Alishan

Alishan, April 12 - 13, 2010. Click pic for album

Taroko to Kending

Taroko Gorge to Kending, Feb 14 - 19, 2010.

Northern Cross Island Highway

Northern Cross Island Highway, May 19 - 21, 2008. Click pic for album
22nd August, 2008

Hengchun Peninsula

shouka-mudan7.jpgWe haven't been anywhere biking lately, so we decided to go biking with our friends this Sunday as usual, and then take the Mon-Tue to go somewhere else where we hadn't been before. So of course I had to do some advanced stretching/yoga and almost pull a muscle in my left thigh. Didn't turn out that bad, but it was bad enough that I couldn't put enough stress on the leg, so we decided to forgo the Sunday ride (the others went to Longdong anyway. Too hot, you see.), and do an easier ride over Mon-Tue. shouka-mudan4.jpg Looking at a few maps and thinking a bit, we decided to go down south again and bike across the Hengchun Peninsula (恆春半島), from Dawu (大武) in the southeast to Kending (墾丁) in the south. And what a ride it was. I don't know anyone who's done the ride, so we didn't know at all what to expect, only what the maps told us: it didn't even climb above 500m, and the climb wasn't very long or steep. Perfect for my leg. So we bought our tickets for the Sunday overnight Juguang (莒光) to Taidong (台東), where we transferred to a local train to Dawu at 6.37 the next morning. Here's how you do it: From Dawu to Daren (達仁), you're on the flats along provincial road 9. This is the southern link that connects Taiwan's east and west coast so there's a fair amount of traffic, both cars and heavy trucks. It has two lanes in each direction and a wide road shoulder on the flat parts, though, so it's still a tolerable ride. From Daren you continue along the 9 up to Shouka (壽卡) where you enter the lovely county road 199. Daren is where the climb starts, and you climb up to 487m, I think it was, over about 12km. Here at the southern tip of the Central Mountain Range, the sharp, rugged peaks have transformed into a landscape of rolling green hills, and every now and then you get to steal a peek of the clear blue Pacific. We were very lucky with the weather. Dark clouds to the south at 6.30 in the morning soon dissipated and gave way to clear, almost cloud free blue skies and searing sun light over the green hills. It was already really hot by 9-9.30, but hey, the views were good and the riding was great, so what's there to complain about? Just fill your water bottles and load your saddle bags with another three bottles of water and a Supao or some other sports drink (we find that the best mixture is 1/4 sports drink and 3/4 water: it gives taste, but is not sickeningly sweet). shouka-mudan8.jpg Just before we reached the top, a kilometer or so ahead of Shouka, there was a small temple by the road side with a resting place and shelter from the sun. It was 10.30 and hot, and D, who hadn't managed to get much sleep on the train, was tired, so we decided to take a nap and to get away from the heat for a while. I slept for almost an hour and a half on that hard wooden bench, while D once again couldn't sleep because four young kids parked their bikes next to her and didn't stop talking. Such is life. mudan-checheng2.jpg The 199 from Shouka via Mudan (牡丹) down to Checheng (車城) was a great road. With only one lane and almost no traffic, it meanders slowly downward, with so many bends that it is never boring. The scenery changes constantly, and there were plenty of views of the Pacific mirroring the scattered white clouds in the sky. In Mudan we stopped for some lunch at a charming little place in Dongyuan (東源) and a chat with some of the local kids. We then continued on, and the road remained changing and interesting down to Mudan Reservoir where the scenery became a bit more commonplace with more houses and people and traffic for the rest of the ride. shouka-mudan2.jpgBefore hitting Checheng we turned onto Pingdong towship road 151 (屏151), and then 152 to bypass the Checheng urban area. We then continued along the 153 and the very western part of the peninsula down toward Baisha (白沙) where we stayed for the night at White Hotel, a new, clean hotel (a year) with nice rooms, cable TV and wired/wireless Internet access for NT$2600 a night for a double. The somewhat rocky beach is across the road, and it was great to end the day with a dip in the luke warm ocean. The only drawback to the hotel, or so we thought, was that he hasn't opened a restaurant yet, which meant we had to go somewhere else for dinner, at least four or five kilometers away. Unless, of course, you're into ordering pizza or pasta and eating together with the owner, which he offered since we were om bikes. We were not, because when you're on the coast you want to eat sea food. He told us of a place in a fishing harbor 4k away, and we went. A great place. Super good, super fresh sea food, served on a table outside the restaurant right on the harbor so you could see the Taiwan Straits getting darker and darker as the sun set to the sound of waves breaking on the pier below. We loved it. In addition, it was a night with a clear and bright almost full moon casting shadows everywhere, and being so far away from a city, the skies were really black and the stars really bright. Haven't seen a night like that in a long time. And on the way back to the hotel we finally got to try out our NT$5,000 headlight. Bright as a car headlight, it turned out. Now we'll never have to worry about getting caught unprepared on a dark rainy night somewhere where there are no road lights and no way to see holes in the road again. mudan-checheng.jpg The next day we had a slow morning. I had to some work to do (what would we do without laptops?), and then we pedalled the 12 or so km into Kending for a Starbucks triple cappuccino and a cinnamon roll before we went down to Eluanbi and back. We bagged our bikes and got on a bus to Kaohsiung where we bought tickets for the high speed rail just after 8pm and arrived in Taipei again at 9.40pm. Two days well spent. train.jpg
A really, really, really old train
Facts:We took the overnight Juguang from Taipei to Taidong (NT$616) arriving just after 6am. At 6.37, we left from Taidong to Dawu on an old local train. A really, really, really old local train, in fact. We arrived in Dawu about an hour later.

Beginning on July 1, it's no longer allowed to travel with a bagged bike on this train, since new regulations say that it is only allowed on trains with no seat reservations. If you do anyway, you should supposedly be charged a normal transportation fee for the bike. We have done this trip several times and didn't know of the change until we got on the train, but that's exactly what the info on the train said. Luckily, the car host was kind enough not to mention that at all, he just bitched a bit because we blocked up too much space, and then he went on his way.

There are many options to travel from Kending to Kaohsiung: bus, taxi or minivan, all around NT$300-NT$500 per person. We took a minivan to Zuoying HSR station, where we bought seats to Taipei for just under NT$1200. There is a big luggage space at each end of the cars where you can easily put a bagged bike or two.

Distances: Dawu to Daren 9.5km, Daren to Shouka 11.5km, Shouka to Checheng, 38km, Checheng to Baisha, about 25km. In Baisha, we stayed at White Hotel in a double for NT$2600.

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