Taitung City – City in Taiwan: Working Holiday at 4.5 Kilometers Café


Sometimes, when I make decisions, I won’t consider too many factors or consequences. Instead, I just depend on my feelings and foolishness. As for what I will gain from the process, I leave that to the destiny. My decision to have working holiday in Chihshang township, Taitung county, was also based on an impulse. Luckily, what I gained was beyond my expectation.


4.5 kilometer café, as the name suggesting, is located on the 4.5 kilometers of the 197 county road in Chihshang, Taitung. Nearby is the recently popular Brown Avenue. The boss and bosslady of the café are Amis. They are liberal and outspoken with artistic temperaments.


I am a person who get anxious easily. I usually scare myself with how the situations will be out of control. However, I used a way that I was afraid of to have my working holiday this time. That is, I did not plan anything or imagine any situation in advance. I just did what I thought of at the moment, and I accidentally found that things won’t be out of control in most of the time. Moreover, without perceptions, there were usually unexpected surprises and experiences.


I had many first times in 4.5 café, and hitchhiking is one of them. I had been in a daze for almost two hours after I arrived at Chishang train station. It was scorching hot outside, and I was struggling between taking a taxi and walking. “There is always a first time for everything. Since you are here, just give it (hitchhiking) a try!” said by the bosslady in her message. Therefore, I walked on the straight and long 197 county road and tried to hitchhike but failed for several times. Finally, an aunt riding a bike accompanied me for a short walk. Moreover, she asked an uncle riding a scooter to take me to 4.5 kilometer café. Otherwise, I might have walked until night, even though that would be another special experience.


Expect for hitchhiking, this was the first time I engaged in catering. I never thought that I could make beverage, even though I had to peek at my notes. The boss and bosslady taught me how to make coffee as much as they could. Although my skills were not mature, I still succeeded to cook the authentic taste of signature coffee called 4.5 kilometer coffee.

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I conquered my fear of animals here as well. I used to be afraid of every kind of animals, especially dogs. As long as I saw dogs from a long distance, I would be anxious and started to think how I could avoid them. However, thanks to the two cats in 4.5 kilometer café (I am sorry that I never remember their names for it was hard to distinguish them. They looked alike to me.) training me to get along with them for one month, now I could feel that animals are lovely, even dogs.


My mother used to think that I could not live because I could not cook to sustain myself, not to mention other things. Fortunately, I learned many simple recipes in 4.5 kilometer café. Actually, it was more than simple. It was healthy as well. The bosslady always insisted on using local ingredients or self-planted edible herbs to make creative cooking. I had been a vegetarian for one month, and my body became very clean and healthy.


Although it was not my first time to visit Brown Avenue at night, it was the first time that I lied on the avenue. Different from the clamor and without the tree and paddies in the daytime, Brown Avenue had varied sky, silence, and breeze at night.


Except for many first times, the most important thing was that I had changed my mental state here. I was born in the countryside where the pace of life is slow. Thus, I had a hard time in adapting to Taipei’s fast pace of life after I came to study in college. I used to feel like chasing after by my life. However, I had downshifted in Chihshang for a month, and had used the sceneries and warm hospitalities to clean my mental impurity. I now enjoy living in the moment more. For instance, I used to think rainy days were troublesome, but now I try to have fun in rainy days, like holding an umbrella, carrying my bike, and taking pictures in the rain. Sometimes, I would have some unexpected surprises in my frames which gave some crucial touches to the pictures.

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I went to many places with the boss and bosslady, made friends with many artists, and listened to countless and deeply moving stories among the month. Everyone who came to Chihshang attempted to learn something. I saw many artists struggle among personal ideals, personal principles, and the reality. Finally, they struck a balance, continued their beautiful ideals, and hewed out their career. There was no lack of people who felt frustrated at work. On the occasion of changing careers, they would give themselves a short break. It was kind of like a gap year to rethink and responder on their lives. As for me, I came to Chihshang and was like a sponge, absorbing uncounted life stories, and I also realized how warm the connections among people were. In a damp and hot summer night, a group of people played guitars, sang songs, and had a few drinks. When you looked up, there would be a glittery starry night.