This week started with an excellent breakfast of pork buns and steamed soy milk. The food here is really good, when we manage to order! Then we cycled up to the earthquake lakes. We had a nice climb on a tiny backroad, then an awful climb – way too steep, up to the lakes. We had to push most of the way, but the lakes were beautiful and it was a great, quiet camping spot with amazing views.
More rolling and scenic backroads took us to Sun Moon Lake, one of the big tourist attractions. It was pretty and there was quite a nice cycle path around the lake, but it was very busy.
From Sun Moon Lake we dropped down to Shuli then started a very decent climb, following a huge river we rolled along a scenic valley. There were huge mountains surrounding us, and once we left the valley and the climb kicked up a notch, we were cycling through scenic forest and some pretty cool tunnels. By the top it was cold and misty, at some points you couldn’t see more than a few meters ahead, and we kept seeing monkeys. We climbed up to 2690 m over 65 km, but it wasn’t too steep, just a really good climb.
At the top we couldn’t find a decent camp spot so stayed at the rather pamir-esque Dongpu Lodge. We were glad to be inside because it got really cold! But by morning the mist had cleared and we were rewarded with some amazing views down into Alishan National Park.
We got a very long descent, enjoying the views of the surrounding mountains in ‘the sea of clouds’, and saw lots of monkeys. Alishan National Park was really beautiful and quite varied as we descended into the heat. We climbed over to Fushian, and suddenly everywhere we looked there was tea growing on the mountain side. That night we camped outside a temple in a tiny village. The family who lived there were really friendly and kept bringing us fruit and snacks, and talking to us even though we couldn’t really understand what they were trying to say!
Leaving the temple with alot of oranges, we had a easy ride over to Minxiong, mostly on the cycle route one, which is the main cycle route round the coast of Taiwan. It was flat, on quite a big main road, and pretty boring. We have been making the right call staying in the hills! In Minxiong we stayed with lucas (W. S), a really friendly Spanish guy who’s now living here. He gave us lots of good tips!
We then had a very short day into Chaiyi, and an afternoon wandering the city, before spending another day on the boring one cycling to Tainan. Although there were a few quite nice segregated cycle path sections. Tainan is described in the lonely planet as being the place Taiwanese people will be jealous you have visited, so we thought we had best check it out!
Jim’s words – Lazy, Shelter, Monkeys, Temple, Oranges, City and One.