The Other Side of the River

(Paul and Queenie next to the Hsin Tien River)

Another Saturday morning, another early morning cycling trip with Peter. After arranging times with Peter yesterday, we decided to meet at the bottom of the Taipei side of the Fu He bridge at around 7:30am and head toward Tamsui. We also decided to eat breakfast at the terminal point of the ride (wherever that was after an hour) and then head back home. Of course we had a spectacular time!

The weather was fantastic. Getting out of bed early enough to prepare the picnic breakfast was tough. But most of the preparation was done yesterday. We bought some cold meats, tomatos, cheese, fresh bread and fruit for breakfast. We just had to shove it into a bag.

Of course this time we were also better prepared for the sun. Last week we never put on any lotion and our arms and faces were roasted. Fortunately for us, this time, we thought ahead and so after coming back our skin was not so painful.

Anyway, we managed to leave the house around 7:00am. Although the sun was out the morning air was cool and refreshing. Riding through Tai-Da (Taiwan University) at that time of the morning was pleasant. Hardly anyone was around (except the early morning Cha Cha and Taichi people). The Cha Cha and Taichi people are usually older people and are a true Taiwan (maybe Chinese) phenomenon. Ever since arriving in Taiwan I (Paul) have always been amazed at the commitment of the older people here to wake up early and get in some early morning excercise. I think it is a great attitude to life. I am getting to the age where I am thinking of joining in. However, since most of them are 60, I will still be the young one.

(Tai-Da in the early morning)

On the way to the bridge we noticed one of the schools was getting ready for an activity day. By the time we got back from our ride they were in full swing.

(Perparing for Sports Day)

We arrived at the bottom of the Fu He bridge. The government has built a cycle ramp from the bridge to the riverside so it really is convenient. We waited a short bit for Peter. It was fairly relaxing just waiting in the early morning. Of course he arrived after around 10 minutes with Christina. And we were off.

(Peter Coming Down the Ramp)

(Christina Arrives)

The ride this morning was fantastic. The river was really calm and clear with vivid reflections of the buildings. We also managed to see a lot of birds (we really need to learn their names). Seeing birds in Taipei is a miracle. The city is industrialized and to be honest we dont see many. I remember last year when my father was here he was always trying to see and recognize the birds. Of course he is an avid bird watcher in South Africa and was fairly disappointed with the scarcity of birds. So this morning when we saw the birds wading in the water I thought of Dad and how he would really appreciate these sights.

(Some Birds)

At this stage there were hardly any people around. A few cyclists and joggers but nothing more. One of the funny sights we saw was a man riding his bike with a radio attached to two computer speakers hanging off the back of his bike. We all of course commented on the hi-tech nature of this contraption. He seemed very happy however sharing his radio with the world. Perhaps he thought he was providing a valuable service to us all. Well maybe, we thought the sight was amusing but we were pleased he was riding the other way.

(Peter, Christina and Queenie)

So after riding about 7km we decided to find a spot and prepare our sandwiches. Queenie and Peter were quite pleased with what was on offer. Queenie said this was the first time I (Paul) had ever prepared breakfast for her. We managed to narrow it down to the first time I had ever prepared a Saturday morning breakfast picnic. However, the food went down well and everyone was full.

(Peter Enjoying his sandwiches)

(Queenie Preparing Breakfast)

Of course Christina had a great time running around in the overgrown grass. The grass on this side of the river compared to where we were last week was wild. It wasn't nicely cut. However, this made it more interesting for Christina I am sure. Peter also mentioned that Christina seems to enjoy playing in the dirt. Evidence is below. Of course many people were out walking their dogs and relaxing in the morning sun. But gladly not too many and most of the dogs were fairly well behaved. There were two fairly vicious looking dogs but they ultimately proved to be fairly well behaved and harmless.

(Peter and Christina)

(Christina in the Dirt)

Anway, we waded our way through the ham and cheese sandwiches and some pineapples. Took a rest on the grass and then, after about an hour, decided to head back home.

