From Manzhou to Hualien
The road from Manzhou to Xuhai was narrow but quiet. It started to rain heavily around lunch time, we decided to stay in Xuhai, there are several campsites. From Xuhai the road leads into the mountains. We climbed to 400 m height. I had the feeling the road is more used by cyclists than by cars. The landscape is very green and we saw wild monkeys in the trees. What a change in compare to the high populated west coast suddenly we are alone in the jungle.
We stopped in a small village to eat something. We ordered noodles and the chef prepared us an flying fish, which was catched in the sea. I never saw such a fish in real, he has wings indeed. While I was wondering how much this special dish will coast some aboriginal (Paiwan people) on the table next us start talking to Yen. These guys work on road construction and carried bombs on their truck to blast tunnels. They were interested in our trip and where I’m from. Then one guy of the group said he will pay our meal. I didn’t accept but he insist. He said it will bring him luck to invite an foreigner, tomorrow he will win in lottery, he said.
From the quiet mountain road we joined the Highway 9 and followed the coastline. On the left side are mountain slopes and on the right the sea, not much space for a wide road. That’s why they building a new road on concrete piers. Also many wave-breakers are placed along the coast. Taiwanese call them rice dumplings because of their shape. In Jinlun we asked at a hot spring if we can camp there. They let us camp for 150 TWD each and we could use the hot spring as well. It was a beautiful place with view to the ocean. On the next morning we had a big breakfast for 50 TWD and could eat as much as we want.
On the road to Taitung we met an Korean cyclist, his name is Park. He cycles with an folding bike. We cycled together and when we stopped to eat some custard apples we met two Hong Kongnese that we met in Xuhai already. We had custard apples together and took a group picture. Cycling around Taiwan is very popular. But many people do it in two weeks only, Yen and me reckon 4 weeks. We went to Zhihben, it’s 10 km before Taitung City. Here we camped by the Toyugi hot spring. Park went further that day, he is short in time. I want to meet him in Korea, he is an experienced bike traveler.
In Taitung we met Fay on the next day for breakfast. I know her from the lemon picking in Australia. We worked on the same farm and she is the first Taiwanese person I’ve met. That’s already one and a half year ago. It was really interesting to meet her again. She show us around, we went all together on bicycles. While the travel guide “Lonely Planet” write Taitung is not worth a visit Fay show us the opposite. We went to nice parks and a fancy restaurant. Fay plans to go back to Australia and study there, I wish her all the best.
After Taitung we went to Dulan. It was Saturday, we found a good spot to camp in a school. The following days we visit a couple of scenic attraction. The Sansiantai Bridge with 8 arches that connects a small island with the mainland. The Baxian Caves where people already lived several thousand years ago. The tropic of cancer mark. Shihtiping with his interesting rock formations. But we were not the only one who went to those attractions, many buses mostly with Chinese tourists going down the east coast. However I really like the east coast. When we cycled the west coast I was thinking Taiwan can’t offer such a beautiful landscape like New Zealand, but I was wrong and I’m happy about it.
When we reached Hualien we decided to have a rest and stayed two nights in an exclusive Bed & Breakfast (1800 TWD per night). This is our last trip for now we doing together so we are willing to afford something fancy. One morning at 7:15 am there was an earthquake with a strength of 5.9 that woke us up, the whole bed was shaking. Earthquakes around Hualien happen all the time.