Roaming In Downtown Taitung 台东市中心:慢活城市漫游记

It was the dreaded 10-day plum rain season as we arrived in Taitung City. Since it was Taiwan’s summer season in June, we were prepared for scorching hot weather. In fact, Taitung’s temperature could typically go all the way up to high 30s or even 40 degrees celsius during summer. What we least expected (& certainly didn’t hope for) was such a drastic change in weather to be experiencing heavy rainfall instead.

抵达台东市的那天,很不巧的,正是梅雨季节。看新闻提到这一季大概长达10天之久,欸。。。原本以为6月是台湾的夏天,我们已经做好心理准备迎接酷热的天气,因为听说台东夏天的气温可以高达40°。虽然讨厌炎热的天气,但我们也没预料到(也不希望)天气转变得这么快。毕竟持续下雨会影响我们的行程。

In case you are wondering what’s “plum rain season”, it is the main annual rainy season in the country, which typically coincides with the plum season, when heavy rainfall is expected. Based on news reports, the plum rain season this year came later than usual, as it’s typically after Qing Ming Festival around May. We were so “lucky” then to get it in mid-June… 😦

如果你不晓得梅雨季是什么,它是台湾每年的主要雨季,通常在梅花盛开的季节会出现持续下大雨的情况。降雨量在大约半个月的梅雨季里,占全年总降雨量的百分之20到30之间。看到台湾新闻报道,今年的梅雨季迟来了,通常是在清明节之后,大概5月份。怎么那么“幸运”,已经是6月中旬还会碰到梅雨季!:(

Anyway, grouses aside, weather is unpredictable & uncontrollable. We just had to continue with our tour plan & make adjustments where necessary. This was the only day in Taitung City that we didn’t hire any private tour, hence rain or shine, we had to maximize our time to explore the city centre.

好了,不要再发牢骚了,天气变化不在我们的掌控之内。我们只能调适心境,看能怎么继续玩台东市吧。无论是晴天或雨天,我们就只有在台东的第一天才有自由时间,没有包车,所以要抓紧时间!

Unlike typical city centres where you can find high-rise commercial buildings densely packed together, there are limited indoor attractions in Taitung City Centre. The rain was intermittent, sometimes reducing to a drizzle while at times, it was pouring heavily. Fortunately, the hotel which we stayed in provided free big umbrellas for us to use so we could still check out the outdoor sights. A pity that both of us don’t know how to cycle so we couldn’t make use of the free bicycles available at the hotel. No choice, so we strolled in the rain to the recommended sights by the seaside, about half an hour walk away on a leisurely pace!

来到台东市中心,如果你期待看到如一般城市所有的高楼大厦繁荣景象,那你要失望了。台东市中心也没有太多的室内景点。雨势时大时小。幸亏我们下榻的旅店有免费大雨伞出租。可惜我们不会骑脚车,不然还能免费租用旅店提供的脚踏车漫游市中心。没办法啦,就在雨中漫步约30分钟左右,去探访台东市的主要海边景点吧。

1. Taitung Seashore Park 台東海濱公園

Taitung is known for its scenic coastline. Even within the city centre, visitors can soak in the fantastic sea views either with a quick drive (if you have a car), short bike ride or leisurely walk out to the Taitung Seashore Park. Public transport options are very limited in this part of Taiwan so walking was our only choice. Consolation: Must be thankful that the temperature wasn’t overbearing due to the rain, haha.

众所周知,台东以风景宜人的海岸线为荣。就算身在市中心,无论是开车,骑脚车,或是步行,都能在不超过半小时以内抵达台东海滨公园。既然台东市的公共交通不方便,我们就只能靠双脚了。下雨天的好处就是,没这么炎热,步行30分钟左右也还OK。哈哈

So happy to see this road sign after walking in the rain for about 25 min 😉 在雨中走了约25分钟,看到这个路牌,太兴奋了!

Yes we’ve arrived! 到了!

