Before we start, a quick pronunciation guide for the name "Min Hsiung" for any non-Chinese speakers:
"Min" is pronounced like the word "mean" in English.
"Hsiung(Taiwanese spelling)/Xiong (standard romanization "pinyin") " is pronounced similar to the -cion/-tion ending found in Spanish and French respectively (not English). Just add a "g" to the end of that sound and you should be pretty close. If you don't know how to pronounce those sounds, take the "-cio" sound from the word "sociopath", and add an "ng". Try to make it into one syllable.
That should help you not look silly when you tell people where you went/want to go.
Min Hsiung (could you say it?)
Yesterday's trip featured a visit to Min Hsiung, a cute, little area (township) in Chiayi county. It's a great half-day trip for couples, singles, families, or a group of friends - there's something for everyone. Visit a historical museum and learn about the role of technology in warfare, take pictures with beautifully-painted cats and bears (not real bears or cats), or venture into one of the most famous "haunted" houses in Taiwan. Wait a minute, I thought you said this place was cute!? Well most of it is cute. The great thing about Min Hsiung is that there are many interesting places close together, so you can visit several in one day and still not feel rushed.
"Welcome to Min Hsiung" That's what I imagine him saying. This is NOT the haunted house. This is a cute little bear village. The bear will not attack or haunt you, I hope...
All of the places I went to were between 5-10 minutes apart, so you can choose the order in which you want to visit them. I recommend planning your route based on which places have food and make sure you end up somewhere with food around the time that you're hungry :) Here's the route that I took (by motorcycle):
Zhuqi > Taiwan National Radio Museum (25-30 minute ride) > The Cat Wall (~7 minutes) > Liu Family Mansion (Min Hsiung Ghost house) + The Haunted Cafe (10 minutes)> Bears&Bears Village (~7 minutes) > Zhuqi (25-30 minutes).
Taiwan National Radio Museum （国家广播文物馆）
Estimated time spent here: 20-40 minutes
The original building was built in 1938 for the use of the Minxiong Broadcasting Bureau. The museum was added on in 1999 and is the only broadcasting museum in Taiwan.
Just in case you can't read Chinese and weren't sure if you were in the right place, this is a pretty big giveaway.
The grounds were beautiful and we were blessed with another day of gorgeous weather here (until the afternoon of course).
The first floor had more interactive, informational displays, while the second floor was mostly equipment and other memorabilia.
This device directs the sound to different locations- give it a try! Find which ends are connected! (first floor)
Test your listening (and Chinese) skills with a little trivia! (first floor)
He sure is well-dressed for someone in the radio business. You know the listeners can't see you, right? (first floor)
Information boards explaining the significance of radios and the roles they played in the development of Taiwan. (first floor)
Built in 1937, this medium-wave transmitter is the only one of its kind that is still in working condition. (second floor)
I just called. They said it's still the only one.
Panorama of the big showroom. (second floor)
Secondary showroom in the back. (second floor)
The Cat Wall（民雄彩绘墙）
Estimated time: 5-20 minutes
The Chinese name is "Min Hsiung Painted Wall", but I like my name for it better, and I didn't find any official English name anywhere.
If you see the words "hit cats" on the wall and think that's weird, you're not alone. Apparently the Japanese didn't think that was an appropriate name for "Min Hsiung" either, so they changed the characters used in the name to mean something like "people" and "great/mighty”. The name "hit cats" was a transliteration of the name in one of the local dialects (a language that is strictly spoken, not written). We are glad that the name is no longer "hit cats" though, aren't you?
Come take pictures with a bunch of cute cats. See how creative you can be. I'm not gonna show you ALL of my selfies with the cats, because that would be embarrassing.
It just wants to go play.
That face though...
Well this is awkward...
Once you've had your share of cute kitten pictures, it's time to head to the haunted house. Just when you started to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Muahahahaha
And, as far as I know, the Cat Wall just has the one wall. There are other "painted walls" like this throughout Taiwan, so go check them out if you have time!
The Haunted Cafe （鬼屋咖啡）+ Liu Family Mansion (Min Hsiung Ghost house-民雄鬼屋)
Estimated time: 30-80 minutes, depending on if you eat there or not
So what's the story here? Is it really haunted?
I talked with the owner of the cafe, and I also read some articles online, and here's what I came up with:
The owner said the house is over 90 years old, but nobody has lived in it for years (I didn't get the exact dates of how long it's been vacant).
There are two main storylines, but I'm not sure if they are complimentary or separate stories. Also, keep in mind that I read this article in Chinese, so my understanding of the story might not be complete. But they are just rumors...right?
One storyline is that the Liu family lived in this three-story mansion and lived a good, ghost-free life. The Liu family was very wealthy and often employed servant girls and farmers. But one day, the master of the house started to take a liking to one of the servant girls and they began to have an affair. Eventually, as you would expect, his wife found out about their relationship and began to abuse the servant girl because of it. She continued to abuse her, until the girl couldn't take it anymore. So she went outside and threw herself into the well in the courtyard and died. After that happened, every night, the girl's ghost would appear by Mrs. Liu's bedside. Frightened, the family quickly moved out of the house and nobody has lived in there since.
