If one loves Taiwan, one must get to know its nooks and crannies. And Cherry Chuang (莊千薇) has done exactly that, traveling around the nation more than 200 times in three years.
Born in 1983, Chuang worked for an online travel agency after graduating from Shih Chien University’s Department of Applied Life Sciences. In a normal day’s work, she leaves Taipei Main Station at 8:20am, passes through Yilan, Hualien, Taitung and Pingtung before turning north again, arriving in Taipei at about 9:20pm.
The same journey is made the next day, except in reverse. In the three years she has been working for the company, she has introduced thousands of passengers to Chihshang lunch boxes (池上便當), Donghe meat buns (東河肉包) and station names in Mandarin and English. Passengers say she could easily be “the girl who has gone around Taiwan the most times.”
She said that every night, when she gets home, she falls asleep -immediately after saying: “Well, I’ve been around the island again.”
During her time at work, Cherry said she has seen many unusual passengers, as well as celebrities, such as former Kaohsiung mayor Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) and singer Afalean Lu (盧學叡).
There was a man who got on in Taipei and never left the train the entire voyage, enjoying the scenery, she recalled, adding that she also came across groups of foreign tourists who bought day tickets, getting off at spots they thought were particularly beautiful.
“In the dining cars, you can see ever-changing scenes from the windows,” she said.
The part of Taiwan that made the biggest impression on her was the coast of Hualien to Taitung, she said.
“When the weather is good, you can see Orchid Island (蘭嶼) and Green Island (綠島),” she said, while lamenting the waste and desolation along the Taimali (太麻里) coastline, which was hit hard by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009.