Luodong (羅東) is an urban township in the central part of Yilan County, Taiwan. Its name derives from the Taiwanese aboriginal word Rutung/Lutung, meaning “monkey”. Luodong is famed for its large, beautifully landscaped sports park.
Rachel and I did not plan to visit Luodong during our Taiwan trip last year, but we ended up spending one night and a morning there for less than 18 hours (including around 8 hours of sleep time).
Having one extra day in Taiwan after we have finished our shopping and planned itinerary, Rachel and I somehow decided to visit Luodong to check out it’s famous parks. We consulted an official Yilan tourist brochure printed by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, and selected our accommodation from there – a homestay called 公園海民宿 – this proved to the biggest mistake of our short trip to Luodong.
We called the homestay before we departed from Taipei. When Rachel asked about the accessibility to the homestay from the nearest train station, the owner assured us he will drive to the station and pick us up if we find it too far. As we were carrying quite a bit of luggage, this was a relief. Imagine how pissed we were when we called the same owner upon reaching Luodong train station and he suggested we take a cab… it’s not about the money, but the attitude.
During the car journey, the owner seems to be in rush to dump us in our room and leave us there. When we asked him what are some interesting places we can visit as well as a good place for dinner; he was extremely nonchalant and kept trying to recommend us to dine at two pricey-looking western restaurants near his homestay (we did not come all the way to Taiwan to eat western food which are very common in Singapore). He also commented that there’s nothing much to see in Luodong and all the night market in Taiwan are about the same even though there is a famous one in Luodong (utter rubbish as we found out later upon visiting the Luodong night market which serves vastly different food fares from the ones in Taipei).
On hindsight, I believe the owner was trying to convince us to stay in our room and not wander around at night so he won’t have to drive and pick us up again later. He kept reiterating to us that there were free shuttle buses around Luodong and the last bus timing back to his homestay is around 9pm.
To make things worse, we were shocked to discover a pair of dirty underwears in our room wardrobe. There were also no towels provided. When we asked the owner about the latter, he suggested we use tissue papers to wipe ourselves, making no effort to even help or whatsoever.
To cut the long story short, Rachel and I ignored the dubious owner’s ill advices, and chose to venture out. This proves to be the right choice. The Luodong night market was very interesting and we ate a lot of delicious local food that night. Here are some photos to share:
We have to cab back to the homestay as we missed the last bus. Rachel and I were harbouring evil thoughts on whether we should call up the lazy owner and pester him to come and pick us up. After all, it was only ten plus pm and the journey is a short drive of around ten minutes. In the end, we got soft-hearted. We reasoned that maybe the owner was a sick man and could not afford to move around too much. It won’t be nice to bully a sick man.
The next day, Rachel and I visited the famous sports park in Luodong – directly opposite our homestay. As the park is man-made, there’s nothing exceptionally spetacular about it in our view as both of us much prefer natural landscapes. We did not spot any monkeys, but there were many fat squirrels running around. Here are some photos taken at the park:
By noon, both of us were exhausted by the heat and bored by the park’s emptiness. We promptly checked out and took a bus back to the train station to return to Taipei. The lazy owner was not there when we checked out. We can’t find him, so we just left his room keys to a nice lady who apparently rent the lower floor of the homestay to use as an office.
All in all, Luodong could have been a much more fun place to visit if we have done better research before going there and perhaps, have more time to spare. It didn’t help that the owner of the homestay was very unhelpful. I won’t say he was rude; rather, it was his indifference that pissed us off. If you are thinking of visiting Luodong, please do not stay at 公園海民宿 – other than the non-existence service, it is not exactly cheap either. We found out that the room rates were more expensive than a budget hotel within walking distance from Luodong train station.
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