Riding the Rails Down the East Coast

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A view of one of Taitung’s beaches and east coast mountains. 

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Parking and unloading the scooter at the MRT station.

We are just about to head back to school, so Dan and I headed down to his old stomping grounds for couple days.  Dan spent many years as a child and young adult growing up in Taitung (pronounced Tai-dung).  His father was a very well respected doctor at the Christian hospital.  This was a bit of a homecoming for Dan as he is well known throughout the city especially since foreigners are a very rare sight.

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Some good chow at Nambe.

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Dan feeling comfortable like he’s back home.

We started out the trip by taking the scooter to the local MRT (city train) stop and then headed downtown to connect with a train headed south.  The TRA (Taiwan Rail Administration) train took us down the beautiful and less populated east coast for nearly 5 hours at a cost of only US$24.  Along the east coast of Taiwan the mountains shoot right out of the water a few thousand feet and have every square inch coved by green vegetation.  I’ve never been to Hawaii, but from some of the photos I’ve seen it looks very similar.

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Dan and his friends at Nambe.

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Getting hammered by a big wave.  Imagine pointing a camera at yourself and snapping just as a wave pounds you into the surf; that’s how it was done.  Funny thing is that I did this twice.  It was fun despite the crunched up face.

The people of Taitung lead a much simpler life than those in Taipei.  As soon as you step off the train you can feel the pace of life is much slower.  We spent our two days snorkeling, playing in the surf, visiting Dan’s friends and eating at what Dan boldly says is the “best Chinese food in Taiwan.”  I have to agree with him though; Nambe was the best I’ve had so far.  Part of it may be that they have been serving the Long family for more that twenty years.  This tiny 6 table restaurant was like a second dining room for the Dan and his parents.  The staff at Nambe was happy to see him and fed the two of us like kings.  Of course the visit ended in hugs and photos.

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Dan standing in front of a dedication poster honoring his dad at the hospital.

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Hanging out on the beach.

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Dan catching a wave.

Good call Dan, I forgot to mention the jets.  There’s an air force base near the house that we were staying at that was very busy.  The base happened to be busy the night we were there with several take-offs and landings.  There were several F16s and Mirages that were taking off, landing and practicing touch-and-goes.  This would all be fairly normal except that there happens to be a road at one end of the runway that is very, very close.  Close enough that when the jets land you are blown around by the wake of the jet followed by the smell of burning jet fuel.  Something any 12 year old kid (or 38 year old) would like.  Since it was at night, taking photos of jets moving at 250mph was nearly impossible. 

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