The Emergence of Creative Tourism: Yunlin, Taiwan

The concept ”Creative Tourism” first appeared in 2000 by Richards and Raymond (2000) who participated in the EUROTEX project, which was aimed to drive craft production through tourism.

UNESCO later (2006) defined Creative Tourism as “travel directed toward an engaged and authentic experience, with participative learning in the arts, heritage, or special character of a place, and it provides a connection with those who reside in this place and create this living culture.”

Obviously, I’m not going to bore you with all these definitions. Cities like Barcelona, Auckland, and Manchester are some of the pioneers in creative tourism. Today, let’s switch our focus to YunLin, a city located on the west coast of Taiwan, Asia.

Yunlin, a city once considered the most underdeveloped area is now a trending holiday spot for family and friends alike. It is also one of my favorite getaway places as this was where I spent most of my wild childhood with my loving grannies. I couldn’t help but notice how it has changed since I last visited in 2014. The city has transformed historic architectures and factories into educational playgrounds and open-art galleries. The following 5 places are not only popular among the locals but are free to enter as well!

1. Cats on the roof, DingXi Neighborhood (屋頂上的貓,頂溪貓藝術村).

%e8%b2%93%e6%9d%91Address: 632, Taiwan, Yunlin County, Huwei Township, 過溪56-2號

DingXi Neighborhood used to be messy and unorganised. Though certain actions had been taken to help reshape the community’s downgrading image, there was very little positive outcome. The neighborhood didn’t receive any attention until the officials started an urban planning project with the help of students from National Formosa University. Cat-themed murals were then painted on the mottled walls by both students and people from the neighborhood. The cats are so vividly portraited that visitors cannot stop gasping at the brilliant combination of colors and cuteness. DingXi Neighborhood is afterwards dubbed “Cats on the Roof”. I surely had quite a lot of fun getting some intriguing shots! 🙂

cat

cat1

2. Shing Long Textile Factory (興隆毛巾工廠)

towel1Address: 632, Taiwan, Yunlin County, Huwei Township, 84- 號

Shing Long Textile Factory is the living example of how a sunsetting industry make one glorious come back in this era that is all about capitalism, mass automated production, and technology. The factory takes pride in their 35 years of experience in producing high quality textile products. The company’s creativity and innovation resulted in the acquired patent for “Cake Towels” in 2005. Different themes were later on introduced, including animals, festivals, and characters of God from Taoism practised in Taiwan.

A day trip to the factory offers both educational and recreational amusements. Upon arriving at the factory, a green lush tunnel awaits you. Along the tunnel are the resting area, garden, and some exhibited boards illustrating the history of Shing Long. There’s also an open-air cafe where you can enjoy a cup of coffee while batheing under the warm sun. As you enter the main building, you will soon be dazzled by all the adoring textile products displayed on the shelves. Apart from these, there is an indoor snack place, DIY classrooms, and exhibited machinery rooms. It’s the perfect place for both family and friends!

towel-godsPhoto credit: SL Towel

towel2Photo credit: Hsiung

3. YunLin Hand Puppet Museum (雲林布袋戲館)

¥¬³UÀ¸À] @ ªê§ÀPhoto credit: I-Ta Tsai

Address: No.498, Sec. 1, Linsen Rd., Huwei Township, Yunlin County 632

Yunlin is known to be the origin of hand puppet culture and the annual International Puppets Arts Festival. The puppet museum used to be a police station and governmental office in the 1990s. Its original wooden structure is one of the oldest kind that can be found in Huwei. The museum is divided into sections including puppet theatre, puppet exhibition, the old prison, and live performance. The entrance is free. What I love about the place is the yard in the middle of the building. I like to just sit by the wooden floor and feel the summer breeze gently kisses my face.

puppetPhoto credit: Chih-Yung Hung

4. YunLin Story House (雲林故事館)

story house.jpgPhoto credit: oneVillage Initative

Yunlin Story house was built during Japanese colonial time, therefore the miniature of classic wooden architectural design. It is also the first historical building revitalisation in Yunlin county. In order to preserve the delicate furniture in the house, there is a limited number of people to enter the story house at one time. But don’t worry, the wait is usually less than 5 minutes. What I like most is the cultural atmosphere and interior design of this place (See guided map here). A lot of displays genuinely recreate how lives from the past were like. As its name indicates, many stories including local life, folktales, art and literature are being told using different forms of presentation. It really feels like stepping into a time machine.
story house 1.jpg

Photo credit: oneVillage Initative

story house 3.jpgPhoto credit: oneVillage Initative

5. HuWei Station (虎尾驛站)

ticket-officeAddress: No.10, Zhongshan Rd., Huwei Township, Yunlin County 632

Huwei Station was once a bus stop and train station for Taisugar Factory. It used to be the most prosperous area during Japanese colonial era. Now, it’s a cultural destination that attracts both locals and tourists. Creative arts are exhibited, alone with agricultural produce to help independent farmers and artists market their brand and support their lives. There is a small cafe inside the station and if you walk further, you’ll see a steam train resting solemnly on the tracks. The train was used to transport sugar in the past.

huewei.jpgPhoto credit: billlushana1 (changes made)

I would say Yunlin makes the most out of creative tourism and sustainable tourism, considering these places have all come with a different story and undergone considerable transformation. Personally, I prefer countryside more than city. Though life may seem tranquil, the true excitements derive from those unexpected you discover every day. Travelling doesn’t always have to be leaving for a foreign land and see the unseen. A lot of times, the unseen is just right in front of us waiting to be noticed!

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