Friday, April 4, 2014

the hidden rainbow village

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.



38 comments

  1. This is such a cute little village! You are lucky to have found it! I'm sure it was hard for the people there with the mosquito problem but luckily they managed to solve it! I love exploring new and interesting places, especially when they are not touched by the "tourist" hand.

    sunandsany

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    1. We felt very lucky to stumble upon it the first time and then be welcomed so graciously the second time! It really looked like it was out of a picture book! :)

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  2. What an amazing find, and an interesting story to go along with it!

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    1. I know! I just loved the reason behind it all. What a great community building project!

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  3. you two always find the best places!

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  4. Amazing! What a great find. It always pays to wander off the beaten track

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    1. I agree! It's really not hard to do in Taiwan because the country itself is off the beaten track! It's one of the reasons I love living here!

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  5. Oh wow! It certainly is very colourful. It's so cool when you stumble upon something hidden and get to explore it all on your own. What a great experience! It's pretty amazing you guys were able to find the village again after so much time. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler! See you next week. :)

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    1. I owe it all to my husband. I am hopeless when it comes to directions!

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  6. Rainbow village - love this name! It's really a colorful town. Lovely paintings, and interesting story of its history. Now not only that the village is clean, but it features something truly unique and original. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler.

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    1. You're welcome! It really was a rainbow village. Skittles should shoot its commercial there! Color is splashed on every wall!

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  7. Wow! It looks so interesting. My husband travels to Taiwan quite a bit, and I really really want to go. The food sounds amazing too! :)

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    1. Taiwan is a really fun place to visit! It's interesting too as a traveler because it's not a hot tourist destination!

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  8. Accidental discoveries are the BEST, aren't they?! :) Love the images; so colorful and enticing.

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    1. Those are always my favorite kind!

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  9. Wow that really looks like you've found it in the middle of nowhere! I just love little finds like that.

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    1. It is seriously in the middle of nowhere. We were scooting through the hills of trees and then suddenly... voila!

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  10. Amazing! Such brightly colored murals, I can see why this is a place you had to come back to! What an amazing discovery!

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    1. I have a feeling we will be back and third and forth time too! :)

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  11. Wow, that's a very colorful village and interesting back ground. Please do share it with us and link up to Travel Photo Mondays, the link is up all week long.

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    1. This place was so.much.fun to take pictures of! Everything about the village + its surroundings were photogenic! Even the people!

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  12. This is an amazing story of exploration! It's so lovely that you can get out and discover little treasures in Taiwan!

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    1. Sometimes I have to remind myself that all it takes is stepping outside my front door. There is so much to see + do. That's the beautiful thing about being an expat: every day can be this glorious adventure if you let it be!

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  13. That's so cool. I can see why this village caught your eye. Those paintings are so colorful, although it does look like some of those painted people have trouble keeping their pants up. I bet the villagers felt so honored that you were interested in their buildings.

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    1. I know! We died when we spotted the farmer's crack! We felt very honored that they welcomed us so graciously!

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  14. It is so colourful and i love the photo of the older couple...great photographs over all!

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    1. I love that one too. It was so interesting though: before I took their picture, they were so animated and had these huge smiles and then for the picture they both got very quiet and serious.

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  15. What a beautiful little discovery! So awesome when you have the chance to stumble upon a place so seemingly unheard of to the rest of the world!

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    1. I think that's one of the best parts of being an expat. You have the time to stumble upon places like this because you're not rushing around trying to squeeze as much as possible into a trip.

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  16. I'd love to live in a place this colourful! It's so pretty.

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  17. Wow it's really beautiful, I live really close to taiwan so I need to take a flight over! It looks like such a beautiful place! What's the weather like during July? (When I plan to visit?) jen@www.healthyglobetrotting.com

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    1. July + August are the worst in terms of heat + humidity. But it's sunny and gorgeous. It is typhoon season. We have spent two summers in Taiwan and have been slammed by three typhoons, all during the months of July + August.

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  18. I love these photos. How great that you stumbled upon this place!

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    1. Thanks! I can't wait to see what else is out there in the hillsides!

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  19. I love all the colors and the name! Great find y'all :) Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler! :)

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    1. Thanks! It was a really unique find! :)

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