A bus ride in granny’s living room, crossing a dragon-like island bridge, and rescuing beetles at the local store.

Day 199: Taitung, Taiwan. We were up early to wolf breakfast and catch the East Coast line bus north to Sanxiantai.

The bus decor was interesting; utterly modern but it felt a bit like travelling up the coast in Granny’s living room, or perhaps a 70s disco.

We hopped off at Dulan town on the way, and spent a while wandering about the Sugar Factory complex. As the name suggests, it used to be an old sugar refinery, built in 1916 during the Japanese colonial rule. It’s now a vibrant art and cultural space, housing a number of art spaces, cafes and craft shops.

They also sell home made craft beer and mead at a bar called Highway 11, with a very hand made sign advertising the produce. The bar was closed when we were there (it only opens evening times), and in any case it was a little too early in the day to be glugging beers and mead.

We continued to Sanxiantai further north, an island linked to the mainland by a spectacular wavy bridge. The bridge with eight arches was built in 1987, representing waves like a dragon. The three huge rocks on the island carry legends about three Chinese saints who walked on the island – Lyu-Dongbin, Li-Tieguai and He-Xiangu, hence the name (Three Saints Island). It’s one of the top tourist destinations in Taiwan, though thankfully wasn’t too busy on a weekday.

The island is small with a fabulous boardwalk and a few trails around the shore. There’s also a lighthouse warning ships away from the coral reefs below, which provide some of Taiwan’s best reef diving.

After a decent amount of walking around the area, soaking in the stunning views, we had coffees in the central recreation area, then caught the bus back to Taitung.

The journey along the eastern coast is reputed to be the most spectacular in Taiwan, and we suspect it rates pretty highly worldwide too. We were glued to the window for most of the hour and a half drive back.

While we were stopped at a traffic light, we saw the cutest thing on the street below. A little boy had scooped some soil into a polystyrene food box, and was offering it to a dog lying on the road. The dog (perhaps not surprisingly) gave it a good sniff then walked off, looking a bit grumpy that he’d been woken from his afternoon nap.

Our original plans to have dinner in town this evening were scrapped, as we were tired out from the long day up the coast. So we had dinner and drinks locally instead. On the way home, we popped into the local Family Mart store to pick up a couple of things. We were intrigued by a sign on the door featuring a beetle, and warning people to mind their step (albeit with a small typo).

Turns out one of the store staff rescues beetles that are attracted to the bright lights at the store, and also at the local train station, and releases them back into the wild. Very heroic indeed.

Tomorrow we pack up again and catch a train and bus to Hengchun, a small town and the gateway to Kenting National Park. And perhaps we’ll find some more creature rescue programs at the local Family Mart store there.

More then.