I had a nice day trip to Fulong, one of the beach towns closest to Taipei. This trip meant a lot to me, because I had been eyeing this beach since before arriving in Taiwan. One of the very reasons I picked Taiwan is because this beach was within a reasonable distance from the city. I imagined myself going there every weekend to surf and be a beach bum.
Walking over the bridge that I had seen so many times in pictures made everything real. I was finally in Fulong. I had taken the leap, broken my ties, and established myself in a new country! And I was doing well. This was a day of celebration.
The beachgoing experience itself was definitely a lot different than I had expected. Recent typhoons had dug up a lot of seaweed and junk that was piled up to about 5 inches on the beach. And the internet had mentioned that Fulong was a good place to surf all year round, but the waves were only a foot high at best. It’s interesting to see how different a place can be from its descriptions. That’s one reason I like traveling so much—you can never really get a picture for what a place is like until you’ve actually been there, no matter how much research you do about it. The discrepancies may be good or bad, but they’re always exciting to discover.
Beach life in Taiwan is pretty limited. Chinese are traditionally afraid to swim in the ocean; the old belief is that spirits can most easily possess you when you’re submerged in water. Thus, the crowd is mostly teens and foreigners. The beach scene is beginning to emerge a little bit, but there’s not a lot of infrastructure around the beach areas because not enough people are interested yet.
The unexpected gem of the Fulong trip was Fulong’s lunchboxes. These often have some rice, a little bit of vegetables, and a lot of different types of sausage, tofu, and pork. When I arrived at the lunchbox place, there was this massive line of about 30 people, overflowing into the street.
As I got closer to the front of the line, I saw that people just stand in the doorway of this converted-house-restaurant, order the number of lunchboxes they want, and skidaddle. I’ve never seen such a truncated meal service. Inside the garage/kitchen, there’s an assembly line of meal preppers continuously churning out lunchboxes. Apparently they go through a lot each day; there was a chart on the door listing the number of lunchboxes and the total price, up to 60 lunchboxes. I guess people take them to work, or to the beach. But I have to say, it was delicious!