In Taichung: Dateng Scenic Area - A Month in Taiwan - CycleBlaze

January 2, 2019

In Taichung: Dateng Scenic Area

On a daily basis, we’ve been congratulating ourselves each morning on our decision to take the train from Yilan back over to the west side.  Our weather has been fine ever since we arrived in Hsinchu, my cold has almost completely dried up, and from the looks of it we will stay dry for the whole rest of the tour.

Until this morning.  Last night, the forecast for today was an overcast but dry day.  This morning though it is projected to rain off and on here in Taichung.  Our planned ride for the day, a 45 mile loop east into the hills, will undoubtedly be wetter still.  Not what we expected, and neither of us is really keen on a drizzly day in the saddle.  We don’t really want to sit the day out though, or spend it just walking through the parks again either.  We regret now that we didn’t find a way to get out on our bikes yesterday when the weather was fair.

Rachael hits on the idea of taking a proper hike somewhere, does some research, and finds that the Dateng Hills are a very popular hiking area, and only a few miles east of town.  We decide to bike there, lock up the bikes, and take a hike.  If it proves to be too wet for comfort we can always just bike back to the hotel fairly quickly and Rachael can hang out in our hotel’s fitness center to get her endorphins fix for the day.

We head down to the lobby at about eleven, where our bikes are patiently leaning against the lobby wall waiting for us.  When we leave the hotel it’s still dry, causing us to wonder if we’ve made the wrong call and should have just hit the road for our longer ride instead.

Every place we’ve stayed in Taiwan, our bikes have been welcomed in the door without question. Here, they’re just leaning against the wall, in sight of the reception desk.
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It’s an easy six mile ride to the trailhead in Dateng Scenic Area.  Most of the way we’ll bike across one of Taichung’s few well developed bike paths - a north/south line that follows a broad stream bed just east of the city.  We knew of this route from our first visit to Taichung, when we stumbled on it by accident leaving the city.  The stream originates in the Dakeng Hills, so we’ll just follow it gently upriver until we reach the trailhead.

First though, we have to get to the the bike path.  On the way, we come across the worst (or best, depending on your perspective) street market yet.  This one is four blocks long at least, and really jammed up.  Folks can hardly move without finding themselves next to the wheel of scooters inching along checking out the booths, their bikes piled high with produce they’ve gathered.  It’s a shame Rachael didn’t have her GoPro along for this one.

It’s too much.  As soon as we get in we’re trying to get out again, and turn off at the first intersection.  Scooters are streaming in going the other way to enter the mosh pit, using all lanes of the intersection.  Rachael barely avoids a pair of head on collisions with a scooter coming straight at her in our lane.  

Finally though, we’re out; and in a few blocks we reach the bike path heading north.  Almost immediately it starts sprinkling, but no worse than that.  We enjoy a pleasant ride along the bike path for the next four miles, watching the usual stream scene here - herons and egrets taking flight, flocks of mynas swooping in, fishermen hunched over by the riverside.  Today too, we have music - saxophone players are practicing beneath two different overpasses that we cycle beneath, sheltered from the rain.

The bike lane is just to the left, announced by the bicycle shaped traffic light.
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This must be the best bikeway in Taichung.
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I was surprised by this scene, and more so when we came across another like it a mile further down the road.
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The Haitian Bridge, an award winning design that went up in 2015, new since we were last here.
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Our destination: the Dateng Hills
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Around noon, we reach the hills. We enter the turnoff to the Scenic Area and soon are biking up a narrow lane, both sides of which are lined with food booths and produce vendors.  The street is full of walkers on their way to or from the hills - this is a very popular walking area, as it is so close to the city - and the booths are apparently here to service them.

We come to the trailhead, find a good spot to lock up the bikes, and start gearing up for the hike - change shoes, sort out what to leave on the bike and what to toss in the rucksack. Almost immediately, we’re discovered by a few mosquitoes.  Uh, oh.

We haven’t really thought about mosquitoes, since we’re here in winter.  This is the first time we’ve seen them.  One lands on my arm, I swat it, and a red smear appears on my arm.  At least they’re sluggish and easy to knock back.  We start to have misgivings, and then decide to bail on this hiking idea when we see there are dire warning signs by the trailheads.

