Lanyu was hard to actually get lost on.  I mean, there’s really only one road around the island with a couple smaller ones weaving through the villages dotted along the coast.  I was more lost in my head.  Still.  Feeling way too sorry for my self.  Still.  I needed to get out of this funk and Lanyu, it turns out, was not the place to do that.

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It started with reluctance from the girl that worked at my hostel in Hualien.  She was trying to convince me to go to Green Island instead, but I was set on Lanyu.  She helped me book the ticket anyways and that was that.  I was leaving for Taitung the next day.

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I spent a few days there before taking a terrifying fifteen minute flight.  All 12 of us piled into the plane and buckled up.  Before we even left the ground it felt like the plane was going to collapse.  Good start.  We left the coast of Taiwan behind us and shortly approached the mountains of Orchid Island.

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Lanyu is known as Orchid Island as well, which can get pretty confusing.  I made it to the island in one piece and was greeted by my hostel owner who doesn’t speak English.  I hopped on the back of his scooter with all of my stuff and we went zipping up into the hills so he could show me some pretty stellar views.

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Since I couldn’t rent a scooter there, he was taking me to the stuff that was too hard to bike too, which turned out to be quite a bit of it, but I didn’t know that yet.  Once we arrived at the hostel, he went and got a bike for me.  From where, I have no idea, but I had one, so that was a plus.  My first goal was to find food.  I still didn’t like eating here.  Also, I just couldn’t find any.  Awesome.  I’m going to starve here.  I couldn’t even find a store to buy chips or anything.

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I ended up biking to the next village and found some breakfast food.  It was a whole 52 TWD.  That’s just over a dollar.  There was a little shop next to that to get snacks, so I loaded up for dinner.  Everything was too far apart and too hilly to easily bike around for the afternoon, so I spent it laying around all sad tying to decide what to do.  I was supposed to stay for five days.  Not a chance.

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I spent a lot of the next day waiting at the airport on standby to go back to Taitung.  It didn’t work out.  I called my hostel owner and he came back to get me.  On the way back, he showed me the rest of the island.  It really was an awesome place.  It just wasn’t the right time for me to be there.  I’m still glad I went, though, even if I did sort of hate it.

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I went right back to the airport the next morning and the travel gods were smiling upon me.  I got a ticket back, along with about seven other people I was waiting with the day before.  There were a couple of people on my flight there that I ran into again that were more help than I imagined.  They called the airline to get me an earlier ticket.  They made sure I knew I was on the flight, because, well, I couldn’t understand most of what was being said or going on.  They gave me a ride back to my hostel in Taitung.  Things worked out.

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Lanyu was a learning experience for me.  I’m not entirely sure what I learned, but I know I’m glad I went.  I thought about giving up and leaving Taiwan a lot, but I stuck it out and I’m glad I did because I ended up loving it just a couple days later.  So, I guess, don’t give up and do things that scare you?  I would love to go back, maybe a little more prepared, or during the summer, or with someone.  I’m not sure, but I don’t want to just give up on it.  It’s definitely a cool little place.

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Helpful things:

  • If you’re going in the summer, book flights and accommodation well ahead of time.  It’s a lot busier in the summer.
  • Rent a scooter so you can actually see the island.  It’s a lot harder to explore by bike.
  • Ask if your hotel or guest house has airport pickup.
  • Check the weather in the winter before you book flights, which you can do a few days before you want to go.  They won’t go if it’s too windy or weather is bad.

off-the-path exploring

Have you been to Lanyu?  What did you think of it?  Do you want to go?