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  • Writer's picturechristineklin

DAY 16: dulan daze

Updated: Mar 26

time has slowed down since I got to dulan. if you ask people what day it is, most people couldn't tell you. it's currently monday, I'm hanging with three new friends I've made at a coffee shop on a hill, and the coffee shop owner "Rainyboy" is napping on the couch. he had us pour our own coffee because he's hungover. I met him at his 35th birthday dinner last night that my new hostel roomie Jack invited me to. little did I know that Rainyboy was the owner of this very coffee shop that I attempted to visit in the morning. the shop was closed because he...didn't feel like opening it. that's how most of the businesses are run here. you never know if it'll be open till you show up!

I'm staying on the main road, which is about three blocks long and peppered with backpacker hostels, local breakfast spots, and a single 7-11 that has beer on tap. to the east of the road is the pacific ocean, and to the west, the mountains. before I even stepped foot in taiwan, I had a feeling that the taitung area, dulan specifically, is where I'd end up feeling at home. I had never visited this town before, but the reason I'm here is because Futuru Tsai, an anthropology professor at Taitung University, invited me to a marine conservation workshop here that centers Indigenous knowledge. "workshop" is a loose term as I found out a few days ago that he invited a select ten people from around the pacific - mostly Indigenous scientists and collaborators from Cook islands, Colombia, and of course Taiwan. I'm not even an official participant and was just invited by chance since I mentioned to Futuru that I'd be in Taiwan from march till may, so I feel pretty lucky to be a part of this. He's in the process of establishing the first Indigenous-led marine protected area in Taiwan.

I came here knowing that there was a big Amis community here, but didn't realize that Dulan is considered not only a hub, but the birthplace of the Amis people. Dulan has become an interesting mix of Amis culture, european backpackers, and surfers from all walks of life. Rainyboy, the napping coffee shop owner, and I are convinced that we might be very distant cousins since his last name is also Lin and he's from an Amis tribe. if anything we both share a love for lounging and the sea. he's a big surfer, while I just want to be able to stand on a board. at dinner I mentioned that I'm excited to go to my first Amis family reunion next week, which reminded him of this girl he had a huge crush on from high school till college. one day, he went to his own Amis family reunion, during which to his horror he ran into that same girl. "turns out...WE'RE COUSINS!!" he exclaimed. he still hasn't told her to this day.

and this is my first time experiencing taiwan on my own. my mom was worried about me traveling to dulan by myself so she hitched a ride with me on friday and decided to brave it out in the hostel for one night. we drank a bottle of millet wine and played guitar. my mom even made some friends herself!

since she left, I've met a cast of other characters and friends from the hostel and neighbors. there's Wolter (not to be confused with Walter) and Charlize, a guy from the netherlands and a girl from germany, who are volunteering at the hostel in exchange for free housing. I went surfing with them yesterday and caught two tiny waves. there's Michelle, a neighboring workawayer who lives in a trailer behind the fish n chips restaurant she helps out at. she's from California but ran away from her abusive chinese parents right after graduating from yale. there's Andy and Roy, a young gay couple who run the hostel. they put on a drawing night the other day and fed us pineapple sugar apples and it was very wholesome. and then there's Jack, a therapist and model living in Taipei who I found out is bi yesterday, and of course Rainyboy, whose actual name I need to remember. it's also nice that I've finally met other queer people, especially local queer people, since coming to this hostel. it checks out with the vibes really. I'm also noticing my relationship with mandarin as a language is shifting as I'm creating more experiences in this language with people outside my family members. I learn a lot faster when there's gossip involved!

originally I had planned on blogging about all the experiences I've had in taiwan on almost a day-to-day basis, but it doesn't really feel necessary for me anymore. so many random opportunities to hang out pop up during the day that there's rarely time to sit down by myself. though most of these opportunities during dulan days consist of lounging in a hammock and petting some cats, I'd rather be present with the people here. maybe I'll just share pictures with some captions as they come along.

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