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Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

About Chihshang Township

Chihshang Township of Taitung County is a flood plain formed by Wanchao River and Sinwulyu River which separately flows down from the north and south of Central Range. Rural settlements where farming is feasible have been built thanks to the sources of water, and agriculture has naturally become the major industry. More than a hundred years ago, immigrants migrated to this land from the west in succession. Since most of them gathered up around the area of Dapo Pond, the place was called “the new countryside”. The region was renamed “Chihshang” during Japanese-Occupied Period later on.<br/><br/>Chihshang Township covers an area of only 82.6 square kilometers, which is about 30% of the area of Taipei city, and it has a population of 8,300, which accounts for merely 0.3% of the one of Taipei City. Just like most of the towns in Huadong Valley, the residents here comprise 30% of Taiwanese aborigines, 30% of Hakka, and 30% of Pingpu tribes. The three cultural elements integrate mutually here in Chihshang Township that culture fusion is consequently perceivable from time to time. In the year of 2004, Council of Agriculture established “Chihshang Township Jinyuan Wanan Agri-tourism Area”, which was renamed “Chihshang Rice Leisure Farming Industrial Zone” in 2007, accentuating the farming features of Chihshang area.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

Be Wise and Make the Pilgrimage to Mr. Brown Avenue at Dawn

One is able to recognize the famous Mr. Brown Avenue and Takeshi Kaneshiro Tree by looking ahead from Chihshang Bridge on Provincial Highway No. 9. There are many tandem bicycles traversing the fields, and what comes into view is the visual impact brought by large paddy fields and rice ears. The picture frame set up at the entrance of Mr. Brown Avenue is the pilgrimage spot for tourists to take selfies as mementos. Wanan Village located close to the foot of Coastal Mountain Range is one of the earliest-developed villages in Chihshang Township. Many old houses have been renovated into bicycle rentals as tourists and tour buses pour into the area one after the other since a few years ago.<br/>The burning sun of Taitung is fierce and powerful. Would you like to ride as dashingly as Kaneshiro Takeshi on Mr. Brown Avenue? The best time to visit the scenic site is at dawn. You will be able to enjoy proper temperature, golden sunlight, and the undisturbed background without people and cars.<br/><br/>Appreciate the trees, the fields, and local hospitality; these are exactly the most splendid highlights of Mr. Brown Avenue. Many farming chores are practiced starting from early in the morning, and the farmers will always welcome you warmly as long as the progress of the work is not interrupted. Local peasants tend to stop their trucks at times to offer advice on the secret points and ideal shot angles. You will be stunned by their ability of talking joyfully without reserve when speaking of farm work.<br/><br/>Join a local guiding tour is a recommendable way to dig deeper into the land of Chihshang. Set off early in the morning, ride on a bicycle, and learn more about the trifles of Chihshang and other secret sites which are not put down in travel books through the eyes of a local resident.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

Farming Experience

Chihshang is a town where glamorous and picturesque sceneries vary along with the change of seasons. After rice ears’ turning from green into yellow, the charm of rape flowers of winter takes over the shift. Dissimilar scenic sights on both sides of the windy “Heaven’s Path” can be seen even in the month of November and December.<br/><br/>The reputation of Chihshang’s breathtaking landscape has already spread throughout the countries in Southeast Asia, especially tourists from Hong Kong and Singapore where large fields are rarely seen due to small but densely populated living environment. In addition to marveling at the views and relishing gourmet dishes, foreign visitors are inclined to enjoy the experience of working in the field. The schedule of farming follows the routine and law of nature that different agricultural jobs are carried out at different times. The travelers must put aside the notion of “designated item” and walk into the fields in the wake of the young farmers. The farming experience program arranged by “Good Farming Day” takes place after three o’clock in the afternoon. As clouds often converge and moderate the sultriness that comes along with the scorching sun in summer afternoon, it is suitable for going down into the fields. After sweating like a pig for about an hour, it is time to relish the desserts and dunch made from rice crops. The food seems to be more delicious than ever.<br/>

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

Tian Ma Ma Restaurant in Rice Village is Genuinely Authentic

Rice is the most famous delicacy in Chihshang Township, together with the enticing by-products made from rice crops. If you wish to have a taste of the genuinely authentic rice meals, “Tian Ma Ma Restaurant” would definitely be the first choice. Single-serving set menu suitable for individual and small group dining is served apart from table d’hote.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

