Thursday, 29 January 2015

wet and windy

About half an hour into our ride we find a great wild-camping spot - a nice park area with picnic tables and pagodas along the riverside.  It hurts, but we continue on our little back-country road up the valley.  We reflect how such a pretty spot would probably have been comandeered by a noisy bunch of people having a barbecue and too many drinks if it was in England, whereas here it is a peaceful haven for the local townies escaping the city.  The road is easy-going and clearly marked for cyclists.  We pull up at a designated 'bike station' to get water and walk into a noisy bunch of people having a barbecue and drinking too much.  None of them seem to be on bikes but are using the facilities anyway.  I ask about water and a jolly drunk man pushes a bottle of red wine at me.  I decline and point to the bikes. English, eh? he asks, and calls over his drunk wife who tells me she loves me.  Meanwhile a sober woman is filling our water bottles and I finally have a glass of red to appease my new friends.  It's only 11.30 in the morning. I think we might have joined in if they hadn't already finished eating.....

Somewhere along the way the road begins to climb and we pass a peloton of road cyclists free-wheeling downhill in the opposite direction.  Eventually we come back to the big river and towards the end of the day come to another little park area at the start of another bike path route.  It's empty and quiet and perfect for camping. In the morning we join a throng of Chinese tourists all out on rented bikes passing through the fields of rape and along the dykes.  For a while we find ourselves on the main road but soon find the next back country road.  There are a few Taiwanese kids riding this way - in quite a large group - all travelling light with just a backpack or small panniers on the back.  A drizzly rain drives us into a perfectly located visitor centre where we can get hot water and free wi-fi.  The clouds look low and we don't go far before camping on the 'wrong' side of a dyke, beside a river.  It's a lovely spot but in the morning the rain is heavy and we end up returning to the visitor centre just so that we can hang out the tent to dry.   By lunchtime we are ready to roll again in the intermittent rain.  We fuel up at a little fast food place in the nearby town and then hit the road northwards.  At the days end we find our little road is climbing up and down more than we'd like and then we hit another bike path that offers some easy cycling and the possibility of a good wild camp so we take a narrow bridge over the river and nestle into a plantation of trees, out of the misty drizzle.  It turns out to be a very nice quiet camp.  
Gayle amuses herself whilst John does a 'Gabor' in the supermarket

We haven't had so much rain since we left Norway possibly back in August 2012, but really that's just because we have been incredibly lucky.  Or is it selective amnesia.  Wet cycling is okay if you know you can get dry again, but when you're wild camping and you're not sure when the rainy days will end it can be trying.  We like cycling here in Taiwan though because it's never too cold and there's always somewhere to hide from the rain.  Oh look, a 7-11....
Enjoying the morning sun courtesy of 7-11
Finally the sun reappears as we close in on Hualien, a small city on the coast. Once again we come across a peloton of youngsters on a round-the-island trip.  We are waved over for snacks and photos. Their team leader, an older man, gives us tips on the route to Taipei.  He shows us the coastal road to Yilan on our map.  But no, we tell him, we want to cycle up the Taroko Gorge and then head over to Yilan.  He looks at us askance.  "You must like the mountains then." 
Gayle is unfazed about posing next to the Invisible Woman

The East Rift Valley from Taitung has been very pretty in places but we're thinking about the next part of our route already and hoping the rain will stay away. We need to be prepared for the mountains.  Where's the Carrefour?

whose navigating?

No comments:

Post a Comment