Linbian and Luiqiu - Taiwan's Southwest - CycleBlaze

January 28, 2019

Linbian and Luiqiu

a look around Jiadong

7-Eleven coffee
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The plastic razor courtesy of the hotel feels brutal, like I'm dragging a fingernail across my chin. When I decided to skip the hotel breakie it was because I knew there'd be a 7-Eleven not too far away and it turns our it's just 3 doors down so that's where I go for a coffee and a croissant at around 7:30. Sadly they don't have today's Taipei Times.

My train is at 9:38 and I sit outside and watch traffic go by with T-Rex's song 'Children of The Revolution' going around in my head for some unknown reason. as it's till early it makes sense to go back to the nearby arts center to see how it looks in the morning light and on the way there's another 7-Eleven and it has the newspaper which means there's something to read on the train ride.

The arts center is deserted and I take some snaps of a flock of concrete sheep before heading back and become aware that my back tyre has a slow puncture, so after getting to the station and seeing there's still an hour to wait I ride along the streets in search of a scooter shop as they all have a compressed air hose. I soon find a Yamaha dealer and it's inflated hard in a second or two.

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A canal lined with trees has a path and it seems nice and I decide to follow it, guessing it'll head back towards the train station area and it does. When stopped at a junction a man comes along, aged about 70, and he asks where I'm from and then talks more Chinese which I don't understand, but its clear he thinks the canal is really nice and seems to be he telling me it used to bit a shit hole. I could be wrong.

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The attendant tells me my bike will go in the first carriage at the head of the train, but my seat is in carriage 6 and I wonder why the woman didn't sell me a seat in carriage 1. The hour journey passes quite fast, but I don't get to read the newspaper because it's in my saddlebag, which is  on the bike in the goods wagon.

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Once off, my compass shows me which way to go and a guy on the street confirms it, as a does a woman when I get to a nearby junction. The bridge  I have to cross on route 17 is right there in front of me, but I thought it'd take 15 minutes to get here - it's only been a few.

Route 17 is the only option for most of the way to the bottom of the island and it's not something that floats my boat. Signs say its a bike route. What a load of crap. People do cycle along it but it must be about as boring as watching paint dry.

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I ride along the wide road for a few kilometres and get to Jiadong and go across the highway and start exploring the village streets, which have some history. The first building on my itinerary is The Hsiao Family Residence. The front elevation only dates from 100 years ago and reflects the baroque-style fashionable at that time - the wide facade flanked at one side with a red brick annex. Behind are some 51 rooms built from the 1860s to the beginning of the 20th century, each added as the family grew - the sons would stay while daughters would leave after marrying.

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A man named Hsiao Kuang-ming, whose father had become rich, started the house off and the family had interests in rice-milling and cloth-dyeing, but they fought the Japanese and it wasn't until the 1899 that the dust finally settled. 

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It's possible to have a guided tour around the place, but it seems the last one was just yesterday - a poster tells me so. I make do with a snap and head off to find some other old places in the sleepy village, riding and walking down winding lanes and getting a bit lost.

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There are lots of old places, but some look like they'll fall down pretty soon while a few have had expensive renovation work done. It'd be good have the benefit of an expert guide and after almost an hour I feel I've seen enough and ride down a rural road going east through what looks like fields of wax apples. 

The road goes slightly away from the 17, so eventually I have to make a left and soon the main road is in front of me, close to the bridge. The turning I want is next to a 7-Eleven in Linbian and when it appears and I go in and have microwaved pasta for lunch. After that it's just riding down route 128 for a few kilometres to get to some wetlands.

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There's aquaculture lining the 128. Fish seems to be the thing to farm then the wetlands entrance appears. A walkway goes through the small area and there's no one around and I get a bit lost and have to use my compass.

A company called Fu Wang grows beans and transforms them into chocolate bars all under one roof or two and their nearby workshop is too good to pass up. It's a shame it's off the 17 as it means a bit of crap riding for five minutes or so.

The stuff isn't cheap with the lowest priced bar costing NT$250. As it's been a while since I had any chocolate it seems OK to treat myself, then I splash out of an iced chocolate drink. Heaven!

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The manager shows me to an outside area where a few people are sat chopping open the colourful kernels under a canopy, while in the sun are beans drying in wooden trays and eventually I head back to the bike path around Dapeng Bay with another bar in my front bag. It doesn't last very long.

It's barely 3:00 pm when I get to Donggang and at the hotel I'd penciled in as a good bet the guy at reception quotes me over NT$1,600 for a night even though I say it'll be two, so I say bye and ride to another just along the road. There the two elderly people behind the desk don't know what day it is, so again I bid farewell and just head to the ferry terminal.

There's a ferry just about to leave and my return ticket costs NT$410 and my bike gets wheeled on which costs me another 50. Less than 20 minutes later we're docking on the little island of Liuqiu.

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I ride around the small harbour and find a rock formation that's on all the tourism promotion material and take a few snaps before riding back to find a bed. There's a place on the first corner and the rate is NT$1,500 - which is what I'd expected - so I wheel my bike inside.

Today's ride: 30 km (19 miles)
Total: 41 km (25 miles)

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