Day 11 – Random Kindness in Hengchun

On April 23, 2012 by admin
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Cape Eluanbi

We awoke not really sure of where we’d stay again tonight, but knew that we needed a slow relaxing morning first and foremost. Sipped some coffee then down to the surfer cafe Summer Point for a great breakfast (BACON!) and a couple more home brewed coffees. Taiwan has a pretty good and tasty selection of all in one style instant coffees, but it was nice today to have a real one again.

The riding didn’t start until about noon today, with the goal being to head around the southern most tip of Taiwan, cape Eluanbi, then cruise north to see the Giant shop we knew was in Kenting. Decided that first we’d see if the giant shop had any hotels near it, and if the bus route for us to head north the next morning ran anywhere nearby it, then we would return the bikers there. If not, we thought perhaps we’d ride another day heading north towards Fangshan where the rail line loops.

After yesterday’s monster workout on the bike we both felt pretty tapped out and lethargic while riding. Thats not to say this part of the country isn’t beautiful, because it has some amazing scenery. We stopped at a few nice lookouts over the ocean on our way to cape Eluanbi for pics. The cape itself had the usual huge bus parking lot and hordes of tour groups shuffling around with their leader in front with the flag up in the air. We were lucky to just soft pedal our bikes the final 800m trail to the cape lookout, get a few obligatory photos, and then get out before the next group got there.

From here the road loops NW, and an old man on a scooter chatted me up for a few km, even though I had nothing to say he was pretty excited about us biking. You have to love the enthusiasm the Taiwanese have towards cycling and the amount of support it receives country wide.

As we entered the town of Kending, the vibe changed suddenly to shop owners barking out to get you to come in and a seemingly endless chain of shops that sell sandals and swimwear. Seriously there can’t possibly be a need for 4/5 shops to sell the same thing is there? This being one of taiwans most popular beach tourist destinations, the amount of tourists here didn’t really surprise us. The rain started falling just as we sat down on 711s patio for some lunch, good timing to be under an umbrella and not riding.

Heading out again we only had a crude map of how to find the Giant store, knowing it was on the far west coast on Wanri Rd. Turning off of the busy route 26 where truck after truck and bus after bus roared by, we decided to try to get west to where the giant shop was on a quicker and quieter country road. One of the main standbys for me on this trip has been the ability to turn on my iPhone and use the gps to find out where we were, it saves us from getting lost time and time again. For some reason though today my 3G network wouldn’t work, even though it should have since there are cell towers around here and I just paid my bill a couple days ago to give me unlimited data until we leave Taiwan. As it turned out later, Taiwan Mobile hadnt activated it properly, so my $600 that I topped up was just going directly to the data at a per MB rate not the unlimited data I had bought.  We turned right on a road near the lake and followed it up, it must’ve have curved slightly along the way, because we ended up at the exact same spot again 15 minutes later. Frustration was setting in big time, the giant shop was in “kenting” but we didn’t know exactly where it might be in the large Kenting areas/province. With the iPhone still screwed and the map not showing detailed roads, we pretty much picked a road and hoped for the best. Finally I did the non manly thing and stopped to ask for directions at a hotel, where he drew a rough map and told me to turn back the way I came and go down to the coastline. We had to go far south to be able to go north is the gist of it.

We were starting to get anxious since it was past 415 now, sunset at 6, and no idea if the giant shop had somewhere to stay nearby. Finally being on the right road and pushing north was a positive though. About a half an hour later we saw we were on Wanri Rd, and saw a sign for a bike hotel! Surely this would be a nice affordable place we could maybe stay tonight. As we braked and pulled in I looked up and saw the Giant shop was right here! What a relief. Now we just had to hope that they could take our bikes back (they rent bikes in one city and allow you to return bikes in another, but I had heard somewhere that this was only available at some outlets).

The Giant employee greeted us cheerfully and helped us out. Alex was his name, and he basically told us to bring the bikes inside, take our time unloading the panniers, and it’ll all work out fine. He even gave us a bunch of shop bags to use to pack our stuff in since suddenly we only had one mini backpack each in which to stuff two large pannier bags of gear into (each). He spoke great English and when we asked about the bike hotel he showed us their prices, 7000 NT$ per night ($210 cad!!). I know of zero cyclists who could afford or would pay that much! He then went about offering to find us a place to stay in the nearby town of Hengchun. He said he had a friend who had a hotel and he’d see if there was space. Turns out there was a room available there and he was giving it to us at a huge discount, only $1200 ($40cad)! Alex even offered to put all of our stuff in his work van and drive us to the hotel, we were so relieved.

Pulling up to the hotel there was a sign on the front with a picture of a bike and the name Bike Hostel, I knew we’d really lucked out. The owner of the hotels name is Adia, who as it turns out used to work for Giant as well and is friends with Alex. He’s a super friendly and welcoming hotel manager, speaks fluent English, and set us up in a huge room in his hotel. Its decorated with random bike things, his own road bike mounted up on the wall, and the rooms done up simply with ikea stuff, seriously cool!

We suddenly felt naked without our bike and panniers. The trip was over, just like that.  Here we had a pile of stinky clothes and bike gear that we didn’t want to be bringing with us up north on public transit. Adia provided us with a big box, we stuffed it to the max with our gear leaving only the bare essentials in a small backpack to travel light from here on out. He then taped it up, drove me to the 711 which has a huge network of delivery systems in Taiwan, translated for me, wrote our final nights hotel address and made sure it would be delivered before we arrive in Taoyuan this Saturday. So helpful!

Back to his hotel and he gave us some folding bikes to take and go eat some dinner, where we somehow ended up in a karaoke place trying to get some food and a couple beers while the owner tried to get us to sing some english songs.

Even if the bike ‘touring’ portion of the trip is over, there are still 5 days until we leave so we’ll have a chance to see Guanziling Hot Springs, Sun Moon Lake, and get some biking in there hopefully.  I stayed up late using the wifi at the hotel to plan out our last few days, really wish we had enough time to bike the entire way but the vacation isn’t over at least.

Bike Stats
50km
Time 3h15min

Kenting

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Looking North, those buildings in distance are where we stayed last night

 

The End.. final picture with our Giants

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Ophee taking in the Cape

 

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Cape Eluanbi, Southernmost Point of Taiwan

 

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Likely reads, never ever allow your wife to talk you into riding a tandem

 

 

Cape Eluanbi

At the Southernmost Point

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Cool rooms at the Bike Hotel

 

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My gear

 

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Ophee's Gear

 

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Lobby, Bike Hotel

 

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Adia and I

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