Sometime before dawn, a group of dedicated travellers huddle in the dark cold of a small mountain train station. Little puffs of breath rise on the frosty air, and with arms crossed into jackets, the group shuffles along as a rickety old diesel train chugs up to the platform and comes to a sudden, creaking halt.
It’s midnight, and you’re on the beach, wading carefully through the rock pools left behind by low tide. The only sound: the waves rushing back and forth. The only light coming from your head torch. Taking care not to step on the dozens of black, lethally spiky sea anemones you’ve just spotted lurking in the rocky crevasses, you turn off your light and are plunged into near-total darkness.
Tropical southern Taiwan is a land of turquoise waters and rocky coasts, night markets and beach bars, succulent seafood and fresh produce. One of southeast Asia's unsung beach destinations, in-the-know regional travellers have been quietly rocking up here to relax in chilled-out coastal towns and explore tropical inland parks.