First settled in the 1600’s, Beigang (北港）is one of Taiwan’s oldest settlements and is an incredibly important place to visit in order to get a better understanding of Taiwan’s past. Due to its long-standing history and early establishment, Beigang is also home to one of Taiwan’s most famous Mazu pilgrimage sites, the Chaotian Temple (朝天宮). What you see in this video, shot earlier this year, is a local celebration for Mazu (媽祖), an influential and famous sea goddess, in which six of the temples oldest Mazu statues are carried around the winding city streets for her to bless the community and to receive the residents’ offerings. The several-hundred-year-old statues, inside the ornate palanquins seen, are engulfed in the flame of the firecrackers from below and endure it, again and again, throughout the two-day walk. This rather unknown festival happens only once a year and is a sight to be seen. This year we had the amazing opportunity of joining the 6th of the Mazu statues, following it around the city for a day.
Beigang, literally translated as ‘north port’, is a small township that lies on the northern bank of the Beigang River which runs along the border between Chiayi and Yunlin counties and was a major site of migration to Taiwan. Though Beigang is technically in modern-day Yunlin, we include it in the scope of our Chiayi-focused tours because of its historical significance and interconnectedness with modern Chiayi and all of Taiwan. Beigang, and its ‘rival’ across the river on the Chiayi side, Xingang (新港), are two of our favorite places to visit with guests. Not only are the stories fascinating and culturally deep, giving our guests a better understanding of Taiwan, but the traditional food is outstanding in both townships. Though we don’t have a set tour for these locations yet (we’re working on it), we do offer visits to these rural towns on our custom tours. Just ask us if you’re interested in visiting these towns. It’s our passion to tell their stories!