Friday, July 7, 2017

Taitung (台東) - Chishang Station (池上車站) - Kaneshiro Tree (金城武樹) - Brown Avenue picture frame(伯朗大道畫框) [Travel in Taiwan 170706: A Midsummer Night's Dream Part 3]


There is a tree in Taiwan that never fails to invite tourists to come with a bicycle.   I was dying to see that place and when I had the chance to be at the Visitor Information Center in Taitung Bus Station I quickly asked this question.  “Do you know where I can find this vast rice field with a tree in the middle?”, I said to the staff of the tourist center.    

Chishang was their answer.  If Luye Township is known for its hot air balloons then the town of Chishang is the home of the famous rice fields in Taiwan.  With its never-ending roads that seem to lead into the heart of the mountains, its rural landscape has a unique charm.   A fertile valley sandwiched between two mountain ranges.  It is a nice place to explore during summer.  Rent a bike from one of the stores near the train station and your cycling adventure will immediately start.

The facade of Chishang Station




How to get here?  Visitors can board any express train going to Chishang Station.  Regardless of your point of origin, you will be amazed at the wooden structure of Chishang Station upon your arrival.   The arches and its clock make its design something to look forward for.

The rent of this bike costs NTD 500 for five hours.

The throttle of our electric bike

Several bike rental stores lined up Zhongzheng Road.   Alone or with friends, you will always find a bike that suits your needs.   I was looking an ordinary one but my girlfriend and I were offered a four-wheeled two seater bike for a price of NTD 500.   I did not know at first that it will be powered solely by a battery until I was told in Chinese how to maneuver the vehicle.   A little practice and I became an instant expert.


finding our way using a paper map and Google Maps

The rice fields of Chishang

My girlfriend was skeptical if I will be able to use the bike properly.  It was my first time to handle an electric bike and I was afraid at first.  Using the Chinese map that was handed to us by the bicycle store owner and Google Maps through our smart phones, we tracked our way along the busy road of Taitung.   Big trucks and large vehicles passed by as I drove at the roadside.      It was a scary ride until we find ourselves in the rice fields of Chishang.  Yehey!

Unfortunately, it was already the harvest season and most of the grown rice was already gone leaving an empty plot ready for the next planting season.  We even saw a farmer on his tractor mechanically and efficiently clearing his land.   As the machine goes back and forth across the field, some white birds follow.   The fowls were probably looking for earthworms as the tractor plows the soil and exposes anything underneath.


Even though we did not see the rice paddies of Chishang in its green splendor, the beautiful landscape in the town made us feel that going here was a right decision.   It is only in the East Rift Valley Scenic Area that you can find this kind of postcard scenery.  Of course, the rural towns of Yilan province has its own fair share of picture perfect rice fields but Chishang is a different animal.  It is bordered by the Central Mountain Range and the Coastal Mountain Range of Taiwan creating a flat paradise in the middle.  You can never escape its natural beauty unless you go either to the north of the island towards Taipei or to the south going to Kenting.

Chisang town road map.   Highway 197 is Chifu Road.  The famous tree of Taitung can be found in Brown Avenue

An intersection in Chifu Road

Cycling along Chifu Road.  My girlfriend took this picture since I was the one on the driver's seat.


Upon turning right at 9-2 Township Road

We met this group of tourist after turning right at Brown Avenue.  They were going crazy with the large picture frames on the right side of this photo.

Chifu Road.  The highway leading to the famous tree of Taitung.   At our bike's maximum speed, I drove as fast as I could while my girlfriend records the best moments of our adventure.  To get to our destination, I turned right upon reaching 9-2 Township Road and then turned right again at Brown Avenue.   There were many tourists on this highway and it was like a night market.   Lovers, friends, and families gather at two giant wooden picture frames standing vertically at its corner.   With a layer of clouds hiding a mountain range behind the picture frame, it was a great place to open my tripod and have pictures with my sweetheart.  However, the large number of people at this place prompted us to leave the place and return later to have our photos.

Continuing our cycling journey in Brown Avenue

What a view!


On the left side of this photo is the famous Kaneshiro tree

I parked the bike on the roadside trusting that no other tourist would steal our bike.

There were many people taking photos with the Kaneshiro tree.  Waiting for them was useless since another batch of people would replace them to take also their own selfies and groupies.

Like Takeshi Kaneshiro, I took a rest under this tree.  Notice the support on its branches, this tree had fallen down during a typhoon but due to the love of the Taiwanese people it stood once again to give joy for every tourist who visits the town of Chishang.

I see you is the title of the Eva Air commercial. 

bronze kettle

The bench which the people sat on to take pictures

We found the tree after driving 1.5 kilometers from the picture frame area.  An example of successful marketing, this ordinary living thing in the middle of the rice field became an instant tourist attraction in Taiwan.  EVA Air tapped the star power of Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro to create a commercial that no one will never forget.   In the advertisement, Kaneshiro cycled along the green rice paddies of Chishang and then stopped at this tree.  He took his time here to think while sitting under the shade of its branches.   Ever since that commercial went to air, the Taiwanese audience had fallen in love with the place attracting large numbers of local tourists to come to Taitung and experience the joy of biking here.

travelling solo

Travelling with my girlfriend.  The difference is big! It's a different kind of journey when you explore new places with your sweetheart.


After getting our photos at the Takeshi tree, we went back to the picture frame area. There were a few tourists left around so getting a few clicks was easy.  It was a great set of pictures and it was like a prenuptial pictorial.   


At the platform in Chishang Station

We were able to return our bike at the store near Chishang Station minutes before an express train arrived at the platform.  Our hungry stomachs were already torturing us as soon as the train left at Chishang Station.   Biscuits and water were not enough to solve our problem and a food trip in Taitung Night Market was our only solution.  (To be continued …)

Maple Series


"Taipei kong mahal" (My beloved Taipei). Catch it every Wednesday at 8:00 pm (Taiwan/Philippine time)


Other attractions in Taipei


New Taipei


2018 Sakura Series - Taiwan


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