Monday, October 18, 2010

Didn't bring enough swimsuits

Remnants of a Typhoon (Meg?!) in Philippines are making this soaked adventure. Only 2 sports bras in my luggage are like soaked wash rags, I'm down to my one swimsuit for under garments. Seriously!

HUALIEN (yesterday - day 4)
Arrived late at night, after several u-turns, 2 instruction queries and driving along dizzying narrow roads with troughs of water like flumes that line every street - in Hualien. Dinner was on a hillside before that - and apparently it was hard to navigate to and from. But a stunning view, and family style food that was very very good, and like most other cultures than our own, with heads and feet still attached. I'm eating vegetarian on the trip - with some fish sprinkled in. This is apparently unusual - at least for my guide, and every day he asks and points towards me... "shall I order a special Vegetarian meal for you?" For some reason it's not as complicated for Mark Blacknell - who is a vegetarian... but for me, since it was a surprise, our guide hasn't gotten used to the idea that I TOO need to stay away from mystery meat.

Anyhow... I digress... that drive was long but fun w/ my comrades. The hotel is obviously new and geared towards cycling tourism, and has an Aegan theme with marble and white walls. A beautiful place to lay our heads after a brief walk to the sea... which is yards away.

Well yards like maybe 50 yards? Anyhow... the waves ARE HUGE, and it's a shore break that would warn the craziest of surfers. I make the mistake in the morning of opening up the wind tunnel causing window... and while skyping my husband a rainstorm comes through... and I notice later that all things within a yard of said window... have puddles in or on or around them.

I'm making this a long story... so here is the nutshell while I have some wireless connection to tell it. A "GIANT SHOP" - like they all are - is nearby. It's raining hard, and we go there to get bikes. Then we ride in torrential rain along the seashore into the city of Hualien and back This is what we saw, and it was photographed between heavy heavy rain and wind gusts that made me feel I was riding at 14% grade up a hill. We were all smiles - as it was funny, fun, and beautiful in many parts, the ocean was seriously... I'm going to use George's word from Seinfield... FIERCE!
Checking out the merchandising of Topeak and Cateye on the walls of the shop. Making sure I represent Cupertino in my jersey from Vance.
(the owner... and yes I know him :-) which is a local joke btw.)

Self portrait - the rain is super hard, and it's difficult to catch this.
I'm so stoked I have a water proof camera!

Took a side trip up a paver/tile strewn path
to an abandoned who-knows-what (old military spot or former park)

Path diverts thru a shanty town of traditional housing
and narrow ally's along the ocean briefly.

Pathway leaves seawall to cut under a huge factory - perhaps cement plant,
lined with Escalade sized granite chunks - and flooding low spots.
Here Mark Blacknell is riding through stream of runoff.

Sure - why not?! Sign points to ugly construction and industry.

Now that I've ridden several of these paths, and attended the opening ceremony with the officials that are driven to create these recreational paradises, some opinions have come to mind. It's a paradox of the tourism bureau promoting this and photo opportunities, parks and paths that have finished areas with marble... and signage - are right next to under construction, ugly, third world Country looking areas that stink of the city dump. Saw a rat running across the street and into my path just as I was pondering this contrast. Beautiful "Giant Cycling Stations" juxtapositioned (is that a word?), to enormous debri. The main constant is friendly people, and perfect temperatures.

The beautiful parts of the path are paradisal.

Shanty homes right on the path are still shining with creative pride in their collected junk.

Well we scurried off from the Bay View Hotel - to drive to Taroko Gorge. This is truly the most beautiful breath taking place I have ever seen in my life. And it deserves it's own blog entry. This picture shows where I'm typing from right now. I'm the center cabin- the room on the right.

If for any reason I die in the typhoon's torrential downpour that cause a flash flood today as we ride down the Gorge's canyon dangerously narrow roads and stunning tunnels. Just know that I'm so incredibly happy, and am in the most beautiful place in the world - and that I am lucky!


  1. The road to Puli up Taroko is truly amazing.

    In recent years the government has been quick to produce leisurely bike paths, but slow in requesting input from cyclists. Therefore we get nice paths that serve little in the way of function, or functional paths that are not suitable for transportation.

    You also pointed out the Giant stores, which I fear are having the Walmart effect on the local bike retailers. Giant is also very close to the government, which often gives Giant preferential opportunities over other shops. If there is a bike project, Giant is not far away.

  2. It has been raining in Taipei as well - sorry to hear this weather has dampened your trip.
    The east coast of Taiwan has some of the best rides the island has to offer, in my opinion.


  3. Bev, if you have a couple of days when you are done, say Oct 26-7, I'd be glad to take you on some nice rides on the other side of the island.

    Also, suggest to them that they let you do a two day ride to Taitung -- day 1 down the coast to Changbin -- stay at the Jiajouwan Hotel and day 2 to Taitung city, take the train back to Hualien. Even in the rain it will be a beautiful ride.

    The View from Taiwan

  4. I appreciate all the comments here, Thanks Andrew, BicyclesSidewalk and Michael! I so wish I could have extended the trip for some solo or less guided tours. No flights were available to return until the 29th - and I just couldn't stay quite that long. Interesting comment about Giant. I was getting this feeling about them as well. The infrastructure is amazing - and what probably makes that possible - is the monopoly style nature of things - keeping it cohesive, and focussed. The down side is the wall-mart-esque repercussions of not giving any other shops or brands a chance. True free entrepreneurialism and/or Capitalism as it's best has cons, but is something I know I'm more used to, and encourage.