By this time we noticed that there were many more people riding on the paths and it was a little more crowded than earlier. Although the crowds are not too pleasant it is great to see the people of Taipei getting out more and getting involoved in outdoor activities. They are mostly "pa tai yang" (afraid of the sun) and many of them think anything outdoors is "tai zhang" (too dirty). So seeing a lot of them (and especially kids) taking advantage of such a spectacular day was great. Hopefully more people in this cramped up city will take to the outdoors. It will be good for them.

Of course the greatest joy of riding next to the river are the views of the river and the city. We saw some spectacular ones this morning. Some of them are below.

(Some Views from the Path)

On the way home we also passed people flying their remote control planes and quite few stray dogs. We finally arrived at the bottom of the ramp from Fu He bridge. We said our goodbyes to Peter and Christina and headed off to Starbucks for a cold drink. We finally arrived at home at around 10:30am. As Peter said, "it was a great way to start the weekend."

(On the way home)

You can see more pictures here.

See our Taipei and Taiwan Travel Guide for more cycling tours


Cycle Trip to Bitan (Hsin Tien)

(Peter and Queenie)

We recently started riding next to the rivers in Taipei. The government has done a fantastic job in making the cycle paths and ensuring no motorcyclists are allowed to ride on them.

Today we woke up early and left the house around 8:00am. We called our friend Peter to see if he wanted to bring his daughter for a ride. He was keen so we decided to head off to Bitan along the river.

We first rode through Tai Da (Taiwan University) as we always do. We then headed out onto Keelung road and over the Fu He bridge to the Yong He side of the Hsin Tien River. Of course the Saturday morning market was in full swing by the time we arrived and everyone was busy buying and selling. These markets are always fun to watch.

(Market at the bottom of Fu He Bridge)

We met Peter near the market and then followed him, as he was our leader, along the river paths. What a great day it was for a ride. The first part was just so refreshing. On the way we saw a lot of volunteers cleaning up the riverside park. They were dressed in special outfits picking up trash. However, although there were green patches on the riverside, a lot had been washed away by the recent rains. Peter says this happens a lot.

(Peter and Paul)

We finally got to the end of the trail and then crossed over the Sioulang Bridge to get back on the other side of the river. The views of the mountains on the south side of Taipei were spectacular. Clouds were hovering over them making a stunning view.

(The View)

On the other side of the bridge was a wonderful park with lots of the greenest grass we had seen for a while. We pedalled on along the trail, passed some kids playing a baseball game and passed some people flying remote control helicopters.

(Queenie Riding Hard Uphill)

After an hour of slow riding we arrived in Hsin Tien. We locked up the bikes and found the quaintest of breakfast shops. Apparently the owner used to work for the Regent Hotel in Hualien but had moved back to his home. He decided to build this small store on his mother property and created a truly remarkable breakfast store. Of course all the attendants were friendly and even willing to be in some of our pictures.

(Queenie Outside the Breakfast Store)

(Inside the Breakfast Store)

(The Owners)

After staying there for an hour or so we headed back home. On the way we stopped to play in the park with Christina. That is to say, we stopped so Peter could play with Christina and we could sleep on the grass in the cool breeze flowing down from the mountains. We must have been there for about half-an-hour.

(Peter and Christina in the Park)

(Queenie Crushing Paul)

We then headed off home. Once again the ride was wonderful. We parted ways with Peter and rode through Tai Da again. We went a different way through the university and noticed that the leaves on some of the trees on the road were a spectacular yellow.

(The Trees in Tai Da)

We ended our trip in Starbucks. A worthy reward for a great morning's ride.

See http://picasaweb.google.com/durbanbay/CycleTripToBitan for more pictures.

See our Taipei and Taiwan Travel Guide for more cycling tours


Six Great Years

Hi All,

(Queenie and Paul in Jiuzhaigou, 2006)

Six years ago today we got married. Its amazing to think how fast the time has gone and how many wonderful memories we have shared. In that time we have travelled widely together and have had quite a few adventures. We have changed jobs and careers, moved countries, and made some wonderful friends. And to our friends we say thank you for your support over the years. We have enjoyed getting to know you.

Tonight we will have a celebratory dinner and reflect on the past and have a lot of fun. So as we move onto another year of married life, we look forward to the blessings of our relationship and look forward to more great times together.

Have a great day,
Queenie and Paul


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