Day 120, 23rd of October of 2017 (106 according to the Minguo Calendar). 23°C, cloudy and windy. Got in the train from Hualien to Taitung early in the morning and arrived there around 11am.
Once there and as my Couchsurfing host, Chen, could only pick me up after 5pm, decided to spend the day wandering around the city. Taitung is small and not touristy, which was nice as it allowed me to watch the ordinary Taiwanese life: the elderly swiping the floor in front their houses, the omnipresent street food stalls, hundreds of scooters buzzing around, etc.
While wandering visited some temples and ended up at the Seashore Park admiring the grey Pacific waters.
At 6pm Chen picked me up at the bus station and took me to dinner some delicious dumplings. Afterwards we went to her place, a big house in the outskirts of the city, where she lived with her sweet needy cat. On the way she stopped to buy some sugar apples for me to try. It is similar to annona but even sweeter.
Once at her house we spoke late into the night. Chen is a laid-back 27 years old philosopher, working as social worker at the Book House Foundation (an NGO devoted to children education; more info here).
Day 121, 24th of October of 2017 (106 according to the Minguo Calendar). 25°C, cloudy and no wind. Woke up early, had steamed glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaf for breakfast and headed to the airport intending to fly to Lanyu, the Orchid Island, one of the less touristy and most preserved places in Taiwan. But at the airport I was told that the flights had been suspended for several days already due to bad weather conditions. Hence, had to adapt my plan and decided to go hiking in the Dulan Mountain.
Chen was extremely generous and lent me her scooter for the day. From Taitung I drove North along the scenic coastal road for about 45min to reach Dulan’s trailhead. Dulan Mountain trail is not particularly special, but it offers luxuriant green tropical forest and some nice views over the Pacific Ocean, plus Dulan is considered by the aboriginal as a sacred place. It took me 4h to go up and down.
After the trek drove back to Taitung and went shopping for dinner; had promised Chen to cook for the children of the Book House. Shopping at the supermarket (Carrefour) was a shock, the basic goods such as fruit and vegetables were much more expensive than in Portugal… Being unable to find ingredients had to settle with cooking chicken stew with peppers, carrots, tomatoes, onions and leak, served with fusilli tricolour pasta (something my mom used to do) and sweet rice with cinnamon for dessert.
Cooking at the foundation was a wonderful experience! More than 40 kids running, playing, screaming and laughing all the time took turns to help me in the kitchen. They were very curious about this hairy westerner and very proud of using their little English skills to ask me questions. In the end they all loved the food, especially the sweet rice, because although they eat rice all the time they have never tasted it sweet. My heart was full of love after that amazing evening, thank you!