|Taitung in the upper right, with Fangliao in the lower left (both red).|
1. Taitung 台東. This is where I live. I live not far from the train station, near Bao Sang Junior High School 寶桑國中. Taitung can be very "country" at times, but I still like it better than any other part of Taiwan. I could see myself living in Taipei, I could see myself living in Tainan 台南, but I doubt I'll move away from Taitung anytime soon.
2. Kangle 康樂. I'm not really sure why they keep this stop open. Maybe a lot of people ride the train to the Prehistory Museum 史前博物館? It's over on the other side of RT Mart 大潤發, and there's not much around there except fields.
|Royal Formosa Hot Springs. Kinda doubt those are her kids...|
3. Jerben 知本. Jerben is where all the famous hot springs are. The Royal Formosa 老爺, "Toyugi 東遊季," "Dongtair 東台," and many others are all here. I've been to them all, and I can tell you that The Royal Formosa is where you take people you want to impress. If you want to save a few NT, however, A Ya Wang ㄚ一丫旺 is probably your best option.
Jerben also has the Forest Recreation Area 森林遊樂區, a sadly overlooked local attraction. The views from the upper trails are beautiful, and it's a good place to learn about local wildlife.
|Just another day of flooding in Jerben.|
But you know the sad thing about Jerben? Every time a big typhoon comes through they get the worst of it. Their roads get washed out, their hotels fall down, and their businesses suffer as a result. The hotels get by, but it's not a good place to open a small business.
4. Taimali 太麻里. Taimali (which I usually spell as "Tai Ma Li") is a town and a township. The train stops in "downtown" Taimali, a place which is uneventful, if scenic from certain angles. Near the train station a road leads up Jin Jen Mountain 金針山, the most famous attraction in that area. But you'd really need a car or scooter to enjoy that place, and even then it would have to be early in the morning to be worth your while. It's somewhat pretty when the trees and flowers blossom, but there are more impressive mountain retreats in Hualien 花蓮.
|View across "downtown" Taimali to the Sunrise Park.|
Down the other way (down the hill) there's Taimali's Sunrise Park 日昇公園. Like Jin Jen Mountain it is somewhat pretty, but it's a dangerous place to swim, and there's little shade.
South of "downtown" Taimali you'll find the Three Sisters Beef Noodle Restaurant 三姊妹牛肉麵. This, I think, is probably the most profitable tourist attraction in that area. It's good, if slightly overpriced.
|Jin Feng hot spring. Who knows what it looks like now?|
There are also hot springs "around the corner" (up the Tai Ma Li River) in Jin Feng 金峰. But these hot springs are VERY small, and are often washed out by whatever typhoon is passing through. Most people just go down to the river and put their feet in. It's a far cry from Jerben.
5. Jin Luen 金崙. After Jerben, this is Taitung's biggest hot spring area. It's a funny little town with funny little hot springs. I've been to most of the hot springs around here, including "Beautiful Beach 美之濱," "Eastern Sun 東太陽," and even that creepy saltwater one next to the cemetery.*
|The "Dainty" hot spring in Jin Luen.|
This area is NOT convenient from Taitung City, but it has a much quieter, more local feel. Many of the small hostels around here would, I think, be interesting places to say. I've had many good times in this place, though I expect a lot of their business will start to fold with Highway 9 now bypassing that town completely.
6. Longxi 瀧溪. Also referred to as Daxi 大溪. I don't know why it has two names, but I suspect that Daxi is the name most people use. I've driven into this town a couple times. All I remember is a cement plant across the river, and an aboriginal village behind that.
|Trail in Dawu.|
7. Dawu 大武. This is the last train stop before you start heading into the mountains that separate east from west Taiwan. Despite the number of restaurants I've never had a good meal in Dawu, although the trail around the hill in the center of town is kind of interesting.
There are many good seafood restaurants south of there, in Shangwu 尚武. Shangwu also has Jin Long Lake 金龍湖, which can be a nice walk if it's not too hot.
|"Beautiful" downtown Fangliao.|
8. Fangliao 枋寮. What is there to do in Fangliao? I really have no idea. I've driven or taken the train through there a thousand times, but in terms of tourism potential it seems like a dead zone. I found a few local sites on Google, but nothing that has me on fire to go there soon.
But Pingtung 屏東 can be uninteresting that way. Kenting is chock full of stuff to do, but most of the townships north of there are either farming country or an industrial wasteland.
Some Pictures from Tainan 台南
Taipei, According to the MRT and My Faulty Memory (Red Line)
Taipei, According to the MRT and My Faulty Memory (Blue Line)
Wandering Around Guanshan 在關山走走
*These hot spring resorts don't have English names. I'm inventing them!