Day 4 – Drenched in Isolation

On April 16, 2012 by admin

Freaking roosters.

At 4am I was startled awake by a rooster crowing outside. Being a light sleeper, this didn’t bode well for my chances of falling back asleep. The rooster didn’t stop for the next 5 hrs. I finally got to sleep for half an hour or so… for a total of 5 hours sleep.

At 4:53am I started to feel a shaking of the bed, fast and rapid almost quivering. It grew into a strong shaking and I realized we were experiencing an earthquake. It turned out that it was centered just 20km away and 8k deep in Hualien, our closest city, and measured 5.4 on the Richter Scale. Just a small one in the big picture, but it had been awhile since I’d felt one. I didn’t sleep after that…

We had the hostel breakfast of toast and coffee at 8:30am then packed up the tornado of stuff in our room. The manager of the hostel was a nice lady and sent us off with a big wave and smile. We were a bit hungry already so grabbed some food at the 7-Eleven nearby before riding on.

Today was tough. The lack of sleep really weighed on me and I felt like I just had zero energy in my legs. I found myself being pulled by Ophee on the ride in the morning. We stopped at an Oceanside park in Hualien to eat some rice balls and buns and try to recharge. After this brief break we rode on and soon after finally saw a convenience store to grab a coffee, and we finally had a salad for women and salad for men (that’s what the label says), been lacking veggies this trip for sure.

We started riding south of Hualien and the rain started up, every day so far in Taiwan we’ve been rained on. There were a few climbs, but the rain just came harder and harder, until we pulled under a tree to get our waterproofs on. I felt like just calling it and finding a hotel, but that would make tomorrow a longer day. Tomorrow night we are pre booked at a hot spring hotel in Ruisui, so we planned to ride as much as we can today and then have a shorter easier day to recharge tomorrow at the hot spring.

The climb up to the back observation hill was tough, about 230m elevation. I’m sure there are some amazing sights on this route, but we’ve had some fairly poor weather most days and don’t exactly get to make the most of it. That’s what is though, you can’t change the weather. I hope that some bad weather and a few missed sights doesn’t dissuade anyone from biking Taiwan, because it’s truly a amazing country.

We pedaled along hoping to find something, anywhere, to stay. On our map, the towns all have the same labeling, so it’s hard to know how large each one is.

Realizing yet again that time was not on our side, we were either going to ride 20k to Fongbin and hope there was a place to stay, or just find something along the way. This is some seriously remote country here, most towns aren’t even really towns, just a few scattered houses and a bit of deserted buildings. Passing through some construction, we saw a group of motor bikers come flying around the corner and down the hill toward us.  One of the idiots slipped out as one would expect and slid toward us on his side.  Thankfully we were ten meters down the hill. Why he felt he could ride Mach 10 in the rain on mud with slick road tires is beyond me.

I pulled alongside Ophee and we talked how sometimes when things are the shittiest, it opens up the opportunity for something else. Like I found on the Japan tour, you have downs, but then you inevitably have ups, it’s the yin and yang of bike touring.

Riding through the community of Shise, it was starting to seem as though we would have to keep riding in the monsoon rain all the way to Fongbin, when on my right I saw a small B&B sign! The owner was outside painting the doorway, and welcomed us in to stay here with a discount of $1200 TWD, or about 40 bucks. We dropped our bags off and rode 2k south to the beef noodle restaurant, which was closed, so we rode 3k north past the B&B and saw a restaurant on the right which was open. Luckily a lady there spoke English and her German husband invited us to eat with them. Such a great meal of fish, Mapo Doufu, and veggies, and they insisted on treating us, great hospitality, and good karma to them sometime with someone paying it back to them I hope.

Back to the B&B for our third floor ocean view room, so nice and overlooking the waves crashing. We had a coffee with Gary the owner who speaks pretty good English from his time with the marines. Just a great little spot and awesome bed and breakfast here, along with some strangers hospitality and help, the universe balanced out.

Bike Stats
Dist 82k
Riding time 5 hours

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