Nanliao Community, Penghu: Traditional architecture, ox ploughing and unique sights

A tour of Penghu's Nanliao Community Part 2

Dear Taipei,

Welcome to Part 2 of my series on Penghu’s Nanliao Community!

It’s best to start off with Part 1: Masked Girls, Fuji Fish Stove and Caizhai, as I run through the start of the tour, and also explain where on earth Penghu and Nanliao is.

Well, let’s get straight into it! In this blog you’ll marvel at the traditional architecture in Nanliao, see some interesting sights, watch me attempt to plough a field with an ox, and find out about one of Penghu’s biggest exports.

Traditional Architecture in Nanliao

As you make your way around the community, you’ll have the chance to feast your eyes on many fascinating structures, such as this intricately decorated one.

 

A traditional structure in Penghu Taiwan

The accents of red and decorative tiles make this a captivating traditional structure to look at

Close up of an old house in Penghu

A close up shows all the intricate details against a backdrop of a wonderfully blue sky

Close up of an old house door in Nanliao, Penghu

The style of the artwork and the muted colours speak of the building’s age

Traditional temple in Nanliao, Penghu

A modest temple beautiful in its simplicity

An old house in Nanliao.JPG

A peek through a gate reveals another traditional building

Old worn away buildings in Nanliao, Penghu

Passing by worn down buildings

Ox Ploughing

The ox ploughing was without a doubt one of the most memorable parts of the tour. Especially because I got to have a go for myself! Watch my ridiculous attempt to plough a field with an ox by clicking the video below!

Man from Nanliao with his ox

A farmer tends to his ox

There are farmers on hand to guide you through the process. I must admit, at first I was quite hesitant to try it for myself, but after some coaxing I gave it a go. I’m glad I did as it was a weird and wonderful experience!

Woman and girl with an ox in a field

A farmer and a local girl taking position the ox in place

As is often the case when you see an expert perform their craft, the farmers make guiding the oxen look easy.

Farmer guides girl to guide an ox in a field in Nanliao, Penghu

The farmer tried to help me, but I was a lost cause!

I definitely underestimated how difficult it would be! I had great trouble trying to get my ox to walk straight. Or even to walk at all! It really takes a while to get used to holding both the rope that guides the ox and the wooden contraption that fields the earth, at the same time as trying to move forward. I felt a bit guilty after for messing up their lovely straight rows, but I was assured it wasn’t a problem.

Monica Mizzi tries to plough a field in Nanliao, Penghu with an ox

All smiles, despite my lack of ploughing skills

While I majestically failed in my farming attempt, I had a lot of fun. It’s truly an incredible experience to say the least to be able to walk behind and try to guide such a beautiful beast. Treading on the soft dirt and feeling it in between my toes added to the sensation.

An ox ploughing a field in Penghu

The Nanliao Community actively uphold the tradition of using oxen in farming

The experience really gave me pause for thought about how incredible it is that traditional agricultural practices are upheld in Nanliao.

Farmers ploughing ox in Penghu

Use of this method is increasingly scarce in farming these days

It’s really not easy work at all, and I say that acknowledging that my experience just skimmed the surface of what farmers have to do and the struggles they face.

Man ploughing field with his ox in Penghu

Straight rows are essential to keeping crops manageable

The farmers could use tractors and modern equipment to make their job substantially easier, but instead they choose to honour traditional methods to keep their culture alive. That, I think, is really admirable.

Farmer halting his ox in a field

Farmers have expert control of their oxen, developed over decades of practice

If you do go on the tour, I really urge you to have a try of this experience for yourself. You’ll no doubt kick yourself later if you don’t.

Girl trying to plough a small field with ox

You too have the opportunity to have a go at ploughing the field with an ox

Red ball gate

When we came across this red ball gate, everyone erupted into excited chatter, as if they were recalling a fond memory. Well, everyone except me, who as the only foreigner in the group didn’t have the slightest idea of the balls’ significance.

A gate in Nanliao with Chinese script of a traditional poem

Written on each of these red balls is a Chinese character

I learned that written on each of the red balls is a Chinese character, which read in succession, form a famous Buddhist proverb. Taiwanese people learn it early on in school, and must practice reciting it again and again. Hearing that explanation, the nostalgic atmosphere all made sense.

