Taitung: Aspiring to be Inspirational

29 comments
Asia, Taiwan
01

The Commercial Center

Our 5-hour train journey ended at Taitung, one of the biggest cities in the eastern coast of Taiwan. I could only understand the size of the city as our taxi driver navigated his way to our hotel, passing through empty streets. A stark contrast with Taipei, Taitung with a population of only a little over 100,000 people felt like a small town for Indonesian standard. The largest crowd was merely a group of schoolchildren marching on a small alley to celebrate Easter.

Our hotel – with the room that reminded me of pictures of a ryokan with beds on wooden floor – is conveniently located in the center of the city, enabling us to walk everywhere. But the problem was … there was not much to see in the city. Luckily James did his research and decided to go to the old train station, only a few minutes away from the hotel.

A public art installation greeted us upon reaching the old station, in a rather puzzling way. Stacks of white baskets were intertwined and hanged from the roof of a hollow wooden structure, leaving me with questions of what it was supposed to mean. Walking further, the old station stood still with grey-and-yellow painted carriages parked on one of the aging rail lines. While we were walking closer to the old station, suddenly two young boys came to us on their bicycles and handed out a brochure of a Subway restaurant in the city. They grinned at us and left us right away, back to their friends.

A short moment later when we were taking pictures of the old station, a group of young girls approached us and asked James to take a picture of them. Sitting on the rail line, the girls posed the typical v-shaped gesture with their fingers, a gesture far too common in many parts of Asia. Satisfied with the pictures, they chuckled and left us explore the place in peace.

It is often the people, not the places, that makes a city or town interesting.

Realizing that the sun was setting soon, we left the old train station and walked fast towards the beach, hoping to catch the unmistakable beauty of a sunset. After a few detours here and there – including to a neighborhood where old Japanese houses still survived the time – we finally managed to get to the beach before the darkness fell. A heath of daisies separated the sandy beach from the street, a pleasant view to compensate the rather tedious beach. A wooden promenade had been built though, but the local government could have done more to gentrify the beach area instead of letting some pieces of old concrete pipes and unused furniture scattered all over the shore.

As the sun set, we left the promenade in search for an interesting restaurant in the city. Mosquitoes hovered on our heads, increasing the urge to find a more comfortable place, a place with an air conditioner. We were lucky to find a decent restaurant right across the street, our refuge for the next few hours in this eastern coast city.

Taitung might not be the most interesting places of all, indeed. But it has what it takes to make a city great: the people.

02

Did I See ‘Honest’ for the Billboard of a Restaurant?

03

Public Art Installation near the Old Train Station

04

Taitung’s Old Train Station

05

A Pagoda Overlooking the Old Train Station

06

The Signboard of the Old Train Station

07

Old Japanese Houses

08

The Energy of the City: Children Playing at the Old Train Station (left) and Bling-bling on a Scooter

09

The Pacific Dream

10

What’s on the Streets?

11

The Coastline

12

A White Spider among Burst of Colors

13

Forgotten

14

The Breeze of the Pacific

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

29 thoughts on “Taitung: Aspiring to be Inspirational”

  1. Great photos, each with a story. The “honest” restaurant is funny, and the public art does make one wonder…I like the wall art with whales in The Pacific Dream, and the old chair in Forgotten.

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    • Thanks Marilyn! I only stayed for one night in Taitung and I tried to capture as many faces of the city as I could. 🙂

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  2. At first I regretted our decision to stay overnight, I was itching to get to Orchid Island and there wasn’t much to do in Taitung itself. I loved the abandoned train station though, there was so much atmosphere and it’s not often that you get to walk on the railway tracks. As for the way people would just come up to us and talk – that really caught me off-guard! Shame about the coastline though, it could have been so beautiful if they tidied it up a little.

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    • I didn’t tell you how I felt when we first came to the city. It really was like a small Indonesian city. I also remember what you planned to do with the railways tracks, but you didn’t. 🙂 There are a lot of places like Taitung which are longing for more visitors to come. What the local government has to do soon is making the coastline a more enjoyable place to walk around.

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  3. alexander sriewijono says:

    The FORGOTTEN is so beautiful Mas Bama. That’s my favourite one. So soulful. New style of you I guess. 😉

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    • Thank you Marisol! The people in Taitung were quite nice, at least during my very short visit. It was such a laid-back city.

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    • Thanks! I tried something different and apparently some people quite like it, including you. I might want to do such style more often on my future trips. 🙂

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      • alexander sriewijono says:

        Forgotten and the unforgotten, like a coin with 2 sides. What do you think Mas? 😉

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      • It’s like yin and yang I suppose. Two contradicting things which need to coexist to create balance and an interesting life. 🙂

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  4. alexander sriewijono says:

    Indeed. Interesting in a way, and also full of mysteries. Like the journey of life.

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    • Thank you for your kind words! This year I will focus on visiting more places in Indonesia. So probably I will go to a new country next year. 🙂

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  5. An interesting account of your trip to Taitung Bama. And superb shots as always. the lone sofa and the panned Pacific dreams are my picks of the superb set. Love the title of your post too 🙂

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    • Thanks Madhu! I noticed we have similar shots of the palm tree blown away by the gust. 🙂

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    • It is. I went to Bali for the third time recently and I understood more what makes people keep coming the island despite the rapid commercialization of tourism places. It’s the people and the culture which make Bali so fascinating and intriguing.

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    • Thanks Fahmi! Taitung was a nice and quiet stopover after Taipei. However I can’t see myself spending too much time in the city.

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