Time for Taiwan 2015-2016, Episode 18: Neiwan by Train
Today we’re walking around Neiwan, an old Hakka mining town in Hsinchu.
I'm Michella. I grew up in the Silicon Valley and was a journalist in Taiwan for ten years. I like to try new things, play with new toys, and visit old places in a new way. I’m going to show you around the Taiwan that I know. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.
To get to Neiwan, you can take a train, which you can pay for by tagging on and off with an Easypass or iPass. Neiwan is on one of the smaller lines, which in the beginning was built mostly for transporting coal and timber out of the area.
This is Neiwan Station. Coal used to be loaded on that end of the platform, and timber on the other side.
The station house is really small and really cute, and I think quite nostalgic. Oh we have to remember to tag off.
When there was still mining and logging going on here, this town was really, really busy. The elementary school had about 1,200 kids then, and now, less than 200. This is the downtown area, there are a lot of tasty Hakka snacks here.
Look at all of this. There’s so much food. Dried persimmon, ginger candy, dried fruits and vegetables, tomatoes, oh taro cakes, sausages! Who’s hungry? I’m hungry!
They use ginger in a lot of the food here in Neiwan. This is a “caibao” with ginger powder in it. Oftentimes ginger powder is used instead of chili peppers or black peppers. Ah there’s a hole in it! So the ginger powder still makes it spicy, but not too unbearably so.
This is Neiwan Theater. It’s a restaurant now, but in the old days. They used to play movies, hold Hakka opera performances and even cabaret shows sometimes. Let’s go inside.
None of these tables and chairs used to be here. People used to sit on rows of benches. There were rows down here and rows up there on the second floor. Kids liked to stay here right by the bathroom. Towards the end of the movies, right before the end of the show, they would go and hide inside. I’m sure you know why. Movie hopping!
That’s a character out of a comic book drawn by a Hakka artist. She represents the typical Hakka woman, hard working, frugal and stubborn. My husband is half Hakka, he is pretty stubborn.
Neiwan was very, very quiet for a long time and started to pick up again just a few years ago.
Neiwan’s a nice place to walk around, eat, and then find some place to sit down and just relax. That is exactly what I need right now. You should come.
Michella's notes 米雪拉的筆記：
“Neiwan” means “inside bay,” but there really isn’t a bay here. There are lots of camp grounds in the nearby mountains but Neiwan isn’t by the ocean and there isn’t a bay. Apparently the “wan” in Neiwan was the character for “bend,” but over time, people thought it would be cool to add the water radical to the character, since there is a river flowing the town, and the character turned into “bay.” Fun trivia, just in case you wanted to know.
Neiwan’s a place that popped up on the tourism map not that long ago. You can drive here, but I think it’s best to take a train because parking is really limited. This train line was planned and started during the Japanese occupation but wasn’t completed until after WWII when the KMT party retreated to Taiwan. Coal mining, forestry and cement were the major industries here, but when those died down, the town became really quiet and stayed that way for quite a while until very recently.
There’s a street with hawkers on both sides here and a huuuuuge crowd of people on the weekends. To avoid the crowd, go early, perhaps around 0930 or 1000. The cafes and shops off the main street are good too. There are craftsmen in some of the shops and it’s kind of fun to watch them work.
For me I found the cafe behind the station to be quite relaxing. There are trees in the cafe itself, and it overlooks the tracks so you can watch trains come in and out. The name of the cafe is “Enjoy You Hakka Life” 品客好客. This is one of the establishments that the Hakka council is backing, and there are more of these types of businesses in the area which are all worth checking out.
There’s an elementary school nearby and its field area with basketball courts and a track is open to visitors. A lot of people seem to enjoy the shade and space under the trees there.
Nearby you’ll also find Hexing Station, where Lavender Cottage has transformed some old train cars into cafes. Young couples like to visit.
You should come!
Taiwan Railways Administration 台鐵： http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/
Enjoy Your Hakka Life 品客好客餐廳： http://superspace.moc.gov.tw/hall/local_culture_page.aspx?oid=ae92f663-76e5-4e05-82d6-c77aa23ac5c8
Forestry Bureau’s exhibition on the history of Neiwan forestry 內灣林業展示館： http://hsinchu.forest.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=31596&CtNode=2556&mp=310
Lavender Cottage at Hexing Station 薰衣草森林合興車站： http://www.lavendercottage.com.tw/zh-tw/home#!forest/traffice/10/1
Shirt: kotipesä http://www.kotipesa.com
Watch: Martian http://www.martianwatches.com.tw
Shoes: Timberland http://timberland.com.tw
Backpack: ispack https://shop.cool3c.com/taxonomy/term/2704
Koziro Cinema Mount 手機拍攝： http://www.kphoto.com.tw/front/bin/ptdetail.phtml?Part=APK014
UAV 空拍機: 3DR Solo http://www.3drobotics.com