Tian Ma Ma Restaurant has always claimed that the ingredients they apply are local and of low-carbohydrate miles. Rice produced by Chihshang Farmer’s Association is grainy, aromatic, and lip-smacking in big portion. The fried pork ribs served with toothsome side dishes is crispy with plenty of flavor. A variety of culinary methods are applied to prepare local vegetables for realizing the enjoyment of multiple senses of taste aside from daintiness.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

The Interior of the restaurant has been redecorated during the recent years, and the bright and cozy space is now brimming with a sense of modernity. Hiding inside a room with air conditioning and have an appetizing meal which replenishes our physical strength at noon is undoubtedly a brilliant idea. Some say that people mostly have additional appetite for desserts. After gratifying the stomach, buy a cone of ice cream made from Chihshang rice at the neighboring Chihshang Farmer’s Association for dessert. The rice ice cream of authentic flavor holds both the fragrance and texture of rice grains. The snack which represents the regional good taste of Chihshang is rarely-seen in other places.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

Located on Zhongshan Road, the so-called “main street” known by the locals, Tianweijia always commences its business in the afternoon with constant visitors from all parts of the country. The female shopkeeper has inherited excellent cooking skills of Hakka from her mother; all Hakka snacks sold in the stores are bestsellers. There are many customers who specifically come for eating ice in summer afternoon. The highly asked item of “Niu Wenshui” is a kind of Hakka snack made with mochi, on top of which spread peanut powder, and sweet soup. Though being extremely simple, it carries the savor and feelings of traditional Hakka dim sum. It is exactly because the appearance of mochi floating in sugar water resembles the back of a cattle rising to the water surface that the dessert has got its name. Why not try imagining the tableau with attentive care before relishing? In addition, the Almond black tea particularly developed by the firm is of adequately strong drupe flavor. Its rich texture and down-to-earth portion makes it more than worth sampling.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

Many stores tend to make use of rice crop to develop new delicacies owing to the cultivation of origin. “Good Farming Day” is one of the pioneers that have developed the diversity of rice products: blending rice into breakfast steamed buns, for instance. You can discover the taste of fillings and the al dente texture of rice grains at the same time. Unlike the regular products of high sweetness, the simmered rice and peanut milk is of pure and thick flavor. The rice cake is a dessert which can only be encountered by the lucky birds. In addition to silky and delicate texture, a pleasant smell of rice is distributed within the mouth.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

The Black Riders

Writer Jiang Xun once mentioned “the black riders” formed by a group of youngsters from Chihshang in “The Impression of Chihshang”. While some of them are the youths who have returned home from other places, some are the ones who have always been stuck to the soil of Chihshang Township. Wei Wen-xuan at “Good Farming Day”, Zhang Li-you at “Tianweijia”, Luo Zheng-jie at “Chihshang Promenade”, and Hao Chao-yang at “Bike de Koffie” are several of the members who run small businesses in local area.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

Each of them possesses his own outdated black bicycle, the so-called “martial ride” which they usually place inside the store. These riders are often sighted carrying the snacks or sweets of their store on the back of the bikes when special occasions or events are held. The original intention of the black riders is to hopefully arouse those amazing memories everybody has for the good old days upon seeing these well-worn bicycles. The union they have established is like the vital spark that hides indistinctly behind the main street. You can feel the buried energy of Chihshang upon noticing this small, insignificant group. If you happen to visit the shop where an iron plate that reads “the black rider” is flagged, inquire whether or not there are relevant activities going on at that moment so that you can get the chance of partaking in one and experience the dynamic vigor of Chihshang Township.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

During the evening of solo travel, visit Chihshang Promenade and Jiece Used Bookstore to halt, have a little chit chat with strangers in the store, and hear about what stories of Chihshang other people can share. Renovated and rebuilt by Luo Zheng-jie, a designer who has stayed in Chihshang, Chihshang Promenade on the first floor is a coffee shop which seemingly serves customers with coffee drinks but indeed gives out more quality of Chishang Township. For example, the postcards which made from the photos shot by himself, the pictures on top of which are not necessarily the common spectacles that are often seen but the revelation of private travels accompanied by the details of Chishang life.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

“Chihshang Rice Leisure Farming Industrial Zone” is suitable for going on a solo trip. Remember to slow down the pace and immerse yourself in the local living culture. Talk to more local residents and enable yourself to find diversified beauties of Chishang Township.

Let’s Travel Light! The Slow Travel Movement of Backpackers in Taitung

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