Bicycle touring Taiwan: Taoyuan to Heren via Keelung

When Jack reached out and asked if Ferda and I were interested in a bicycle tour in Taiwan, we didn’t hesitate. It would be Jack’s first time leaving the US since he was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, he’s had a real adventure including chemotherapy and stem cell treatment. Taiwan wasn’t highest on our list after our short visit to Taipei only nine months earlier, but we were thrilled to be able to go on another adventure with Jack.

Ferda and I had a happily uneventful flight from Narita to Taoyuan (the city with Taipei’s international airport, as Narita is for Tokyo) and left our bicycle boxes at warmshowers hosts in Taoyuan, Julia and Yuhsi.

Ferda, Julia, Yuhsi by bryandkeith on flickr

Dealing with boxed bicycles (in taxis, trains, buses, airplanes) and what to do with those boxes while cycling is often the most stressful part of a bicycle tour. Julia and Yuhsi (and big taxis between the airport and their house) made this very easy for us.

It was a flat, fun ride the next day with a bit of a headwind to get to the centrally located hotel where Jack was waiting for us in Taipei.

IMG_20231122_133202 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231122_125550 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231122_141822 by bryandkeith on flickr

Finding restaurants and ordering meals was sometimes a bit of an adventure in Taiwan. This day we found a tasty lunch of rice, eggplant, tofu, cabbage, and as usual a few unidentifiables as well.

IMG_20231122_153329 by bryandkeith on flickr

And across the street, what a surprise, isn’t this Portuguese pastel de nata?!

IMG_20231122_155116 by bryandkeith on flickr

Well, why not? It arrived in Taiwan via (Portuguese) Macau.

This fancy-looking bridge was built only for non-motorized transportation:

IMG_20231122_160926 by bryandkeith on flickr

Ferda and I rolled into Taipei in the fading light,

IMG_20231122_165333 by bryandkeith on flickr

and pedaled out of the city the next day with Jack.

IMG_20231123_113642 by bryandkeith on flickr

We were still in the city when this kind, outgoing woman treated us to lunch.

IMG_20231123_141307 by bryandkeith on flickr

Only later did I realize that it was Thanksgiving Day!

IMG_20231123_143456 by bryandkeith on flickr

Remember about five months ago in the mountains NW of Cevizli (Akseki, Antalya) I ruined a derailleur and replaced it the following day with a cheap, used, crappy derailleur? Well, that fix lasted till this day, heading east out of Taipei.

The used hack job cheap derailleur from Cevizli (five months earlier) finally broke.  I had a spare chain and derailleur (excepting such an event) so the problem was easily solved. by bryandkeith on flickr

Expecting such an event I’d been carrying around a new spare chain and derailleur ever since. It was a fairly quick job and turned out to be biggest repair of the trip.

The next day we fought a headwind through Keelung and around the NE corner of the island. We rested near this Buddhist temple in Keelung.

IMG_20231124_083722 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231124_083247 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231124_083140 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231124_101548 by bryandkeith on flickr

In Nanya the only thing we could find to eat was steamed rice with spices and meat wrapped in corn husks, sold at a small store. These trekkers had bought them all and kindly shared with us.

IMG_20231124_113516 by bryandkeith on flickr

The forecast called for lots of rain so we spent two nights at a hotel in Fulong and walked the Caoling Historic Trail the next day. It was Saturday, and as we learned later, the Silver Grass Festival of the Caoling Historic Trail, so the trail in many sections was very crowded.

IMG_20231125_144014 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231125_105918 by bryandkeith on flickr

I guess you’re supposed to see silver grass views like these:

IMG_20231125_111336 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231125_123251 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231125_123821 by bryandkeith on flickr

The trail ends (or starts) at a temple in Dali where they were giving free food to hundreds of walkers that day.

IMG_20231125_133108 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231125_133543 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231125_141121 by bryandkeith on flickr

It ended up raining much more the following day as we rode south with a tailwind through Toucheng where we had a fantastic lunch — three dishes: cabbage, eggplant, and pork with veggies in a yummy sauce. The young woman who worked there was great, helping us with the order and making recommendations.

IMG_20231126_122620 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231127_094745 by bryandkeith on flickr

We were very happy to find a sheltered campsite that afternoon as it rained a lot while we were cooking and eating dinner.

IMG_20231127_065605 by bryandkeith on flickr

The next day we spent a few hours at the National Center for Traditional Arts in Lizejian. It was part amusement park, part gift shop, part museum. We watched some acrobats and a play with fun costumes. There was some beautiful lacquerware, silk weaving, and other crafts, and we learned about the traditional arts of lacquerware, wood carving, basket making, bamboo woven lacquer, and tin work. It was a fun stop, and we were able to get some lunch there before pedaling on.

IMG_20231127_105027 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231127_111420 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231127_115243 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231127_104503 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231127_121606 by bryandkeith on flickr

We pushed on that afternoon to a nice campsite at Dong-ao usually on roads with too much traffic.

IMG_20231127_140924 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231127_152133 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231127_161431 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231127_165846 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231128_083749 by bryandkeith on flickr

It was kind of a repeat the next day — some pretty coastal views, too much traffic, and a pleasant campsite (at Heren this time).

IMG_20231128_125808 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231129_063003 by bryandkeith on flickr

Looking back on the whole trip, I’d give this entire bit around the NE coast of the island a miss. There was simply too much traffic for it to be enjoyable. In retrospect we should have looked for smaller roads from the airport south to one of the cross-island roads and descended into Taroko Gorge.

That’s speculation, of course, ’cause we didn’t go that way. Taroko Gorge, however, is definitely worth seeing. That’s for the next post.

IMG_20231129_071433 by bryandkeith on flickr
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One Response to Bicycle touring Taiwan: Taoyuan to Heren via Keelung

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Looks great, though too bad about the traffic. We get to miss that, seeing just these pictures 🙂

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