Many people recommend starting with the West coast of Taiwan and moving counter-clockwise when riding around the island. There are a few reasons for this – the higher population means more places to stop and fuel up and stay overnight, and more English speakers also helps with easing yourself into the Taiwan way of life, if you’re just visiting short term. It is also much flatter than the East, albeit most of the riding is along a pretty busy highway.
In addition to taking the coastal road that skirts around the edge of Taiwan, there are a few mountain passes as well. We planned to tackle the northernmost road that crosses the mountains, Highway 7, aka the Northern Cross Highway. Our route took us from Hsinchu to Luodong (near Yilan), via Guanxi and Baling, a total of about 160 km. The mountain pass topped out at 1170 m elevation, and Baling and Guanxi are spaced in a way that breaks up the climb nicely.
As I wrote before, the day after I finished teaching at Royal we packed up our bags and started to cycle around Taiwan, something referred to here as 環島 (huandao), meaning ‘circle the island’.
Our trip can be neatly broken down into three sections: 1) the northern cross highway over the mountains; 2) the east coast and 3) the west coast. I want to write about it in some detail for any future interested cyclists, so I will break it down into three posts based on those divisions. But before we get there…
I finished work on Friday, and the very next day, Mike and I headed out on the next installment of our adventure in Taiwan: 我們騎自行車環島. We are riding our bicycles around Taiwan! We started with the northern cross highway over the mountains to the East coast, and I’m currently sitting in a great B&B in Luodong writing this. I have been taking some notes, and I’m going to write a more detailed description of everything when we get back to Hsinchu. Until then!
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:
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.