All we need is to contract dengue fever.  More quickly now, we pack our stuff up, unlock the bikes, and evacuate.  A half hour later, out of the woods, we stop by the roadside and change back out of our hiking shoes.

Great. Now for the next week or two we can watch out for the first signs of bonebreak fever.
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Emily SharpGood idea to get out of there. I can definitely say that flaviviruses can be brutal.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Emily SharpYes. I thought of you almost immediately when I saw mosquitoes hovering around, Em.
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2 weeks ago

It’s still only about one, and it’s still only barely raining.  We decide to keep biking north along the bike path for as long as riding conditions are good.  We pull up at the first sheltered spot we come to and stop for lunch, and then continue on for a few more miles.  We call it off though when we come to a major construction site that has swallowed the bike path, and turn back to the hotel.  At least by now it’s started raining a bit harder, so we feel justified in the rather ineffectual way we’ve spent our last day in Taichung.  And, we’ve passed the fifteen mile marker, our personal standard for what qualifies as a rest day.

On the way back through town we come across a scene it’s surprising we don’t see more often - a riderless scooter lying on its side in the middle of the lane, at an intersection, a sober crowd standing around looking at it.  A reminder to not get too cocksure in our last days here.

Back at the hotel, Rachael heads straight to the workout room while I use the unexpected free afternoon for some tour planning.  Before the day is done we’ll purchase the flight for our next extended tour, when we leave Portland again in the spring.  But that’s a tale for another journal.

At our lunch stop we look down and are surprised to see the Grumby bottle opener, which apparently escaped and has gone slumming. Good thing Jen urged us to send a photo of the famous Taiwan butt collections or we might have overlooked the little guy and left it behind.
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Jen GrumbyIt's so nice to see such a lovely, shimmering ray of tobacco-free hope amongst the little carcinogen sticks.

Glad the GBO was able to make this statement before continuing its journey!
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyMe too! I’m a bit put out with myself for not remembering to take it along on today’s loop around Sun Moon Lake. It would have enjoyed the views.
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2 weeks ago

For dinner we decide to walk back over to the west side to Pizza Rock.  It’s about three miles away, but with so little exercise we both think the walk is in order.  Two miles later though, walking along the green belt, ever-watchful Rachael looks across the park and sees a pizza/pasta joint we hadn’t found in our research.  We’re getting hungry and the walk is starting to lose some of its charm, so we walk over to check it out.  It looks promising, so we take a chance and are rewarded with our best meal since leaving Taipei.

Such a nice place.  Real Italian food, almost as you’d find it in Italy.  And real craft beers.  I have my first IPA in ages, something to tide me over just a bit until we reach home.  The waiter tells us that the owner sent his staff to Italy to learn how to cook, and we wonder if it was to ALMA, the great chef school we stumbled across on our ride to Cremona a few months back.  When we leave, we hear the sad news that the place is shuttering in a few weeks.  Maybe there’s just not enough market for a place like this in Taiwan yet.

La Pala Pizzeria. It’s the real deal.
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The nice thing about a slow news day is that it’s a good time to lard up the journal with a food pic or two. I could have shown you the tiramisu too, which was also authentic and delicious.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesReally looks yummy. I am drooling just looking at the food. Dodie.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesPerfect! We could have just gone out for steamed buns, but we thought this might appeal to you more while you convalesce.
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2 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonThank you. D
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2 weeks ago
Steve Miller/Grampies"Lard Up"- ha ha!

Steve
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThat’s something I appreciate about you, Steve. You’re an attentive reader.
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2 weeks ago
Mental Healing - a Taiwan craft beer brewed in the American IPA style, using Cascade hops (they could be from the Willamette Valley!) and green cardamom. Green cardamom?
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Shawn AndersonCardamon is a spice mainly used in cooking. There is green cardamon and black cardamon. To me, it has a flavor / aroma similar to juniper berries.
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2 weeks ago
Helmet shop
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On Calligraphy Way there’s this eerie bronze statue of King Arthas Menethill, of the fictional Warcraft game. Erected by Blizzard Entertainment, It’s a significant tourist attraction apparently, and shows up prominently on Google Maps. Whatever.
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Today's ride: 20 miles (32 km)
Total: 362 miles (583 km)

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