Having spent the first 4 days of our Taiwan trip in a relative comfort and familiarity of a capital city we were ready for an adventure!
We had read a few blogs that had raved about the beautiful and fairly easy cycle trail down Highway 11 in the national scenic area between Hualien and Taitung. We had to give it a go!
We arrived at Hualien mid morning and found that the Giant bike shop near the station either was out of bikes or had none left – disaster. We were directed to another shop, “A Sheng” and after a little while and a lot of sign language and gesturing, we were on our way!
Only 180km to go…
A few minutes outside of Hualien marks the start of the east coast national scenic area and with the pacific on one side and the mountains on the other, it was stunning.
Almost no traffic and designated bicycle lanes (shared with mopeds) made for easy and safe riding.
The first day of cycling was hard… we were (embarrassingly) still getting over our terrible new years eve hangovers and our bodies had not been used to such intensive exercise since our trekking in the Himalayas back in September / October. Despite this we relished the opportunity to get back in the saddle (pun intended!)
Just before sunset on the first day we were hurriedly trying to get to the next town to find somewhere to stay before dark, when I heard some whimpering from a deep gutter by the side of the road…
We managed to rescue the beautiful little puppy… but then what to do with it! After repeatedly trying to leave it in safe areas but then not being able to walk away as it cried after us we pushed our bikes up the road and found a house where a young man spoke some broken English. Ryan explained what had happened and that we couldn’t take it (although we DESPERATELY wanted to!), his immediate response was “I will take it”. Another testimony to the kindness of Taiwanese people – I dread to think what someone would say if the same happened in England!
We quickly cycled to the next town – now dark – and found a police station (which cyclists are encouraged to use as rest stops, for bike repairs and general directions!). They happily called up a hotel which was a few doors away and waved us off as we saw the owner of the hotel ahead showing us the way to go!
The hotel was amazingly friendly and our room and balcony faced directly onto the pacific ocean. We had the best meal we had had in days at the only restaurant in town and the hotel owner followed us down the street to make sure we found it and ordered ok! A traditional Chinese breakfast the next morning was interesting, especially with an accompaniment of the owners home made plum wine!
Our lovely hotel and very helpful owner in Xinshe.
A little sore from the previous day we set off in search of more stunning scenery and were delighted to also have the best weather of our whole time in Taiwan.
After passing by many beautiful views and fishing villages we arrived at the Tropic of Cancer marker… along with coach loads of Chinese tourists!
We reached our destination, Chenggong, in the late afternoon and checked into our room, which this time has a beautiful misty mountain view from the balcony.
The following day we did our last 50km to Taitung – our final destination. Some interesting wicker sculptures en route!
We arrived sore, tired but elated having completed the trip without harming ourselves or the bikes!
We then caught a taxi 20km out of town to Zhiben, which is famous for it’s hot spring hotels. With an almost empty communal hot spring area (complete with a range of massage jets) and a hot spring water pool in our room, we made sure we soaked our aching muscles well before retuning to Taipei via Taitung the next morning.
A fantastic trip and lovely way to see a very different side to the country – definitely recommended!
Here is a time lapse video of our entire 3 day ride!
After our ride we had two more nights in Taipei before moving onto our next destination… Bangkok for a couple of nights en route to Myanmar!