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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ilan - It's Not What You Think

Rachel Hsu
Most people have the impression that Ilan is just a lot of magnificent mountains, a wide plain, and a lot of undeveloped countryside. However, they have to change their opinion! Nowadays, Ilan has many scenic spots, recreational farms and beautiful coastline views. There are too many attractions to talk about here, so we’re going to recommend two spots to you – the National Center for Traditional Arts and the Lotong night market.

All photos by the author
The National Center for Traditional Arts is a really big place. Inside, there is the Exhibition Center, a performance stage and many traditional buildings. The Exhibition Center regularly holds different exhibitions and activities. They regularly hold performances that show many times a day. These performances use interesting and entertaining ways to present traditional Chinese stories. Spectators always have a good time at these performances. The Center also has special exhibits and performances. For example, during Chinese New Year, they exhibit paper-cut works, and you also can get Spring Festival couplets for free!

If you are hungry, there are also many snack bars at the Center. You can choose rice, noodles, or dumplings for lunch. The traditional buildings at the Center house many stores that sell many kinds of traditional goods. In these stores, you can see many toys and candies from your childhood. They also offer free activities for tourists, like whipping tops and archery. It is exciting! Before you leave, don’t forget to go to the souvenir store to buy some postcards to send your friends and family!  

After walking all day in the National Center for Traditional Arts, you will certainly be very hungry. After you leave the Center, you can go to the next destination – the Lotong night market. At this night market, you can eat all the famous Ilan cuisine including mutton soup (羊肉湯), heart tapioca(包心粉圓), tang hu lu (糖葫蘆), bu meat(卜肉) and gao jha (糕渣). These are all popular foods here and you never see them in other night markets. If you have a big appetite, of course, you can try all of them. However, if you eat like a bird, I recommend that you at least try the mutton soup and heart tapioca. The soup is dainty and the mutton is very tender! This is a very popular dish, so you might have to wait in a long line – but it’s worth it! “Heart tapioca” is tapioca balls mixed with ice cream. When the ice cream melts, it mixes with the hot tapioca. I know it sounds strange, but it’s just like it has a magic power. You can’t put down your spoon!

Lotong night market is a delicacy paradise. Whatever special dish you want to eat, you can find it here. The National Center for Traditional Arts has wonderful exhibitions and performances, exciting games, and interesting stores. Even if you don’t go anywhere else in Ilan, just these two places will fill a wonderful day. Next time, if your friends want to travel to Ilan, don’t forget to recommend theses spots to them!           

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