At Sun Moon Lake: Around the lake - A Month in Taiwan - CycleBlaze

January 4, 2019

At Sun Moon Lake: Around the lake

Well, for having such short riding days lately we’re finding some difficulty keeping current on the blog.  One more indicator that it’s time to head home, I suppose.  I’m looking forward to waking up in the morning, NOT going for a bike ride, and instead just walking over to my favorite coffee shop for an almond croissant and a liesurely morning of catching up on the news and NOT the journal.  Soon!  We fly home next weekend. 

First though, let’s at least look at the photos from today’s fine ride around Sun Moon Lake.  A very nice ride, with more than a few surprises.  One of them is that the ‘round the lake cycle route’ that is advertised as a draw here is actually mostly just a ride on the rim road.  Only about a third or less of the lake has an an actual bike path, and we rode the best of it early this morning (and again on this loop).  And part of the biking path is really a pushing path, up a series of five very steep staircases with a ramp so you can roll the bike beside you as you trudge up the stairs.

Which is fine.  The highway is actually very quiet, and a delight to ride.  It made me think of the wonderful loop ride around Crater Lake, but set in a tropical forest.

The other surprise?  No video!  Rachael accidentally knocked her camera on the floor this morning, and a piece where you bolt it to the mount snapped off.  Disappointing, but easily and inexpensively replaced when we get home.  In the meantime though, that’s it for video for this tour.  Which is fine too - Rachael’s also looking forward to some downtime when she can just read a book instead of culling through the day’s catch and deciding what music to pair the highlights to.

Enjoy the pics!  See you tomorrow.

We’ve seen this stretch before. A bit different in the full sun, and a delight to ride a second time.
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Ci’en pagoda looks evocative and mysterious across the lake. We’ll get a closeup look later in the day.
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Surprise! Just past where the morning tour turned back, we come to this long, 25-30 percent staircase. It’s part of the bike route though - there are even bicycle tiles cemented into the ramp to encourage you as you trudge up.
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Surprise! We come to the end of the first staircase, round the corner, and come to a second, longer one. More surprises are in store too. There are I think five of them, each seemingly longer than the one before.
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We’re really pretty stupid day trippers. I can’t believe how often we forget to bring the lock with us. We’ve climbed up a steep road to visit the pagoda, but can’t lock up our bikes. There’s almost no one around though so we decide to just lean them against the trees in an inconspicuous place and hope for the best.
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Walking On the 700 meter path up to Ci’en pagoda. Like everywhere else, I suppose, the walk is enough to keep the numbers down. We only pass a few people on the trail, enjoying a wonderfully quiet walk through the creaking bamboo.
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One of the things I’ll miss the most here is the bamboo. I just think it’s so beautiful - all the different hues, from young green to mildewed and decaying old stalks. And all the angles and arrangements - each stand looks different from the last on you just passed.
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Ci’en pagoda, completed in 1971, was commissioned by Chang Kai Shek as a tribute to his mother. 46 meters and 9 tiers high, the top is exactly 1000 meters above sea level.
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The views all around from the top of the pagoda are of course phenomenal.
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The spiral staircase to the top is unusual - a double helix, so traffic is one way and you walk down a different set of stairs than you climb up.
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Andrea BrownLike the Statue of Liberty!
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownI don’t doubt that was Chiang’s inspiration here.
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2 weeks ago
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We’ve seen this plant before but I don’t think two photos of poinsettia in the same blog is too many, do you? It looks still, but this was a hard photo to time because of the breeze. The blade across the top is there because it was blown backwards across the blossom.
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Jen GrumbyBeautiful! And definitely worthy of 2 appearances.
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2 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanI love how poinsettia grow wild all over SE Asia.
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2 weeks ago
Scott, quick! Get the camera out!
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Xuanzang Temple is an important site. It houses the relics of Xuanzang, a prestigious Buddhist monk born in 600 AD. The temple is fairly new, built in 1971 to house his relics when they were relocated from Japan.
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Jen GrumbyDon't let this guy into your traveler's nightmares!
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2 weeks ago
I’m smiling now, but won’t be a few minutes later and return to the bike, only to be reminded that I left my helmet up here on top. We’ve been climbing a LOT of stairs lately, and I didn’t need to repeat these.
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Well, we promised the Grampies some food photos to help Dotie recover from her knee replacement surgery.  It’s a heavy responsibility but we bear it well, walking up in the dark to the elite hotel restaurant we scoped out last night.  I do well to avoid stepping in the reflecting pool this time so I arrive dry-footed.  I’m wearing my biking shoes tonight though, because the left shoe of my walkers is still quite damp.

So, Dotie, as promised, here’s the full meal deal.  Swift recovery!

An elegant place, with a western flair. We could be in San Francisco.
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Even the bread course was unusually appealing. Delicious bread sticks, tasty flat bread. And a nice Argentinian red of some variety. Off to a promising start!
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A delicious Caesar salad
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Atlantic salmon over there on the far shore. Closer in, a fine lamb chop.
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The tiramisu, or the cheese cake? We can’t decide, so let’s try both.
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Walking back to our hotel down in the village, we enjoy a modest light show. It is refreshingly quiet, until we approach an outdoor bar/cafe that pipes out a country western tune.
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Ride stats today (including the dawn group ride): 27 miles, 2,000’

Today's ride: 28 miles (45 km)
Total: 443 miles (713 km)

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Jen GrumbySorry about the camera mount and glad that it will be an easy fix.

Thanks for all of the great videos and enjoy the break from video editing!
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2 weeks ago
Rachael AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI’m sure glad it happened after I took the videos of the group bike tour. Thanks for your comments.
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2 weeks ago