Jiji - A Month in Taiwan - CycleBlaze

January 5, 2019

Jiji

Today’s ride was fairly short and easy.  This suited both of us just fine - we’re both feeling a bit road weary, and we have longer and harder rides coming up in the next two days that we should save something for.  It’s starting to occur to both of us that we’re losing weight a bit more than we’d like, and we need to start doing a better job of packing in the calories.

Our destination for the day is Jiji, a small place not more than about fifteen miles from Sun Moon Lake.  We’re staying there for a familiar reason - we were looking for a reasonable stopover to break up a longer ride to the following destination, Chiayi.  Jiji is small, but it has a good reputation as small towns go and is allegedly very bicycle friendly.  It advertises a network of cycling routes through the agricultural lands that surround the town.

Our ride begins with a third pass over the bike path along the south rim of the lake.  We’re here later in the day, and there is conciderably more traffic on the path.  The skill level of many of these riders is none too good, and we are a bit anxious that one of them will suddenly swerve into our path.

So maybe this is why many people have a less than positive opinion of the lake. We didn’t see scenes like this until we were leaving town, but maybe we were just lucky.
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The GBO takes a last, wistful look at Sun Moon Lake. Won’t it have some tales to tell when it finally makes it home again!
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Jen GrumbyI'm sure the GBO enjoyed taking part in Taiwan's tobacco education campaign, but this is more like it.

Ah, the life and adventures of the cycle touring GBO .. so much more scenic and rewarding than sitting in an apartment in Centennial, CO!!
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5 months ago
Bruce LellmanYou're just lucky you didn't accidentally knock the GBO into the lake or you would have either had to dive or live a lifetime of Grumby ribbing.
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt did seem like it should get to see a bit more than the trashy ground, alright. If you send us your address at Centennial we could ship the little guy home. Otherwise, I’m afraid it will be stuck going to Sicily with us this spring.
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5 months ago
Jen GrumbyJust got a message from the GBO (we communicate telepathically) and he said he definitely wants to go to Sicily.

So, if you don't mind keeping him on your packing list for another tour, we'll keep using our hands and teeth to open bottles.

We always love seeing photos of our adventurous little guy!

Thanks for teaching him about how beautiful our world is when experienced on a bicycle!
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbySo the good news is that it doesn’t eat much or take up much space, and is quite well behaved. You obviously brought it up well. We’ll Add it to the optional items section on the packing list and see what happens in the spring.
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5 months ago
At the Route 21 access to Sun Moon Lake Cycle path
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Leaving the lake, we have a very slight climb over a ridge before breaking through and starting a fast three mile descent out of the mountains.  At the summit, we see four completely adorable puppies frolicking beside the road, perhaps just a month or two old.  Both parents are on hand and keeping guard, so we just bike by.  I stop about fifty yards past the pups and start to break out the camera when the parents start barking menacingly and make moves in my direction.so I give it up and continue coasting.

I didn’t really mean to include this photo of a palm plantation west of the lake. After I added it by mistake though, I am unable to delete it for some reason. It must really belong here, apparently.
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Bruce LellmanI like this photo so I'm glad you couldn't get rid of it! You have been showing us lots of these palms in groves and I think they may be betel palm (areca catechu). Where is Bill when you need him?
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI read an appalling article recently about how rain forests are being razed to grow palms for palm oil as a fuel additive. I hope you’re right - I’d much rather think they’re just getting stoned.
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5 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Bruce LellmanI'm late to the game! :-)
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5 months ago
Stopping off at a temple on our descent to Shuli
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Now this is a curious figure. I couldn’t find any readable information on it, so your guess is as good as mine.
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On the descent from Sun Moon Lake to Shuli
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Q

The outskirts of Shuli, seen from above
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The Shuli River, just upriver from its confluence with the Zhuoshui, the longest river in Taiwan.
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Bruce LellmanJust imagine what these rivers look like in the rainy season or after a typhoon.
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanIt is amazing to contemplate, alright. I had the same reaction in our first visit as we biked across these huge river basins with barely a trickle in them. It was late November then, so also in the dry season. It must be stunning in the spring.
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5 months ago
Big wheel, Shuli
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We arrive in Jiji around one thirty.  Too early to check in to our hotel, so we mark time a bit by riding several of the cycle paths that surround the town.  We need the exercise anyway, so we might as well ride.  Finally, at about three we call it a day and check in to our hotel for the night.