Frankly, we almost lost our way as we were confused with the directions provided by the hotel staff. We weren’t the best in deciphering Google Map’s sometimes confusing navigation, & the hotel didn’t have a “Nearby Sights” map for us to refer to either. There was a point we even stumbled onto an empty patch of land in the middle of what looked like a highway haha. So you could imagine how happy we were when we finally spotted the directional road signs to the park.

因为旅店职员指引我们如何前往海滨公园的讯息有点乱,有没有地图可参考,我们差点迷路。而且,谷歌地图也不完全靠得住。有一度我们甚至走到看似是高速公路的中央,荒芜的草地。所以终于看到海滨公园的路牌时,我们是超兴奋的。

The view from the park, while misty, was enchanting with a sea of clouds surrounding the faraway mountains.

那天的天空虽是灰蒙蒙的,但从公园眺望远处的山峦被云海围绕的景色甚是迷人。

Taitung Seashore Park is a large park with long stretches of cycling & walking trails so visitors can enjoy the landscape & clean ocean air. Apparently, there are many public art pieces scattered around the park waiting to be explored. However, the walking trail was partially flooded due to the rain & we had to detour to walk out along the road instead. After walking for another half an hour or so after the main entrance, we could see a crowd gathering around another significant landmark:

台東海濱公園面积很大,可以沿着宽敞的脚踏车道及步行道漫游整个公园,欣赏景色及享受清新的空气。这里也有许多在地艺术家的作品展览让访客慢慢发掘。有点可惜,步行道有一大段路因下大雨的关系而淹水了,所以我们只好绕道去公园旁的马路。离主要入口近半小时的路程后,我们看到不远处有一群人围着一个地标:

The iconic photo frame for that picture-perfect moment by the sea 在鲜艳的红相框前拍下最完美的海边风景图

Although I can’t say the crowd at this iconic photo frame was overwhelming, it was a somewhat stark contrast to the quiet city that we had been experiencing for the past 1-2 hours. We actually had to queue in line for our turn to take pictures here! 😛 The weather might not have been perfect that afternoon, but it was still a very pretty spot to capture our “we’ve been here” shot. I can so imagine how marvellous the pictures would have been if it were a bright & sunny day.

虽然可不是真的有超多人在国际地标那里聚集,但比起我们在台东市中心一两个小时内所看到的人潮,真的是形成强烈的对比。我们还得在这里排队拍照!纵使那天的天气非最佳,但在这里拍张到此一游的照片,效果出来还是还不错嘞。如果阳光普照的时候来,想必照片一定是超赞的。

Besides the iconic photo frame, there is also a uniquely shaped structure made of rattan just a short 5-minute walk away.

从鲜艳的红相框地标步行大概5分钟,就能看到这座竹編設計的特别地标:

The impressive rattan roof shape, known as Paposogan in Amis language, greets the first ray of light in the morning in the city. After dark, the unique structure lights up beautifully, said to be looking forward to the world’s vision. This special spot in the park overlooking the ocean holds several festivals throughout the year.

登上这座出众的建筑是台东海滨公园国际地标上,可以迎接每天清晨的第一道曙光,也可以眺望蓝色太平洋。太阳下山后,国际地标会以绚丽的灯光照亮海滨公园。无论何时,国际地标都是一个赏海景的好地方。除此之外,这里一年到头也会举办许多的表演及庆祝活动等等。

Along the main road, we found the park’s public toilet next to a temple. The dirty-looking faded-grey colour toilet stands out beside the traditional temple building. What do you think? 😉

在海滨公园马路旁,我们看到了一座老旧的公共厕所,感觉它在色彩鲜艳的传统庙宇旁边相映成趣。你觉得呢?;)

The public toilet’s (right) grey paint may have faded, but it stands out next to the bright-coloured temple with red lanterns

