Taitung (Day 10): We’ll be back

March 10, 2016

Today was our first full day in Taitung.  The weather didn’t really improve much from yesterday, it was still overcast with no sun in sight (Tim’s going to say, “stop complaining about it being overcast!”).  The reason why I wished the sun would come out is because I know that Taitung would be amazingly beautiful with the lush green mountains and ocean on either side of the city. But with an overcast sky, the city wasn’t able to really shine through. I suppose I had high hopes for Taitung because it is Tim’s favourite Taiwanese city. I wanted to love it here like he did, but I didn’t. I would like to come back when the weather is nicer (which is usually 90% of the time), to experience the city the way it should be.

We started off our day with a nice and hearty breakfast… at McDonald’s. We like to try different McDonald’s around the world because they always have unique menu items and Taiwan was no exception to that. We ordered a chicken and egg breakfast sandwich meal (which is like a McChicken with an egg in a muffin (Tim: and without lettuce)) and an extra sausage and egg McMuffin. The meal came with a hash brown and instead of coffee we ordered corn soup. I enjoyed everything in the breakfast – especially the corn soup (Tim: I love how corn soup is a substitute beverage choice).

Breakfast at McDonald's. (136 NT = $5.50 CAD)
Breakfast at McDonald’s. (136 NT = $5.50 CAD)
Corn soup
Corn soup
Chicken and egg McMuffin
Chicken and egg McMuffin

After our breakfast we picked up bikes from the apartment and started a trail that wrapped around the city. We headed towards the mountains and the bike path was pretty clear. It felt good to ride and feel the breeze – it was refreshing and freeing! (Tim: It wouldn’t be as refreshing if it was sunny and hot… Thankfully it was overcast). After we passed the 2km mark, the bike trail emptied and we were the only ones on it. It was nice that was it just us, fresh air, (away from all the scooter exhaust) and some small low flying birds.

Trail map
Trail map. Taitung is home to seven aboriginal groups, the most in Taiwan, making up 35.5% of the population.
Obama Cakes?
Obama Cake?
The bike path - I see my last name!
The bike path – I see my last name!
Taiwanese countryside


Tim has fond memories of the time he spent in Taitung in 2009. He likes to recount how while biking along this same trail, a stray puppy rode along side him for a couple of kilometres until he got to a larger street intersection that he needed to cross. The puppy was too scared to the cross the street and Tim never saw it again. When he thinks about it, he gets a bit sad. (I think he regrets not keeping the puppy). I make it worse when I tell him that the puppy chose him (just like how elephants choose their mahouts (owners) in Thailand) and he just left him. Later on at the beach, a stray dog was attracted to Tim and followed him around while he took pictures. I thought it would make for a pretty epic story if that dog turned out to be the same dog from 7 years ago (too bad this dog was brown and not black).

Tim and his friend
Tim and his friend
Taitung has a lot of stray dogs
Taitung has a lot of stray dogs. This the one that followed us around a little bit at the beach.

When we reached a split in the trail we decided to head back so we could go back towards the beach. We ended up walking to the beach instead because I was too scared to ride on the street alongside all the scooters and cars. I get a bit anxious when I’m on a bike or scooter in traffic and I feel like in Asia it’s even more chaotic (although, it’s likely more of an organized chaos).

After dropping our bikes off, we stopped to get bubble tea a “Presotea” which advertised a “Panda” bubble (black and white pearls!). We also attempted to Facetime my family for my Mom’s birthday. Taitung County has free wifi (TT-Free) throughout the city if you register your phone number. Unfortunately, my family was only able to hear us, but we were able to hear and see them.

