COMPASS MAGAZINE, November 2003.

















Sealife, food and fun at the 2003 East Coast Sailfish Season

By Lishea Cheng
Translated by Yvonne Chen

       Surrounded by the sea with over a hundred fishing ports, Taiwan's main spearfish market is at Taitung's Chenggong. It is here that the month-long Sailfish Season begins on Nov. 1 with exhibitions and weekend activities. And makes it the best place to enjoy the freshest, plumpest sailfish on the island.

       An opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m. with stories of sailfish, whales and fishermen's lives at sea. Sign up for a "Praise the Fish" eating contest which begins at 2 p.m.; 30 spots are available for each of the eight weekend preliminary rounds, with a final round on Nov. 30 for the championship title and cash prize. Saturdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m., the "Newport Town" autumn literary event sets sail at the marina. At the same time on Sundays, visitors can dance with Aborigines at the Marine Fun Plaza.

       After these warm-up land activities, visitors can sign up on the spot for the Sailfish Spearing Camp. Experience being at sea as you chase after the tasty sailfish against the northeast winds. If gourmet ingredients are what you are looking for, the weekend fish and produce sale will feature delicious sailfish, fresh dolphin fish, tuna and other Pacific sealife for wholesale or retail prices, with a low-temperature delivery service. Also, sample a rare orange variety seldom seen in the West.

       Chenggong also is hosting the East Coast Precious Stone Exhibition, which offers seminars, games and talks for visitors to gain a deeper appreciation for East Coast stones. The static exhibition features two themes: sailfish and port development. Chenggong dates back to the days when it was known as Malaolo, meaning "cooked dry over flames" in the Amis aboriginal language. Tradition has it that, in 1850, the area was ravaged by tsunami, which dried out the vegetation. During the Ching Dynasty, Han people began to settle in the area and formed present-day Chenggong which, today, is the largest township in Taitung county. The exhibition brochure will feature the winning restaurant in the sailfish gourmet contest.

       Taiwan's rural East provides beautiful views of the mountains and ocean. At 3 p.m., noisy auction crowds can be seen at Chenggong fishing port. The Fishermen's Association building is a gigantic ship topped with the Eastern Marine Biology Research Center's four-story aquarium, housing Pacific fish, including champion clownfish tending their eggs. The restaurant by the entrance offers inexpensive and tasty fish cutlet rice made from the best seasonal catch. Other area attractions include the cool breezes at Hsingkang Falls. At Jihuei, corals can be seen swaying to the current; a 1.5km Coastal Bicycle Lane takes you up north, through eight beautiful arch bridges, for a geology lesson at Sansiantai. Head farther up north to Shihyusan for the scenery and waves.

       The scenic points along the East Coast are the result of 15 years of hard work by the East Coast National Scenic Area Administration. Headquartered south of Chenggong at Duli, the office faces the ocean with an incredible view of Sansiantai to the north and Green Island to the south. It has a strolling path, children's playground and Amis Cultural Center with Amis songs and dancing on the weekends. The office provides tourist services, displays and a scenic pool in the basement great for parent-child bonding. For refreshments, Shile restaurant offers wonderful meals, mango smoothies and a great view.

       Chenggong provides year-round travel opportunities with great whale watching throughout the seasons. Sailfish is best in the winter. The end of spring brings the Skipjack Season and the Amis Tribe Festival is celebrated throughout the summer. For now, however, don't miss the chance to enjoy the culinary, scenic and cultural attractions of the 2003 Sailfish Season.

Travel Information:
Taitung Information Website: www.taitung.gov.tw
Tourism Bureau of Taitung County: (089) 326-141 ext. 302
East Coast National Scenic Area Administration: (089) 841-520, ext. 1088