22 May 2009

Trip to Eastern Taiwan!

Sorry folks, I've been a little short on time lately thanks to (1) co-leading the Fulbright Kaohsiung project and (2) drumming for the Fulbright Dragon Boat team. More information on that is forthcoming.

So last weekend, the twelve members of my Fulbright group all went on a trip to eastern Taiwan. Our primary destination was Rueisuei, which is known for rafting and hot springs. We did both. So Friday afternoon we took two trains for 4.5 hours to get to Rueisuei.

The pretty train ride:

We got to the hotel and relaxed in the hot springs. What are hot springs? Basically a murky, unchlorinated, "natural" hot tub, and very popular throughout Taiwan. Sorry, no pictures. Then we tried to find a restaurant and settled on hot pot. I had milk hot pot, which was a first for me (though I later heard that milk is a specialty of Rueisuei). It mostly just tasted like fish.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to get driven to several mystery locations before finally ending up on the bank of a river with life vests and helmets, where we joined what appeared to be a high school or college graduation trip on a big rafting adventure. My proudest accomplishments from the day were not falling in and not getting sunburned. Long shorts, a hat, and SPF 55 sunscreen are my friends!

A man took our picture and sold it to us afterward. I'm the one in the back with the hat and sunglasses :
After a day of rafting, we took the train to Taidong/Taitung, a major city on the east coast (which is generally not very populated). We wandered the city, had a nice family-style dinner, and discovered there wasn't much else going on in Taidong on a Saturday night.

Sunday, we took a ferry to Green Island. Of all the places I've visited in Taiwan, I think Green Island was my favorite. We only had a few hours on the island, so we rented some cars and drove around to see the sights (the island is so small it takes 30 minutes to drive the whole thing-- and has one paved road, so no getting lost!).

Green Island is about a 40-minute ferry ride from Taidong. It is where they used to ship pro-independence political prisoners during martial law. We tried to drive around the old prisons, only to find out (after getting some dropped jaws from the guards at the gate) that one of the prisons is still quite active:

Some pictures of why I loved Green Island:

Then Sunday afternoon we rushed back to Taidong to get the 4pm train to Kaohsiung. There were no seats left. Oops. Fulbrighter Kate and I had a really comfortable ride on the little space between the last seat and the wall:

And the weekend was followed by one of my more exhausting weeks in Kaohsiung. But as I said, more on that later. I'll be home in less than six weeks... but I have so much left to do!


Anonymous said...

Is there a picture of the whole group of 12? That would be nice. Please don't end your time in Taiwan without sharring a group photograph.

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