2. Taitung Forest Park 台東森林公園

Right next to Taitung Seashore Park, is the Taitung Forest Park located at the end of Jhongshan Road. The 280-hectare park is home to a dark forest of beefwood trees, thus earning it the nickname of “Black Forest” locally. Since it was rainy & the area is best explored on bikes, we didn’t purchase tickets (30 TWD each, ~S$1.40 each) to enter the park. From the posters at its entrance, the wetland park looks scenic with the Pipa Lake. Maybe next time. 😉

台東森林公園就位于台东海滨公园隔壁,在中山路尽头。森林公园占地280公顷,为了防风而种植木麻黄,远看就像是漆黑一片的森林,因此被在地人称为“黑森林”。想到下雨天要游览整个开阔的森林公园有点困难,况且听说赏公园的方式以骑车为佳,我们也就没有付费(30台币)进去参观。从入口处的图片显示,整个湿地公园景色是蛮迷人的,或许下次有机会才去参观吧。

3. Taitung Arbor White Shanties 台東阿伯小白屋

Before the trip, I chanced upon a pretty Instagram post of a white house which looks dilapidated yet evokes an artistic feel in Taitung City. But since I reckon we wouldn’t have much free time to hunt it down, I didn’t really research my way to go to the house for some photos. Nonetheless, we actually passed by this house when we walked along the road outside the seashore park!

还没出发到台湾前,我偶然看到某人在 Instagram 上传一张老旧但很有艺术气息的一间小白屋的照片。但因为觉得在台东市的自由时间也不是太多,就没有特地去记下它的地址。不过,我们居然在公园步行时绕道的途中看到它!

We thought the white shanties was nature’s work, probably due to the frequent typhoons that Taitung experienced over the years. However, later on, when we chatted with our private tour driver, we realised this was a deliberate piece of art by a local & it sort of became a well-known tourist site, because of its unique architecture & feel. On our way out from the park, we stopped by the house again & there were other tourists who were trying to snap some shots too.

原先以为小白屋是老天(台风啦)的杰作,但后来,跟我们其中一名司机导游无意中聊起,才发现它是一名在地人的精心杰作,还是一个知名的旅游景点。我们在回旅店的途中,也遇到其他游客在那里拍照。

It was only after the trip, while researching on my writing materials, that I realised it is so famous & named as Taitung Arbor White Shanties. An elderly man by the name of Lee, was the designer of this famous house. He had spent over a decade to build the house from scratch using materials which he picked up from the garbage dump. The house’s 2nd floor was severely damaged by Super Typhoon Nepartak that struck Taitung City last July. Because of its special structure, it is touted as Howl’s Moving Castle (famous animation movie by Japanese Hayao Miyazaki) in Taiwan. Uncle Lee had rejected numerous companies that offered to buy his land for hotel redevelopment. He lived alone in the house while his children are living in other Taiwanese cities. Unfortunately, he was found dead in the house in early Jan this year, at the old age of 89, most likely due to some acute illness because of chilly weather. May Uncle Lee rest in peace…

为了写这个景点,我回国后也做了一些资料搜集,才知道它在网路上被称为”台東阿伯小白屋“,因为是89岁高龄的荣民李伯伯的杰作。他花了十几年透过在捡拾的废材如铁皮和支架一步步建造而成。去年7月份的尼伯特台风狂扫东部,房子的二楼因此倒塌过。这栋独特的房子被誉为台版的“霍尔的移动城堡”。由于房子靠近海滨公园,许多财团都在麦迪盖房子,但李伯伯坚持不卖地,只想保住他一手搭建的房子到老。儿女都搬到别的县市工作去了,独留他一人守着这栋房子。令人惋惜的是,老伯今年一月初被发现在家中逝世,检警推测应该是因为天气冷引发急病。李伯伯,安息吧。。。

4. Tiehua Village & Slow Market 鐵花村 慢市集

Taitung is reputable for being a laid-back aka slow city. Besides natural scenery & special buildings, there is also the popular Tiehua Village, as well as the Slow Market open on weekends (Fridays: 6-10 pm, Saturdays & Sundays: 3.30-10 pm). We attempted to visit the village that night around 9 pm after dinner. But alas, although official operating hours of the village is 4-10 pm daily (closed on Tuesdays), the place was a dead town when we arrived. Probably because it was still raining that night so shops decided to close early (or not open at all -_-). The only sight that greeted us was the beautifully-lit hot-air balloon lanterns. We later learnt from our driver the next day that the lanterns were made by elementary school students, a highlight of the village.

