Friday, December 15, 2017

Cycle Taiwan Day 19 Taroko - Taipei

After a good breakfast at Hong Ying B&B we have to bade farewell to Taroko and Hong Ying B&B for a wonderful and memorable visit.
The weather was excellent in the morning with bright blue sky as we rode to Xincheng Station to catch a train to Taipei.
A big handicraft work suspended at the ceiling of the station which looks very tribal.
Taiwan Railways Administration has been very adamant with their ruling on bike bagging. This was seen at the station.
Slowly we moved our stuffs to the platform and waited for the train to Taipei. This was our final leg of the round island tour.
Taroko Bridge 太魯閣大橋 (GPS : 24.145313, 121.644148) at the highway Route 9 as seen from our moving train.
By the way the fare to Taipei is NTD391 and the longest distance on train so far for this tour. It is about 150km to Songshan 松山.
Yes we decided to disembark at Songshan Station 松山站 at the last minute so that we can explore the places before we reach Ximending.
A little while out of the station we saw this Sea Goddess Temple, Songshan Ciyou Temple 松山慈祐宮 located at Section 4 Bade Road GPS : 25.050933, 121.577717 where we found a lead to the river side via Raohe Street Night Market 饒河街觀光夜市.
We were hungry after a delayed train ride due to a technical hiccup and decided to eat at one of the side street at Raohe Street Night Market (GPS : 25.050394, 121.576792). We had a good lunch and thank you to the nice lady boss and her daughter for the food. They were amazed with our bicycle tour in Taiwan and gave us their "加油" encouragement.
Just a short distance away from the eating stall we were at the evacuation opening at the river side with a welcoming sign "Rainbow Bridge".
Our photography session began....... as the scenery started to get prettier. The Rainbow Bridge and the Love sign.
Raohe Street Night Market
饒河街觀光夜市 is found near the river side. The yellow bridge is Huandong Boulevard crossing over Keelung River.
The park and bicycle path on a Wednesday was relax as we enjoyed the ride and the weather.
It seems that the whole bicycle path has been taken over by these Brommies from Malaysia.
Viewing from Yingfeng Riverside Park
迎風河濱公園 (GPS : 25.075371, 121.547157) to Minshui 明水 development. 
Dazhi Bridge spanning over Keelung River. The Dajia Riverside Park, at this section of the river where this bridge is located, is frequently a venue for outdoor activities, such as the ceremony for blessing dragon boats during the Dragon Boat Festival
Dalongdong Baoan Temple 台北市大龍峒保安宮 at Hami Street GPS : 25.073002, 121.515553. Originally constructed in 1742 as a wooden shrine, the Bao'an Temple is a Taiwanese folk religion temple. Throughout Taiwan's history, the temple was renovated and reconstructed numerous times, leading to a 2003 induction into UNESCO for cultural heritage conservation.
We were back to the wharf where we first started our journey at Dadaocheng Dock 大稻埕碼頭.
We were happy seeing familiar places again and just like feeling at home again in Taipei.
It took us about 16km from Songshan Station to our Homestay at Mei Lodge. Jo and myself decided to book this place to enjoy a comfortable 3 night stay in Taipei which is also near to the rest of the team. 
Our dinner at at five footway for a nice and yummy spaghetti. 
臺北市電影主題公園 Taipei Cinema Park is known for graffiti, skateboarding and is a popular spot among Taipei’s youth. It used to be an old factory area with some remaining factories around. The murals on the wall are very colorful and interesting for people to see and take picture. We were on our way to Dadaocheng Wharf to meet a group of folding bicycle riders as invited by our local friend Pei hsuan.
I had a feeling youthful again as I was surrounded with this Taipei youth's culture.
We were glad to be invited to join this fast riding Bridies and thank you so much Taiwan Birdies especially Pei Hsuan and Ou Yi-min.
Coincidentally it's a Wednesday Night ride and we were following them for a taste of Taiwan Tong Sui.
I met this young man of the same surname with mine Sim, 沈韋良.
They were so fast and we were tailing far behind them, fortunately we have Pei Hsuan taking care of us.
Finally we arrived at the destination and I could smell food again.
At the serving counter, my first impression was the Tangyuan is a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour prepared during Winter Solstice when I saw the coloured balls. Let's try it guys!
The different types of the Tong Sui at the shop and we had it all. Once again thank you so much for the delicious treat to our Taipei buddies 爱你! 爱你!
The shop at 第一家冰品湯圓 (No.1 House) at Section 2, Zhonghua Road, Wanhua District GPS : 25.024777, 121.509420

A picture with the Tongsui brothers and I "tapao" for Jo. I heard they are also fast riding cyclists. Bravo!
The loop we took with the Taiwanese Bridies in the evening for Tong Sui.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cycle Taiwan Day 18 Another Day in Taroko