Panda milk tea, it was really good. We enjoyed the big and small (white) pearls. (40 NT = $1.60 CAD)
The Panda milk tea was really good. We enjoyed the different sized and textured pearls. (40 NT = $1.60 CAD)
For my family, this is what we looked like while trying to Facetime
For my family, this is what we looked like while trying to Facetime

We walked to the beach area that we visited shortly yesterday. This time we walked down to the actual beach and watched the waves crash on to shore for a while. The east coast of Taiwan is very beautiful. In the summer, Taitung has a hot air balloon festival that looks awesome, maybe next time we’ll come for that.  Although, I’m sure then I’ll probably wished the weather were like how it was now- mild rather than really hot.





A dome and walkway made out of bamboo. I can’t seem to find the name of it while googling


A man on a scooter taking in the ocean. It looked cold, but it was 20+ degrees
A man on a scooter taking in the ocean. It looked cold, but it was 20+ degrees, which is cold for Taitung standards.

After the beach we headed back to the apartment to grab our bags that we left there. We were moving to another place to stay because the apartment was booked for tonight. We walked down the street and checked into our hotel, “Traveller’s Hotel”. We read good reviews about it for being a clean and friendly hotel. The room is very basic and clean (the only important thing), which works for us! The only “bad” thing is that the internet is a bit slow.

Basic and clean hotel for the night
Basic and clean hotel for the night (39 USD on Expedia, Tim used his Paypal account from his Canucks ticket sales. (Tim: Glad to spend USD Via PayPal, otherwise, it’s almost impossible to withdraw your USD Balance out of a Canadian PayPal account without paying ridiculous exchange fees… More on that later maybe.))

Once we checked in, we headed to grab a late lunch and walked to the Taitung Forest Park to wander around. We thought that on our way to the park we would pass by a lot of food options, but that didn’t happen. I think we underestimated the effects of a small town/city. I kept thinking, there’s got to be a lot of places surrounding the park or even a snack stand inside the park. We were wrong, there’s no vendors inside the park. It was about 3:30pm and we were both pretty hungry (Tim: Kaitlyn was pretty hungry). We walked around the park for like 15 minutes and then left to find something to eat.

Entrance to the Taitung Forest Park
Entrance to the Taitung Forest Park

We decided to walk down a different street on our way back. There were a few bento lunch options and we decided on “Woo Ricebox”. We’ve seen a bunch of these types of Taiwanese fast food restaurants around, mainly at train stations. The wooden bentos are filled with rice, pickled vegetables, cabbage, sausage, chopped bok choy and a meat of your choice. I had a pork chop and Tim got pork belly. They were a good lunch option and I can see why people would order them to take with them on a train.

Our bentos
Our bentos (75 NT = $3 CAD) and 85 NT = $3.40 CAD)

After lunch we headed back to the hotel to settle in and get ourselves organized for tomorrow. We booked our train tickets from Taitung to Hualien (we’re heading north on the east coast). This was our first time booking the train ticket online – we didn’t want to risk the train we wanted to be sold out. We also booked our hotel for two nights in Hualien – “East Town 26”. The hotel has really good reviews on Trip Advisor so I’m looking forward to it (hopefully I won’t be disappointed).

Tonight for dinner, we met with Tim’s relatives at “Showtime Plaza”. This mall was built a few years ago and is one of the newer building complexes in the city. It has a movie theatre, a couple of clothing stores (Uniqlo and Nike) and a few restaurants. Tim’s relatives made reservations at a Japanese Tonkatsu restaurant (I couldn’t find the translated English name). It’s always nice to meet with family and friends while traveling. It’s a nice familiarity and comfort knowing that loved ones are close by. The tonkatsu set meal and was delicious – it was my first time having tonkatsu where you have to crush the sesame seeds with a mortar to make the sauce. (Tim says now we don’t have to go to one in Japan…). Tim’s relatives are in the middle of moving so we caught them at a hectic time. They were very hospitable to us despite this and I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet them on this trip.

