Thursday, March 29, 2012

Exploring Donghe Township on the East Coast

     Before I visited Donghe township, I was unfamiliar with this area. It was never on my map and had never been a popular place in Taiwan. The only thing I heard about it was its famous steamed meat buns. Most travelers just parked and ordered the steamed meat buns to go and then continued their journey. 
     It was also not on our schedule this time when we visited Taitung county; however, for some reasons we started exploring this small town. The population in Donghe is only 1,367 people. The population is divided into two groups which are 993 indigenous people the Amis tribe and 374 of Han decent. 
This is the famous steamed meat bun store which is located
on the main highway 11. It attracts a lot of tour buses, cars,
and bicyclists stopping here. The steamed meat bun is a northern
Chinese style food.  

The banana vendor parked in front of the steamed meat bun store.
She chose the best location to sell banana and other fruit.
She knew most travelers didn't have enough fruit during their traveling.
I was one of her customers and the banana did taste pretty good. 
The Chinese sausage vendor sold their BBQ sausages next to the store.
The steamed meat bun store not only made its own profit but also
gave other vendors some business opportunities.    
This is the old street in Donghe town. There was almost no
traffic at all. It was very quiet. 
There is a surfing store in this small town .
I was surprised what the small town could offer.
We drove on this red bridge traveling north and found 
there was an old bridge inland not far away from the main highway.
This is the old bridge which was built in 1927 by the Japanese government.
It is 127 meter long. There is a small park and toilet next to the bridge. 
The view is off Mawuku Creek from the old bridge
We walked on the bridge toward to the town and found there was a trail
at the end of the bridge leading down to the river. We decided to walk on the trail and hoped we might get a chance to get closer to the river. The trail was an easy walk. 
We saw some roosters walking on the ridge of the cliff next to the trail.
We were guessing how they got there. 
Life is simple in the countryside of Taiwan. The locals use the land and maximize its use.
Small plots of land along the river were used for gardens growing vegtables.  
There were some bamboo trees in clusters making 
squeaky sounds from the wind blowing and the trees
bending. The sound made walking on the trail a little
Just before we almost gave up our hike, 
we saw a group of people who were well prepared for a water
rafting trip. I approached them asking and talking to 
people about their trip. The owner was teaching tourists
 how to sit and balance the boat during river voyage
After all the people got on the PVC pipe rafts, the owner asked me
to get on the raft. I told him that I was not in the group. He sincerely
invited my husband and I to experience the rafting trip
and have fun with them for free. Shall I reject his 
Therefore we had a free canoe trip. 
The river flows into the Pacific Ocean. 

I asked the owner how much he would charge for this trip.
He told me that normally he won't take individual travelers.
He and his wife has a bed and breakfast service. He encourages 
his customers to sign up his tour package which is a half day 
in the morning and half day in the afternoon. 
He said his mission was to create job opportunities for his tribe's people.
So his tribe's people didn't have to leave their hometown to make 
living. Yes, I agreed with him. For hundreds of years, these indigenous 
people were suppressed by Holland, Japanese, and Han people, especially the 
Han who came to Taiwan after 1945. They were placed 
in the lower class in society. Now they tried to recover their own 
culture and to help their tribe's people to live with dignity.  
They are re-establishing their self-awareness and self-esteem. 
This dog made me recall a dog-on-a-raft shape jade relic
from the excavation of a archaeological site
in this area.    
The view of the old and new bridges  
This was our return route.We were going to go through this narrow
pass. My husband doubted if we could make it throught this passage?
We barely made it. It was one of the excitements of this trip. 
The owner told me that he lived here for more than 50 years.
They were trained in the natural environment when they were young.
They know when they can take their rafts to go out in the ocean fishing or
 up the stream rafting.  
This was a short trip about 30 minutes round trip. They were ready for
aboriginal food for their lunch.
The owner invited us to have a lunch with them.
We followed the trail to their place.   
This grass top roof and bamboo or wood frame is
the traditional Amis house structure. It is hiden from
the highway 11, so travelers can't see the house. 
I thought they hosted a lot of bicyclists for their package deal.
Inside the restaurant: riding bicycle and rafting, they were starving
and craving for the food. 
I asked the female host if I could take a look at their rooms. She showed me
a room which could host 8 people. 
The view from the B&B property
There are two rooms for hosting 8 people per room and two rooms for
12 sleepers in one room. That was why the male host told me that he
normally takes a group of people for the tours.
There are also some camp sites here but they don't
furnish any camping gear. You have bring your
own. They offer public showers and toilets.  
A fire pit is inside the restaurant area. 
The ascription of their tribe 
Taiwan has many nice bicycle trails around the island. Giant has
many bicycle tour packages. This is its service vehicle for taking people
riding around Taiwan.    
     We didn't stay for lunch with them because I had the steamed meat bun and was still full. We said thank to the hosts for their hospitality. We decided to take Highway 23 which is next to the Donghe bridge crossing the mountain range to the East Rifted Valley. We drove about 15 or 20 minutes and saw a sign saying "Caution Monkeys." We wondered if there were monkeys in this area? Not far from the sign, we saw people parking their vehicle along the sides and monkeys sitting in the middle of the road or on the road side. We stopped our car and I walked out to see and take pictures of the monkeys.
People were close to these monkeys and they seemed not to be afraid of
human beings. 
This monkey mommy was watching her babies. 
I knew why these monkeys were not afraid of people
because people fed them and they were used to taking
food from human beings. The little monkey took the
orange skin from the ground and ate the skin.
I felt sad for people's bad behaviors. 
This baby monkey took a plastic bag and tried to eat the bag.
I really didn't know what was going on with those people who fed the monkeys and was angry
with the government. They put up a sign of "don't feed the wild animal."
It should be that simple, but people do not think about what they are creating.

In Taiwan signs mean nothing because it is almost never enforced.
They should patrol this site and enforce the law.  
This monkey had the orange skin in its mouth.
It climbed up the light poll very fast. 
We were amazed how they could grab the rocks and
walk along the cliff very well.    
     My hometown has monkeys also. No one tried to feed them. I knew sometime monkeys would walk into my sister's house or my family shrine to steal fruits. Or they would steal fruit from the fruit vendors when they were not watching their fruits.
     If you visit this area, please don't feed the monkeys. 
This is the website for the B&B:
GPS coordinate: N22 58'26.33       E121 18'28.80

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