Ben, Eric and Eric (above picture)
My friend George has been bugging me to blog more. I just haven't been able to find the time. Yesterday, I got together with some old friends, Eric and Ben of "Ben Goes to Taiwan (Not Thailand)" at http://taiwanben.wordpress.com/ and another Eric I hadn't met before for a 3.5 hour ride along the Danshui River 淡水 to the Danshui Wharf.
I've blogged about some of the spots along the way (Treasure Hill, the 2-28 Execution Grounds, etc.). This time, I'll mention Guangdu Temple 關渡宮, which is reportedly the oldest Matsu Temple 媽祖廟 in Taiwan (above photos). Built in 1661, Guangdu is 77 years older than Lungshan Temple 龍山寺, Taipei's most well-known temple. Guangdu's construction also coincides with the arrival of Koxinga 鄭成功, though I'm not sure if Koxinga had any hand in its construction. (Koxinga is a favorite of local historians, who write of how his 25,000-50,000 Ming Loyalists "liberated" Taiwan after driving just 1,000 Dutch colonists to their boats. It took a year of combat for these brave many to wear down the Dutch.)
After stopping for a quick beer in Danshui, I took the MRT back to Taipei for a lunch appointment. (It's okay to take bikes on the MRT on Sundays before 4:00.) Eric, Eric and Ben stayed to eat by the water.