Shihtiping to Yiwan, where I find place in church

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

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Flag of Taiwan  ,
Thursday, May 3, 2007

Route: Shihtiping - Dagangkou ( mouth of Siouguluansi -river ) - Tropic of Cancer - Basian Cave - Changbin - Shihyuan -  Yiwan village
Total Distance: 23km
Altitude: Difficult to say, always a bit up and a bit down

Wake up at 4:15 am, but continue to doze until the sun riese at 4:45. Also my neighbors already wake up. I pack my tent and the backpack, have breakfast and leave at 6:00 am. The toilets are only of the squatter style, which is definitely hygienic and healthy, but once in the squatter position for a while I have difficulties to get up again. I suppose that's also the reason why they have an emergency button beside the toilet - in case you need help to get up again. Another disadvantage for some - try to read your newspaper in peace in such position.

I walk by the Bat cave, which is still closed, but I know it really has bats! On my way a group of kids going in my direction to school joins me with a bunch of questions, which I am glad to answer, such as the routine one: ' Are you American?' Now I have two options, say "  Yes " and have peace or say " No, I am from Germany " and have a lot more to explain as this place is not on their mental map. I forgot what I decided to say, there are too many times, but I suppose due to the early hour I lied - plase forgive my weakness. The kids turn left to their school and we say good by and wish us a good day - I have the feeling that won't work today.

Then I come to the bridge over the white water rafting river 'Siouguluan Si' and the side road to Rueishuei, a hot spring village in the inner rift valley. I say to myself I give it a try, if a car stops and gives me a lift I go and then walk back or otherwise I continue directly along the coast. After standing there for 15 minutes without one car turning this way, I decided to walk the coast. When I reach the other side of the street two cars come and turn right. I take it as a sign from somewhere to forget Rueisuei for the time being. 

On the way I move slowly, I am tired, worn out and later, when it gets hot without shade and the heat under my umbrella rises I feel dizzy and demotivated. Still the people in the villages, sitting and chatting in the shadow in front of their houses cheer me on, wave, stop me for a short chat, offer me a seat, but if I would do that I am sure I couldn't continue. So I grind my kilometers. Busses and cars honk their horns , wave and show me the thumb up ( I am sure its the thumb and no other finger ) and V for victory sign. Then someone calls " Guten Morgen ", which is 'Good Morning ' in German, from behind, I turn around and see the guy on his bike who has passed his examination, his girl friend following in a distance - they must have rested somewhere for the night. Soon they are gone and disappear behind the next hill. I pass by the Tropic of Cancer, the geographical point where the subtropics and tropics meet, basically step on or over it and look at a monument marking the location.

I reach Basian Caves, which I decide to walk and visit. It is a park-like area at the foot of the mountain with paths and not very deep caves which are used as temples and a small monestary. As it is very green here and the trees provide a cooling shadow; I stay in a VIP swing for half an hour ( please see photos ).  Neal calls and has the good news that he could free the Friday and so will come down to where I am and join my walk till Sunday. We already agree that we will meet at Shihyusan at km 106 and I give him information about the busses from Hualien as I inquired when I was at the train station in Hualien.

  At 11:30am I reach a small village at km 83, where I hope I can eat something because I am very hungry - my breakfast was at 5:30 am. The school has a sports competition. I buy water in a small grocery shop with an aboriginal woman as boss. She confirms that there is no restaurant in the village. So I eat some cookies, just to get something into my stomach. I feel like sh... and the sun burns down without mercy. I suppose I begin to dehydrate and/or overheat. She says a neighbor can take me to the next small town by his car, but when we check he has already left. I have been looking for a private camping place, but I can't recall where it is. So I take the 12:30pm bus to Shihyusan ( km106 ) - I will get back here and walk the distance tomorrow, but continue to walk would kill me today -, which is marked as a tourist place on my map. What a difference between walking and going by bus. Its much faster and cooler, but I miss all the smaller things along the way, like arts, curiosities, life syles and contact with the people - especially here on the coastal road it would be good to have a bike. The camping place I was looking for is just 1km outside the village I was waiting for the bus, but now I have passed. Shihyusan is a nice place, but nothing to stay. So I decide to walk back to km 100, the previous village Yiwan, take a bus to Chiangbin ( only larger town to buy food for three meals)  and walk again to the camping place - but it all comes differently.

When I walk by a church in Yiwan a man comes down on his bike from the church, which is about 15 meters above sea level. I ask him if he has a place a stay for the night and he answers "yes" - he is the priest. What a wonderful word in any language. The room lies in a very old building in the village, has been used for storage recently, but has a wooden bed and a toilet, no charge. I store my things, and walk back to Chiangbin. Here I find a 7-11 to I buy Bien Dang, ice cream and an English newspaper ( a miracle! ). I walk through the village and pass by some people smoking ' flying fish ', as I had seen several times on my coastal walk ( see photos ). I buy one whole fish, cut on one side in two halfs for 50 NTD - very tasty, but too many bones for a Westerner. I just get to the main road again when a bus goes direction Yiwan. I spend the afternoon in the church garden under an old big tree, overlooking the ocean in front of me and the mountains behind me and on the far right at the end of the 10 km beach - a so wonderful and relaxing place - how a day can change from miserable to perfect. The village is totally quiet in the evening, only a few smaller groups sitting in front of their houses chatting of singing KTV. The Aboriginies south of Hualien belong mostly to the Ami tribe ( tsu ). The women are smoking kind of cigars  - the next day I learn from the priest that they grow their own organic tabacco, dry and role it into cigars. The people ask where I am from and they know a country Germany, what I am doing and if I have eaten already. The say the priest should invite me, but that seemed not his plan. They inform me that the bread car comes at 9:00pm.

Eating is really a problem in the country side. You can always get something in a grocery shop, but thats all cold, packed and preserved; restaurants, even noodle shops are often not there, so get your reserves in time. 

My bed time is 9:15pm, after I bought something from the bread car.
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