Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bike trip - Day 4

It had rained all night and our clothes had not quite dried after being washed the day before, so we put some of our stuff away wet. Our goal was to leave Changbin and make it to Taidong so we could catch a train to the west coast.

Before we hit the trail, we rode into town for breakfast. The kids in town were fascinated by us westerners. Sergio is showing them pictures of Taipei on his camera
It may be  hard to see but those are our bikes in the background. It turns out our innkeeper also runs the local butcher shop. We parked our bikes, unlocked, under her awning. Even though I did not take pictures, the breakfast was amazing and cheap.

Traffic was fairly light and we did not have to climb much, so the day went by relatively smoothly.

 However, we were surrounded by rain clouds.
 Just a quick aside - there were so many amazing flowers roadside - unfortunately, I was lost in the moment and only captured these pictures.

We stopped off at a popular rock formation to rest and refill our water. Unfortunately, they did not have free water so we just grabbed a bottle each.

We passed cemetery after cemetery on this ride.

 I finally stopped to take a few pictures of some of the rice fields. Most of the farming I saw was very labor intensive and done on fairly small plots. I didn't capture any pictures but most of the fruit is wrapped in plastic until it is ready to be picked. I don't think I saw any evidence of industrial farming until I was on the West coast.

It started raining in the afternoon so we took shelter under a few trees. While there I decided to take a picture of the second or third set of cattle I saw on Taiwan. 
Here we are sheltered from the rain.

We then rode on another mile or so before it really started pouring. This time we took shelter in one of the small road side temples. 

There was a jewelry shop across the street. I left 100NT with the shopkeeper for the temple's maintenance. 

We spent about an hour at the temple until the weather cleared. We then rode on and made one final stop at a nice little beach outside of Taidong.

...where we ran into this little guy. It was not very happy to see us

It is not a huge city but it was much larger than everything we had been in since leaving Taipei. That being said, there was lots of agriculture all over the city.

We then reached the train station and decided to push our luck and get to look for a place to stay on the west coast. So, after a little bit of confusion, we managed to get a train to Fangshan. Here is an aboriginal art piece that greets you as you walk to the platforms.

 We decided to take the train from Taidong instead of riding because support services for bicyclists thin out in southern Taiwan. Once you pass Taidong, Police stations are further apart and water is tougher to come by.
Our train car turned out to be a coldwar era relic. We did not have AC and 2 of the four fans were not working (they were original to the rail car). This turned out to be a real problem as we passed through the tunnels because the car filled up with diesel exhaust from the train.

 Despite all this we finally arrived in Fangshan...although it turns out the station was closed for the night...and it was raining and pitch black out.
 We carried our bikes up and down a few stairs until we got out of the station...which is at the top of a steep, and unlit road. We gingerly rode down until we hit the main road and asked for directions to the nearest hotel at a little road side quiche-place. The attendant there pulled out his iPhone, showed us exactly where the hotel was and then gave us each a free quiche despite our protests. We thanked him profusely and then rode a few miles down the road in the rain until we hit our hotel. Our dinner was from 7-11 that night, but we didn't care. We were just happy to have a warm place to lay our heads.

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