Dulan, you dreamland you…

  I woke up after the best nights sleep, and stared out at the ocean and palm trees blowing in the breeze. I’d heard about a great place for ‘real’ bread, Marino’s Kitchen. So I headed along the road to try out this spot. They weren’t wrong. I opted for ‘super bread’ which is a whole-wheat bread with more than 40 different grains. It was so yummy! I then spent the morning exploring the local area with my friend who I just met the night before. That’s how friendly people here are! Willing to spend their sacred Sunday to show a newbie around. We visited one of his friends who wants to cultivate the land around the place he lives, to grow rice paddies. While they discussed the plans, I basked in the beauty that was this dreamy piece of land. Mountains and palm trees with coconuts behind me, the ocean in front of me and right next to me, an entire field of pink flowers, which I plopped myself down in, and actually spoke aloud to myself ‘is this for real?!’ The lady of the house had backpacked around Scotland when she was younger, and here I was backpacking around the country she lived in. It just seemed right that we should meet. The man of the land was very happy to discuss creativity and the future of Taiwan with me, and it really got my mind ticking. It was so nice to spend a morning sipping tea with new friends and discuss the wonderland that is Taiwan.

I was pretty excited for today because I would be spending the night in a gorgeous little hostel, nestled in the mountains. Taitung Sea Art Hostel, owned by two of the loveliest people you’ll ever meet in this country. The two of them, their adorable son and their pets, live hidden away in the most beautiful spot. A multi-coloured traditional Taiwanese home, which they’ve painted themselves, full of character, surrounded by lush plant life and the mountains and forest, as well as an insane amount of butterflies. You couldn’t ask for a better hide-away. The other two travellers wandered off into the valley to do some yoga, and I was offered some bananas from their tree. How will I ever leave this place, I instantly thought? I flopped onto the softest bed I’ve ever lay down on, and just smiled.

As if one night of music wasn’t enough, the old train station in Taitung was holding a mini music festival called ‘Hello! Taiwan!’ at Tie Hua Music Village. This journey just keeps getting better, keeps exceeding my expectations! Situated on the grounds of the old railway, they’ve created a big open wooden stage for performers right between the trees. Music and nature together, wow! There were 5 bands playing throughout the night, and everyone was just chilling on blankets on the grass, soaking up the atmosphere, and quite literally, the rain. However, to my surprise they were giving away free raincoats to people! Oh yeah! There I was, lying on a blanket in the rain. Cup of lemon tea (1 free drink per ticket- 200NTD) in one hand, camera in the other. And the bands were great! Insane energy! There was one band from Canada and one band from the USA, and three from Taiwan. All of them had such original styles and completely engaged the audience with their own, individual music. At the end of the night they all sang U2’s ‘with or without you’ together and flew their flags and there was a huge sense of togetherness. An accumulation of the cultures, brought together through music. It was really special. And who would have thought such a fun event would take place on a lazy Sunday evening in a sleepy little city?! That’s how cool Taiwan is. Always full of surprises! People like to have a good time here, and everyone was singing and dancing and jumping, and no one cared about the rain or the fact that it was getting late. Even kids were skipping along and enjoying the music. It was such a fun evening, and I’m so glad I got to be apart of it all! Everyone there was chatting and dancing together and generally just enjoying this lovely life! It really is the small things in life, isn’t it?

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