Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Taiwan Cycling Route 1 and the amazing 15 places along the ride

Many people are interested and tempted to do cycling trip in Taiwan, but they have no concrete idea about the trip. (台湾环岛骑行) So I am writing this article to introduce Taiwan cycling route no.1 - Formosa900 to everyone.
ALSO, reveal 15 best views and places that could heal you from the tiredness of the long ride!

Firstly, Taiwan Cycling Route no.1 is said to be a comparatively easy route, hence those who want to give it a try or the beginners may consider starting from taking this route! The route is specially designed for circuiting round the Taiwan Island by bicycle. The length of the route is about 939.5km in total and generally can be completed within 9 days (As how our tour was done). We completed the route by riding around the island in counterclockwise direction. It was easier at the first few days, as we bike on the flat roads from city to city following the west coast road. The counterclockwise direction ride is the wise choice I would say. Due to the reason 1- It first trains our physical fitness, allow our body to get used to the long ride with less inclines, as well as allowing us to pick up biking skills during the first few days. Reason 2- Although the ride gets more challenging when come to the east coast, but the east coast is amazing! Ride along the scenery is much more enjoyable than the west coast. Personally think that leave the beautiful views to the last part is a better idea!

 That is a simple introduction to route-1, and now I am going to show you what are the sceneries and places you will be seeing when you take the cycling route no.1 - day by day! The 15 places that I am deeply in love with in Taiwan.

DAY 1 – Taipei Songshan Train Station (Beginning of Cycling Route No. 1) -> Hsinchu.
Cycling Distance of the Day: appx 100km

Departing from Taipei, Taipei101 will definitely be in front of your eyes!! It was a gloomy day, but nothing could stop the passion to bike. Taipei 101 as the kick start of the day in gloomy Taipei.

What I like the most throughout day-1 ride was the WEST COAST! Ride along the coast is super motivating! I was surprised and impressed because I never know that Taiwan is using Wind Power at certain areas, at the west coast you can see a lot of huge wind turbines standing by the sea. The fact that the country is using the eco-friendly natural power of wind to generate electricity is so beautiful. I am glad that Taiwan simply won my heart already just with that on the first day.

DAY2 - Hsinchu ->Lukang, Changhua.
Cycling Distance of the Day: appx 105km

 Second day ride started with one of my favorite sceneries of the trip! XIANGSHAN WETLAND. I almost couldn’t hold my excitement in front of this scenery, keep wanted to scream it out but well, I controlled, and kept riding!

We rode along the famous 17km riding pathway, which is named “The most beautiful riding pathway in Northern Taiwan”. I can’t agree more. The blue sky connecting to the wetland makes everything so much easier. I am willing to ride forever if all the riding paths look like this.

On the same day, we came to the largest Goddess of Sea temple in Taiwan, Gong Tian Gong. Talking about the temple, Most of the Taiwanese Taoism believers pray to the Goddess of Sea, God of land and also God of the General. Anyway, the most frequently seen one is the Goddess of Sea, as Taiwan is surrounded by the sea and a lot of the locals used to be fishermen, they prayed to the goddess for safe sail and good harvest. Even though the number of fishermen has decreased, the habit of praying to the Goddess of Sea is still celebrated by most of the Taiwanese.

DAY 3 - Lukang, Changhua -> Chiayi City.
Cycling Distance of the Day: appx 80km

 The first stop of Day 3 was to visit Lukang Long Shan Temple, one of the First Grade Taiwan Cultural Properties. It is so old that you can tell from the details of the building. It has definitely went through reconstructions and maintenance, but in terms to keep the originality of the building, all the processes throughout all this long were carried out extra carefully without adding unnecessary creative or decorative items onto it. I am moved and really appreciate the effort that they tend to maintain the outlook of the temple as hundreds years ago. So that what I am seeing today is just like how it originally was!

After the temple, we crossed the red Xiluo Bridge which the length of it is 1,939.03 meters. It was the second longest bridge at the time its construction was completed, following the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco. It was a pleasant ride across the bridge, as the view is stunning along the bridge.

The 3rd day was amazing! Because we visited so many awesome places and next, Ban Tao Yao Clay Craft Village.

Every corner of the village is decorated with the clay craft. Look at the background of our group photo, the tree and flowers are made from the clay teapots, bowls and plates.

Day 4 - Chiayi City (bike 60km) -> Kaohsiung City.
Cycling Distance of the Day: appx 117km

 Kaohsiung is the second largest city of Taiwan following Taipei city. Ride into the city is basically being surrounded by cars, scooters, and trucks. It was the longest riding day, as well as a super rushing day. Nothing much found besides the traffics, but look at what I have discovered along the road.

