Taiwan Fun Magazine, July 2006

A Quick Get-Away: BiTan

--- By Charles McHale Translated by Jean Huang

If you're looking for that weekend escape but can't seem to get the time to leave town, BiTan is the answer. Whether you've got a few hours, or the whole day, this riverside boardwalk provides a wealth of recreational activities and relaxation in a natural setting. Any sunny weekend you can join the crowd riding the MRT to XinDian, at the end of the Green Line, to visit BiTan.

Follow XinDian Road (at the back of the station) two blocks and you're at BiTan's signature feature a pedestrian suspension bridge over the river. All the usual snacks are available at the bustling food market here, along with some not-so-common ones. One stall sells an I-lan specialty with sweet crushed peanuts, tarot ice cream and cilantro in a wrap (NT$35). Don't miss Athula's Sri Lankan rotti (NT$50) which features a curry sauce that brings many back for seconds.

Dozens of seafood restaurants and cafes line both sides of the river, offering a way to relax and have a meal while watching the paddle boats on the river. The paddle boats are a great way to work up an appetite and enjoy the scenery. Some of the restaurants have karaoke but, if that's not your thing, keep an eye out for BiTan's harmonica wizard, an old man with a small amplifier delighting crowds along the river. David Chen and the Muddy Basin Ramblers occasionally play a jam session in the evenings, too.

For the more adventurous there are plenty of hiking trails across the river. Follow the trail next to the river and you'll find a diving board installed by local diving enthusiasts. This loose-knit diving club brings applause from the paddle boaters with swan dives and flips from the diving board and cliffs.
No matter whether you come to get wet, or just watch the river roll by, BiTan is just a short trip away.