Wednesday, January 2, 2013

LCSG Taiwan Cycling 2012: Day 6-9

After 3 continuous days of cycling, clocking 188km (165km for me), most of the cyclists are pretty tired. For the serious and hardcore cyclists, cycling 188km over 3 days may be nothing. However, we are mostly recreational cyclists (although some are Wulin or Cambodia trained), and it is not an easy feat to do that distance all at once. Accounting for the fact that cycling in Taiwan is tougher than in Singapore, due to the strong winds and endless slopes, it is probably the equivalent of 200+ km in Singapore.

Luckily for us, Encik George could see that we were mostly tired out from the cycling. Also, the next day's cycling route was a little more risky, due to the even steeper terrain and narrower roads. Thus, the eventual decision was made to do away with the cycling, and take the vans on a touristy tour instead! In the end it rained on the morning of the 6th day, which would have prevented us from cycling anyway.

Planned cycling route for the 6th day. We ended up traveling on the same route by van.

We traveled to 慕谷慕鱼 by van, snaking up the many slopes along the way (just look at the winding road as seen on the map). This place is called a mini-Taroko gorge, and we can see why. It has similar scenery as the famous Taroko gorge, with green mountains, steep cliffs, landslides, clear rivers and huge boulders in the rivers. The difference is the road that leads to it. Taroko gorge has a wide road that allows huge busloads of tourists to visit it. On the other hand, 慕谷慕鱼 has narrow roads that can only fit small vehicles. This also meant that on the day we visited, there were practically no other tourists there! It was as if we had booked the entire place to ourselves.

 View of the gorge

Misty morning with a light drizzle

The 3 happy kids!

George and Wendy

Good food to be found at the 黑店, located somewhere in the hills

 Yummy wild boar sausages!
Glutinous rice in bamboo

Split the bamboo to get the rice!

Some more exotic food, such as this escargot, or snail meat

After our hearty lunch, we still had a whole afternoon's time to spare! Where else to go but to visit bike shops in Hualien?

Found this bike shop that has Bromptons!

A really nice blue Brompton

Cindy to George: I want this one!

A miniature Brompton. Actual size only slightly bigger than my hand. The detail is amazing!

New breed of road bikes. Giant AnyRoad, designed for a wide range of terrain. Comes in Shimano Tiagra and Sora specs.

Knobbly slim tires and mechanical disc brakes can handle moderate offroad terrain

The Giant bike shop that we visited in Central Hualien

Lots of accessories and bikes for everyone!

Even the kids have a fun time trying out helmets

The latest Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 groupset available!

Campagnolo also available. Cheaper than usual due to the weak Euro currency 

Giant TCR SL bikes. Cheap or not? You decide

Later in the evening, we went to walk around at the main shopping street of Hualien. Think it is called Zhongshan Road.

Bustling night life on a Thursday night

Dinner at a famous Japanese restaurant

 The menu as found on the wall

Everyone waiting patiently (and hungrily)

Gigantic slabs of Tuna!

This is how you enjoy gigantic pieces of Tuna sushi

We spent 2 nights in Hualien, and on the morning of the 7th day, we took a train from Hualien to Taipei.

 自强号 that travels along the eastern coast of Taiwan, with great views of the sea along the way

And with that, we conclude the grand tour of Taiwan! Using a combination of train, vans and cycling, we have practically gone on a round island tour of Taiwan.

Overall route from Day 1 to 7

We then stayed in Taipei for the 8th and 9th day.After checking into our hotel rooms at 2 plus pm, we then met at the lobby at 330pm to go visit the bike shops! As far as I know, the 2 must-go bike shops in Taipei are 城市绿洲 and 魔术方块. As I have been to those places the previous year, I then led everyone to visit those 2 bike shops! No pictures here as we were all busy looking at bike stuff all the time. I don't think anyone went back empty-handed...

Addresses and more details of the bike shops to be found here.

On our first night in Taipei, we went to Shilin night market to get our food goodies!

Yummy peanut candy, to be found at Shilin night market stall 168, 1st floor

Of course we did not forget the 豪大大鸡排

Good stuff to be found in the bookstores!

More food here. Baked potato with a whole lot of stuff on it.

More of the 山猪肉香肠

 A trip to Taipei would not be complete without having this!

Overall, it was a fantastic trip to Taiwan with the LCSG people. Plenty of food, cycling and good food, totally keeping with the LCSG spirit of Eat, Ride, Photo!

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