On our second day, we decided to travel at our own pace. Well, these are the things you realize when you're getting old. LOL #TitoProblems. We set an alarm at around 7:30AM but no one bothered to get up no matter how annoying Toney's alarm was. I can't blame our lethargic behavior that morning because it was just really cold.
At 10AM, we were all set for our trip. We bought our train tickets to Taichung City at Taipei Main Station and we're scheduled to leave at exactly 11:10AM. Little did we know, we would encounter something along the road.
It was my first time to ride a legit train. Yes, the one we always see on first world TV series. Commuting in and out of the capital city wasn't really hard, albeit the signs written in Mandarin and occasionally translated to English. Come to think of it this way: It's harder to ride a cab at NAIA than exploring the countryside of Taiwan by train. See the contrast? The leg room of the coach wasn't cramped at all. I slept for the first 45 minutes of the trip and eventually woke up because I got hungry. Travel time to Taichung City is 2 hours and 30 minutes. It was quite a long journey but at least the view was rewarding despite the overcast weather. The dense fog shrouded the surrounding verdant mountains, accompanied by occasional drizzle. It could've been better if I downloaded Bon Iver and Sigur Ros songs prior the trip. #drama
Kindness from strangers
We finally arrived at Taichung Main Station at half past one in the afternoon. We originally planned to visit the flower farm but the weather got worse. The light rain was still tolerable, but it could've been easier to navigate the city if it was just cloudy.
While scouting for some taxi drivers who speak basic English, a loud, deafening alarm rung. We didn't know exactly what was happening. We were basically clueless. Everyone vacated the arrival hall except the three of us. Passengers weren't allowed to board the train. We thought it was a burglar alarm, or worse, an alarm indicating that Mainland China is sending their nukes to the island nation (crazy thought, I know). The alarm kept on blaring when suddenly, a cheerful couple approached us. The young lad told us that we were so lucky that we were in the middle of the city's annual fire drill. Great. Just great. We have to wait for at least 30 minutes.
|Gisapot si auntie kay dili siya kalakaw dayun.|
He asked about our itinerary in pidgin English. We told him that we were planning to visit the flower farm and the Rainbow Village. He then spoke to his companion (which later we found out was his wife) in rapid Mandarin. He profusely apologized for not being fluent in English but we didn't care at all. The fact that they approached us first and gave us some tips was already a kind gesture. We asked him if the flower farm's worth visiting, and he gave us a straightforward no as an answer. He told us that it's quite far. You need to take a bus and alight at a specific stop where people only know how to speak and read Mandarin. We can always take a cab however it can be too expensive. He added that visiting the flower farm would be useless because of the prevailing weather. They even offered us a place to stay in Taichung in case we stick to our original plans and if we won't be able to catch the last train to Taipei. We politely declined their offer because it was too much!
Eventually, they helped us in finding a cab to Rainbow Village. We thanked them because without their help, we would be like headless chickens running at a busy intersection. What struck us the most was when he told us about helping those who are in need:
"I have been traveling extensively here in Taiwan. Sometimes, whenever I get lost, a kind stranger will never fail to help me finding my way, and I made a promise to pay it forward. That's why, my wife and I will never hesitate to help those who are in need along the road."We'll definitely keep that in mind.
|Photo by Robx.|
Meet Ren and Lena. The kind locals of Taichung City.
After thirty minutes of passing through numerous skyscrapers that were painted with only two shades of gray, we finally arrived at Rainbow Village. It literally stood out since the entire village was splashed with different hues of loud colors.
History tells us that this village used to be the temporary shelters of the armed forces of the democratic republic. Like Chiang Kai Shek, they failed to return to Mainland China because the communist party prevailed. They eventually settled here for good. Since the village was poorly built and the lands were state-owned (most of them were built on prime real-estate spaces), the government decided to demolish these dilapidated villages and replace it with new apartment and condominium buildings.
|Feels like Coldplay|
Most people living in these villages were totally against the modernization of their old village. As a sign of protest, Mr. Huang Yong-Fu decided to paint the entire village. He caught the attention of media, and eventually received support from numerous civic groups in his colorful protest. Eventually, the local government of Taichung saw the potential of his unusual protest and after a few years, they commissioned the painting of the entire village and transformed it into one of the city's tourist destinations.
After hours of taking photos, videos, and purchasing some souvenir items at Rainbow Village, we decided to go back to the city center. Luckily, an empty cab passed by. But since there was no way that he could understand us (See? I told you that my pretentious xie xies, ni haos, and peng yos will never give me the right directions, the same goes to the chance of getting laid in Taiwan LOLJK), Toney went back to the souvenir shop and asked them to write 'Taichung Central Station' in Mandarin.
The train was scheduled to leave Taichung at 5:30PM. Since we have more than an hour to kill, we looked for some good place to eat. We found a local restaurant just a few blocks away from the central station that serves good and affordable food and more importantly, they have menus printed in English (thank God).
The drizzle persisted until night time. It was only 12 degrees but what kept us comfortable wasn't just the two layers of clothes we wore, it's the warm and genuine hospitality of the locals.
|Inside the train.|