Jiji is surrounded by short, appealing little cyclepaths that follow streams or wander up into the hills. They’re attractive to ride on, but they don’t really integrate well or add up to a significant ride.
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Biking through the dragonfruit fields on Jiji Cycle Route 1, or maybe 3. We were confused by the map and signage.
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Dragonfruit under wraps
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Papaya tree
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Just another pretty trunk
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The new, ultraopulent Taoist temple built to replace the one destroyed in the 1999 Jiji Earthquake. We stopped in first to look at this, before seeing the much more interesting ruins behind it.
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The 1999 earthquake, the second worst in Taiwan’s recorded history, did enormous damage throughout central Taiwan. The collapsed Wuchang Temple has been left as it fell, as a reminder of the earthquake’s devastation.
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Bruce LellmanThe guys on top must have had quite a ride.
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5 months ago
The collapsed Wuchang Temple
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The collapsed Wuchang Temple
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This musician and his partner (blocked from view here) were just setting up when I wandered by. They encouraged me to come over and chat a bit, although they spoke very limited English. They then sang what I think they were saying was a traditional song from Alishan (performed in the video below). When I walked off after leaving a nice contribution in their hat, they broke into a broken English rendition of Your Are My Sunshine.
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Having had our fill of biking for the day, we head back into town to find our hotel and take a nap.
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We don’t see any restaurants that look attractive, so for dinner we do something we probably should have been doing all along - we head to the night market.  I don’t know why we haven’t eaten from a night market yet, but stupidity comes to mind as a good candidate.  Everyone says this is one of the top experiences to savor in Taiwan, but for whatever reason we haven’t taken the plunge.  Now, nearing the end of our tour, it’s nearly now or never.

We have a very enjoyable time in the Jiji Night Market, which is only about a six block quiet walk in the dark from our hotel.  We both like being able to see what is on offer so we can protect ourselves from ordering something we’d find unpalatable - chicken feet, for example.  It’s a very small market and a pretty tame scene, so it doesn’t take long to make the rounds and gather a meal.  It’s a good place to start - there was nothing threatening us in this market, so maybe we’ll get a chance of to try our new skills in a busier market in the next few days.

We had dinner at the Jiji night market. A very relaxed, casual market, it was easy to understand and navigate. Night Market 101 for Dummies, you might say.
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Bruce LellmanThere's a really big famous night market in Taipei that you should probably not miss.
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5 months ago
With other more appealing choices available we take a pass on the deep fried chicken feet.
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At the Jiji Night Market. We picked up some corn on the cob and a variety of skewers and then found a table in a small beer garden.
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Catherine HastingsJust binged my way through your journal! Food on sticks at markets one of my fond memories of Taiwan. As long as you avoid the 'stinky tofu' seller (Rachael in particular I guess...) it's all good. Thanks for the journal, and enjoy your break off the touring circuit. Look forward to hearing your mystery next destination.
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5 months ago
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Ride stats today: 29 miles, 1,500’; 581 miles, 28,600’

Today's ride: 29 miles (47 km)
Total: 519 miles (835 km)

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Andrea BrownI’m so glad you enjoyed your night market food. I, too, usually take a hard pass on chicken feet, although I did eat them one time because I was offered them by a host. That was a particularly dreamy-looking night market.

I am always struck, every day, by your vivid descriptions and elegant photography. The videos are just icing on the cake. Thanks to both of you for sharing your travels with us, we know very well what a commitment of time and effort and bandwidth that takes.
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5 months ago
Jen GrumbyYes! What Andrea said .. your time, talent, and dedication are much appreciated!! A true gift to your readers.
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5 months ago
Emily SharpI love the pics of the night market. Can you get noodle bowls or soups? I think I would be good with those. I don't really do anything fried very well - I think chicken feet would probably be a no go on top of that. I will miss your journals while you are refreshing, but I do look forward to catching up on the past few months. Safe travels home - best of luck avoiding plane flu.
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5 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownI’ve been imagining you and Bruce sitting around the fireplace, saying ‘Go to the night market, ya big dummy!’ For the past few weeks. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the journal in spite of all my whining, and thanks for all your encouragement. See you soon!
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5 months ago