Crushing the sesame seeds for the tonkatsu sauce
Crushing the sesame seeds for the tonkatsu sauce
My tonkatsu set
My tonkatsu set
Tim got his with curry
Tim got his with curry
Us and the Pan family
Us and the Pan family (Tim: Minus Daniel)

After dinner, Tim and I decided to check out the night market, which was down the street from where we were staying. The night market here is only opened from Thursday-Sunday (the majority of night markets in Taiwan are 7 days a week). Tonight it started to rain, and apparently when it rains no one in Taitung goes out. This was evident in passing by the night market. This was the saddest night market we had seen so far. Many of the vendors were closing down and some didn’t even set up. There were no crowds at all. See? This is what happens when the weather isn’t good in Taitung.

Deserted night market
Deserted night market

Now we’re back at the hotel, getting ready for tomorrow. Tim’s aunt is going to pick us up tomorrow morning to drive us to the train station at 8:30am, our train to Hualien leaves at 9:39am.

There’s still a lot more of Taitung that we haven’t seen, but we know we’ll be back one day.

Steps walked: 24,300 steps
Biked: 11 km

Taitung (Day 9): Hello, Pacific Ocean

March 9, 2016

Firstly, Happy Birthday Mom! We love and miss you. Wish we could have spent the day with you.

Today was our last morning in Kaohsiung.  We called it an early night yesterday and didn’t get to walk along the Love River, so that was our plan for the morning.  We planned to catch the 12:40pm train to Taitung, a small city on the east coast of Taiwan.

On our walk down to the Love River, we stumbled upon a breakfast place that had a long line (out the door, if they had a door).  Long line ups have proven to be the most trustworthy source on our trip, so this was a good sign.  It looked like their specialities were steamed buns filled with pork and cabbage (it had it’s own separate line) and sao bing (layered flakey flatbread).  When we got there, the kitchen was trying their best to keep up with demands of the line.

We ordered a sao bing with egg and one with a Chinese doughnut. After we ate, we got into the other line and got two steamed buns to save for lunch later on the train. In hindsight, we should’ve eaten these buns right away when they were fresh and juicy.  You could tell that they would’ve been amazing if we had them fresh, oh well, next time! (Tim: They were still good when we had them on the train, just probably not as good as they could have been)

Scrambled egg and pastry bread (25 NT = $1 CAD)
Scrambled egg and pastry bread (25 NT = $1 CAD)
Delicious steamed buns (15 NT = $0.60 CAD). These trays were cleared quickly, most people ordered 10 buns at a time.
Delicious steamed buns (15 NT = $0.60 CAD). These trays were cleared quickly, most people ordered 10 buns at a time.
After the crowds died down
After the crowds died down

After a satisfying breakfast, we continued our walk to the river.  We passed by a baseball field that had multiple posters of the Taiwanese movie, “Kano”.  The movie is based on a true story about a Taiwanese baseball team that goes to the championship tournament in Japan in the 1930s. Tim and I had watched the movie in Vancouver a year ago when they were touring the movie in North America.


As we past by the field, we saw the Korean flag and a flag that said “Doosan Bears Spring Training”.  The team was having spring training practice, so we stood there watching the practice for a bit. The Doosan Bears are a professional Korean baseball team from Seoul. It’s funny that they’re a professional team, we saw half the team running along the river after but some were totally slacking and some were even just walking, so we thought they weren’t a professional team.

Doosan Bears practicing
Doosan Bears practicing
Other spectators

It was about 10:30am when we finally made it to the Love River, and it was already about 28 degrees in Kaohsiung. At least it was overcast or else it would’ve been more uncomfortable. Walking alongside the river and seeing some of the taller buildings against the water reminded me of Chicago.  Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s “second city” after all.

While walking along the Love River, we spot some slacking Doosan Bears.
While walking along the Love River, we spot some slacking Doosan Bears.


