In Yilan City: rethinking the plan - A Month in Taiwan - CycleBlaze

December 24, 2018

In Yilan City: rethinking the plan

So I do have a cold, alright.  I wake up this morning badly congested and with a mild sore throat.  The weather forecast didn’t improve last night, so it still indicates rain for the next fifteen days straight here on the northeast corner of the island.  Our planned itinerary from here is to circle the northern end of the island counterclockwise.  Looking ahead, and looking at the forecast for points ahead, it looks like we’ll face a full week of biking in the rain before we come to a drier part of the island.

We need to do something to limit our exposure, or risk having my cold develop into something more serious and possibly trip-ending.  For today, we’ll just stay in our hotel and keep dry rather than take the day ride we were planning on.  Tomorrow we’re planning on staying in Su’ao, which if we just bike there directly is only about 13 miles - so we could watch the weather and make a dash for it when the rain stops or eases up for a bit.  After that though, we’re looking at three straight 40+ mile rides along the coast through rain and high winds.

We spend all morning playing out various options that might improve our situation.  We consider biking back from Keelung to Taipei in a few days, as a shorter route across the north end than following the coastline.  We could even leverage Taipei’s MRT system to reduce our cycling - it looks like we could get all the way from Keelung on the east coast to Tamsui on the west with only about 12 miles of biking and the rest on the MRT.

This all sounds a bit nuts though.  We’re here to bike and see the island, after all.  We don’t want to find ways to be outside as little as possible for the next week and spend most of our days holed up in a hotel.  We even actually give some thought to just ending the tour here and heading home, and look again at our flight tickets to see if they are changeable.  We can’t do that though - we’ve already made a commitment to providing entertainment for Steve and Dotie while she recovers from her upcoming knee replacement.

Finally we stumble our way to the obvious solution - we should just drop the next week out of our itinerary completely, and make our way west to the first point far enough south that the weather is drier: Hsinchu.  We do some research on taking your bike on the train in Taiwan, and see that at least some trains will take bikes as is rather than folded and stored into a suitable bag.  The trick is finding out if there is one from here or not.  We enlist the help of the woman at the front desk of our small hotel - she calls the train station, finds that there is exactly one train a day that transports bikes, and writes out a note for Rachael to take to the train station (just three blocks away) explaining what we need.  

Rachael walks over to the station, and 45 minutes later returns with two train tickets for tomorrow afternoon at 4:53.  It’s a local, and we’ll arrive in Hsinchu four hours later.  (Per Rachael: Scott made it sound easy but when I went to one window they didn’t speak English and they just pointed the other direction.  I wasn’t sure where but I finally found another window which luckily someone spoke English.  He took me back to the original window to get the tickets then explained I had to bring the bikes back to his window about 45 minutes before the train departs and buy tickets for the bikes.  I’m sure lucky he was around.)

So, we have a viable plan.  We need to detail it out a bit though by deciding where to stay.  We prebooked this trip, but now we’re getting to Hsinchu five days earlier than planned.  We need to decide how to spend those days and fit them in with the remaining schedule.  I won’t go into the details here, but we had a hard time figuring it all out.  It was made especially hard because New Year’s weekend is coming up, and finding booking for then is quite difficult and expensive - this was one of the reasons we prebooked in the first place.

For now, we’ll just let you know the immediate next step: we leave tomorrow afternoon for Hsinchu, for a three night stay.

In the evening we make our only foray outdoors, other than Rachael’s trip to the train station.  We walk a few blocks to Le Temps, a restaurant with some western dishes and a bilingual menu.   We ate here last night also. And I liked it immediately when we walked in: they were playing Stacey Kent’s “Breakfast on the morning tram”, the lead song from one of my favorite albums.  The people here of course remember us from last night, and are very welcoming.  When we leave I give them enough cash to cover the bill: 1,290 NT$, I think.  I give them 1,300, and we leave.  A minute later she comes running down after us with the $10 change (about thirty cents, USD).

On the way back  to the room we hear the tune of what we assume is an ice cream truck coming our way, which surprises us this late at night.  We recognize this distinctive tune and have always assumed it was an ice cream truck.  It turns out though it’s a garbage truck.  The tune is to alert people that it is making the rounds, and when it passes by folks dash out to drop their refuse into the truck.  A different collection model we haven’t seen before.

We really should get a few photos of Yilan here. This is all I’ve got - our three block walk to a restaurant for dinner. It’s the only time I stepped outside all day.
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A nice place, with a few eccentricities. We ate here both nights because it was so close to the hotel.
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Celebrating Christmas Eve and a new plan.
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The Xmas train, Yilan
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Steve Miller/GrampiesHope your cold gets better very soon. You guys are just too sweet to think of me and my need for entertainment. Sounds like it will still be a workable plan anyhow. Steve and I are just settling in to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, then the annual reading of The Night Before Christmas,hang the stockings and bedtime. Wishing you a very happy Xmas day and all the best for the New Year. Hopefully our paths can cross in person next year. Love Dodie and Steve
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThanks so much, Dotie. Happy holidays to you and your family also, and best of luck with your surgery. I’d say odds are fairly good we’ll run each other down one of these times. We’re hoping to spend a few weeks up your way come midsummer.
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5 months ago