First, I traveled with China Southern Airways, and I’ve had a decent flight. I would recommend this airline company.
On telecommunications matters, when landing at Taipei airport, it is very easy to get a local SIM card and MRT card. However, I do not recommend to get MRT EasyCard at Airport. Buy it at a MRT station instead, as you can get a refund of your remaining balance whenever you want, plus your deposit.
Once again, I used my Radical Design Chubby trailor. Other passengers checked-in big heavy luggage. On arrival, I noticed only usual minor damages on my bike :)
As for the journey, I traveled on a single basis. Thus I fully used my brompton as a commuting device I could bring with me on train, bus, etc. This enhanced my experience, and avoided me so much painful efforts!!
The cities I stayed were nice for both shopping and food. I’ve always been able to find budget/mid-range accommodation (NT600 - NT1,800) using smartphone apps Airbnb/Agoda. However, there are many more offers offline. Sometimes you can find them on google maps, sometimes not. I guess it’s much more easy when you can speak local language :)
My initial plan was to travel about 7-11 days before getting back to Taipei for a few days. Actually, I checked my route every morning, depending of local information I could get, especially the central weather bureau forecasts.
On Day 0, my flight was heavily delayed due to hazy conditions, so I stayed in Taipei one more night to get accostumed with the city, including visiting local area close to my hostel, heritage district, and some night markets. This city is very nice for shopping :)
On Day 2, I cycled from Taipei to Luodong along quiet highway 9. It was a very smooth ride, pleasant even thought on a light rainy day. Arrival from the mountains on Yilan wetland was amazing, with so much water you can see on a bird view.
On Day 3, because of rainy weather I visited a local entertainting museum about traditional arts, which proved quite interesting, where I learned about traditional way of living, and traditional educative system in the past.
On Day 4, because weather forecast were still rainy along East coast, I decided to head southwest into the mountains. Therefore, I took a mid-day bus from Luodong to Li Shan. The road was very scenic, with rough river landscape after typhoon, and sunny alpine landscape over the clouds :) After 4 hours, the bus reached its final stop, and I stayed in Li Shan overnight.
I think it would be a good idea to stay one more day for hiking in Shei-Pa National Park, but it didn’t fit in my plan.
On Day 5, I cycled from Li Shan to Chin Jing. Ride on highway 8 was very pleasant and quite easy. After crossroads with highway 14, the road was so steep I pushed my Brompton almost 90% of the time, under rain and mist. Fortunately, at noon there was a first warm rest area, with good snacks to eat :p
After the mountain pass at 3,275m, weather conditions improved a lot, and I felt safe when descending a dry road to Cing Jing, so-called Switzerland of Taiwan. Moreover, I could enjoy the landscape. The guest house was very nice, and my host was very helpful.
On Day 6, I cycled from Cing Jing to Sun Moon Lake. Scenic highway down to Puli was quite busy, but I was riding fast so I was glad not to climb the road with these traffic conditions. However from Puli to Sun Moon Lake highway was going up and was not so good. Maybe it would have been a better choice to ride CR893, but I wouldn’t have seen the first backroads, with tourist attractions. Moreover, I wouldn’t have meet two long term cyclist travelers. So, overall it was a good ride, and I had time enough for cycling round the lake, on bikeways, and to have a quick look inside a temple, with its history.
On Day 7, I should have book a bus up to Alishan. But the minibus was full, so I booked another minibus in the morning going south to Xitou. I recommend NOT going to Alishan by bus from Sun Moon Lake. I arrived at 11AM, could leave my luggage at hostel, so I enjoyed half-day hiking in Xitou Recreation Forest. That was nice.
On Day 8, I wanted to sleep in Chiayi. Therefore, I cycled remote backroads into the mountains. On the first (and most difficult) pass, I enjoyed olong tea tasting for the first time in my life, and it was very nice. Afterthat, I coughed a train at Douliu station going to Chiayi.
On Day 9, I took a 9.10AM bus up to Alishan. The road was busy so I was glad to take the bus. I arrived 3 hours later in Alishan. There is a small tip. Before you get to the final bus stop, every passenger is required to buy a ticket admission in Alishan Recreational Area. Because I stayed a very few time, I could get a refund of my ticket when crossing out the checkpoint. After that, I cycled 100+km to Jiji Township, in 5+hours. I met a new time the two cyclists who had started the climb of Alishan 2 days ago. You can follow their blog at http://everydayadventureclub.tumblr.com
On Day 10, I had to be in Taipei before night. Therefore, I cycled down to Tianzhou station for a transit ride, where there was a marathon running event. There, I took a train to Taipei. I was happy to notice every row of seats had space enough to store potentially a road bike whenever it fits inside a bag like if you would ship it by plane.
On Day 11, I cycled with a local brompton cyclist along the Riverside bikeway, down to Tamsui and Damshui. That was a very pleasant ride, and we’ve been lucky one more time with weather conditions. We came back in town by MRT, and had time enough to hike the first part of Elephant Mountain track.
On Day 12, last full day in Taiwan, I wanted to take some rest, I visited National Palace Museum with a roommate, close to Silin night market. That was interesting and I learnt more about history of China.
On Day 13, after I say goodbye to people in Taipei, I packed quickly my luggage, and I enjoyed a 8 hours stopover in Guangzhou Airport with my laptop to start writing down kind of travel record… 4 hours to go…
Taiwan is a tourist-friendly and cyclist-friendly destination. I’ve been very lucky there, and I broke some personal top records. I missed many attractions, but I enjoyed my holidays. I would like to thank again everyone I met during these 2 weeks. This Facebook post focuses on the bike-touring side, so that it might be useful to travelers :) But the human relationship side is important for me as well, and Taiwan is great :))
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