Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gukeng, Yunlin

If Gukeng古坑 in Yunlin County雲林縣 was ever famous, it was only due to its coffee. The town and surrounding area is one of the only places in Taiwan where it’s possible to grow coffee beans, and people have long been traveling from as far away as Taipei and Kaoshiung to drink the product. Until recently though, they never had a reason to stop in the town itself; people either went to the nearby Janhushan Amusement Park劍湖山, or drove straight up to Huashan華山 to try their brew there instead.

That’s all been changing over the last year, and convoys of tour buses, along with hundreds of family day-trippers now regularly make their way to the little town. They’re all heading to one place, a small park on the edge of the town, just a few kilometers outside Douliou City斗六.

The park is easy to spot, especially during festivals and holidays when parked cars line the nearby roads. When you stop and take a look around, it’s easy to see why so many people come here. The area, although small, is fun and relaxing, the perfect place for families looking to wind down and enjoy themselves.

There are three main play areas. One of them contains a massive a 2/28 memorial sculpture, and an interesting looking wooden sculpture or climbing frame, I couldn’t work out which. Rather bizarrely there’s also a wooden bridge sitting in the middle of the field, and more bizarrely still, there are about a hundred thin wooden poles stuck in the ground. People seem to like it though, and I guess that’s what it’s all about.

Another area has a large paved square, flanked on all sides by water pumps, great fun, especially in the summer. Finally, and perhaps the most popular of the three areas, is a large open field. It may not be the most exciting sounding of places, but it’s actually the perfect place for families to come together and kick a soccer ball or play games like badminton or frisbee.

Walking paths and beautifully colored trees run in between these different areas, and if you’re in need of a sit down, there are plenty of attractive marble benches where you can do just that.
There’s an imaginatively named “Honey Museum” at one end of the park. It houses a tiny exhibition detailing how honey is made, but really it’s just an excuse for a big shop selling all manner of honey-flavored foods and drinks. Try the honey ice-cream from the café outside, it’s surprisingly good.

A row of stalls and a covered market complete the list of amusements. As well as all the usual snack foods, you’ll also find the famous Gukeng coffee, and dried fruits from neighboring Meishan 梅山.

This is a family place, so if you’re looking for something with more excitement you’re probably better off going to Janhushan Amusement Park. If however, you’re just looking for somewhere pleasant to spend a few hours then this could be just the place.

1 comment:

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