Tag Archives: Joshua Samuel Brown

Three Days in Eastern Taiwan: Part Three

Day Three: Through the valley and back to the coast

(Excerpted from Eastern Taiwan by Eleven and Nine,  originally run in  Bicycle Times, Issue 17) 

 

Route nine

Route nine

After coffee and a morning soak, I’m out of Hoya Spa and head through surrounding rice fields to Route 9 on the logical final day of the tour. On my government-issued map the final 75 kilometers forms a neat loop.

Route 9 is wide and my pace is slack. More picturesque I’m told is route 193, which runs parallel to 9 and meanders a bit more. But after two days of fairly intense riding, serious sunburn and a borrowed bike to return, I’m content to take the easier, softer way. 193 can wait for another day. I stop at a roadside café and brunch on vegetarian dumplings, stop again for iced coffee a few kilometers later in the two-street town of Guangfu, and again to stretch and take photos of a field filled with flowers and nesting cormorants.

The Cow Junction

The Cow Junction

I get sidetracked for thirty minutes, seduced by an unfinished four lane highway not yet open to traffic and ending at the base of a not-yet built bridge, and wind up mildly disoriented but not in a major way. At some point I come across a statue of a cow offering directions, but this might be a heat stroke induced hallucination.

Along the road

Along the road

But the cow was indeed pointing the way, and I’m soon back on the right road. At this point that the central and coastal mountain ranges form a pincher, funneling all traffic into the open plains south of Hualien city, making getting lost difficult. I follow the road into the home stretch. The road is wide and beautiful, and until I get within striking distance of the city itself, largely free of traffic.

Sashimi, fresh and cheap!

Sashimi, fresh, inexpensive & served with a smile!

I arrive back in Hualien three days and 300 kilometers after I’d left and check into one of the local hostels. After returning my borrowed bike back to the good folks at Giant, I head to the night market to eat sashimi. Watching the sun set behind the central mountain range, I contemplate the shrines, temples and curves of Taroko Gorge … a ride left for another day.

 

 

 

 

 


Want to know more about cycling in Taiwan? Drop me a line at josh.brown@bicycleadventures.com. 

Join me on Bicycle Adventures Autumn 2015 Taiwan Tour – it’ll be epic! Mention this blog for your $100 discount!


 

 

 

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Three Days in Eastern Taiwan: Part One

(Excerpted from Eastern Taiwan by Eleven and Nine,  originally run in  Bicycle Times Issue 17.) 

Day One – Along the Coast

Riding Route Eleven

Riding Route Eleven

Route 11 stretches like a lazy python along Taiwan’s eastern flank. From north to south it’s roughly 300 miles of  small towns, sheer-drop cliffs, dynamite-blasted tunnels, and many spectacular rip-tide heavy beaches.  It’s a road for drivers with strong stomachs who are in no particularly hurry. For cyclists, it’s paradise. With only a few days in Taiwan between guidebook gigs, I intend to ride a chunk of it before heading over the mountains and back up the rift valley road to my starting point, the east coast city of Hualien.

 

Outside of Hualien

Outside of Hualien

I ride southward along a road rising and dipping into long stretches of sheer jaw-dropping beauty, the sun playing peek-a-boo with puffy white clouds. It’s beautiful riding, punctuated only occasionally by passing cars and waving motorcyclists. Though western faces are no longer a novelty in Taiwan, folks on the east coast seem especially happy to see a bicyclist from afar enjoying their scenery.

 

A winning combination

A winning combination!

Between Hualien and Taitung there are no other cities, just small towns and even smaller villages offering small restaurants, 7-11s or family-run convenience stores. All stores large or small have a crock pot of simmering tea eggs, hard boiled eggs cooked in a broth of tea.  The tea egg travels well, making them a good snack for long stretches between towns.

 

chewy!

…chewy!

At Niu Shan, a rest stop overlooking a brilliant section of coast I come across another excellent – and far less ubiquitous – caloric companion. Zhu tong fan; rice cooked in a bamboo stalk.  Ostensibly an aboriginal dish (though tribal folk would have used millet, rice being a Han import), zhu tong fan may be the ultimate cycling food, high in carbohydrates and easy to carry.  I crack the stalk on a rock, eating the sticky rice inside before tossing the biodegradable bamboo into the grass.

 

Eight Arches Bridge

Eight Arches Bridge

Passing the phallic Tropic of Cancer monument, I note that I am officially in The Tropics. Pulling past Sansiantai (a scenic area that’s home to one of the east coast’s prettier human-created tourist attractions, the aptly named eight arches bridge,) I realize that my legs are in danger of seizing up after my first 120 kilometer ride in months. After an amazing meal of fresh fish, stir fried pork and noodles and various local vegetables, It’s time for bed.

 

 

 


Come back tomorrow for  Day Two: Over the mountains and into the rift


Join me on Bicycle Adventures Autumn 2015 Taiwan Tour – it’ll be epic! Mention this blog for your $100 discount!

 

 

Welcome to Taiwan

JSB Taiwan East

On Taiwan’s East Coast, mouth full (as usual).

Greetings and salutations! I’m Joshua Samuel Brown, former NYC bicycle courier and current author of a dozen+ Lonely Planet guides (including two on Taiwan), two books of short stories (including one called Vignettes of Taiwan, which is – you guessed it – about Taiwan), and a couple-hundred articles on subjects including travel, cycling and food from exotic locations around Asia including…correct again, Taiwan!

I’m also Bicycle Adventures’ newest guide. Care to guess which among BA’s many enchanting rides I’ll be guiding?

Correct again…Taiwan!

Taiwan, as represented by a bicycle chain

Taiwan, as represented by a bicycle chain

This Autumn I’ll be returning to my beloved adopted island, taking a top-of-the-line touring bike through some of the planet’s most exquisite scenery, riding on beautiful ocean roads, over breathtaking mountain passes and through gorgeous gorges. Along the way I’ll be soaking in hot-springs, eating amazing food, and making new friends around the island.

But wait. It gets better! How?

Well, for starters, you’re coming with me. (Because really, wouldn’t it be a shame to do all this cool stuff alone?)

Bicycle Adventures, the planet’s premier cycling adventure company, has two Autumn trips planned. Both start and end with full-immersion cultural and culinary cycling adventures through the amazingly dynamic city of Taipei, my home base for many years.

But these mini-urban expeditions are just bookends for the real adventure, which will range all over the island and include a full-day ride into volcanic Yamingshan national park, a high-speed bullet train trip down the west coast followed by a more leisurely ride down the jungle and beach filled southern tip of Taiwan, several days of riding along Taiwan’s stunning east coast and inland through the Eastern Rift Valley National scenic area, and one exceptionally intense ride through the almost too beautiful for words (believe me, I know) Taroko Gorge.

Tiansiang Pagoda in Taroko Gorge

Tiansiang Pagoda in Taroko Gorge

I won’t go into all the details in this post, as you can check out the full Taiwan itinerary here. In a nutshell, the Taiwan journey offers you a once-in-a-lifetime 11 day ride around a gorgeous, exotic and culture drenched subtropical island with a bicycling fanatic travel writer who isn’t just an expert on Taiwan, but actually in love with Taiwan!

In a more compact nutshell, this Autumn’s Taiwan trips are going to be Epic!

While we’ve got two trips planned, spaces are limited. Sign up now by calling (800) 443-6060, or email me directly at josh.brown@bicycleadventures.com.

I’m looking forward to riding with you this October!

Join the adventure. As we say in Taiwan Huanying guanglin (Welcome)! And watch this space for more about Cycling in Taiwan!

Warmly,

JSB