Off The Beaten Tourist Path: 24 Hours In Fangliao 非一般的旅程起点:枋寮一天的在地体验

The idea of doing a Taiwan trip came about shortly after I returned home from my Korea spring trip last year, but it went through several versions of changes before I finally decided on the specific destinations about 3 months ago. While it was clear that Taitung was my main focus for this summer trip, Fangliao was never on the list. In fact, I didn’t even know this small fishing town in Pingtung County existed. At least not until I decided that 1 of the highlights of the trip was to take the train to Taitung which would bring us to the most scenic coastal regions of Taiwan.


Because the special train (an old local train without air-con) only runs once a day at 11 am from Fangliao to Taitung, but our flight to Kaohsiung only arrives at 10.20 am, I decided the best way was to stay 1 night at Fangliao, so that we would not need to rush for an early morning train from Kaohsiung to Fangliao (which takes about an hour) the following day to catch this rustic local train. That’s how we ended up starting our trip in Fangliao, a small town totally off the beaten tourist path.


Fangliao Station

We reached Fangliao Station at about 1.30pm on a scorching sunny day. At Kaohsiung Station where we were to purchase train tickets, we were approached a few times by local drivers asking if we wanted to go Kenting. Even when we reached Fangliao Station, the station staff asked if we were heading to Kenting. Everyone seemed surprised we were going to stay 1 night in Fangliao! Probably because there’s really nothing much to see & do in this small town I guess, as you can see from the map of the town below.

大约下午1:30,我们抵达枋寮车站。在高雄火车站时,已有不少当地司机问我们是否前往垦丁,就连到了枋寮火车站,职员也问我们是否要去搭巴士去垦丁。好像全世界都觉得我们不该出现在枋寮,更别说住一晚。也许这个乡真的没什么好看的吧?看看以下的周边游览地图了解一下吧 😉

Fangliao town map outside the station

As it was still too early to check in to the minsu, we deposited our luggage at the train station at just 30 TWD (~S$1.40) per piece & headed to a dessert shop about 5 minutes’ walk from the station. The shop (I would translate its name as Uncle Gang Desserts? :P) was highly recommended by the minsu host, who mentioned that the Mango Snow Ice is a must-try as it is in season now. Exit the train station (there’s only 1 exit like you see above), walk straight for about 2 min till you see Zhongshan Road then turn left. Uncle Gang is located on the right after the bridge along this road.


There were 2 types of Mango Snow Ice, 1 was as seen in above photo with freshly cut mango cubes, & another was the Mango flavoured snow ice. The boss strongly recommended us the mango cube version (90 TWD, ~S$4.20), saying mangoes are in season now & guaranteed full satisfaction. Indeed, the Mango Cube Snow Ice was wonderful, a generous portion of chunky mango cubes that were so sweet. Certainly we couldn’t get such a big yummy bowl anywhere else in Taiwan & of course Singapore.

We also took his suggestion to try the Black Sugar Shaved Ice (40 TWD, ~S$1.85) where we could pick any 4 preferred ingredients from the counter. We thought this looks just like Singapore’s Ice Kachang, except without the coloured syrups & milk on top. I can’t remember the exact 4 ingredients we chose, but I recalled there was this yummy ingredient he recommended which was chewy like pearls yet not as starchy with a hint of yam flavour. The desserts kind of quenched our thirst in the scorching weather, especially the Black Sugar Shaved Ice. 🙂

Both the boss & his wife were very friendly, & chatted with us for a while when they noticed we aren’t locals. Apparently they decided to open this dessert shop back in their hometown more than a decade ago after working in the city all their working lives. As Fangliao is a small town & people tend to know one another, they decided to use the boss’ father’s name as the shop name so that people can resonate quickly with the brand.




As it was really hot, we didn’t really explore much of the small town. We didn’t even make it to the harbour. 😦 Based on memory, there was only 1 supermarket we spotted in the vicinity, where we went in to purchase poncho & mosquito repellent (in anticipation of the powerful native mosquitoes in Huadong region). Many shops were closed even in the day (we wonder why). Nonetheless, there were pleasant surprises of beautiful scenery as we strolled along the streets taking in the random views.

因为天气真的太炎热,我们也没什么精力游览枋寮,连著名的渔港都没去。-_- 记忆中,我们逛了一圈只看到一家超市,也顺便买了防小黑蚊的驱蚊喷雾剂及雨衣(以备在花东一带用)。一路上也没看到几家商店、餐馆营业,都没什么人的样子。不过,看到沿路的蓝天白云,船只停靠在河流,依山的美景,也别有一番滋味。:)

The fishing village with the mountainous backdrop and clear blue sky

Too bad by the time we got out of minsu to check out the Fangliao Railway Art Village, it was already closed except for 1 cafe restaurant nearest the station. Nonetheless, I managed to take a photo of the train at its entrance. Not sure if there are enough art pieces for us to tour around when it’s open though, as the village looks really small.


Fangliao Railway Art Village 枋寮铁道艺术村

Along the road right outside the train station, we found a stall where several locals were queuing for leek & pork buns. Its logo stated it was a 20-year-old shop that hailed from Kaohsiung. Since it was dinner time, we bought 1 leek bun & 1 pork bun each to try (20 TWD, ~S$0.95). It was fried crisply & rather tasty, just a little disappointed the filling wasn’t a lot though, but still worth the try.

在火车站前的中兴路,有一摊售卖韭菜盒子和猪肉馅饼的,看起来很不错,有不少顾客排队,所以我们也跟着排了 哈哈。我的猪肉馅饼很香脆,只可惜馅料没有很多,但还不错吃哦!

After dark, there was hardly any shops or restaurants that were still opened. We wondered how we could feed ourselves for the night. In the end, we managed to buy some simple beef noodles (zi-char style) & soup from a restaurant that was still open, & had our dinner back in the comfort of our minsu. No fanciful meals or dishes to shout about, just simple dishes to cure our hunger pangs.


The next morning, as the minsu didn’t provide us with breakfast, we had to venture out to find food. Again, the town was still sleepy with barely anyone open for business. Most of the shops, if open, were selling rice dishes. Probably only this 1 we patronized had noodle dishes too. The vegetarian noodles (40 TWD, ~S$1.85) which I had looked plain but was surprisingly quite flavourful.


Lastly, before we departed Fangliao on the local train to Taitung, we made a final stop at the Wei Yi Mei Breakfast Shop just outside the station, with the intention to grab a meal to eat on the train later. It was a typical Taiwan breakfast shop selling homemade burgers, sandwiches and egg rolls. I bought the chicken burger set that came with iced red tea for just 50 TWD (~S$2.35). It was just a simple burger with the chicken patty fried only upon order, but couldn’t ask too much when it’s so cheap isn’t it? 😛


Our last meal from Wei Yi Mei Breakfast shop in Fangliao

Although there really was nothing too exciting throughout the 24 hours in Fangliao, but looking back, we experienced the local way of life in this small fishing town. Travelling is about experiencing local cultures. So we did achieve a lot in the seemingly boring day in Fangliao after all! 😉



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