Cycling is a great way to sightsee, and the conditions in Taiwan for cycling are absolutely fantastic! We’ve done a bunch of day and few-day rides since arriving. Sometimes we bring the GoPro, and Mike stitched together this:
Yesterday was the Dragon Boat Festival. We headed down to the harbour at Nanliao to eat some zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) and watch some of our friends compete in the day’s races.
Mike put together a video of some of the action. Have a look!
Baseball’s a popular sport in Taiwan, and on Thursday we got out to see a CPBL (Chinese Professional Baseball League) game! There are four teams which rotate play through 12 stadiums across the island. The number of games at each stadium is weighted by population, and Hsinchu’s stadium has 10 scheduled games (out of 240 total) this season. I was really excited for this game, as there won’t be another in town until the end of July.
When you drive around the Hsinchu area, it is not uncommon to see many people sitting in lawn chairs around shallow, aerated concrete ponds. As it turns out, they are shrimp fishing, a popular pastime here!
I’ve been intrigued by it for a while, and a friend just had his birthday party at a shrimp fishing place that is near his house. I should tell you now, we don’t live that close to the coast. It turns out that urban shrimp fishing adds convenience to the joy of fishing… by bringing it right to your doorstep!
It is pretty simple to do. First you rent a rod by the hour, with bait provided. The proprietor at our pond was even kind enough to check that the hooks and float were set to the right length. That’s all that you really need! Stick a small piece of bait on your hook and then be patient. You simply watch your float, and as soon as it moves unusually, you tug the shrimp out of the water and stick it in your net. Here we are giving it a try:
We were told the shrimp weren’t too active because of the cool weather, but each of us landed to manage a few! The best part is that when you are done they’re salted, barbecued and served with soy sauce and wasabi. Yum!
Want to see shrimp fishing in action? The BBC did a story about it in November, which you can watch here.
Mike bought a GoPro recently, and we used it to put together this perspective on scootering in Taiwan. He did the vast majority of the work, but I did some artistic consulting and sometimes the camera’s on my head too! Check it out. It is best viewed in 720p.
The last leg of our Chinese New Year vacation was in Cambodia. We spent a few days using Siem Reap as a base from which to explore the temples of Angkor, and then took a bus down to Phnom Penh, where we flew home from.
This was the big day of the trip, and the one I was most worried about going wrong. There are so many accounts of other travellers having a tough time with this leg of the typical Southeast Asian tour, and I was determined not to have any trouble if it could be helped. In the end it went off without a hitch!
On February 7, we left Malaysia and hopped onto a flight over to the island of Koh Samui, our first of two destinations during our week in Thailand.
With the arrival of Chinese New Year and a 2 week vacation, Mike and I set out for a whirlwind tour of parts of Southeast Asia. The plan: to fly to Singapore and make our way mostly by surface travel to Phnom Penh, Cambodia over 2.5 weeks. We spent the first week with my dad’s girlfriend Olivia’s family in Malaysia and Singapore before hopping onto a plane to Koh Samui, Thailand for some relaxing on the beach.
With good weather forecast for the weekend and no hot water at home, we decided now was the time to go on our first overnight bike trip here in Taiwan. There’s something really satisfying about travelling away from home under your own power. We chose to head over to the relatively nearby mountain town of Neiwan, home of lots of delicious food, hot spring spas, a suspension bridge and go-karting. It is a very popular day-trip location, yet it has a number of places to stay, so we thought we’d take our chances and see about finding a place for the night once we arrived in town. We had no trouble finding a spot, and ended up staying in a wonderful little B&B type place that overlooked the town.
It took a couple of hours of nice (generally uphill) riding to get into the little mountain town. There were some stretches of road that were a little busy, but it was definitely a popular route for local roadies – we saw many happy cyclists along the way.
Once in Neiwan we rode around for a while looking for the B&B that we wanted to try first. It took a while to find the way, but we made it, and they had room! We showered up, changed into street clothes and hit the Old Street for lunch. We had some brightly coloured rice buns, pork skewers, glutinous rice tamales and some local oranges. Yum! We also bought some spicy peanuts, sesame cookies and a bottle of local honey to take home. After checking out the bridges and the boardwalk, we looked in on the local hot spring spa, thinking a hot bath would be a great way to relax our legs. However, it was a popular spot, with all the private rooms booked for a couple of hours past our arrival time. We decided to get dinner back at the restaurant that was part of our B&B and see if we still felt like the spa after dinner. In the end, I was pretty tired, so we had a couple of beers and enjoyed the scenery from the suspension bridge, and then hit the hay. There is an old theatre-turned-restaurant in town, and it is apparently a beautiful spot for cherry blossoms in the spring, so I’m sure we’ll be back again!
The next day we traveled upstream a little further, before taking an alternate route back to Hsinchu via Beipu. We took far quieter roads, but had a couple of big (category 4) climbs and I was completely cooked by the time we set foot in our apartment. The ride today was the longest I’ve done since we lived in Ontario, and I’m looking forward to logging many more kms and going on a few more overnight trips.