk in a half-kicking step to prevent slipping over the ice.
Auctioning begins every afternoon from 1-2 PM during Tuna Season. By then, buyers would have formed a crowd at the auctioning market to obtain the freshest sashimi. Once auctioning ends, some vendors would begin to slice and sell their stocks at the very site. Of course, the price is more affordable than fish markets elsewhere.
The season of Northern Bluefin Tuna is from April to June of every year. Other seasons will see sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, mahi-mahi and other fish. The approach of winter brings gray mullet and beltfish. The market is closed every Friday.
Ship building and repairing yard
At the zenith of the fishing industry, more and more fishing ships were ordered at Donggang. Some ship builders chose to site their yards directly in the vicinity of Houliao Creek Harbor Bay. But as fishing fleets and harbor docks became saturated, the hay-day of ship builders became a thing of the past. However, shipyards still provide for ships, repairing and giving them new looks. Ships may also come under an infestation of barnacles on the bottom given its long years at sea, and in numbers these barnacles may impede the speed of the vessels. Thus, ships would dock and have the barnacles scraped off every few years while receiving a new coat of paint. Local fishermen call these reparation processes as “getting on the rack”. The unique sights of ships “getting on the rack” for their routine repairs are frequently replayed in the Donggang shipyards, allowing the tourists to catch a glimpse of the mysterious hulls.
Dragon Boat Racing Track
A crowd gathered by the side of Donggang creek in 1989 to catch a glimpse of a Dragon Boat tournament. The governor of Pingdong then was Mr Mengxiong Shi, a native of Donggang. Governor Shi actively promoted dragon boating as a popular activity as his father once participated in a dragon boat race of Don’gang. 1989 was the first dragon boat tournament in Pingdong, with the race track chosen at the river section at Xin Street of Donggang County where the flood levees had just been constructed. The dragon boat race would become the most popular event (besides the tri-annual Ceremony of Receiving the King). As the Dragon Boat Races were usually complemented with various cultural performances, the event also allowed Donggang residents to enjoy an annual carnival of traditional culture rarely seen in other places. Every county resident hoped to take this diverse event that combines folk traditions, competitive sports and cultural performances to places outside Donggang. The Dragon Boat Race of this year would be held at next to the Bo’ai Street levees completed this year in Donggang creek. A spectacular event is expected since this venue is even closer to downtown Donggang.
Donggang Ice Factory
In the early days, fishing boats would load their storage compartments with broken ice from the ice factory before their departure for sea expeditions in order to preserve the freshness of their catch and prevent spoilage. Most modern ocean-going fishing ships are now equipped with rapid freezing equipments. Hence, the clients of ice factories became smaller fishing vessels operating in littoral zones. Ships about to depart for fishing trips would dock at the ice factories and allow the ice flakes to fall into their hull. One can see huge blocks of ice sliding from the second floor of the ice factory through a sky-rail into a ice-breaking unit. In moments, the solid blocks of ice are ground up into white snowy flakes to fill the cargo space. Fishermen pray that the flakes would soon be accompanied by a bountiful catch on the return trip home.
Donggang Old Street (Yanping Street)
Several traditional buildings with mixed-western styles hailing back to the early days of Taiwan can be seen along Old Yanping Street of Donggang. Baroque Styles can be seen alongside Japanese architecture. Buildings of interesting architecture such as Shengyuan Hospital, Bianmin Pawnshop, Yi’yi Teahouse, Donggang Province Conscription Center, Guangfu Optometrists and others are all located at the neighborhood of Yanping Street. These western and Japanese style buildings have seen the prosperous past of Donggang. Additionally, four of the Seven District Temples responsible for Receiving the King, namely Chaolong Gong of Zhong Street, Fu’an Gong of Anhai Street, Dongfu Dian of Xiatoujiao and Jhen Hai Kung of Lunzaiding, are located in the vicinity. These temples are proof that this street was once the prosperous center of the entire town.
Fengyu (bountiful fishing) bridge, with its red steel arches, has become one of the unique landmarks of Donggang Fishing Village. Fengyu Bridge is located in the center of the town. The section of Houliao Creek between Fengyu Bridge and Fangyu Bridge grants the most traditional scene of early fishing village that was Donggang. The bridge is the favored venue of many artists. A theme cafe operates by the bridge, recreating the atmosphere of a fishing village decorated with Fengyu Bridge scenes. One can enjoy beautiful sceneries of an old school fishing village over a cup of coffee at this place.
