Collingwood (1868) [the sulfur springs are still aplenty in 大屯山 area]
Dr FLS Collingwood published this article "A Boat Journey across the Northern End of Formosa, from Tam-suy, on the West, to Kee-lung, on the East; with Notices of Hoo-wei, Mangka, and Kelung." in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 11 (1867): 167-73.
We have added some notes and also place names in Chinese for easy reference. This article is otherwise a succinct and possibly accurate account of life in Tamsui, 145 years ago:
[P. 167] Tam-suy [淡水] is situated on the north-western coast of Formosa, and possesses an excellent harbour, over the bar of which H.M.S. Serpent, drawing 12 1/2 feet water, passed easily at high water. The entrance is unmistakably marked by two lofty and picturesque hills; that on the left, termed the Kwang-yin Hill [觀音山], having two prominent peaks, of 1720 and 1240 feet respectively; and that on the right, the Tai-tun Hills [大屯山], forming an imposing ridge, of which the summit is 2800 feet high. From land to land, at the entrance of the harbour, is just half a mile; but a considerable spit of sand diminishes it more than one-half. Within the harbour, however, it rapidly increases to three-quarters of a mile and even a mile in width, affording good anchorage for larger vessels. Immediately on the left hand, on entering, is a small Chinese fort [Note: possibly the 白砲臺White Fort, destroyed by the French during the Sino-French war in 1884]; and half a mile higher are the ruins of an old Dutch fort, a square, red-brick, casemated building [Ft San Domingo - 紅毛城], once, no doubt, of great strength, and elevated 50 or 60 feet above the water's edge. The long rambling town of Tam-suy, or Hoo-wei [滬尾], as it is more properly called, commences a little higher; and consists, for the most part, of a narrow street of shops of a poor description, paved with great cobblestones or not at all, and in which pigs of all sizes and barking dogs dispute the passage, which in some places scarcely admits of two passengers passing one another. The Vice-Consul (Mr. Gregory) resides here, as well as three or four other Europeans, engaged in mercantile affairs or employed in the Chinese customs. The consulate, however, is but a poor building for the representative of Great Britain; for the inhabitants, who are mostly coolies, and upon occasion are a turbulent set of rascals, have a prejudice, forsooth, against building houses more than one story high, and no such dwelling exists in Hoo-wei. [Note: These coolies/rascals were actually hard-working men who knew how to enjoy life and how to avoid natural disasters such as typhoon and, at times, earthquakes.]
[Map of Tamsui of ca 1920 - many landmarks such as the sand-bar and Ft San Domingo, were in existence in 1867, also seen and recorded by Collingwood]
There is a very pretentious joss-house in the town [媽祖宮], of which the stone pillars, elaborately carved, represent, with considerable cleverness, fantastic dragons encircling the columns in high relief; workmen being yet engaged in the task. The immediate neighbourhood is hilly [the 重建街 area], having numerous scattered houses; and a large amphitheatre, just outside the town, forms an immense and well-filled burial-ground [Note: this was, still is, the First Public Cemetery], upon which grows abundance of the rice-paper plant (Aralia papyrifera), which is largely exported from this neighbourhood. The soil is very fertile, consisting of a considerable depth of alluvium, in which are numerous angular and rounded blocks of stone, some of very great size.
The inhabitants of Hoo-wei (Tam-suy), as of the other towns in the route, are mostly poor and meanly clad; the males wearing usually nothing more than a pair of short drawers, or some substitute for them; some of the younger children going entirely naked [Note: in the summertime, a fully clothed child playing outdoors = 痱子heat prickles all over his body]. The women and girls, however, are always decently clothed, very few of the female children being even naked to the waist. Bandaged feet are universal among them [Note: Women and girls in Tamsui have always been well-dressed, even now, and the practice of foot-binding was mercifully outlawed during the Japanese Colonial era].
Rice is abundantly produced in the neighbourhood; but its exportation is forbidden by the Government, on pretence that there is not more produced than is required for home consumption; but by a roundabout method, a considerable trade is, notwithstanding, carried on, to the advantage of the Mandarins. Bullocks, goats, and poultry are difficult to obtain; but pigs are [p. 168] abundant, though few who could witness their disgusting habits and foul feeding would care to eat them. Ducks are also plentiful [Note: not ducks, they were red-faced Muscovy].
Collinwood apparently did not have the opportunity to witness this: A sacrificial pig at MaZu Temple - one of many during 大拜拜 - to be prepared after the celebration into appetizing dishes and served in banquets shared by many
An inferior Mandarin resides here, named Lim-ching-fang [林清芳?], but he is subordinate to the Mandarin of the Tam-suy District, of which Hoo-wei is but an inferior town; the chief town being Mangka, or Bangka [艋舺 or 萬華] [Note: Tam-suy Township is now Tamsui District, headed by Dr Tsai Yeh-Wei [蔡葉偉區長], part of the New Taipei City 新北市].