Step in between - Tungchu island

Trip Start Nov 06, 2006
Trip End Dec 31, 2008

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Today is another beautiful day and I am ready to go to Nankan island. Breakfast on the terrace. The fisherman looks a bit depressed and tired. He reveals that he spent the whole night on the rocks beside the sea fishing and did not make the smallest catch - remember: his friends told him that this is a great fishing place. I did not suggest him to review his fishing skills or relation with friends. The frozen fish from the local shop to show off to his friends will be de-iced till Taipei.

The owner brings the tourist couple to the harbor and offers the same to me -  at 9:30 am we all go. The couple and I board the same boat to Nankan ( anyhow only one boat in the harbor ) for the 10 minutes smooth ride. On board they tell me that they will continue by ferry to Tungchu ( Tung=east ) island. As noone is waiting for me I decide also to go. At 11:00 am we board a bigger passenger boat, catamaran style,  for the one hour trip. The sea is pretty rough and I am sure I will not survive unharmed ( sea sickness ) if I stay inside - so I stand on a platform in the back, holding tightly to one of the poles. It feels a bit like a rodeo ride and may look like an unprofessional pole dance - I make real jumps and swing from side to side, keeping my eyes on the horizon, looking for a fix-point ( usually that helps me with my motion sickness. Finally I see my fix-point, the sister island Hsichu ( Hsi=west ), where we briefly stop to disembarque and embarque some passengers - mostly locals. Then another 10 minutes and we arrive in Tungchu. 

In the harbor the couple is picked up by the hotel they are going to stay in. The driver offers me a ride, but I decline citing my " walking " purpose. On the right side of the harbor is a pretty sand strip, I am not sure its used as a beach, and a white wall which looks like a medieval castle with large red letters written on it. I walk a small road up to the 120m summit, which is covered with military communication equipement. Some soldiers look a bit puzzled at me, I am not sure I should be here and they might think that I am a spy for the PRC - I say a friendly 'Hello' and walk on, back down to the sea. Its a lovely walk in the shadow of pine trees. A small temple stands just beside the sea in a kind of park under trees. The shadow and the breeze make it very comfortable and I lie down on the grass, enjoying for a while. A small path leads down to the sea and on to some rocks further outside. I walk to the end and begin to wonder about the the small concrete knobs which look like warts, partially with glass pieces sticking in them, the sharp edges meanwhile softened by the forces of the sea. I get a hunch, which is later confirmed: These " warts ' were made to protect the island from Mainland Chinese intruders, especially frogmen, who mostly during the night appeared out of the sea to kill Taiwanese soldiers. It seems to be part of the more hostile past as such incidences have not happened since decades - seems to be safe to continue my nap. A bit down the road stands a lonely guard on an equally lonely guard post. He is happy for some change and we talk in Chinese - its very selective because of my lousy Chinese, but somehow something works. He says that it gets more and more boring as the troops on the island are reduced significantly, so that more and more shops in the main village Daping catering to the soldiers are closing down. I walk to the north of the island, past a lovely village, go in the visitor center ( hurray a visitor! but English ... no way ) and on to Fujheng village, a beautiful old fishing village with a big new temple in this modern design I have only seen here in Matsu, which I described the day before. Some old people still live there and I take a closer look at one house that could be a homestay - look into the living room where a very old woman is sitting - she remains pretty calm in view of my gostly appearance, but signals that this is no homestay.

On the northern peripherie of Daping I find a new nice homestay with a shared room with several beds and individual rooms - noone there. I walk to one small shop on the other side of the street. They tell me to go to annother shop where I could find the owner. I must have looked so helpless in how to find the other shop ( all in Chinese characters ), that they asked a small boy to accompany me - this shop, as many of the other places ( such as the coffee shop " Remember " described in Lonely Planet - forget it ) was closed. Suddenly a very active woman comes out of nowhere - the owner - and shows me her homestay: 500 NTD for the bed; I agree, but then find out that the smell of campher wood, although pleasant, is just too heavy - they had just nailed campher wood pannels all over the walls. I change to the double room for tough negotiated 800 NTD. After dinner of fried chicken leg with rice and vegetables I walk in the dark to the light tower - obviously easy to find at night and look at the stars. I see the couple from the boat again, we greet each other, but I leave quickly - don't want to disturb the romance. Back in the village I have a milk tea in a very small shop renting Japanese comic books. Two ladies are running the shop and they speak some English. They confirm that times are tough since many soldiers have left the island and tourism has not really picked up yet.  I go to my room - decide to make up my mind what to do next tomorrow.

Again rough ride to Nankan? 
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