This week started off with our last days in New Zealand. We took a ferry from Gulf harbour into central Aukland, and spent the afternoon catching up with one of my friends from Bath, who I haven’t seen in nearly a decade. We then stayed with Lewis and Brandy, American warm showers hosts who were really interesting people to hang out with!
Our last day was spent cycling to the airport, collecting packing materials as we went, and packing up the bikes. Luckily Air New Zealand sell bike boxes! We had a lazy afternoon at the airport hostel, and a final burger before getting an early night for our flight.
Up super early for the flight only to find it was delayed by two hours, we managed one last supermarket trip and got some airport food vouchers so we were happy. The flight was really nice too, I could order snacks and drinks via my TV. We arrived in Taiwan late, but our amazing warm showers hosts Julia and Yoshi had arranged a van to pick us up!
We spent the next day at Julia and Yoshi’s assembling the bikes and lazing around. We went to Carrefour (yes they have them here!), and enjoyed some amazing food thanks to Julia. Then, we were off. It was the end of the Lunar New Year holiday period, so everywhere was super quiet. We took the main road to Daxi then climbed into the hills on a quiet back road. Everything was misty and cloudy, and we weaved through bamboo forests, with lots of up and down.
At lunch a friendly local cyclist helped us order noodles as we quickly realised that we absolutely cannot communicate with anyone who doesn’t speak English. We will have to work on this. That evening we asked where we could camp at the police station of a small town, and were given a police escort to a local swimming park.
The next day we figured out how to get lunch at the convenience store – they have microwaves, kettles and everything you could ask for! I think we will be spending alot of time in the 7/11s and Family Marts. And we took another back road, with a lovely long climb, which got horribly steep at the top! But rewarded with a fun descent, we sped down to Shitan on a tiny lane through the forest.
Finding somewhere to camp was quite hard, but we finally found a posh campsite after cycling through a ton of strawberry fields! Lots of people doing pick your own. It’s so weird that it’s the peak season for strawberries and oranges when it’s February! It’s also dark by 6pm here, which isn’t helping with trying to stay awake to beat the jetlag.
Yesterday we had more of the same, first the main road through strawberry fields, then getting more remote, hilly and windy as we got onto smaller inland roads. Another big long climb, made up of three huge hairpins, then a fun descent. We stayed with another warm showers host with two cute babies, and were taken to see the lantern festival.
Jim’s words – Nap, Boxes, Taiwan, Carrefour, Apprehensive, Noodles and Lanterns.