Le Tour De Taiwan – Day 29

28 days later… and I’m getting close to the end of my bicycle trip around Taiwan. Fortunately I saved the best for last!

View From Hehuan Mountain Main Peak

Sunny View From Hehuanshan Main Peak

Fugang – Hualien

After an overdose of relaxation on Orchid Island, the ferryboat took me back to the picturesque little harbor of Fugang. The time I jumped on my bike, darkness was falling. But I didn’t mind getting a dusky ride. Around 11 PM and 100 km further north I pitched my tent on a campsite with the well–sounding name “Shihtiping” in the small town of Fengbing.

A perfect spot, if it wasn’t for the grumpy man brusquely waking me up the next morning around 6 AM. The angry gentleman turned out to be the owner, requesting me to pay 8ooTWD. An absurd amount for my ridiculously small one-person tent sadly placed in the grass (for comparison: a hostel dorm usually costs around 500 TWD). After a long and difficult negotiation involving my hands, feet and a site named “google translate” I paid 400 TWD and continued my journey. A campsite named “Shihtiping”? I should’ve known…

Fengbin Harbor Early in the Morning

Fengbin Harbor Early in the Morning

The remaining stretch from Fengbin to Hualien city was short. And as the nightly biking the previous day went well, I was all set for an easy day of relaxed cycling. On arrival in Hualien I realized that it was short, but definitely not as effortless as expected. To make my point:

Elevation profile Fengbin - Hualien City

View Along the Coastal Road to Hualien

View Along the Coastal Road to Hualien

Hualien – Taroko – Hehuanshan

Since I left on the bike, I had been thinking about climbing one of the many mountains in Taiwan. And after all, what would “Le Tour De Taiwan” be without a decent “queen stage”? Back in Taipei, Cecilia had shown me footage of her heroic climb of Mt. Hehuan (aka Hehuanshan aka “Joy Mountain”) during wintertime. Great inspiration! The climb is extra interesting because of its accessibility. The main peak can be climbed from Wuling (at 3,275 m the highest  pass in Taiwan). Moreover, the road to the climb from Hualien crosses the magnificent Taroko National Park.

The profile of the climb (more here – Taiwan Kom Challenge):

Elevation Profile Hualien - Hehuan Mountain

Elevation profile Hualien – Hehuanshan Mountain

I decided to pitch up my tent around Heliu in the Taroko gorge (altitude 400 m) Sunday late afternoon. The next morning I woke up at 5AM to tackle around 60 km of climbing towards the town of Guanyuan (altitude 2.374 m).

Taroko Gorge Valley View

Taroko Gorge Valley View

The climb was physically challenging with the MTB and the extra weight wasn’t helping to get up faster either. Luckily more than enough reasons to forget the physical strain: a beautiful sunrise, my very first encounter with (shy) Taiwanese monkeys and the majestic natural surroundings all along the way. Sometimes though, the road got dangerously close. Luckily warning signs were provided 🙂

Road close

Beware: Road Close

After a short night sleep in the Youth hostel in Guanyuan (there’s only one just in case you were wondering) I got started for the most beautiful part: the actual ascent towards Hehuanshan Mountain. Only 17 km between Guanyuan and the final climb but no doubt the hardest bit on the journey so far. Several parts have an elevation percentage above 12%. However, every bit of the journey was worth it. The view at 3.416 m above sea level on the main peak of Hehuanshan is stunning!

Hehuan Mountain Main Peak

Hehuan Mountain – 3.416 m

Advertisements

Le Tour De Taiwan – Day 18

I’m writing from Lanyu (Orchid Island), a small volcanic island off the southeastern coast of Taiwan. The plan was to spend 4 days on this little piece of paradise. However, because of the rough sea, yesterday’s boat was canceled. The perfect moment to write a short report about the last 9 days of cycling and traveling through the “Ilha Formosa”.

Heading From South to East

Heading From South to East

After having spent a day of exploring around Kenting, I got back on the road towards the east coast of Taiwan. Because of the strong wind, I was moving slow. Not that much of a problem considering the breathtaking scenery around me.

Breathtaking View Cycling Towards the East

Breathtaking View Cycling Towards the East

I decided to give my legs some rest and my upper body some work in the relaxed surfer town Jialeshui where I crashed at Winson’s house. Two days later, after a late afternoon surf session I bumped into another (crazy) Belgian! Koen is a fellow Prince Albert Fund alumni that spent one year working in Taipei. As we were moving in the same direction, we decided to bike together the next morning.

