Bringing in the New Year 2017 on Taiwan’s beautiful east coast @ 台東 Taitung!

Yes, Happy New Year 2017 from Taiwan’s beautiful east coast!

After my visit to the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross in Shangwu, Dawu Township, Taitung County on Friday, I stayed on in Taitung and was joined by good friend, Ah-Guan from St. James’ Church, Taichung, and her daughter and dog for a weekend of seeing what’s what in Taitung.  Beautiful sunny hot weather, blue skies, blue sea, and lots of Taiwan Indigenous People singing and dancing!

Some highlights….

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The Beinan (Puyuma People) Great Hunting Festival is held in the Beinan Archaeological Park near Taitung City at the end of December every year, and thousands of Beinan people gather from all over Taiwan for the weekend – celebrating the Beinan young men’s safe and successful return from 3 days of hunting in the mountains. The elders sit in a circle, the young men stand around behind them, and they are decorated by the women in flower garlands, then there’s a big picnic, followed by singing and dancing. We kind of found ourselves in the midst of it all (invited by Ah-Guan’s friend and her family), and enjoyed every minute!

Guanshan 關山 is a small town on the railway line north of Taitung, famous for, well, in 2013, we climbed up to the very famous and beautiful Jiaming Lake from Guanshan (see that blog post here). But mainly famous for us because our good friend and colleague at St. James’ Kindergarten, Huei-Fen comes from there and I’ve visited her several times.  This time we also got the chance to visit her and her parents, and she took us up to the town’s viewpoint and the family’s field. Oh yes, and we visited the Guanshan Farmers’ Association with its bright coloured building – I love it!

Chihshang 池上 is the last town in northern Taitung County on the inland road before you pass into Hualien County, and very famous all over Taiwan for its rice.  Yes, rice is the thing that everyone comes to Chihshang to buy, by the sackful or bagful or cooked and served as part of the famous railway lunchboxes.  We had the lunchbox, and also the stinky tofu – just as famous! The rice fields fill the valley and there are plenty of great bicycle trails to cycle along and sights to see.  We happened to be at Dapo Pond for the early-morning New Year flag-raising ceremony with the mayor and all the officials, plus displays and performances from all the children.  We also visited the Sea of Flowers garden….

Bunun Leisure Farm 布農部落 in Yanping Township is an initiative set up by Bunun pastor, Rev. Pai Kwang Sheng and his wife to help the local Bunun People in education and to revive their traditional culture, and to share these resources with visitors, providing a reliable and sustainable source of income for the people.  We stayed overnight and met Rev. Pai and his wife, he posed for a photo. He is a good friend of Bishop Lai and some of our clergy!

We drove around Taitung for 2 whole days, with views like these…..

And then we drove back to Pingtung and up to Taichung.  The in-car entertainment was freely provided by the dog.  When Ah-Guan was driving, her daughter sat at the back and slept, while the dog sat happily next to her.  When her daughter was driving, Ah-Guan sat in the back and fought with the dog the whole way trying to stop him scrambling into the front seat.  When I sat in the back, it was the same.  And that was on a good day ha ha! When the road got rough and started winding up the mountains, the dog got car sick, and well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination ha ha!

Anyway, we had such a great time!  Thanks to Ah-Guan, her daughter and the dog, and to Almighty God for a safe and smooth trip!  And thanks to St. James’ Church for a night’s stay on Monday – so I arrived back in Taipei early yesterday morning…. ah, it was such a fun weekend!

And on New Year’s Eve, we stayed in a place where the rooms really were decorated like this – red ceilings and green walls, ah, Christmas colours!

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So wishing you all a Happy and Very Colourful New Year 2017!

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