Yingge and Sanxia are twin towns in the western part of the New Taipei City (Greater Taipei area). These places sit side by side, only separated by a bridge.
Yingge is known as the ceramics capital of Taiwan and Sanxia known for its old street, lined with well-maintained baroque-style buildings reminiscent of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the early 20th century. Yingge is easily accessible via local train from Taipei so it would be convenient to include this in your itinerary if you have extra days to spare.
It was around 9AM when I arrived in Yingge. Wenhua street, right at the doorstep of the train station are lined with shops selling different ceramic products – mostly for decor or for household use: lamps, tea cups, vases, pottery and even door knobs. Most of the shops were closed since it was still early. A group of pre-school kids were trailing behind me and their teacher was ahead of them. These kids seemed to be going on a field trip. I decided to follow them. After ten or fifteen minutes, we turned left to the direction going to Sanxia until we stopped by New Taipei Yingge Ceramics Museum.
I have never seen a huge museum such as this dedicated only to ceramics. Entrance is free and proceeded to the information counter to borrow an English audio guide which is also for free. I went first to the exhibit of the recently concluded tea pot making contest. I was fascinated with the designs and the creativity put into these pots. There are nature inspired, futuristic inspired, some artsy, some even gross.
I was lost in the moment looking at the works that I did not notice that it’s almost lunch. I went out, and right across is a park where there is a model of a huge clay mould in the middle and half-buried ceramic plates and cups scattered all over. It’s like being in a Tim Burton movie.
Going to Sanxia was quite difficult than I expected. From the museum, I hiked all the way towards Sanying bridge which separates the towns of Yingge and Sanxia. But when I get to the bridge, I found out it’s not walkable for pedestrians so I went back to the bus stop outside Yingge museum, waiting for luck for the correct bus to arrive.
A bus came and asked the driver if it passes by Sanxia. I believed he understood my crooked Mandarin because he answered “Yes” in Mandarin. I have no idea where the bus was going. When it stopped at Heping street, I got off. I was looking at my map and a stranger approached me, quite curious if I need help or something. I pointed that I want to go this street and he said, “Ni yijing zai zheli!” (You’re already here).
Just around the corner from where I was is Minquan street or popularly called Sanxia Old street.
At a distance, I already saw the red bricked, baroque style commercial shops lining the 200-meter stretch of the road. The streets were also lined with bricks and stepping onto them is liking walking through history. I’ve read that this area now was redeveloped during the Japanese occupation period in Taiwan on early 1900s.
Even though the shops are open, the place is unusually quiet. I realized it was April 5 and people observed Qing Ming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day. It is like the Chinese All Saint’s Day. The locals have gone off to the temples to pay respects to their ancestors. The nearby Zushi Temple was filled with people though, praying and offering food to their ancestors.
The shops were selling different goods. There are tea shops, calligraphy materials and exotic dishes. The food shops sell different types ranging from cute to gory such as an ice cream on top of a horn bread to dried pig blood cubes. I believe the curdled pig blood is the town’s specialty but I did not dare eat them.
I was savouring every moment lingering on every shop that I find interesting. And then somewhere , someone was playing an “erhu”. An old man, seated by the sidewalk, his eyes closed, was intensely playing the instrument. The sound, eerily yet beautifully wafted through the red-bricked halls and street. The sound of raindrops making a soft background sound of its melody. I was entranced by the moment and it gave me the creeps. It’s like being in an wuxia movie.
The rain was beating on very hard and I was itching to go back to Taipei before it gets dark. Met more misadventures along the way, like a full bladder and not a toilet room in sight and a bus that refuses to take me back to Taipei. Somehow, I managed to get back to Yingge by blindly hopping on a random bus. Before going back to the train station, I bought a ceramic tea cup as a souvenir.
- From Taipei Main Station or Songshan Station, go to TRA ticketing and purchase tickets going to Yingge. Choose the Local Train (區間QūJiàn )
- Outside the Yingge station is a huge town map going to New Taipei Yingge Ceramics Museum. Just follow the roads.
- In front of the museum is the Ceramic park, just walk across the street and hike around 200 meters. Also is the bus stop going to Sanxia.
- Take bus 702 from Taipei which passes in front of the museum going to Sanxia. Disembark by the bus stop near Heping Street.
- Turn right to Heping street then turn right to Minquan Street. Ahead, you can already see Sanxia Old Street with the Zushi Temple on the left side.