Settling Down in Toucheng
Updated: May 21, 2020
Days 888 – 890
After a short visit to Taitung, we travelled north to Toucheng to stay for a full month. Now, my idea of walking to the station turned out to be not the best of ideas but settling down in Toucheng I think will be.
We have so enjoyed walking along Taitung’s Old Railway Line that I suggested to Tim that we walked the 4.5km to the train station on the walkway rather than getting a taxi. From looking at the map, it would take us most of the way, and it is nice walking away from traffic. I must say it’s a bit strange that the main train station is so far away from the city. Is this for future expansion I wonder?
We packed our bags and off we went, enjoying getting into the countryside and strolling past small farms and allotments. I noticed some cow dung on the pathway and joked that we’d see the culprit soon. We did! A bullock was standing right across the path. I’m not scared of them, but I wouldn’t want those horns coming in my direction. Thankfully we noticed it was tied up and it seemed more afraid of us! Poor thing was covered in flies and looked very sorry for itself.
A little further, the wooden track had broken and came to an abrupt halt. The bridge over the river ahead must have collapsed. What to do? We took the left-hand path and made our way towards a road bridge, adding an hour to our journey! It was a good job we’d left plenty of time to get our train – we had intended to go to a veggie café along the way, but that went out of the window. An onigiri each will have to do.
The four hours train journey to Yilan was ok, the carriage was freezing for some reason, and a young lady near us did not stop talking in quite a grating voice to her suffering boyfriend. He even tried to sleep and then she kept poking him. I wonder how long the relationship will last.
On our second train, an elderly lady moved seats when we sat next to her. It reminded us of the young couple from London we met on our Taroko Gorge trip who experienced the same thing on the London underground – both their parents originate from China.
We exited the train station at Toucheng and immediately saw our host, Claudia, waiting for us with her husband. They are both from Mexico but met here nine years ago when studying Chinese and have lived in Taiwan ever since.
Our friendly hosts drove us to our Bluebay Apartment, our home for the next month. This will be the longest time we have stayed anywhere since travelling! Thankfully we are delighted with the flat. It is much bigger than we expected, about four times the size of our usual places we’ve been staying in, airy and light with a balcony overlooking the sea. Perfect!
I had been searching for an apartment for some time. There is not much choice, the flats are either in large, densely populated cities or far too expensive for us. I found a group on Facebook called Taiwan Travelers and reached out. Within four minutes, Claudia had responded, “Apartment near the beach in Yilan, PM if interested.”
When we met, Claudia said that she hardly ever goes on the group, it was serendipitous that she did just then – I love moments like this!
And our hosts have been fantastic. There were a couple of kitchen things we needed and very quickly they brought around bits and pieces for us. As it is Easter weekend with no Easter Eggs anywhere, imagine our delight when we found two small packets of chocolate kisses in a bag they left for us! How thoughtful.
Since we have been here, we have been poodling. It’s lovely to be able to unpack clothes rather than live out of a bag. We wandered around town and found the local supermarkets and market stalls to buy food for the next few days. (I had to take a photo of the supermarket with rows of orange trolleys on the roof!). And it's been lovely to be able to cook meals now.
I realise this is usually normality for many people but a novel experience for us these days. Not that I am complaining at all, we have a very privileged way of life that many people dream about and we are very conscious of this, more so in this current climate.
Claudia recommended a few places – including Bread and Butter bakery, a bit pricey but it has bread. Oh my, the bread is amazing. SE Asia is not known for its bread; it is usually a marshmallow consistency. The artisan bread at this bakery is the best – and we had a delicious thick tomato and vegetable soup with walnut and cheese bread with one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had in a long time. I think we will be visiting this place a few times in the next month, don’t you?