September 1, 2011

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Taitung City 台東市, Taiwan

Introducing Taiwan's southeastern gem


Taitung City 台東市, the capital of Taitung County, is one of Taiwan's smallest regional centers. It's located in the south east of the country on a flatland, which is stuck between the Pacific and a mountain range. This gives it a very unique climate and atmosphere - it's an ocean city and at the same time a mountain city, however it mostly tries to stay away from both of them. If you see the map below, it's located few meters away from the coast and it doesn't have a port. That's something that makes Taitung City unique. It's still a mystery to me, that the part, which could have one of the most beautiful seaside promenades in Taiwan, is actually the most unapproachable part of the city, completely out of the mainstream.

Taitung City has one of the loveliest airports in Taiwan.

The central part of Taitung lays between the Pacific ocean and a small hill named Liyu Shan, which is incorporated in the urban area. That hill is one of Taitung's landmarks, it's also one of the must visit spots in the city, as you can see a beautiful temple, the famous Longfeng tower, the Martyrs' Shrine and a marvelous view of the city and the basin from the top of the hill. You definitely can't miss this popular spot, because it's visible from many parts of the city.

Taitung's Railway Station features aboriginal art.

Taitung City is Taiwan's city with the biggest percentage of aboriginal Taiwanese population. It's said that out of 110.000 inhabitants, 19.000 are of Austronesian descent (source). And that was very obvious, when we visited the city, we saw it with our own eyes. It's quite an interesting phenomenon, as it gives you the idea of a Taiwan that is long gone. There are many interesting spots found inside the urban area, however there are many beautiful areas right next to the city, such as the Taitung Forest Park. In this post I will focus on the city proper.

Let me show you some photos and impressions of Taitung City:

The northern new part of the city is a mix of rice fields and fancy houses.

This is when you ride into the city, one of the main roads.

Roads are wider in Taitung City than Taipei.

This is the central area - it's full of shops and restaurants.

This was on a Saturday morning - Taitungees were still sleeping.

We decided to go to Liyu Shan. This paifang greeted us.

A huge temple is dominating the area. Old men were sitting nearby and chatting, while older women were singing karaoke in the open. It's a very interesting part of the city.

The famous Longfeng tower. Instead of walking on top of it, we decided to go on the hill.

And this is the view from Liyu Shan, Taitung's urban hill.

Taitung is a fairly green city with lots of trees, especially in the new neighborhoods.

A baseball stadium.

This is the way down from the Liyu Shan.

Taitung has many beautiful temples. This one is called Haishan Temple.

It's a Buddhist temple, which is obvious, because of the swastika.

The Tianhou Temple is a big temple complex dedicated to Matsu.

This is definitely a beautiful and well-maintained temple.

Taitung City becomes even more interesting in the evening.

The Taitung Night Market is an interesting little food street.

However, most Taitungees would go and eat at some other places.

One of the most popular shops in Taitung City.

The shops are located in the Zhengqi Road, which is the same as the night market. You will see a huge line of people waiting to enter. There are 2 shops, one selling noodles, the other one stinky tofu. They have different names, but the same owner. We tried the food and for me it was just normal (I can't relate to the hype). I will write more about it in my upcoming Taitung Night Market post.

Use + and - to navigate through the map.

All in all, I have to say I will return to Taitung City and I would recommend it to everyone, who plans to tour Taiwan - you have to pay a visit to this gem. It might just look like your average boring Taiwanese city upon the first glance, but when you look closer, you will realize that it's very different. People are incredibly friendly and welcoming and the lifestyle is very laid back. Coming here from Taipei or any big city for that matter is like coming to another world. Sadly I had to return very quickly and all I can do now is browse through my memories of those awesome days. However, I am sure that when I get the chance to revisit this place, I will be rushing to Songshan Airport like there is no tomorrow.

Further resource:

Taitung City in the morning (my first impressions)
Taitung Style (blog by an American, who is living there)
Map of central Taitung City (provided by the gov)

3 comments:

  1. Taitungees eh what about Taipei or Tainan? Can say Tainanese and sorry cant think for Taipei..haha. Lovely temples and that's one of the sight seeing places we see on a standard tour package to Taiwan. Wow the owner must be laughing to the bank with such crowd waiting in line. Maybe typical Chinese or rather Taiwanese mentality when the line is long it must be good same applies in Malaysia lolz.

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  2. I like the paifan and the temples, so different of those in South Korea, very adorned and colorful!

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  3. @Bananaz: Tainanese and Taipeinese, I think. But better Taipeiers. Taitungees is a cute way, ok? :P Is Chinese mentality, definitely :)

    @Traveling Hawk: Indeed :)

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