台东一向被誉为台湾的欧洲,属于一个慢活城市。除了自然景观和别树一格的建筑,当然也不能错过到鐵花村及周末才有的慢市集(周五:傍晚6点至晚上10点,周六、日:下午3.30至晚上10点)一游。第一晚,我们尝试在晚餐后,大概9点左右拜访,但整个聚落感觉死气沉沉的。网站明明写商店的营业时间是每天下午4点到晚上10点(星期二休息),但或许是下雨的关系,商店都决定提早关门休息吧?我们只看到了漂亮的热气球灯笼。之后从司机导游那儿才知道灯笼是在地的小学生亲手制作的。

Thought we would miss the opportunity to visit this popular village that promotes arts & creativity, but luckily on our last night in the city we managed to check out the attraction. It was a Friday without the dreaded rain (yay!), so the village was lively with many stalls opened for business at the Slow Market.

本来以为我们会就此错过鐵花村和慢市集,幸好我们在台东市的最后一晚是星期五,也有一点时间重游聚落。而且,当天出奇地好天气!所以有幸参观慢市集里的手作达人都开门做生意,感受一下它的热闹。:)

The interesting Slow Market

除了新鲜制作的当季果干茶可以买回去当伴手礼,还可让亲切漂亮的手作达人当场帮我们制作独一无二的耳环饰品

You may be wondering why the Slow Market was named as such. The creators of the village hope that visitors would slow down their original pace of life, come here to chat & interact with the artists/craftsmen, to enjoy the vibrancy of the market & find pleasure in the simplest way of life. Indeed, everyone we met at the Slow Market was friendly & loved to chat about their innovative creations. It was a joyful night, not only because we got to shop for exquisite items, but also because the village ambience was really lovely.

知道为什么这个周末市集称为慢市集吗?因为创办人希望访客们可以放下自己原本的生活步调,深刻感受这里源源不绝的生命力,与來自台東各地手作大人和小农对话,借着这个创意氛围回到最简单淳朴的消费模式里。的确,这里的手作达人及小农都很亲切,乐于分享他们的创作心得。很喜欢在鐵花村和慢市集的时光,不止是因为可以买到富创意的小品,也是因为这里还真有一股独特的氛围。

There was also a Tiehua open-air bar where visitors could chill with specially concocted local drinks (minimum spending per head: 120 TWD, ~S$5.60) & enjoy the music performances by indie singers. The bar felt like a typical Taiwanese minge (folk music) restaurant which was once popular in Singapore. We didn’t go in though, since it’s open-air, the performances could be heard as long as you are in the village. 😛

在鐵花村里,访客也能到鐵花吧一边享用在地特调的饮料,一边欣赏独立音乐人的表演。这个像民歌餐厅的露天吧每人最低消费为120台币。我们没有进去歇息,反正音乐表演在户外,大家都听得到。哈哈

Tiehua Bar, a playground for aspiring local singers

Although we didn’t manage to tour more sights around the laid-back Taitung city centre due to time & weather constraint, it was a pleasant experience roaming in the slow city. Who says life in cities are always fast-paced & hectic? Come to Taitung City & be wow-ed! Ending this post with a map of the sights I explored in the city for your easy reference. 🙂

由于时间跟天气的关系,我们没法游遍所有台东市中心的景点。但这个慢活城市对我是有极大的吸引力的。如果你觉得城市的步伐肯定是超快和忙碌的,去台东市透透气吧。去感受一下在慢活城市漫游的特别体验!以下是这些景点的所在位置,供你参考。:)

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