I'm guessing on the "railway spelling" of the stations below, but I've listed them in the same south-north order. A lot of the stops listed below can only be visited via the SLOW train, and as a result I haven't been to those stations more than once or twice.
I've been almost everywhere between Taitung City and Hualien City by car however, and I was careful to look up unfamiliar stations and their proximity to places on/near Highway 9.
|East Rift Valley near Chrshang.|
1. Taitung 台東. As said in a previous post, this is where me and about 100,000 other people live if you're just counting Taitung Cty. If you're counting the whole County, you want to double that number.
2. Shan Li 山里. Trains don't stop here anymore, so I guess the map above is somewhat dated. I remember my school's students visiting this train station on a field trip just before the TRA shut it down. It's a cute little area, but not much happens there.
3. Luye 鹿野. The train station is in "downtown" Luye, down the hill from a busy section of Highway 9. As far as I can tell, there are NO good restaurants in this area, and that "tea museum" on the highway is nonsense.
West of the Luye Train Station (on the other side of Highway 9) the roads lead up to Luye Gaotai 鹿野高台 and Longtian 龍田. Longtian is a relatively scenic area, and people rent bicycles there. Luye Gaotai is where they hold the Hot Air Balloon Festival, and is one of the most scenic spots in Taitung.
|Ying Jia Hot Spring. It's not all this pretty.|
About 20 minutes south of the Luye Train Station by car or bus is the Ying Jia 盈家 Hot Spring, the Shan Yue 山月 Hot Spring, and a few other hot springs. The Hong Ye 紅葉 Hot Spring used to be the big draw in this area, but it was buried by a landslide several years ago. You can still dip your toes into parts of the river, but the hot spring "resort" is history.
4. Ruiyuan 瑞源. My wife spent a year working in the elementary school here, but I can't think of much else to say about it. I remember hearing that Chinese pangolins 穿山甲 were easy to see in this area, though I have no idea why.
|Lontian from Luye Gaotai.|
Wasn't there also some kind of wetland around there? I once visited a wetland near the Beinan River 卑南溪. I might be thinking of Ruihe though. Whichever place it's in, it's not much to look at.
5. Ruihe 瑞和. Perhaps the abode of that wetland, perhaps not. I knew this dude from Australia that opened a hostel thing up there. Is he still there? No idea...
|Train near Yuemei.|
6. Yuemei 月美. Is it really 月美 and not 月眉? I could have sworn the elementary school was called 月眉國小, but then again I might be thinking of that place near Hsinchu 新竹 where they tried to build the "Taiwanese Disneyland."
But that, my friends, is another story...
7. Guanshan 關山. After Ruiyuan, Ruihe, and Yuemei this is where you "return to civilization." Not that returning to civilization is all that great - but you know what I mean.
Guanshan is a big town with some sights worth seeing. The Water Park 關山親水公園 is cool, but if you've already been to the Forest Park 森林公園 in Taitung City I wouldn't bother. There's also a bike trail around the town that's relatively scenic. A lot of people like to visit the area around the central market for glutinous rice balls 肉圓 or stinky tofu.
|Guanshan Water Park.|
If you're renting bicycles near the Water Park be careful. Many of those bikes are ill-maintained and falling apart, so don't be surprised if your chain comes off a couple times. The Giant store next to the train station is trustworthy, but all others are to be treated with caution.
8. Haiduan 海端. This is one of the most beautiful parts of Taitung, and also one of the most beautiful parts of all Taiwan. Most of Haiduan lies along the Southern Cross-Island Highway 中橫公路, a road which extends all the way through the mountains to Kaohsiung. Of course it rains a lot up there, and the road tends to get buried under landslides, but the higher up you go the prettier it gets.
The Bunun Museum 海端布農族文物館 is near the Haiduan Train Station. This is one of the more interesting aboriginal museums, and is a more "local" counterpart to the Prehistory Museum 史前博物館 in Taitung City.
The Beinan River has its source in Haiduan. You're not really supposed to swim there - there are signs all over telling you not to - but in the summer it can't be beat.
Around July the ocean in Taitung turns to bathwater. The water in the Flowing Lake isn't much different. But the river in Haiduan is refreshingly cool right up until September.
|Village in Haiduan.|
And if you want an "authentic aboriginal experience" (whatever that is), you don't get much better than some of those villages in Haiduan. Some of those villagers have SO little to do with Chinese people that it sometimes feels like being in another country. I've only felt as alienated on Orchid Island.*
9. Chrshang 池上. Like Guanshan, Chrshang is famous for rice. They've been working hard to develop their downtown area for tourists, albeit with mixed results. I know a couple nice coffee shops up there, and also a couple places to buy "treats," but on the whole this area's fairly uninteresting.
The three big points of interest around here are The Lunchbox "Museum" 池上便當博物館, Dapo Lake 大坡池, and the Hakka Culture Park 客家園區. If you enjoy sitting on stationary trains and eating lukewarm drumsticks (with rice), the Lunchbox "Museum" is for you. Dapo Lake is kinda scenic but small (and shallow). The Hakka Culture Park is south of the train station. It boasts a "flower sea 花海," a store selling local agricultural goods, and a small museum.
The Muye Pasture 牧野牧場 is just south of the Hakka Culture Park. It sucks. Don't bother.
|Yurts at Muye Pasture. Don't be fooled by the scenery!|
What's (Probably) Going On in Taitung 最近台東大概發生的事
Taitung 台東 to Fangliao 枋寮, According to the South-Link Line 南迴線 and My Faulty Memory
Some Pictures from Tainan 台南
Taipei, According to the MRT and My Faulty Memory (Red Line)
*I mean alienated in a good way. It can be nice to feel like you've left Taiwan while you're still in it.