The other storyline is that this house was abandoned (I'm not really sure why, maybe they knew of the ghost stories). Until one day, some Japanese soldiers came to live in it, perhaps for a few nights, just passing through. During the middle of the night, the soldiers thought they saw a ghost and panicked and started shooting frantically. As luck would have it, they shot each other, and they all died. I'm not sure if the ghost they saw was the servant girl or just their imagination. Are the Japanese soldiers' ghosts still there as well? Who knows? But, for the record, I didn't see any ghosts. But then again, I did go during the daytime...
When you arrive at the location of these two places, the first thing you'll see is The Haunted Cafe.
There are many interesting drawings on all the walls. They're fun and creepy at the same time.
See, he's not scary. Seems like a pretty nice guy to me.
They serve drinks (coffee/tea/juice), western breakfast (waffles/bagles), side dishes, and also heavier meals (fried chicken/eastern food). A drink is 80 TWD and most meals are around 120. I spent 200 TWD on this combination.
One of the most intimidating urinals I've ever seen.
Need a hand?
This is the outside of the cafe to the left. As you can see, it's overgrown with vegetation, I guess to emulate the haunted house.
The bathroom shown above is directly behind the cafe. Enter by going down the left side of the cafe. To reach the Liu Family Mansion, follow a slight trail to the left of the cafe. I would say it's about a 45 degree angle to your left. It's a short walk to the mansion. The cafe and the mansion were originally on the same property and they later they turned the building into a cafe. I don't know what it was before. The owner said the cafe is generally quite busy, especially on the weekends. It is apparently pretty well-known in Taiwan.
My guess is this is the well that the girl supposedly threw herself into. And there are a few girl statues around without heads...kind of eery. Looks like somebody put that other piece of stone on top of her neck.
The Liu Family Mansion. It's 3 stories tall, but the stairs are no longer intact. All that's left is the framework essentially.
It really wasn't very spooky, don't worry. If you are looking for an adventure though, try going in the middle of the night.
Even though people haven't dared to live in this house for decades, trees don't seem to mind.
The house is becoming one with nature.
A small, separate building. Was it a shed? Did the servants live here? Look at the tree on top! So interesting. Could you call these tree houses?
Bears & Bears Village (熊大庄）
Estimated time: 30-120 min (depends on if you eat and/or do an activity)
Your majesties, the King and Queen. Also, it's kind of funny that it looks like there's a sign pointing at the king that says "Free" (or "Bear Village").
These reminded me of some ride in Disneyland or something. The pumpkins don't spin or anything though.
This cute, cottage-like building is a cafe that sells drinks and light snacks.
It may be difficult to see, but the menu shows they serve coffee, several milk-based drinks, bottled drinks (green tea, water, and soft drinks), and some hot grain/cereal drinks .
If you want actual food, this restaurant is further back in the village- the third building from the front.
They sell pasta, curry rice, chicken, a variety of beverages, and desserts. I didn't eat at either place, but this restaurant seems to have more of a variety.
You're probably wondering by now "What's the deal with these bears?". Well I wondered that too. So I asked an associate and she didn't know either. She basically just said because they're cute. Nice marketing tactic right there. If admission is free, then what are they selling? Keep reading。
One service they offer is a DIY (do it yourself) session, where you can make your own air freshener or colorful clay. Look for this big building that has a lot of bears in it to find the DIY station. It should be the first building on your left. It's right in the middle of the "village".
Registration is here. The associate said they will have a class with as few as 1 person, so you don't have to worry about numbers. Unless of course it's too full.
It's 120 TWD to make your own air freshener and 220 for the multi-colored clay. It took me a little bit to understand what the lady was saying because the concept of putting an air freshener in your pocket was foreign to me. Usually, we just put them in cars or something, but I guess these are made to carry on your person if you want. The times are listed in the bottom left corner and there is a number in the bottom right corner that you can call if there are no employees around to help you. If you don't speak Chinese, ask someone nearby to help you call. Taiwanese people are generally very kind.
The DIY sessions will be held in the rooms here, next to where you register. Also, there must be something very interesting on the wall, better check it out...
Aside from the bears and the cute decorations, Bears & Bears is, first and foremost, a company that sells bath and body products.
The main store is in the very back of the village. While I know nothing about the quality of their products, the presentation is certainly magnificent.
I didn't even notice the bear outline until just now.
For transportation, I recommend renting a car/motorcycle. I've heard that it's about an average of 300 TWD/day to rent a motorcycle in Taiwan (about 10 USD).
While there are buses that go to Bears & Bears Village, but I don't believe there are any buses that go to the other places. In general, in Southern Taiwan, it's better to have your own transportation because bus routes are few and far between and there is no other means of public transportation besides taxis. Plus riding a motorcycle is much more fun.
I rode a motorcyle from Village Villa in Zhuqi and it took a little less than 30 minutes. Simply input the Chinese names below into google maps and you should have no problem finding them. I had my headphones in with only Google Maps open and just slowed down when she started talking so I could hear the directions. The only one that was a little hard to find was the Cat Wall. It's in the middle of a parking lot, so you have to go off the main street a little bit.
You will be pleased to know that admission to all of these places is FREE!! Obviously, you will have to pay if you wish to purchase anything or partake in the DIY experience though.
Thanks for reading! I hope the information was helpful. As always, let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.