Turquoise waters, soft and blue, stretched out to a distant horizon. An unperturbed ocean lapped steadily along sandy shores. The faintest of breezes murmured over the morning calm. Distant palms on a slight hill gently swayed in an offshore breeze. Pastel clouds of soft grays and powder blues painted the sky. A temporary pause in the rain brought stunning views as I pedaled my way up the hidden gem that is Taiwan’s east coast. I caught a glimpse of it just out of the corner of my eye. The slivers of sand on a solitary beach glimpsed between the trees of to my right. Fleeting bits of solitude such as these are to be savored and not passed by.
Journey of the Immortals
We began pedaling in the rain under gray dull low-hanging skies. Cycling from our hotel to a little noodle stall down the street for breakfast, the rain was light and misty but growing in intensity. By the time we’d sucked down two steaming bowls of piping hot mian xian (beef noodles) and chugged a couple of liters of orange juice, the precipitation had increased to a steady pour and threatened to make it a true “adventure” day.
“Kan Yi Kan”
Fifteen days in Taiwan was all we had. So fifteen days is what our cycling adventure had to be. Yearning for a brief respite from Shanghai’s deceptively cold weather and a chance to get on the bikes again, my riding partner, Zhang Wei Lei, had a touch of travel fever and were itching to get out on the open road. Over a couple of frosty pints of Guinness in a noisy western bar, we sealed the deal and the fix was in.
Zhang Wei Lei and I possessed no definite plans. We had nothing special to see other than to explore Taiwan by circling the island on our bikes to “kan yi kan” or “take a look” and see what there was to see.
Our plan was simple: Fly to Taipei, build the bikes, and ride south along the coast while keeping the Pacific Ocean on our right shoulders until we circled the island and were back in Taipei. Our little island foray would be a journey of discovery in the purest form — just two kindred soul who shared a love of travel cycling together on the road again taking whatever adventure it had to offer.
Here are a few highlights from Part 1 of our adventure…