Last weekend we made our way to the beautiful township in Yilan County called Jiaoxi, known for its waterfall and hot springs. It is a town with a population of about 35,000 people, and it seems it relies mostly on tourism to survive. Our experiences and our quest to find the well-hidden beach are explained below.
This is a view of Jiaoxi that I took across the train tracks. It seems that south of the train; there is nothing but rice fields with spattered houses and factories. On the north side of the tracks, I would say that 50% of the buildings are hot spring hotels. Most of the hotels here are super cheap. Ours was 840 NT, and other high end ones were under 2000 NT. This is because there are way too many hotels in this town. Because of its close proximity to Taipei, many Taipei entrepreneurs have invested in this spot close to home where they can cash in on some tourism.
There is an inter-city bus station, a train station, a McDonald’s, and a Starbucks in the town, so it is not the smallest town ever.
As my wife and child rested at the hotel, I went for an early morning scooter ride through the countryside. I found the rice fields quite peaceful, a refreshing view from the busy concrete jungle that is Taipei.
Driving aimlessly around, I found some telephone poles that were knocked sideways by Typhoon Nesat, indicative of some very strong winds that came through the area. I also found that quite a few signs had been knocked down by the storm.
Actually, driving through Jiaoxi after the Typhoon was like seeing America in autumn; all the leaves were golden and dying, or just missing altogether. The mountainside next to our hotel was barren, and many places looked completely dry and dead. It was like a bomb had gone off.
Somewhere in my aimless wandering I decided to go the beach, I figured it was close. However, I lost my sense of direction (even though mountains are clearly on the East). Eventually I got to a long mound of earth, like a levee next to the ocean. On top of the levee were graves and a military base, making it impossible to go the 100 meters left to the beach. I must have driven 10 kilometers before I broke down and looked at google maps. There was a small alley road leading to the beach from where I saw an Abei exit from.
I didn’t have a swimming suit, so I drove 10 minutes back to the hotel (originally it took me an hour and a half to find the beach, although I did wander around and take pictures along the way). The water was very refreshing in the 35 degree weather; cool but not too cold, although the water was murky and foamy. Maybe that was a bad idea. I’ll find out when I get cancer. No one lives forever.