Introduction - The East Side of Taiwan - CycleBlaze


the Chinese New Year is coming

Before the start of the annual Chinese New Year break - it begins on January 23rd this year - when families travel to visit relatives and some sights, my plan is to get away on my bike for a few days. Luckily I get off work a few days earlier than most people (including my wife, Debbie) and the plan is to take a train over to the east coast and explore a few back lanes I've never been on, riding due south.

One of many screenshots of my route saved on a small tablet
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While routes through the mountains here are absolutely fab, I'm going to save my energy and have plotted a route which should be pretty flat and easy. The main aim is to keep off the main arteries - basically highways 9 and 11 - but there are a few points where there's no alternative, such was bridges across wide rivers. 

I've cycled down route 193 a few times, and it's a wonderful ride, but this trip will be a chance to try something different. Having said that, once I get as far south as Ruishui, I'll join the 193 for a bit. To get to Taitung, my plan is to ride along a small lane off hilly route 23 that wiggles south along the ridge of some low mountains.

As it's a short trip, I won't be taking a tent and will just fork out on hotels for the few nights. There's nothing booked, but it shouldn't be a problem before the New Year holiday.

The weather here in January is quite unpredictable. It can rain for days on end, or be warm and sunny. We'll soon discover which of these I get.

Puyuma ticket to Haulien
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Trains over to the east coast take a while. The fastest are the Puyuma express services, which take about two and half hours, as opposed to the others which can be double that. Unfortunately passengers can't stand up on these Puyuma trains and tickets tend to sell out fast. I was a bit lucky in that two weeks before setting off I managed to bag one for the 14:05 PM departure from Shulin, which is transit station just north of where I live. 

My plan is to leave work at about 1:00 and get a commuter train there and the Puyuma should arrive in Haulien at 4:40. After collecting my bike from the station's baggage office, the hotel I've earmarked is just a minute away and is a place Debbie and I stayed at a few years ago. The action begins the following morning.

My route from A to B is roughly 240km, so four x 60-ish kilometres a day sounds nice and easy. The idea is to set off from Haulien on Sunday morning and get to Guanfu, then on Monday ride to Yuli and on Tuesday sleep in a small village on the mountainous route 23. That leaves a shorter ride on Wednesday to Taitung, hopefully arriving by mid afternoon so that I can catch another fast train back home.

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