Ruifang, my sweet home
Walking along the streets on a rainy day, I took a deep breath of the fresh crisp air and let it out. The heat of my breath formed a white mist just like the one surrounding mountains afar. My voice trembled with the cold weather and the chatter of my teeth sounded just like a train rattling through villages.
Ruifang, my hometown, has a Taiwanese Hokkien pronunciation similar to “sweet home”. Ruifang is located on the northeast coast of Taiwan. When the winter comes, the rainy weather can last up to months. Every day we feel the coldness and humidity piercing through our bones.
“Oh, it’s raining…again.” I looked down at the puddle of water that reflected my sigh.
“Attention, please. The train at
platform two will depart soon, please board the train now, thank you.”
I quickly put away my umbrella, found myself a seat and took a nap.
Shortly, I was woken up by the alarm bells. The crowd shuffled me off the train. There, I saw the big banner “Ruifang Station Grand Opening” hanging on the wall.
The grand opening of Ruifang station?
Wait, wasn’t Ruifang station built in year 1919? Oh my god… Did I just travel through time?
Are you kidding me?
I was still confused about what had just happened and suddenly everyone started staring at me and pushing me.
“Oh no… Don’t push me! Get off me! Help, help, HELP ME!”
“Hello, hello can you hear me? Are you alright?” says the train conductor while shaking me gently.
“Hmm…Where is it?”
“We just left Ruifang station. Are you OK?”
I quickly looked around and everything seemed normal as usual Phew! Thank god it was just a dream.
“I’m good, thank you.”
“Alright, you scared everyone out there! Just let me know if you need help.”
With the development of mining industry during Japanese occupation, Ruifang had a big boom in economic and population. The “Ruifang Old Street” near the train station gradually became the center of administration, commerce and traffic. Most of all, it was called the wonderland which cultivated every single “Golden Dreams” in that generation. While visiting the old street and historic buildings, one can visualize vividly the pictures of the thriving and prosperous life at that time.
Liao’s mansion, for example, is a beautiful Baroque style architecture. It showcased the wealth and luxurious living style of the family decades ago. YiFang Company was the biggest mining enterprise in Taiwan. What is so marvelous is that the business is still running to this date. Also, we can see the vintage sites of the theater from the last generation. Every store on the old street-- the tailor shop, the handmade quilt shop, the cloth distributor, and the buildings with antique decoration, etc. -- represent Ruifang’s golden age.
In 1970’s, the glory of this small town started to fade away. It was due to the rising demand of petroleum and the declining of mining industry. Both phenomena formed a strong alert to the “miners”. They eventually realized that it’s time to wake up from their dreams. Sadly, the wonderland of gold turned silent once again.
Nowadays, Ruifang is still the transportation hub for the neighboring towns, such as Jiufen, Jinguashi, Pingxi, Shifen, and the coastal region. If you ask me about the future of this town, to be honest, I have no idea. Being a one of the younger generation that just returned home, I dare not to wish for prosperity to return any time soon. I just hope that people can stay and visit this wonderful place instead of just passing by. I am willing to carry on the profound culture
and stories that are worth telling. I see this as my responsibility and a duty of our generation.
Ruifang-- my sweet sweet home. It nurtures the children of this town with its coldness and humidity.
Jacy Li / 李若蘭
Jacy, a girl from Taiwan who’s passionate about traveling and adventure. My motto is, ”Never say never, if you never try it.”
Over the years, I have served as an international volunteer in Guangxi, China; a participant in a work and travel program in Grand Canyon, USA, and a marketing executive in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Now, I have returned to my hometown, Ruifang, and devoted myself to local community affairs. It’s quite difficult to define my current role as I’m in charge of marketing/ public relations/ instructing/ media producing… etc. To make things easier, one can just call me a SLASH.