Wrapping up Taiwan: from Cabazon? to the Taoyuan airport

Palm trees and a huge T-Rex along the highway! We must be in Cabazon, right?

IMG_20231212_101108 by bryandkeith on flickr

It’s actually Chenggong near Fangshan. Kind of weird (like Cabazon).

Our goal was to get to Taiwan’s second largest city, Kaohsiung, since we had managed to buy train tickets from there to get our bicycles (and us too) north.

Before getting too urban we managed to find this campsite a couple kms NNE of Wulong. There were too many mosquitoes, and it was hot enough that we were sweating just sitting in the tent (in December!).

IMG_20231213_075037 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231213_085202 by bryandkeith on flickr

These last three days in the south of the island were the hottest of the trip.

Before reaching the center of Kaohsiung, we had to pass the port, the biggest in Taiwan and “among the biggest container handling facilities globally“. The riding was way more pleasant than it could have been because of the separated (regular size) lane for motorcycles (on the left) and bicycles (on the right). Nice infrastructure.

Closer to the city we got onto some pleasant bicycle paths and smaller streets.

IMG_20231213_120525 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231213_122057 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231214_064629 by bryandkeith on flickr

We stumbled upon a yummy (Japanese-style?) hotpot place for dinner that night, the only such meal we had in Taiwan.

IMG_20231213_195631 by bryandkeith on flickr

Buying train tickets and getting on and off the train with our bicycles turned out to be very easy. The trick is figuring out which trains allow bicycles. Julia, our warmshowers host in Taoyuan, helped with that.

IMG_20231214_072332 by bryandkeith on flickr

We crossed the Tropic of Cancer, and as we approached Taichung, my frame seemed jittery. From the train vibration or homecoming anticipation? We passed within 300m of Maxway Cycles. All three of us have Surly frames, and that’s where they were made! Had we been pedaling through there I would have liked to stop. Gyes, the manufacturer of my saddle, is also in Taichung.

We disembarked in Houlong and went straight to a restaurant.

IMG_20231214_115924 by bryandkeith on flickr

On previous Taiwan blogs I complained about traffic and our routing. Well, here on the west side of the island, the road density is much higher, and we were able to find some wonderful riding on quiet roads. We only had three days of cycling left, but it was some of the nicest of the trip.

IMG_20231214_155706 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231214_144922 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231214_162516 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231215_093214 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231215_112215 by bryandkeith on flickr

In Nanbu Eric runs a place where kids come to learn hands-on about Hakka food culture. He treated us to a yummy Hakkanese lunch.

IMG_20231215_121609 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231215_125159 by bryandkeith on flickr

Beipu has a small preserved old district, something we found rarely in Taiwan.

IMG_20231215_131958 by bryandkeith on flickr

Starting a steep climb late that afternoon, Fanny stopped us and offered very tasty dried persimmons. She also told us to camp at the temple at the top of the pass, something we might not have done without her encouragement.

There was electricity, cold water for bathing, and hot water for drinking. Nice! The next morning, a Saturday, was cold and windy, but these young, strong, enthusiastic trail runners did not seem bothered by the weather.

IMG_20231216_074057 by bryandkeith on flickr

In Guanxi we bought this:

IMG_20231216_101252 by bryandkeith on flickr

which we learned later was pork floss, pork processed such that it is very thin. I often saw “pork floss” on the onigiri labels in Japan, but I didn’t know what it looked like.

Guanxi also seems to be famous for shao chien chao (仙草冰? xiān cǎo bīng?):

IMG_20231216_105227 by bryandkeith on flickr

It was chilly all day, certainly the coldest day of the trip (time to go somewhere warm? perhaps Cebu?), and we were in all our rain gear for the last half hour or so to Julia and Yuhsi’s house in Taoyuan.

IMG_20231216_091534 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231216_134728 by bryandkeith on flickr

Jack took off early the next day to get his bicycle and luggage sorted out near the airport. Ferda and I had a more casual schedule and took a couple nice walks near Julia’s house.

IMG_20231219_084243 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231219_105524 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231219_113059 by bryandkeith on flickr

So long, Taiwan.

IMG_20231219_185646 by bryandkeith on flickr
Taoyuan airport
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