From Nanzhuang, we made our way south towards Sanyi to visit the Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum. Still within the Miaoli County, this museum is the only museum based on wood sculpture in Taiwan. All along the way, it was easy to tell that the town is big on wood, as there were many shops selling wood sculptures and carvings.
We bought our tickets (I managed to get mine at student price - uni student from Australia still a student, right?) and had to keep my camera upon entry. No photography allowed, which is understandable. We were too awe-struck to take photographs, anyway.
There are five levels of several collections of wood sculptures of sorts - amazing! There are nine collections that are grouped according to themes that include The Introduction of Wood Sculpture, The Styles of Each Chinese Dynasty, Austronesian Tribe Wood Sculpture, The Origins of Sanyi Wood Sculpture, Temple Deities, Architecture and Furniture, as well as Mix Media. We were especially impressed by the sculptures that were prize winners - I kept going round looking for them.
There is also a room where that functions as some sort of an education space. There was a man there showing visitors the tools used for carving and the types of different wood.
Since we could not take any photographs inside, we took photographs outside - with the huge elephant wood sculpture under the trees that surround the museum carpark.
And there really was a tea plantation up the hill! Apparently, this plantation is managed by Tzu Chi. There were some volunteers in the distinguishable dark blue and white Tzu Chi uniform and we heard them converse in Hakka. We became really excited and spoke a few sentences to them in Hakka, too, to see if they could understand our Malaysian Hakka, and they did!
They offered us some refreshing tea and we were off in search of lunch. We tracked back northwards to a noodle restaurant called Lai Xin Kui (赖新魁面馆). Apparently, it has been around for 60 years and judging from the crowd, they would be around for the next 60 years, I'd reckon.
At the entrance, there was a counter with many plates with what we term "small eats" (小吃), also known as side dishes.
They were all traditional Hakka dishes, like this mouth-watering plate of braised mixed ingredients (卤味拼盘)...
... braised cheeks (嘴边肉)...
... eggplant (茄子)...
As we were leaving, Mum walked up to this little stall selling traditional sweet cakes or kuih. We bought 10 because it was buy 5 free 1 and Mum is a huge supporter of cottage industries. Some tasted familiar, some not so but they were good to have in the car for the long journey ahead in the next few days.
It felt good to know that Hakka people around the world were similar in many ways although different at the same time. The restaurant does not have a website but if you copy and paste its name, there are many results on Google, including their location on Google Maps.