Taitung is a funny little town. It’s low rise and spread out so it feels quite spacious. The coast is on one side, mountains on the other with rice paddies and other crops growing in between. It feels very fertile as it’s green and blooming everywhere. The people, as in Taipei, are welcoming, helpful and friendly.
There’s not a huge amount to do here apart from admire the scenery, which is not that accessible without your own transport. No one will rent motorbikes to foreigners for some unexplained legal reasons but we have been lucky to have the free loan of two rather uncomfortable push bikes for the duration of our stay. There are cycle paths everywhere so it’s been really great and it’s good to get some exercise.
We’re staying at Swallow Homestay, named after the owner, Swallow. There are a lot of ‘homestays’ here. Ours is in a big house with the feel of a hostel. We have a huge room with a private bathroom and communal space downstairs. There are no staff about as in a hotel but it’s not quite a hostel. We may be the only guests.
We haven’t had much success with food, gristly unidentifiable meat, rice or millet and tasteless soup. But we found a nice pizzeria with a wood fired oven and an English teacher owner who plied us with free samples of her home grown guava and sweet potatoes and home baked cookies. This is her, Linda, with her two sons Billy and Tim.
Yesterday we went to the National Museum of Prehistory nearby. It’s not a brilliant museum but gave us some understanding of the fascinating geology of Taiwan: half the country is on the Eurasian plate; and half on the Philippine plate, hence lots of earthquakes. There’s also another plate nearby. We also learnt something of the indigenous people who were here before the Chinese and are struggling to maintain their languages and culture. They’re Austrolesian and have connections with islanders from New Zealand, Madagascar, Philippines and everywhere in between.
We’re going to see some live music at the local artists and indigenous craftspeople hangout this evening, though I believe the band is Caucasian.