Boulevard of Verdant Dreams
28 May 2015
For the erstwhile traveller, ChiShang is a gracenote along Taiwan‘s symphonic East Coast. The train from Taitung builds a movement from a prelude of open fields as the train swings inland from the coast, marching before soaring mountains. Green fields pass in a flurry of notes, before the train rolls to a stop.
Towns such as ChiShang are often one-street affairs, with unremarkable farmland radiating out from their necessary core. Yet, one particular street in this city gained notoriety when the Japanese movie star Takeshi Kaneshiro filmed an EVA Air ad here on Mr Brown Avenue. This is a long, glorious expanse of road flanked by padi fields, bisected by numerous byways that are perfect for a slow walk or a leisurely bicycle ride.
Predictably, there isn’t very much to do at night, other than shoot the breeze at the local hair salon or chat up the owner of the rice shop down by the train station about the relative merits of ChiShang rice (which is very good, I might add).
But what makes Zhongguan, the main street of the town, infinitely fascinating are the vignettes of its shopfronts.
This is the stop in between stations; where shop becomes home, a transit into the last hour when the television is the only customer and family gathers to wind down amidst the wares and aisles of produce.
A few keep at their trade a little longer, but as spring ends and summer draws closer with the impending harvest, these are days to kick back and take a little more time to dream.