Wulai - A Month in Taiwan - CycleBlaze

December 22, 2018

Wulai

Our best day in Taiwan so far.  A wonderful day really, that deserves a narrative.  Hopefully we’ll come back and fill one in later, but I need to catch up on my sleep a bit first.  Odds are good that some time will free up soon because there’s a lot of rain in the forecast for the next week.  I foresee some hours sitting around the room drying out.

The elegant Bitan suspension bridge carries a heavy foot traffic, and sways gently as you walk across. I wonder how secure it feels in a storm?
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Exposed cliffs line the Xindian river at the Bitan Scenic Area.
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Saturday morning tai chi session, Bitan
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What in the World? This doesn’t even look real.
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Andrea BrownMmm, eggplant.
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownReally? I’ve never seen them globular like this.
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4 weeks ago
Andrea Brownhttps://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/round-purple-brinjal-eggplant-selling-local-327312593

Asia has many types of eggplant, including round green ones and tiny pale green ones the size of large peas.
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After crossing the Bitan suspension bridge, we almost immediately start climbing into the hills as we follow the Xindian River south toward Wulai. The first several miles are on this quiet rural road, before it merges with busy Highway 9.
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A giant, serene Matsu crowns a large, richly endowed temple alongside the Xindian. After tentatively entering the outer gate and looking around a bit, we were beckoned to come inside and view the interior also, and given a blessing when we departed.
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I always get my temple warriors mixed up, but don’t have time to look up this guy that stands guard on the right side of the roofline.
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Crane candalabra
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Just beyond the temple we join highway 9 and continue climbing into the mountainous interior, now following the Nanshi River, one of the tributaries of the Xindian.
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The Nanshi River
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The Wulai suspension bridge spans the river at Wulai Hot Springs. This area was devastated by a major typhoon in 2015. Several large hotels and springs were destroyed, and the community is still recovering.
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Red lanterns, Wulai Hot Springs
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Graceful Wulai Falls cascades 80 meters down the cliffs opposite Wulai. It is a highly scenic and touristic area, complete with a tourist train and a tram to the top of the falls.
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Many bikers make the climb to Wulai, and it looks like nearly everyone stops and poses in front of the falls. This must be one of the main cycling excursions from Taipei.
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I stopped to take a photo of this crowd staging a team selfie for themselves, so they beckoned me in to pose with them. Then pulled Rachael in. Then urged me to lift one of their bikes over my head for another shot. Then both of us with the bike. Then I and another guy. And on and on. Great fun, many smiles, much laughter, little English.
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Still following the Nanshi upstream from Wulai Falls along very quiet Route 107. The canyon grows narrow, the cliffs precipitous.
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The Nanshi River
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Weeping wall, along the Nanshi
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The Xinxian bridge gives access to the start of a hiking route through the mountainous interior. We stopped here, crossed the bridge, and ate our lunch - in the shade, because it’s very hot today.
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While we were eating, this cheerful couple walked by and interrupted their hike to check out our curious bikes, introduce themselves, chat a bit, and of course pose for a group selfie. The people here are so warm and welcoming!
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Jen GrumbyLove those smiles! Wonderful to see these connections with the people there.
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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI know. We really came out of the day feeling a warm glow.
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4 weeks ago
Night herons on the Xindian, near Bitan
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Bruce LellmanA really nice photo!!
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4 weeks ago
This huge group of hikers returning from their outing weaves their way up the river to the Xindian MRT station. Surprisingly, we saw this group this morning also at the start of their day, sitting in a huge array in the square outside the station.
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Bruce LellmanI, also, never hike unless I'm with 55 other people.
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4 weeks ago
We ended our day by biking back to Bitan at sundown to eat at The Shack, the pizza place that our Taiwan restaurant consultant Bob recommended to us. A great place, with pizza as we might have found it at home or in Italy. We brought leftovers home for tomorrow’s lunch.
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We biked the three miles back along the river paths to our hotel in the dark, enjoying the evening riverside scene and the light show. We rode in the dark, since the batteries in our bike lights were dead. It was fine though - safe, and adventurous. We felt grateful to Bob for causing us to make this outing.
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Perfectly full moon tonight, although the photo doesn’t pick up its outline.
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The Sunshine suspension bridge puts on a fabulous light show, its colors transforming continuously. It makes us think of Portland’s Tilikum Ceossing, but on a grander scale. Mesmerizing, and great fun to bike through slowly on our way back to our hotel, just a few blocks from the far side.
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Jen GrumbyWhat a great way to end the day's ride!
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4 weeks ago
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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 2,900’

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 150 miles (241 km)

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