Places: Ershui & The Jiji Branch Line (二水 + 集集線)

It’s been a very, very, very, very (I could add a few more, but I’ll spare you) long time between posts.  In the time since, I’ve learnt a whole lot more Chinese (not enough to start blogging using it though), been back home to Australia briefly (which I might post about once I get a chance to go through the photos), finally made it down to Kenting (definitely posting), and got really involved with playing Touch Rugby here in Taipei.

Anyway, with all that said, today’s post is about a trip I made in the middle of the year.  I spent a couple of days in Taichung, and explored the area around Taichung-Changhua.  During this time, I spent a rain interrupted afternoon around Ershui, Shuili & Checheng – otherwise known as The Jiji Branch Line.

This is a really nice part of Changhua county, with farmlands giving way to mountains & woodlands as you make your way along the Jiji Branch Line.  While the branch line starts at Ershui & goes to Checheng, you can actually catch trains bound for Checheng from both Taichung & Changua.  There is a train approximately every 2 hours.  I didn’t go all the way in one go, instead catching a train from Taichung to Ershui (1 hour, NT$72).  At Ershui, I rented a bicycle (NT$100/day) from a small shop outside the station exit (on the right hand side).  There are a couple of routes available around Ershui, most of which go through farmlands & are very flat & easy to handle.  Unfortunately for me, my ride only last 1 hour before some heavy afternoon rain forced me to stop & then ride back to Ershui (in the breaks between the rain).

Heavy enough to make me head back.

Heavy enough to make me head back.

There’s also a very friendly Visitor Information spot next to Ershui station, where you can pick up information not just about the Jiji Branch Line, but also the region in general.  English is spoken, and you might also get tips on how to meet “nice Taiwanese girls” (go to Church in Taipei I was told – yep, that type of “nice Taiwanese girl”).  From Ershui I boarded the train & started along the Jiji Branch Line.  As my time was limited to one day, I decided to go all the way to Checheng (50 minutes, $NT78 – all day).  There are several stops along the Line, one of which is Jiji itself, which was damaged by a massive earthquake in 1999, and has some interesting sights to see, so I’m advised.

I didn’t end up taking the train all the way to Checheng.  Rather, I alighted one stop before, at a town called Shuili.  From there, you can bike or walk to Checheng, first alongside a river, then by the rail line itself.  For the walking/biking route, leave Shuili station, walk to the first intersection & turn left.  Keep going until you reach a T-intersection & from there follow the signs to Checheng 🙂

Left to Checheng.

Checheng itself is a very interesting place to look around.  It’s pretty dead during the week (when I was there), but I can imagine it would be teaming with people during the summer months.  There are plenty of places to buy food, snacks, souvenirs & learn a little more about Taiwan’s rail history.  Kids & photographers would love it!