Tucked away in the twisting and winding mountain roads of Zhudong is a hidden rainbow village.
One year ago, Sean and I stumbled upon this village by accident on one of our scoot adventures. The town sprouted up out of nowhere, wedged in between mountain hills and valley. Colorful, playful murals adorned each home + business and we were so surprised we had to pull over to take it all in. Little did we know that the paintings actually covered nearly every building along the side streets too.
We left knowing one day we would return and today seemed like the perfect day to do just that so we grabbed our scooters, filled up their tanks and putted off in the direction we headed one year ago. Luckily, Sean is a navigation master and can find any place. With out even taking one wrong turn, 40 minutes after we left Hsinchu we found ourselves once again back in the hidden rainbow village.
I can honestly say that the 60 minutes we spent exploring this friendly and bizarre village were some of my favorite moments spent in Taiwan, ever. This is not a tourist destination. I doubt this village is very well known among Taiwanese people themselves let alone the handful of international tourists who visit the country. There are no souvenir stands or any money to be made from people passing by. Regardless, countless villagers came out of their homes to greet us and guided us all over showing us hidden pathways that provided stunning mountain and valley vistas and even went so far as to invite us to take pictures of their homes and even themselves!
The whole time I was there I felt shrouded in the amazing hospitality so many people boast of when talking about Taiwan, and it felt even better knowing it was true, authentic, genuine kindness and not a show put on to make a buck or two.
When we got home from the village, I was desperate to find out more about it. None of the locals spoke any English, and while I know they tried to explain the murals, we left having no understanding what the meaning of it all was. After a lot of Googling [and trust me when I say I had to be very creative with the key words searches I used], I finally found some information about this odd and fun village.
Apparently, a few years back the village, which is called Ruan Qiao, was struggling with a terrible mosquito infestation due to poor maintenance. The buildings were in disrepair and so were the yards and shops. In an effort to clean up the place, the village leaders came up with an idea: if the villagers clean up their yards + dwellings, the whole town would be spruced up and painted. Literally. The villagers decided to do it and they did. The painter of the murals has been working on the town every weekend for the past three years. This is his first experience with painting. All of the paintings detail the Hakka agricultural lifestyle that the villagers lead and many have humorous undertones [can you spot the farmer's crack in one of the paintings?].
We thoroughly enjoyed our scoot adventure to this hidden rainbow village and will definitely be back. If you are interested in learning more or finding a map to this town, click here.