According to the Lonely Planet Lukang translates as "deer harbor": large herds of deer once gathered here in the lush meadows. In the 17th century the Dutch came and traded venison and pelts to the Japenese to make samurai armor. In the 18th century trade diversified to include rice, cloth, sugar, timber, and pottery. Lukang became one of the most thriving commercial cities and ports in Taiwan. In the 19th century silt deposits began to block the harbor and conservative efforts refused to allow trains and modern highways to be built near their city. Lukang became a backwater only to be reborn decades later when modern Taiwanese began to search for a living connection with the past.
I also found this description on a blog and really liked it:
The three unique characteristics of Lugang in the past made this small town very famous. They were the “No Sky”, “No Ground” and “No Women” (不見天，不見地，不見女人). The 2 kilometer long Zhongshan Road which is currently the main street in town, used to be the “No Sky” Street filled with rectangular shaped Street House styled architecture. The sky was hardly seen since all the houses were connected. The streets were paved with red bricks that have been well preserved. Because of the red bricks, the ground can’t be seen, and it makes “No Ground”. Women could not be seen outside of their homes due to the conservative culture.
The reason we went there: we wanted to see this infamous Glass Matsu Temple I found on Pinterest. Matsu is a famous goddess they worship in Taiwan and coastal regions of China. According to legend, Matsu was born into a fisherman's family in Meizhou in southern China's Fujian province in 960 AD. She was deified later for sacrificing her life to save her father and brothers, who were fishermen. Although she was initially believed to just bless the sea for fishermen, as time went by, people prayed to her for good health, a successful career or business, good harvests, and smooth relationships.
We ended up finding several other worthwhile sites as well. Josh, one of the boys in our group, speaks Chinese so while we were on the bus he befriended a young Chinese women who actually spoke English and she grew up in Lugang. She ended up accompanying us for the greater part of he day.
I am not going to lie, out of all of the excursions I have taken in Taiwan this was by far the roughest - largely due to he fact that we didn't have a game plan and we all had a pretty passive attitude when it comes to what we wanted to do. (Looking at some other blogs I feel like I might need to go back and explore the alley ways a little bit more).
Here are some picture highlighted from the trip:
Overall a successful trip! I am excited to go back and see more of the historical sights (like breast touching lane, or as Grant affectionately puts it boob-brushing-boluvard, and nine turns lane). But next time I am definitely going in with a game plan!