I remember learning in elementary school that people used to think the world was flat. As a child I thought it was a ridiculous that people thought the world could just end (duhhh of course the world is round). Now, I think I can understand how it made sense explorers and cartographers that it was possible for the earth to drop off into nothing.
If I had been to Taitung Taiwan as a European expeditionist, I would think I reached the end. Trying to describe the most beautiful place in the world I have ever been too is extremely difficult. It was more than just visually stunning, it was a feeling surging through my body, something along the lines of; yes this is right, this is exactly where you should be at this moment, this is why humans are alive, and nature exists, just purely for this. I was sitting on the beach and turned around to see the most beautiful mountains I’d ever seen surrounded by patches of coconut trees, just to turn around again and look out at the water and know that there was absolutely nothing beyond that point for thousands of miles. If someone had told me that was the edge of the world I would have believed them without a single doubt in my mind.
Sitting in my apartment in dreary gray Nankan, the whole weekend feels like some bizarre dream. We took the night train from Taipei Main Station, no seats left until Hualien. That meant four hours of the seven hour journey would be spent standing or sitting in the doorway. We chose sitting in the doorway. As it so happened so did a young aboriginal Taiwanese kid, living in Taipei for army training and heading home for the weekend. He got to talking to us eventually and got his friend to drop a bag of beers off to us at the next stop. We continued to drink after we got seats in Hualien, much to the dismay of our fellow passengers and then, if we couldn’t get any more obnoxious on a bright night train at 4AM when people are trying to sleep, we made some friends who had a guitar…and it was a real live train party. I SINCERELY APOLOGIZE TO ANYONE ON THAT TRAIN TRYING TO SLEEP IF YOU HAPPEN TO READ THIS!
We arrived in Taitung city around 5:30AM, the friend we were with was going surfing in Donghe a small beach a ways off so we got a cab there and I set up the tent and slept all day.
When I woke around 4pm and looked around I was so mad at myself for wasting the whole day sleeping. After our friend was surfed out and we all needed food, we got a ride from a fellow surfer into Dulan, the next small town over. I’ve been wanting to go to Dulan since moving to Taiwan. A quiet town outside of Taitung city known for it’s pizza, aboriginal culture, and renovated sugar factory. We carted all our gear around town and got Vietnamese food for dinner. Picking up a new friend on the way. A fellow ginger traveling through Dulan by herself for the night.
She was headed to the Sugar Factory for the live Saturday performance later so we decided to join her.
The sugar factory is famous because it was abandoned for years until it was renovated into an art gallery during the day and a music venue with several small restaurants and bars at night.
We ended up sitting outside the performance being too cheap to pay the 200NT cover, and eventually ended up drinking outside of 7-11 (what a cultural experience) where we made even more new friends.
One of our new friends offered to house us for the night, a local working as an English teacher in Taitung City. He had a little mountain house all to himself. With only a deaf old neighbor so we got to be as loud as we wanted.
The next morning we got a ride back to Donghe beach ate tons of baozi ,and lazed around the beach for the day. Hitching into Dulan for pizza and getting the bus back to Taitung City from there so we could catch the last “fast train” (4 hours vs 7) back to Taipei.
(A line of Chonguoren tourists with their umbrellas)
Though I didn’t do any hiking like I planned I still fell in love with the surroundings. We are seriously looking into starting a burrito truck in Donghe, so anyone familiar with the food truck business suggestions are welcome!