I saw a lot this kind of farms along the road. I first thought those are lotus but after that I found out those are Water Chestnut Farms! Water chestnut? This:

Water chestnut planting is one of the local agricultural activities in Taiwan. The local ladies in the photo are busy harvesting the products. Sadly, due to the water chestnut consumers are getting lesser over this few years, there’s a special species of bird in Taiwan named Pheasant-tailed jacana, habitats in the water chestnut farms is now endangered. If people stop eating water chestnuts, they will extinct sooner or later. I don’t like the taste of water chestnut much but for the sake of that bird, I ATE THEM. Let’s eat more water chestnut in Taiwan.

DAY5- Kaohsiung → Checheng .
Distance of cycling: appx85km

 Down to the south of Taiwan, Kending sea view has been awesome! Half of the trip has been completed, the tiredness and sore in legs and body needless to be mentioned but the pain was gone when I saw the sea. Kending, one of the places I have always wanted to visit in Taiwan. Beautiful blue everywhere!

Never forget Port Checheng. Beautiful sunset, I kind of hope time could stop here for a second, although it didn't but luckily we had the perfect morning breeze before the departure of the toughest day.

DAY6 – Checheng → Taitung.
Distance of cycling: appx 115km

 Toughest day as we need to “ride hike” 2 hills. I would rather hike than ride, or just ride. But this time, both at the same time. Before the hills we can tell that we have entered the east part of Taiwan, as we can slowly see more of the Taiwan native patterns and buildings all along the way; for example this bridge of Mudan Village.

Forgot to tell that we are now in the Tropical zone! Check out our Bunga Raya (National Flower of Malaysia) in Taiwan!

And then there we go, hike Shouka Hill with a bicycle. Incline and incline and incline until the top. Anyway, the tough part is totally worth it. Look at the view!

Following the Shouka Hill, there’s another view that kept me paddling although I once thought I can go home already - The Pacific Ocean View. Every uphill brought us to the best view point to see the Pacific Ocean. I personally obsessed with nature and blue color. It was a gloomy day but the sea view did not disappoint me!

DAY 7 - Taitung → Ruisui.
Distance of cycling: appx 101km

 Taiwan has a lot of rice paddy farms. I would say Chishang Paddy Field was the most amazing paddy field in this trip. Riding on the scenic route in the farm reminds me many songs which sing about the paddy fields. I love paddy fields! Remember I planted rice paddy in Krabi and took pictures of the rice paddy from the train in Japan? Maybe the reason is because “No rice, No life.” said the guide "Chao Chao" in the next photo.

Another beautiful place for the cyclists to hang in Taitung will be Longtian Field, broad grass field with mountains as the background. Happy riding on the grass!

The most amazing part of day 7 is that, we have arrived at the town of Hot spring – Ruisui! I need you to imagine how great it is to be soaked in the hot spring after 7 days of riding. We agreed that it has been the best way to relief sore and tiredness so far.

DAY 8 - Ruisui → Luodong.
Distance of cycling: appx 65km *Hualien to Luodong by Train.

  It was a heavy raining day. Over the past week before this day, I haven’t get on any other transportation besides bicycle. I was so excited! The reason why we took a train instead of biking is because the road to Luodong is by the cliff and big corners, a lot of trucks and cars will be passing by and the route is tough. It concerns our safety, dangerous for beginner like me to ride through that part, so we took the train after a half day ride. Rested well in the hotel, the next day was the LAST day of the ride.

DAY 9 – Luodong → Shongshan Train Station
Cycling distance: appx 113km

 The last day was another heavy raining day. Also we hiked another hill to enter Taipei. It was tough but harder to believe that the whole cycling tour has just ended with that last tough hike. I still want to ride more along the sea!

  Taiwan has been awesome. Riding has been awesome. Riding around Taiwan has been an amazing experience (I hope I have successfully delivered the greatness with my words, did I?). But the most awesome thing was to ride with the RIGHT people. First thanks to myself for accepting the challenge, or in fact being naïve “900km is not long right?” which makes me met the teammates. Cyclists are cool or just them? Maybe everyone should start riding a bike to meet cool people!
Thanks to everyone I met during the trip, people who share the hardships together, be in the beautiful views together, laughed and cried together and completed Taiwan cycling route no.1 together! What make a trip extra meaningful and memorable are people! If you now have someone in mind who you would like to cycle around Taiwan with, please tag him/her to let them know! And then start planning for your own amazing Taiwan Cycling trip!

Thank You for Reading! This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience. If you have a different opinion, feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

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