Beigan famous for old traditional houses
By David Hsu, The China Post Thursday, July 20, 2006, 12:00 am TWN
Beigan is the second largest islet in Matzu with an area of 8.94 square meters. It is the nearest islet to mainland China among the Matzu (馬祖) archipelago, and the Kaoteng islet located between Beigan (北竿) and mainland China is only about 2,000 meters away from the shores of mainland China.
During the 1950s and 1960s, several sea battles between Taiwan and Communist China happened around at the Kaoteng islet. Now only fishing boats appear in this sea area.
There are three flights daily linking Taiwan and this area, and ferry boat transport to the Nangan islet departs every hour. So far, transportation is the main problem to affect Beigan's tourism and economic development. Improving the island's transportation is the main duty of Beigan township director Chou Jui-kuo.
Of Beigan's attractions, Cinbi (芹壁) village is the most popular spot in Beigan islet. It would be a big regret to miss Cinbi village for visitors to Matzu.
Cinbi is a typical eastern Fu Chien (福建) style architecture. It is now the best preserved eastern Fu Chien style village in Matzu. In the 1990s, most inhabitants moved out, leaving many empty houses. The Lienchiang County government fixed these stone houses and made them into a very popular tourism attraction.
The Cinbi village is like a stone town, with buildings made of giant rocks. These buildings take a "wall to bank up a fire" structure, with five ridges and four eaves in the house — characteristic of most eastern Fu Chien architecture.
Most of early immigrants were from Lienjiang (連江), Changle and Luoyuan counties, Fu Chien province. The most complete and representative village of eastern Fu Chien is the Cinbi village, which is shaped like a trapezoid spreading out along the hills. The village is known for its granite and marbles.
Roof tiles are closely covered with stones to guard against the strong sea breeze and are used to prevent pirate invasions. Windows are opened in higher place of the house and are designed so that the outside looks smaller than the inside.
Cinbi is the richest village in Beigan islet, owing to the rich ocean resources and the people's diligent nature. The early villagers made a fortune in fishing here. And they improved their living environment, and made Cinbi the best place to live in Beigan.
As a matter of fact, Cinbi residents lived on fishing. However, the fishing hours are limited under military control and the rule says the fishermen have to fish at night and return home in the morning, and the fishermen suffered because of this control. Since the fish has been decreasing over the years, the villagers moved out of Cinbi area to find another way of living.
When I walk along the stair steps, I found that there were many mottled and empty old granite houses, which saw only a few residents living there.
Chen Chien-sui, a resident of Beigan who runs a coffee shop and hostel, told me there are less than 200 residents that still live in the village now.
Because of its good sea view, there are now several hostels in addition to Chen's. When weather is clear, many visitors would come to Cinbi village to see the beautiful sunset.
When I traveled to the Cinbi village, I found some slogans on walls which were built in the 1950s and 1960s. These slogans read "Retake the Mainland," "Kill Ju and Mo," "Resist the communists and the Russians," and "Three principals of the people unite China." In addition to Cinbi village, there are several other attractions in Beigan that are worth of visiting.
Bishan (壁山) is the highest mountain in Matzu, located 298 meters above the sea level. There are ocean-view pavilions in the hill-top, which can overlook the whole Matzu islets, Tangei Village and Dado Airport.
Banli (阪里) Beach is one of the best beach resorts in Matzu. The shoreline here is enfolded on three sides by mountains, and the currents that come in with the southeastern monsoons of summer bring sand that makes up the beach of over six hectares in area.
Waves the height of a man are whipped up by the summer winds, and the clean water plus the fine beach make this an ideal place for swimming and other water activities.
War Peace Memorial Park
The park was a military base facing open ocean. It was rebuilt as the War Peace Memorial Park by the Matzu National Scenic Area Administration several years ago. Military tanks and cannons are displayed outside the showroom as they were placed decades ago. There is a museum housing military uniforms and other equipment.
The Green Garden
The garden is erected at the mid-slope of the Wusha Shan, which is full of craggy stones and lush and fragrant dark green woods. Besides, there are many rich and precious plants in the park. The park's landscape is excellent and makes visitors linger around in the area.