Traditional Chinese characters written on red balls in Nanliao, Penghu

Read in succession, they form a famous Buddhist proverb Taiwanese learn early on in school

The Nanliao Sign

Being such a picturesque place, there’s no shortage of photo opps in Nanliao. But if you’re after a cute picture to remember your time in Nanliao, and want to help out the community, take a pic with the Nanliao Sign and tag Nanliao as your location on Facebook.

Posing next to the Nanliao Sign

You have to find just the right spot to get the sign to line up

The sign was made as part of the community’s efforts to encourage more tourism to the area. It’s really quite a sweet sign as the person taking the photo has to make sure it lines up. To make it simple, there’s a spot on the ground indicating where the photo should be taken from. And don’t worry, even if it ends up a bit wonky (like in my pic!), it will still make for a pretty cool pic.

Ox and Cart

While this may look like it was staged, we just got very lucky to see such a sight! I’ve never seen anyone being pulled in a cart by any animal than a horse, so it did make my mouth drop. Just as quickly as the ox appeared in front of us was he gone, leaving everyone scampering for a view.

A cow towing it's owner in Nanliao

What great timing! We just happened to see an ox pulling some locals along in a cart

It was quite a funny situation, as we were all dazzled by seeing such an unusual scene, while to the woman at the head of the cart it was nothing special. After all, it’s just a normal mode of transport to her!

A cow towing its owner in Nanliao

Two kids being towed in a cart by a cow

What a way to move around the town!

Water well and pump

You’ll also come across an old water well and pump in the community which are still in perfect working order and are used by the locals to water nearby crops.

Traditional well in Nanliao, Penghu

Lowering the bucket into the well

Looking at such contraptions makes you think about the incredible advances which have been made in terms of irrigation and plumbing, and how challenging it was (and in this case, is!) to deliver water to crops.

An old well in Nanliao Community

The well is not too deep, which would make for more efficient water collection

A young boy uses a traditional water pump in Nanliao to shoot water

An old water pump in Nanliao, Penghu

Another old water pump, still in working order

Peanut production in Penghu

Peanuts are one of Penghu’s biggest exports. The peanuts have a very distinct roasted taste that’s unlike any peanut I’ve eaten before. I actually don’t like eating raw peanuts usually, but I could pop these ones from Penghu by the dozen.

Peanuts drying in the sun in Nanliao Community

Peanuts drying in the sun

Why is peanut production so big in Penghu? According to TravelKing:

Penghu is an ideal place to grow peanuts. The land, the weather and the high mineral in the soil. Peanut is the renowned farming product of the agriculture industry in Penghu. It is harvest (sic) only once a year. It is a long process growing peanut comparing to the peanut elsewhere. So the peanut is filled with flavor and scent. The peanut product including peanut cake, peanut brittle, and peanut candy.

Bowl of peanuts harvested in Nanliao

The peanuts grown in Nanliao have a very distinct roasted taste

On the tour, you’ll get a chance to compete against your friends in a peanut cracking race. You will get a small bowl of peanuts which you’ll have to try to crack open as quick as you can. As I don’t usually eat raw peanuts, I don’t have much experience cracking them, so I was absolutely terrible. That’s probably an understatement, as in the time I had cracked 5, the people next to me had cracked around 15!

Race to crack the most peanuts

I learned that peanut cracking is not my forte!

Cow Pat Trough | 牛屎窟

As mentioned in Part 1, cow pat (cow dung) is used for firing the Fu Ji Stoves. It’s also used as manure to keep crops their most fertile.

A cow pat trough in Nanliao Community

This was a little trough for storing the cow pat. I appreciate the efforts made to try and brighten the place up!

Decorative sign in a cow pat trough in Nanliao Community

storage-for-cow-pat-in-nanliao-community

Storage for the cow pat

Want to find out what else you can do on the tour?

Read Part 1: Masked Girls, Fuji Fish Stove and Caizhai and stay tuned for Part 3: Fine Dining Under the Moonlight.

Expect some serious food porn.

Can I visit Nanliao Community by myself?

Yes, you’re welcome to visit the community by yourself without going on the tour. You can have fun navigating around the area, and you might even get lucky and get to meet some locals. But needless to say, you won’t get a chance to partake in any of the experiences above.

Interested in the tour?

If you would like to inquire about the tour please contact:

Nanliao Community Info
Tel:06-9921759

Email: nanliao861@yahoo.com.tw

The tour is NT$2500, and includes all the activities, food, and a dinner feast at the end. It is conducted in Mandarin, so if you don’t know it be sure to bookmark  or print off a copy of this series for your reference!

