POMELOS & QUAINT HOUSES:
THE TOWN OF MADOU
---By Steven Crook Translated by Annie
Nowadays, Madou is something of a backwater.
A town in the center of Tainan County, it's neither
especially large nor busy, and it isn't on the main
north-south railroad. However, it has an unusually long
history and an abundance of cultural and architectural
The town's name derives from "Mattau"--the
name given to this place by its original inhabitants,
members of the aboriginal Siraya lowland tribe. Tourists
usually come here to see the Five Kings Temple (built
in 1857), or to sample the area's famous pomelos. Pomelos
have been grown in Taiwan for more than 300 years. Madou
wasn't the first district to grow them, but they thrived
here as soon as they were planted. Some of Madou's pomelo
trees are 100 years old.
Madou's Japanese-era movie theater,
at 110 Jhongshan Road, is easy to miss. At first glance,
it looks like many of the town's old two-floor commercial
buildings. But on closer inspection you'll find two
small windows where movie tickets were once sold. The
theater was opened in 1937; sadly, the building is no
longer in use.
There are many more Japanese-era buildings along Jhongshan
Road and Singjhong Road. Several are in excellent condition,
but often the relief decorations--a pair of rabbits
here, cherubs there--are obscured by advertising billboards.
Madou used to be famous for its pickles.
Huge pickling barrels--each one around two meters tall
and at least 1.6 meters in diameter--gave off strong,
salty smells. A few such vats are still in use, especially
in ShienCai Lane (officially RenAi Road, Lane 29). But
if you're hungry, a better bet is the Matsu Temple Covered
Food Court, where more than a dozen vendors sell different
snacks and dishes. The food court has entrances on JhongShan
Road and GuangFu Road.
Madou can be reached by the old freeway,
or by Taiwan Highway 19-Jia. There are frequent Singnan
Bus Co. services to and from Tainan.