Day 5 -Crossing the Coastal Mountains

On April 16, 2012 by admin

Shinse to Ruisui

Had a good sleep in the B&B, can’t beat hearing the waves crashing just outside.

The owner of our B&B, Gary, served up a good breakfast of eggs, ham, garden grown veggies, steamed bun and homemade jam.

He lives a good quiet life out here.  With his wife and kids in Taipei, he runs the show along with his dog. He seems happy and just continually works on the B&B, farms vegetables, makes jams, and interacts with guests. He spoke English fairly well, finding out later that it’s because he worked as a marine in his younger years.

Departing, the sun was out looking north to Hualien. Though we were heading due south. 4 minutes into the ride the rain started and we pulled over to put on waterproof jackets and pants. Riding on, the rain came down even harder, I pulled over again to dig my booties out. The rain today was the hardest we’ve seen so far on this tour, just insane. About 6-7k into Fongbin Town and we pulled over again to hide beneath an awning and cover the bags up better in this monsoon.

From here we were heading straight inland to cross over the coastal mountains and connect with route 9. It climbed from sea level up to about 300m elevation fairly fast, but mountain pass climbs I love. There’s a start, a peak, and a downhill. When there’s a gradual incline slowly sapping all your energy it’s hard to keep moving and things move slower. The pass twisted and winded its way up, and the rain stopped half way up the climb. We pulled over again to strip the waterproofs off. The humidity was off the charts now though, so muggy! From the peak looking west toward the Jade mountains you’re treated to a beautiful view of the rice fields and farms of this east rift valley. The downhill was a blast, right into the town of Guandfu where you can see some pretty amazing gardens. I’m told that up in the mountains there are a lot more aboriginal people, as when the Chinese settled in Taiwan they claimed the flat coastal areas and pushed the aboriginals inland and up into the mountains. The houses and art is definitely different in these areas.

From Gaundfu we turned left onto highway 193, where it gradually climbed from 110m to 210m in elevation, a long slow haul. We both seemed to be going nowhere, slowly climbing and then hit with a few steeper climbs. The heat and humidity started to sap us and we pulled over to have a raisin bun and a bun with condensed milk inside, as well as some liquids of course.

At the “peak” we saw a connecting road out to highway 9 and decided to take it instead of this 193. 193 is beautiful, and we saw maybe three cars on it the entire time, but it’s a gradual heading south. A northbound ride on this would be awesome. On the 9 heading south now there was more traffic, but a nice bike scooter lane as usual, and the grade much flatter. Approaching Ruisui we finally saw a 7-Eleven and pulled in for lunch, having a great salad and cafe latte, iced of course.

From there it was only 5k or so to find Hoya Spa. We had pre booked this spa, the site and pics make it look quite nice. Arriving to find a fairly beaten down hotel we weren’t sure we found the spot. Asking the front desk, they spoke no English and seemed to be telling me there was no space. I kept trying to tell them I had a reservation. Finally after some charades, they showed me a reservation sheet and on it there were only two entries, one in full Chinese characters, obviously not me, the other my name in English. How they didn’t put two and two together is beyond me. We got the key and checked into the room, not given any information on breakfast or checkout time or where the real hot spring even was. The room itself was ok, very dated. Think plastic covered vinyl headboards. Each room boasts a private jacuzzi. Which is code for a very rusted out tub on a balcony.

Not settling on the negatives, we showered and went about finding the Hoya Hot Spring. It’s across the street and in its day was probably quite nice. The hot spring waters in this area are very rich in iron, which I’m assuming causes the extreme amount of rusting throughout the hot spring. There are 3 pools here 38, 37, and 43 degrees Celsius, along with a shut down water slide, very cold baby pool, and 15m lane pool. The water is thick and orange, and rust seems to permeate every square inch of the place even the lay down jet beds in the water. Still – a nice soak after a days riding is always a good thing! Also we were the only ones in the entire place, so peaceful. Grabbed a couple cans of Taiwan Beer and a can of P and had a really nice 90 minute soak.

Another downside to this resort, is Hoya has no food nearby. We had to get on our bikes in the dark and bike 2-3 k up to the hot spring town area and all that was open was the convenience store Family Mart, but we had a good dinner anyways. We met a guy who runs a hotel just left of the Family Mart.  It was a nice looking place and only $1700 TWD compared to the $2200 TWD we spent for Hoya Spa. The bike ride back in the dark was more harrowing as the ever present wild unleashed dogs came running after us.

We did an hour of route planning in the lobby since that’s the only place that WiFi seemed to work here, and roughly laid out our plans. It’s looking like an easy day to Antong Hot Spring tomorrow, to Hongye Hot Spring the following day, up to Jihben Hot Spring the day after, then onward towards the southern tip of Taiwan and Kenting. We are looking at returning the bikes somewhere down south. And then bus/train up to Guanziling and Sun Moon Lake where we’d like to spend a day or two each, before returning to Taipei.

Bike Stats
Riding time 3.5hrs

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