Coastal walk to Dulan,unexpected concert/Ami tribe

Trip Start Nov 06, 2006
Trip End Dec 31, 2008

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Flag of Taiwan  ,
Saturday, May 5, 2007

Route: Heping - Duli - Amis Folk village - Donghe - Jinzun Observatorium Platform - Dulan
Total Distance: 26 km
Altitude up: 300m
Altitude down: 300m


A swim in the salt water pool of the villa, set just above the sea, and we're off the next morning, out on the open road, "making tracks" as we'd say back in S. Africa.  The sandy beaches with picture-perfect breaks in this part of the world are absolutely deserted - not a soul in sight, save for a fishing boat, in the style of the venerable Chinese junk, keeping pace with us, fighting the waves as we fight the wind.  Down a wooden staircase, descending through junglesque trees and we're down to the beach.  Shirts off, swimsuits on, and I'm amongst the ebb and flow of Taiwanese high tide - for the first time in my life!  The ocean is truly great that way.  She washes away all of the stress, our bodies of water connecting with something that moves us, I'm convinced, more than up and down and side to side and tumbling in circles - rejuvenating the soul.

(Continued by Kurt: After the swim we walk along the coast, as close as possible to the water as the wind blows the sand in our faces, like a sand storm in the desert. We decide to walk to the end of the long stretched bay and from there to walk back to the road. When we arrive at this kid of peninsula we can't find a trail and just go into the dunes with bushes and undergrowth, hoping to find a path soon, but that does not work out. So we walk up and down the dunes in deep sand, making zig zag moves to avoid the thickest and thorny undergrowth and finally lose direction - don't forget all this with full backpack. What makes the situation even worse is, that the wind here has completely died down and we feel the full heat and humidity, almost unbearable. After more than 30 minutes we reach a dirt trail, which goes over into a concrete path. We walk through a burnt down plantation before we get to No.11 road. In the next village we buy lots and lots of cold water to quench our thirst. ) 

[ Ami tribe: The area between Hualien and Taitung is land of the Ami tribe. Near to Duli, about 40 km North of Taitung is the Ami Folk Center, close to the East Coast Scenic Area Administration Center. Sorry, we did not visit there due to time constraints. ]

Continued by Neal: Three hundred and thirty meters above the sea and the village of Dulan (just 15k's shy of Taitung), and I sit in a cane chair at a traditional tea house, looking over the sea, and in the near distance, Green Island.  Elevated just so, I'd say this is the best manifestation I've seen in a good long while of what Arthur Rimbaud called his discovery of eternity - where the sea meets the sky.  Approaching 5pm and the weather has cooled down considerably - (on the hike up here I was sure that I would indeed collapse).  Really quite charming, this spot, with a wood house art exhibit behind us, the tea house to the side, the view to die for center stage, and an aboriginal singer who is about to perform to the delight of a small group of artiste types, all local, who are busy congregating for the event.  I'm told the man is very popular and as they only have one of these shindigs a month, extremely lucky with the timing. Really magnificent, the gentleman singing about the first time he saw the sea, about a friendship ( hao peng you ) and collaboration with an 80 year old friend, about his political opposition, as an aborigine, to the proposed construction of a major freeway " SuHua " linking this part of the world with the masses of civilization, switching between Mandarin, Aborigine, to Hakka. Bloody brilliant! ( Kurt: Later I confirm with the owner of the shop, a lady I know from previous visits , that most  people at this event are against the new freeway. After the official concert a man takes the guitar and sings songs with his two children, also excellent and so pure.)

With the voices of singers to follow, now in the dark, Kurt and I make our way down the hill, and out again the next morning, out onto the open road. ( Kurt:  Half way down two men from Taitung give us a ride in their Jeep. We talk about the concert and mention the next one this evening in the sugar factory's coffee house/bar. In the village we have dinner, set up the tent and take shower before going to the next concert. The former sugar factory is now a cultural place for exhibitions by local artists and sporadic events. The coffee shop has regular concerts on Saturday nights. Tonight it is Reggae music with a film about Jamaica ( Spanish sound, Japanese subtitles and Chinese explanation - if that's not useless for us ) and the roots of Reggae as well a local artist who is the Taiwan Reggae expert ( the Taiwanese answer to Bob Marley ) , who sings some old Reggae songs. Great, now I had a few days ago Cuban music and now Reggae in remote places in Taiwan. Many of the guests had been at the afternoon concert up the mountain. Later we see Dan again whom we have met in the early afternoon somewhere on the road. He saw us and come over on his bike. He is from America, works and lives in Taitung and has rented a small hut in a small fishing village at a harbor for the weekends. He now says that he is married since one year with an accountant turned dolphin trainer in the Hualien Ocean Park. What an extrordinary job and career change. He was also the one who mentioned the evening concert. After years working as English teacher he now works in ( defence ) electronics. He is Jewish and as this is somehow related to Mormons in the States, Neal and Dan have some in depth discussion about the two religions. He recommends two places in Taitung, the 'Gringo' for cheap sleeping and the 'Kasa' Bagel restaurant, coffee shop and bar to eat, drink and hang out. He thinks they have the best Bagels in Taiwan, and he being Jewish should be the best to judge this, as Jews have invented bagels. He wears a Kasa T-shirt and says if you wear this you get 10% off , where upon I suggest to exchange T-shirts ( which we don't do ). We say good bye and see you in Kasa the next day.

Neal wants to sleep on the wooden platform outside tent. This is basically a good idea what the air-circulation is concerned, but does not take into account the mosquitos. After being eaten alife, sometime during the night he also gets into the tent. The night's sleep is again of minimal quality. )

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