Please note: Bookings must be for a group of 10 or more people. Unfortunately, the organizers currently do not have the resources to make booking for smaller groups.


Yes, Nanliao is seriously packed with incredible sights and experiences for anyone to enjoy. The pictures really don’t do it justice, as what makes the place so special is the atmosphere which comes with being in a place that has been preserved in time. A place so proud of it’s traditions and cultures. That is something you have to see and feel yourself.

Care to share your thoughts about Nanliao? Leave a comment below!

-TTT

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14 comments

  1. akismetuser287436055 · · Reply

    Love the idea of ox ploughing! Harks back to a tradition that we often forget over here in Ireland. Incidentally this reminds me of our trip to Vietnam this year when we were looking at all of the buffalo in the fields :)) (Really love your photos by the way!)

    Like

    1. Hi Úna-Minh!

      That’s so interesting about the similarities you noticed with both Ireland and Vietnam. I’ve been to Vietnam and agree it’s very reminiscent of their ox ploughing there.

      I’d love to visit Ireland some day, just haven’t gotten around to it. Seems like such a unique country with a rich history.

      Thanks for the encouragement regarding the photos. I tried to capture the scenes well, I hope I did it justice!

      Like

  2. OMG..this place makes me nostalgic. The world is so small and so similar. In my native village in India (and I guess most of the villages in India) the env is so similar to what you describe here. Ox ploughing,bullock carts, wells for fetching water, tube-wells, roasted peanuts .. I am totally nostalgic

    Like

    1. Hi Neha!

      Wow, I’m so chuffed to hear that this entry conjured up such intense feelings of nostalgia in you!

      From what you describe, it really does have parallels… right down to the peanuts! Who knew a small community in Penghu would be so connected to Indian villages?

      The world really is so small. But not small enough that I’ve been able to head to India yet (it’s in my 10 year bucket list… there’s only 6 years to go now to complete it hehe!)

      Like

  3. It is interesting to see a community that tries to stay the same while having more tourists. Africulture and farming was definitely hard back in the day and aparently in some places don’t want to change!

    Like

    1. Hi Srbrnd!

      I never thought about it in those terms, what a great observation you made. It always is such a difficult task to stay true to your traditions and customs while inviting more outside influence.

      I think they did it very well here, because from what I saw they didn’t change anything in their customs just to accommodate us tourists which I’m glad about!

      You’re right about the resistance to change. I think, at least in this case, it’s fantastic!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very thoughtful post with great insights. Just got back from a month of solo backpacking in China where I visited many local naxi villages and saw how those people lived. Didn’t make it to Taiwan yet, but those bullock cart pictures are just mind-blowing. Seemed like you had a great tour there. Keep the lovely posts coming.

    Like

    1. Hi Priyanka!

      Fantastic, it’s been a little dream of mine to do the same since I’ve come here! I’d love to test out how good (or bad!) my Mandarin is in China! Your experience visiting local experiences would have surely been eyeopening. Sounds just wonderful!

      Do you have any tips for solo backpackers to China, especially as a female? My friend was also recently there by herself and she said she didn’t have any difficulties fortunately!

      Thanks for the encouragement! Be sure to come back and check out Part 3 soon!

      Like

  5. This seems like an amazing experience! I love that it seems like you’ve had a very local experience here. I can’t wait to read more of your posts 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Katie!

      Yes, I’m very thankful to get such an authentic insight (as far as tours go), rather than something to contrived. I don’t usually go on tours unless completely necessary, as I find that there’s a lot of silly touristy things included. But I don’t think you’d be able to get nearly as rich an experience if you went alone to Nanliao. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  6. This architecture reminds me so much of my trip through China – fond memories! It’s always great to have local experiences and I’m glad you had a great time in Penghu!

    Like

    1. Hi Claire!

      I also really enjoyed looking at the stunning architecture in China, although I only went to Beijing! Must make it to other parts soon! Thanks for reading 😀

      Like

  7. It sounds like fun! I hadn’t seen ox ploughing before! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    1. Hi Thais, thanks for the sweet comment!

      I had only seen it in Vietnam and Cambodia from a distance, but never this up close and personal!

      It was quite fun but also a little stressful because I was really trying hard and it wasn’t quite working out…

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

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