This past weekend was the 10-10 holiday, Double-Ten Day is celebrated in Taiwan to commemorate the start of the Republic of China, the R.O.C was established as a result of the Wuchang Uprising in China, that sparked the civil war. When the R.O.C lost, they relocated to Taiwan where they were given control when the Japanese empire surrendered after WWII. Just a glimpse into Taiwan’s confusing tumultuous history.Now, for most people now it means barbecue parties and a three-day weekend.
A friend of mine had plans for Kenting that fell through, so we decided on a last-minute trip to the east coast. Living on a small island is great, nothing is too far away for a weekend, but when everyone tries to travel at once transportation gets chaotic, like during the national holidays. For most people it is too much of a bother to travel when everyone else is, but I haven’t been out to the east coast in a while, so, I agreed to give it a shot with a friend with whom I never traveled before.
We left early Friday morning, only being able to get Ubus tickets to Khaosiung. The bus that goes directly from Taichung to Taitung was sold out. We weren’t sure if we were going to end up in Khaosiung for the weekend or be able to make it all the way to Taitung. We had a hostel booked in Dulan, but were making back-up itineraries in Khaosiung just in case.
It turned out to be incredibly easy to get train tickets, compared to what we were expecting. From Taichung it took about 3 hours via Ubus to Khaosiung. The Ubus station is directly next to the central train station (as is the Kuo-Kang bus station, and a few others) so we purchased our train tickets right away. We arrived around 11AM we were able to purchase round trip tickets with seats to Taitung and back. Not at the most ideal time Sunday morning (8:30 AM), but, we had seats and a whole day in Khaosiung to explore before going back.
From Khaosiung to Taitung it is a 3 and a half hour ride with a really beautiful view of the south.
To Dulan, our final destination, we rented a scooter and drove about forty minutes north on east coast highway 11. Arriving around 4. This is my third time visiting Dulan, I’ve been through Taitung city every time, but have never actually gone anywhere in the city aside from the train station and the airport. It’s a beautiful city in the middle of a nest of small southern mountains. There is a lot to explore and see on the way, a few “scenic spots” to pull off on the highway itself on the way to Dulan. Liyu mountain, Moon World, and Jihben Hot springs area are only right outside of the Taitung city limit. I would’ve liked to have more time to explore. From the few times I have visited the East Coast, the best way to see it is of your own devices, there are only two bus lines, that do not run very frequently and are often late.
We saw many people bike-packing, (which I would love to do as soon as this knee heals up). There are several official campsites along the coast (campsites link). This is actually the first time I’ve ever paid for somewhere to stay on the east coast,(the first two times we just camped on the beach for free and showered at the police station). Along the way to Dualn there are several B&B’s and hostels, but in Dulan itself there are at least 5 all in a row. Mostly catering to surfers, so it is a big tourist destination for foreigners because of the good surfing area between Dulan and Donghe.
Saturday is when we tried to cram in as much exploring as possible in one day. We took our scooter for a drive north and stopped in Donghe to find the famous local baozi shop (that I remembered as being the best baozi I’ve ever had) and bring them to eat on the beach for breakfast. Down a side street in the same small shop there was a long line, this time they even had a laminated English list for us to read.
Donghe itself was so quite different from the first time I visited. The first time it was nothing but a 7-11 next to an abandoned looking road that lead down to the beach. This weekend it had a few small shops and was packed with vendors, I am hoping it was just for the holiday weekend and it hadn’t developed that fast in the two years since I’d been there.
and Donghe Bridge
A bit farther up the road we stopped at the National Scenic East Coast Information Center and Amis Indigenous Culture Art Center.
On the way back to Dualn we stopped at JinZun Beach.
And went to the sugar factory in Dulan to check out the art galleries and have lunch then went for a swim on Dulan Beach.
After which we discovered the scooter rental key was MIA and we spent an hour searching for it, then an hour trying to get a new one made from a local mechanic, after he gave up we spent another hour and a half driving into Taitung city to get the spares from the rental shop, lucky us they were open late even on a holiday. We had a late night dinner at our hostel then headed to the sugar factory to celebrate Taiwan’s birthday with some live music. Most Saturdays the Dulan Sugar Factory has live musical performances. Taiwanese and foreigners hang out to enjoy music, the Highway 11 craft beer, and local handicrafts. I feel like it is a different country all together from the industrial-city-department-store-family-life I see in Taichung on a daily basis.
I love Taiwan. But sometimes I need to be reminded of why. Like an old married couple, I remembered why I feel in love with Taiwan in the first place, and the exotic beautiful place it really is, once you get away from the mundane atrocities that every country calls “civilization” Happy Birthday Taiwan, Wǒ ài nǐ. 我愛你.