December 7, 2022

I caught the 8am train from Taichung to Taitung. The journey was a bit less than 4 1/2 hours.

The above photo was taken while I waited; that’s my express train on the left, while central Taichung is on the right.

The train advanced down the west coast of Taiwan, crossing into the tropics at Chiayi, continuing on at my now familiar places of Tainan and Kaohsiung. The air cleared to a sunny heat. The train headed east past Pingtung towards the mountains.

The mountains were spectacular. We climbed into a mountain river, then there were long periods of tunnels, finally emerging with the mountains behind us and glimpses of the sea. I unfortunately only captured some lesser mountains (above).

The train tracks sometimes ran along the shore, making for a stupendous landscape. Wikivoyage says tropical Taitung has “spectacular scenery” – I quite agree!

At last we arrived in Taitung.

I looked at YouTube to see other travelers’ experiences of Taitung, settling on the above. It’s part 1 of a multi-part series.

I saw a traditional boat as I left the station, surrounded by gift shops.

I stayed one night close to the station in a B&B. There were streets after streets of accommodation, but no supporting infrastructure. The young managers were friendly. I managed to lock myself out of my room and they were forced to come from a separate location to help me. It was a somewhat odd experience.

The next day, after checking out, I thought as I’m at Taitung Station I should check out Beinan Cultural Park. It’s only around 500 meters, but at 9:30am when I started walking, the sun was fierce out of a cloudless sky, and sweat started forming on my shirt. It’s the tropics!

The entrance-way to the archeological park, for those of you who can’t read the sign (including me).

The Beinan Cultural Park is a large park with grass, groves of trees, and a shallow depression where the river once ran. But according to a webpage it was once an important settlement, dating back to 5,300 years ago.

Inside the archeological park, showing some of the ruins.

Wikipedia says “The park is the site for the largest and most complete prehistoric settlement ever discovered in Taiwan, with over 10,000 m2 and more than 1,600 burial sites. … This historic settlement area was discovered during the construction work of the back part of Taitung Station in 1980 when graveyard containing several thousand slate coffins was unearthed, with some bodies still laid within. Around 20,000 pieces of jade, pottery and stone tools were also found. This had caught the attention of the government to carry out archeological work and build a national museum to preserve the artifacts. Beinan Cultural Park opened in 1997 to display and preserve the archaeological site, considered the most important one in Taiwan. An indoor/outdoor Museum of Prehistory opened in 2002.”

The Men’s House of the Pinuyumayan nation. According to this article the Pinuyumayan gathered to hold the coming-of-age ceremony.

The Prehistoric House.

Coming into Taitung, the second hotel I tried was much more satisfactory – the Traveler Hotel, a block south of the central market in downtown Taitung.

This is my room; cozy enough, although the window opens onto a brick wall. The price was about the same as the last B&B.

In the evening I discovered that a street had been converted into a night market, with good things to eat. The scene was lively and bustling – the Chinese say 熱鬧, “rènào” – with hawkers’ cries and people promenading. The photo above is a poor reflection.

Next time: Green Island.

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