Surfing is So Happy

Surfing is So Happy…

Sunset in Jialeshui

Jialeshui Sunset

We took off early for one of the toughest but most beautiful “stages” of Le Tour de Taiwan until now: Jialeshui to Taimali (to see the route click here).  It was great to have a companion during the 115 km long ride in the sweltering heat on a hilly route (1551 m of incline). For those wondering where I get the stats from: Koen is an electrical engineer interested in technology registering our every move with one of his many useful apps.

Jialeshui - Taimali

Jialeshui – Taimali

Quite remarkable are the many “police stations” along the road. The criminality must be close to zero in most of the east as the stations function as “bicycle service areas”, invariably staffed with policemen keen on providing food, water, a place to sleep or information about Taiwan.

Police Station or Service Station for Cyclists?

Police Station or Service Station for Cyclists?

Sleeping Spot in Taimali

Sleeping Spot in Taimali

After a short and rainy night, we got up at 4.30 am and drove 30 km towards the pretty harbor town of Fugang. We arrived around 7 only to find out that the ferry wasn’t leaving until 9.30. Luckily we found shelter in one of the nearly five thousand (!)  7-ELEVEN stores in Taiwan.

Fugang Port

Fugang Port

The last few days on Orchid Island were spent snorkeling, diving and hiking. In short: enjoying life. However, the desire to head towards the mountains is growing. Hopefully the sea will be quiet enough to catch the scheduled ferry on Tuesday so I can continue my journey!

Port of Lanyu

Port of Lanyu

Diving

Two Crazy Belgians and One Crazy Fish

Lanyu View

Lanyu View

Sunset over Lanyu

Lanyu sunset

Le Tour De Taiwan – Day 9

After a good night sleep I got on the road together with Hom Yian, Cecilia’s dad. Hom Yian is (besides friendly and generous) a worried Asian father and wanted to make sure I’d safely make my way out of Taipei. So he decided to join me for the first day.  At times it must have been hilarious to witness us  communicating, in a language we both don’t speak. A remarkable duo to say the least 🙂

Ready to go!

The first three days on the bike were quite challenging. After having spent a wonderful time enjoying city-life in Taipei, it was hard to get adapted to the cycling rhythm. A burning sun with temperatures well above 30 and the realization that I should have packed lighter were not making it any easier. Next to that, along the west coast of the island there’s a lot of heavy industry. Understandably this does not make it the most beautiful area to be cycling through. Finding sleeping space or a spot to pitch my tent was hard as well. So I had to turn to the Almighty Buddha again. The first night I slept in a small Buddhist “chapel”. The second night, the Buddha’s smile turned even brighter and I enjoyed a (free) stay in a full-blown temple (with bedding, hot showers and stunning sunset).

Sleeping Spot First Night

Sleeping Spot Second Night: Fangyuan Temple

Sleeping Spot Second Night: Fangyuan Temple

Sunset Near Fangyuan Temple

Meanwhile, some friends had notified me about typhoon Usagi moving closer to Taiwan slowly but steadily. I decided to bike to Tainan where I met up with the local mermaid-girl Trista (thanks for the referral Joanne!). Once again I found myself amazed by the genuine hospitality of Taiwanese people as I was celebrating the Moon festival together with Trista and her lovely family. Thanks for the wonderful time we spent together and the tasty Taiwanese food you made me try!

With another 5 extra kilos I made my way further south (to the city of Kenting). The scenery has changed and I am now experiencing the true (natural) beauty of Taiwan. Some shots along the way and during a trip I made today:

Entering Pingtung County

Namwan Beach Tractor

Nanwan Beach Tractor

Houbihou Port. No Fishing

Baisha Beach

Baisha Beach

Sunset Near Guanshan

Guanshan Sunset

Tomorrow I’m planning to continue my journey towards the east side of Taiwan. Looking forward after what I’ve seen last few days!

P.s. Sometimes I miss Belgium.

Belgian Beer. Available in Taiwan as Well!

Sometimes I Miss Belgium 🙂

Photographic Impressions Busan (South Korea)

(Tasty?) Street Food (Busan – Taipei) 

Bite my Tongue

A Happy Pig

Street Fooood

Pig's Trotters

Pig’s Trotters

("Pierced") cock in Taipei (Taiwan)

“Pierced” cocks in Taipei

A City With a View

A Room With a View (From Couchsurfing Host Sam’s Flat)

Fishing the East Sea

P1060976

A City With a View I

All roads lead to… Tokyo?

A City With a View II

Haedong Yonggunsa Buddhist Temple (해동 용궁사)

A Temple With a View

Praying for Good Grades

The Baby Buddha Needs a Good Washing

And the Buddha? He just smiled...

And the Buddha? He just smiled…