On a rich green slope overlooking the waters of Xiyu Island sits a charismatic montage of houses. Dating from the early 20th Century, these houses are built in southern Fujian, Western and Japanese styles, and are interspersed with charming walkways and pretty brick facades.
An invitation inside
A remarkable aspect of this town, known as Erkan Village, is that the residents on the main street invite visitors in to view their unique homes and sample local fares. Viewing these personal interiors is a delightful experience – some of them feature beautifully decorated courtyards, amazing sculptures, old repainted fishing floats, antique furniture and walls made from coral gathered from the beaches.
Some residents offer almond milk and baked goods to guests. They are extremely friendly, despite having strangers moving in and out of their houses on a daily basis. There is a great sense of creativity here.
One of the Erkan homes has been dedicated to 'praise song', the village's special music and literary heritage. Erkan songs are about themes such as love, separation and survival, and have been passed down through the generations of local people.
The village centrepiece
The centrepiece of the village is a residence owned by the Chen clan, a large home with many wings that is listed as a third-class historic site. It is a majestic residence featuring relief carvings and windows, doors and eaves built in the classic southern Fujian style.
For a taste of life in this Erkan Village, you can stay in its only hostel, a traditional house furnished with modern amenities.
Xiyu Island is connected to the rest of the Penghu archipelago by way of the Trans Ocean Bridge. Travelling by vehicle from Makong will take most of a day, although you'll have time to stop for breaks along the way. Why not fuel your long day with a lunch of some local specialities like the spicy little squid and cockles?