#DawningInTaiwan: Backpacking from Tainan to Taitung

I realized something, I hate motorbike rides. Well, at least those long ones where I have to burden my back with my bag. There’s this stereotype saying that Asians are bad drivers. I asked myself, “Why are Asians considered as bad drivers?” Now I see and know why. At least those on scooters! I’d rather go hitchhiking.

Starting my trip on Friday night, I hopped on the high speed rail all the way from Taoyuan to Tainan. It was quite a ride actually. I fell asleep and woke up just in time. It was my first time to ride the HSR and it felt the same as the regular train. Nothing special.

After late night dinner in Tainan, went on the way to Taitung which was roughly 4 hours away. It was exhausting. The combination of sleepiness and tiredness was a nightmare. It was when I started getting lost. The road to Taitung was crazy – zigzags that were kind of scary. At around 3AM, I finally decided to hitchhike. Thumbs up! A car stopped by and gave me a ride. I finally got some good sleep. Having the language barrier, I just said that it would be okay to be dropped off anywhere. The farmer showed me a photo of the vegetation plant and I thought it would be a good idea to go.

Diverting from the path to Taitung City, I hitchhiked all the way to Chishang township where I stayed for 4 hours. I got to see the famous Mr. Brown Avenue, a paradise of greenery! I only planned to see the beach, but I ended up seeing a whole lot more. The farmer, who was really nice, showed me around the farm after feeding me fresh sandwiches and milk straight out of the farm. His home was really nice and cozy. I napped for an hour after my live rice field trip!

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Finally, my couchsurfing host, Yu Tsung Chen, found my exact location after hours of confusion. I waited at a landmark where the lady who owned the BnB taught me a little Chinese. Hopping on the motorbike, we rode to Taitung City. During the road trip, the fresh air was relaxing as my eyes wandered upon the mountains of Taitung! It was lovely, but bad for my aching back.

It was kind of hard communicating with my host since he spoke very little English. We mostly communicated through Google translate. I then went on to rent a bike after arriving in Taitung City. I looked up the famous Xiaoyeliu and went for a bike ride.

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While on my way to the famous sites in Taitung/Taidong, I wondered around looking for a beach where I can swim. Every single beach that I saw had no people swimming in the beautiful waters. I can hear the waves calling for me. It felt so weird seeing signs that prohibited swimming.

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Finally arriving at my destination, I asked around if I can go swimming at that spot. One lady told me that it was an area only meant for camping. Disappointment suddenly came into me. I was so excited to swim before I went to this place that I even wore my bikini!

Despite the blues, I walked around and discovered that the area is so beautiful. I might not have been able to swim, but the place is amazing for sightseeing. A lot of Taiwanese couples were walking around the area. I understood, it was the perfect dating spot! The rocks by the beach were fascinating, indeed.

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I didn’t want to leave, but I wanted to see more places since I’ve heard that there are more to see if I went biking further. I hopped on my bike and roamed around the area. I’ve noticed that it was a biking friendly place. Everywhere I went, I didn’t have to worry about getting off my bike and carrying it.

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Finally seeing another beach, I was so excited because it seemed that people swim over at this area! To my dismay, there were these signs again. This time, it said that I couldn’t swim if there isn’t lifeguard around. Guess what? There isn’t. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the area and met new friends. At last, people who can speak in English. It was kind of stressful not having anyone to talk to. I had a nice chat with them before heading on my way back.

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As the night came, the lights of the city area became more vibrant. Bigger than the night market in close proximity to my dorm, Taitung’s night market was indeed a fun walk for the night. There were a lot of food selections.

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After eating a lot of Taiwanese street food, I got a knife massage at the park. It was quite an experience! Weird, but really good. The whole park bustled with youth and booths of different services and items for sale. What made it special was the lanterns of hot air balloons. Those glowed like stars giving more life to the nightlife.

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For the next day, I finally gave up on my hopes of swimming. I just went around seeing the beaches and understood why no one swam – the waves were gigantic!

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Since I still have a few hours left in this beautiful area, Taimali was just a ride away where I can go up the mountain and see the whole county. Riding up to Jinzhen (Daylily) Mountain, I was able to get a good look of the Pacific ocean and the rest of the mountainous area. It was breathtaking! I even sighted the famous Green Island and Orchid Island, my destinations in the future.

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Realizing that I had to catch a train since home was more than 6 hours away, I asked for a ride from a car that passed by. It seemed like it was going down anyway. No one in the car spoke in English. Conveniently, Google translate helped me out! I hopped on the front seat where the husband was driving and at the back was where the wife was breastfeeding their cute kid! We had a nice ride down the mountain. Chatting with them was interesting. I even discovered that they went to Cebu just last year! They were so nice that they drove me to the train station despite the fact that it wasn’t on their way home. On our way to the train station, they fed me with the Taiwanese sausage that had a rice bun. Yum! Taiwanese people are very hospitable, I must say.

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This trip gave me a whole mix of emotions. I got scared, tired, disappointed, fascinated, amazed, and warmhearted. More actually. It made me feel even more welcome in Taiwan. Having circled the whole Taiwan through this trip, I wanted to see more. I wanted to stop at every city and county I passed by. I definitely will, soon.

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