Houliao Creek runs through the entirety of Donggang Township. The river was once used to transport Chinese-Fir wood to inland villages. The banks used to be covered with mangroves, but settlement developments had eradicated most of the mangrove trees, leaving a thriving portion at the eastern side of Fangyu Bridge.
Famous Local Produce and Snacks
Northern Bluefin Tuna
Bluefin Tunas are commonly called “Hei Weng Chuan (Black Basket Sticks)”. Its meat is rich in Vitamin E and DHA, with a soft texture that dissolves in the mouth. Bluefin Tuna slices are the best type of sashimi and the favorite of Japanese connoisseurs, each slice costing up to NT$ 200-300. The months of April to June every year is Bluefin Tuna season, with most catches exported directly to Japan.
Sashimi is rated into three levels based on the portion it is sliced from. Consumers can judge the slices based on color, fat content and presence of sinews to differentiate between the levels. The best slices are those from the belly of the Bluefin Tuna with its pink-reddish hue and a texture that dissolves in the mouth.
Donggang is the major production site of Taiwanese Bluefins. There are over 1000 Bluefin fishing ships in Donggang. During Bluefin Tuna season, the ships would make expeditions to Liuqiu, Bashi Channel and Southwestern Pacific to catch the Buefins. Apart from Bluefin Tunas, Yellowfins, Bigeyes and Longfins are also caught.
Pingdong County Government and Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Transportation have jointly held, in 2001, the first “Tourist Season of Bluefins”. The event provided the first popular coverage of Donggang Bluefins and the Cultural Tourist capital of Pingdong.
Shrimps produced at the Donggang regions include Donggang shrimps, flower shrimps, monkey head shrimps and Sakura shrimps. Sakura shrimps are only known to be produced in Donggang in Taiwan and Suruga Bay in Japan. Hence, these shrimps are regarded as a national treasure. Sakura shrimps are tiny with the coloration of Sakuras (cherry blossoms). Its numbers once fell to critically low levels due to overfishing. The fishermen of Donggang thus restrained themselves and adhered to a common contract where no one is allowed to harvest these shrimps during the fishing ban. Sakura shrimps can be eaten as a snack along with wine or tea or as an ingredient to many gourmet dishes.
alted Mullet Roe / Karasumi, Salted Oilfish Roe
Gray mullet season in Donggang is around Lunar New Year each year. Gray mullet roe is also one of the many famous produces of Donggang. Salted Mullet Roe (Karasumi) is considered an upper class delicacy. But in recent years, the preserved roe of oilfish has obtained the same status of mullet roe. Oilfish roe are bigger than mullet roe. The salted, pressed and dried roe has an excellent taste, and can be cut into slices and eaten with garlic shoots and white turnips.
Donggang Ba-Kui (Donggang Ricecakes with Meat)
Donggang Ba-Kui (Ricecakes and Meat) is a specialty snack of the Donggang region. A salted rice cake is made using long grained rice with no other additives. A thick broth made from boiling milkfish is poured on the rice cake while sakura shrimp, minced meat sauce, sausage slices or garlic juices are added to complete the flavor. The taste is excellent when made right, though it is difficult to find an eatery that does it well. However, one can visit the original vendor located near Caitang Bridge at Guangfu Road. Another outlet at the intersection of Guangfu Road and Chaoyang Road also provides an excellent make.
Shuang’gao Run (Bi-layered Rice Cakes)
Shuang’gao Run (bi-layered rice cakes) is a sweet dessert made from steaming glutinous rice with brown sugar. It has the taste of old Taiwan and many people would buy them as gifts and presents. One can buy them at Zhongxing Market in Donggang. There are several vendors selling Shuang’gao Run, with the vendor Qiu Mochi Po (Mother Qiu of Mochi) being the most popular.
Ba-wan (Meat Globes)
The shiny Ba-wan (meat globes) of Donggang are deep fried after steaming. The pork filling is complemented with fresh shrimp and bamboo shoots to give it a unique taste. One can have order servings of Ba-wan at Zhongxing Market.