Walking along the river was nice and peaceful
Our love river selfie. We should've pulled out a selfie stick for this
Our love river selfie. We should’ve pulled out a selfie stick for this
Tim literally stops to smell/take pictures of the flowers
Tim literally stops to smell/take pictures of the flowers
Miracle flowers
Miracle flowers

After a sweaty walk back to the hotel, we picked up our bags and headed to catch our train to Taitung.  The train was about a 2.5 hour ride (~175 km away).  As usual, I fell asleep on the train.  The train chairs are comfortable because they recline quite far back, which makes sleeping on the train a bit better! When I woke up, I looked out the window and all I saw was green, then I turned to the right and I saw the Pacific Ocean. It’s too bad it was overcast and very windy out.

View from the other side of the train
View from the other side of the train
Mountainous greenery
Mountainous greenery

We arrived in Taitung to Tim’s aunt and cousin waiting for us at the train station.  They took us on a quick tour of some of the Taitung sights and brought us to the B&B we would be staying at.  The host is a very friendly Burmese woman who moved to Taiwan for university and ended up staying here.  Her place is very nice and super clean, cleaner than the last hotel we stayed at.

Our B&B that we're staying at in Taitung
Our B&B that we’re staying at in Taitung
Pacific Ocean
Hello, Pacific Ocean
Taitung Seashore Park. Hopefully tomorrow won't be overcast and windy
Taitung Seashore Park. Hopefully tomorrow won’t be overcast and windy
Taitung's old railway is now called the Taitung Railway Art Village
Taitung’s old railway is now called the Taitung Railway Art Village

Taitung is the smallest city we’ve been to on this trip. Although it is a lot more rural than the rest of the other cities, I’ve noticed that there are a lot more noticeable backpackers (single white males). In looking at restaurants that were recommended on Trip Advisor, there are a lot of western restaurants for tourists – mainly pizza places. It’s only been just over a week of Taiwanese food, and I’m craving western food already.  We found a compromise of western food and Taiwanese food that was highly rated on Trip Advisor – it was an American fried chicken place run by Taiwanese people.

The restaurant is called Blue Dragonfly.  It’s basically like a local KFC. Tim and I shared a combo. It came with a drumstick, wing, and two “chicken pieces (Tim: Not sure what part of the chicken this was)” and a side of fries (was basically like a sprinkle of fries) and a drink.  We got a slushy (“slash shake” on the menu) that tasted like pina colada.

This combo looks pretty sad. But the chicken and fries were quite good! It also came with a drink (115 NT = $4.70 CAD)
This combo looks pretty sad. But the chicken and fries were quite good! It also came with a drink (115 NT = $4.70 CAD)
Blue Dragonfly
Blue Dragonfly
Menu.  “French balls” are tater tots

After dinner we walked through the park that was filled with lanterns.  It was so pretty.  There was a mixture of printed lanterns and some that were painted by elementary school aged children (I assume).


We walked through the park and took our time looking around.  The city is so quiet compared to everywhere else we’ve visited. It’s a nice change of pace.

After our walk, we saw a KFC and went to get an egg tart. I’ve been hearing about KFC’s Portugese egg tarts for a while now and finally got to try it.  It was really good, perfectly flakey crust and warm egg custard. These egg tarts are only available at Asian KFCs. I would highly recommend them.

KFC's Portugese egg tart (28 NT = $1.15 CAD)
KFC’s Portugese egg tart (28 NT = $1.15 CAD)

We took a longer walk back to the apartment and stopped to get some fruit. Taitung is known for their custard apple, so we decided to try one. We also picked up a passionfruit lime drink from a vendor that is downstairs from where we’re staying.  Both were very refreshing and the perfect way to end the day.

Passionfruit lime juice and custard apple
Passionfruit lime juice and custard apple (Drink was 40 NT = $1.65 CAD and the custard apple was 50 NT = $ 2 CAD)
Inside the custard apple
Inside the custard apple. Soft and sweet

Our internet was down so we called the host and she came by and brought us another custard apple! So now we have one for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’re planning on seeing more of the beach and forest area. The east coast is beautiful with the tall green mountains and the ocean being so close. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow (Tim: And if it’s not, it’s out of our control so it’s silly to let it bother us, right Kait?).

Our total number of steps for today was 17,300.