After a simple breakfast at Liwu Hotel we checked out and moved to Hong Ying B&B next door to join the others for another night in Taroko. Thank you Liwu for your lovely hospitality.
Hong Ying B&B in the morning of our second day in Taroko.
The weather was absolutely different from yesterday. It has a clear and blue sky such a wonderful weather for Day 2. Jo has just visited 7-11 to buy some food stuff for the day's outing.
The plan was to to hike a few trails in Taroko and travelling to this places by bus. We were ready to hike and the bicycles can have a good rest at Hong Ying.
While waiting for the bus to come, a cute cat came entertaining us.
The first trail was to tackle Shakadang Trail located at GPS : 24.162066, 121.613737 where I was standing on Shakadang Bridge which is part of the Central Cross-Island Highway.
At the entrance of Shakadang Trail where we have to walk down a staircase to the trail.
The estimated distance of the trail we was 1.5km one way and coming back on the same route.
The Shakadang Trail (砂卡噹步道) is also known as “Mysterious Valley Trail”. 
Shakadang Bridge with red painted arch and concrete balutrade railing with small cute guardian lions on top.
It has crystal clear turquoise water with scattered broken boulders on the bed. The view is awesome.
This trail is easy and is suitable for all ages and once should try to visit it.
Another view of the crystal clear Shakadang River as you can feel the wind blowing through the marble canyons and boulder strewed at the riverbed.
How nice if we could get closer to the water and dip our legs in it.
Though it is an easy walk taking about 2 hours round trip with a little elevation but make sure to watch your head when passing under overhanging rock surfaces.
The total length of Shakadang Trail is about 4.4km which we were only doing one length of it from Shakadang Bridge.
Looking closer to the marble formation with distinguish strata layers on the canyon wall and the crystal clear blue water. 
A few stalls opened for visitors to sample some of their aboriginal food and buy some of their produce. This was the end of our walk we turned back from here as it was closed beyond it. The tribe here is known as Truku.
I noted a cave opening where the river water runs into it.
The entire trail is protected with a railing, though you cannot see any guards around but one has to be careful when walking in the trail. During wet season the rocks on the ground can be slippery.
We jumped into another bus for our second trail and it was Swallow Grotto Trail 燕子口步道. Located at GPS : 24.173167, 121.565868
A picture with Jhuilu Suspended Bridge, the one in green in colour at Swallow Grotto Trail Entrance.
The platform is connected to a suspension bridge across the gorge, aptly named Jhuilu Suspension Bridge (錐麓吊桥). Only 20 persons are allowed on the bridge at any one time. You can have some great views of the narrow Taroko Gorge from the suspension bridge.
The trail is safe to visit of about half kilometre and vehicular traffic is careful with visitors and have to move very slowly if they are using this old road.
Due to erosion and natural disaster the gorge has transformed and caused pot holes found at the walls with spring water gushing out of the holes.
It's truly amazing, walking at the edges of the cliff and enjoying the magnificent views of the gorge.
Hard hats are provided by the authority and visitors are advised to be cautious of falling rocks whenever visiting the trail. We were not aware of such hard hat provision while we were there. Work improvement of the railing was in progress at this part of Swallow Grotto Trail.
One has to slowly walk the trail and carefully observe the various features found in the place. I missed the Indian Head.
We met two Brommies from Hong Kong enjoying their visit with their folding bicycles.
Long long time ago during the ancient time these tunnels were dug by hands to form part of the trail and today it's a marvel we could still use it.
Following the trail at Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto Trail) we could see more rock cliffs of the Liwu River with the river water flowing swiftly between the narrow gorge walls.
Concrete structure of such are seen to strengthen the cliff and provide safety to visitors.
Lushui Trail (綠水步道) was the third and last trail for the day where we hopped onto a bus to Lushuiguanli Station 綠水管理站 to get to the entrance. There is a Geological Exhibition Center at the station where you can learn about the natural forces which created Taroko Gorge.
Jo was about to enter a dark tunnel of Lushui Trail (綠水步道).
The dark and narrow tunnel. It was only a short spell of total darkness if not one has to carry a torch.
Lushui Trail (綠水步道) is a well maintained and easy to hike which is suitable for all ages.
 It takes around one hour to finish the 2km trail. This scenic path features forests, cliffs, a variety of plant species, and traces of the Japanese occupation period.
Lushui Trail was part of the Old Cross-Hehuan Mountain Road during the Japanese colonial era.
Our last visit of the day at Tianxiang Village located further west of the East West Highway where we took a bus there. The village has a information center and a few restaurants near the bus station.
We took our lunch at a restauraunt for a simple meal of economy rice "chap fun" immediately when we alighted from the bus.
The area has been populated since ancient times as it is one of the few spots in Taroko to have level terrain suitable for development. Tianxiang contains two multi-level terraces, one side containing the general recreation area, service station, plum garden, church, youth hostel, Silks Palace Hotel, while across the river and Pudu Bridge is the Xiangde Temple.Tiansiang. Photo credit : Anne Cheong.
We ended the day with our dinner at Hong Ying B&B with their home cooked meal. The food was good and delicious. Good night Taroko. Photo Credit : Anne Cheong.