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Stories about Old Chiayi Railway Station


Author/ Hao Chen

Before telling about Old Chiayi Railway station, I’d like to tell something about my childhood. When I was a child, I was often looking forward to going back to grandma’s house in Chiayi. It was located in Bei-­Shin street. The buildings on both sides of the street were not high, which were totally different from the views in Taipei. Every time I went back, I felt calm and peaceful. My cousin and I had a playground which was not far from my grandma’s house. It’s enormous with endless old railway.

What we usually did was wandering along the railway, or climbing up to the locomotive pretending to be a train driver. From time to time, I’ve listened to some stories about the area of my grandma’s house. I got to know it was called “Ba-­‐gun chia tau” in Taiwanese. It’s an important transfer station. During that time, the road from Northern to Southern Taiwan was not finished yet, so people relied on the train.

It was also the starting point of Alishan Railway, and the end of Tai-­sugar Railway. It was prosperous then. “I still remember I was heading to this station to Taipei, Grandma was standing by my side nagging at me: Hurry up! Hurry up!” my mom said. There were many restaurant, grocery stores, and jewelry centers springing up. Grandma also started a small business of selling furniture then.

After the road from north to south was finished and cars were common in every family, this street began to decline. Young generation moved to Taipei for work, leaving behind the old railway station and warehouses. Fortunately, thanks to some local people and historians, this area becomes an art center in recent years. Some artists moved here, and some exhibitions held in the old warehouse nowadays.

Traveled to many countries last year, I went back to grandma’s house again, finding there was a new coffee shop just next to it. “I think this street is full of stories.” The manager of the coffee shop said. I was surprised because I didn't know as much as what they’ve said to me. What they are doing is to let more people know the history of this place. Sometimes we desire to travel to other places which is far away, but maybe the most special story is just by your side, or in the place where you live.

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