|Looking at Tamsui|
Getting to Guandu
Saturday morning was beautiful. It was cool but sunny with a slight breeze blowing through the North of Taiwan. Queenie and I had already planned to ride up to Tamsui with three of Queenie's colleagues Stacey, Anna and Yun Chun. Queenie had previously ridden up to Guandu with them and left her bike there. I agreed to ride up to Guandu and meet Queenie there with her friends (who carried their bikes on the MRT) and then ride up to Bali, opposite Tamsui.
To be honest I had a bit of a late night on Friday so waking up and getting on my bike was a bit difficult but once I got going it was fine. It was just great riding next to the river. I managed to get up to a good steady pace and made it to Guandu in 90-minutes. Queenie and her friends arrived shortly and then of course we all went to eat brunch.
After an hour of eating breakfast we decided to get going (by now it was around noon). We first rode through the crowded streets of Guandu (and to be sure the streets were very crowded) and then over the Guandu bridge. The ramp up the bridge is fairly steep but the view from the top wasn't bad. At least I got to see the river boat I have heard so much about in the recent past.
Once over the bridge the crowds cleared up a bit and the weather was just amazing. The views of the rivers were spectacular and Queenie said it reminded her of the Bosphorus in Turkey (with slightly younger buildings on the side). When we crossed the bridge the wind was starting to pick up a little and the river was starting to become restless, but the choppy water made it look and feel a little more wild than Taiwan is and gave the feeling we were in a more remote and distant place.
Queenie and the Guandu Bridge
Queenie and her friends
The ride to Bali was just incredible. The weather, as I said earlier, was tremendous. There were still quite a few cyclists on the path but it only got really bad once we got much closer to the town. For the most part there was enough space to get up to a good pace but still just riding next to the river and seeing the view of Tamsui was great. Even though there were lots of people out on the road I think its great to see more and more Taiwanese people getting involved in outdoor activities. When I first came here 10 years ago most Taiwanese people preferred to stay indoors but now with the cycle paths being well developed people get out and enjoy nature.
However, if you ever decide to ride a bike and take a video, it can be perilious. See below!
For what its worth I did survive. Ha ha ha but I did learn to not record and ride right behind someone else. Just before we got to Bali we stopped at on the river bank where we had a tremendous view of Tamsui.
After a while we eventually made it into Bali. Bali was absolutely crowded. I was stunned. I haven't been there for about 8 years. The last time I made it I think was in 2001 with my mom when she visited. Way back then the ferry dock was an old wooden pier with a muddy trail and tents next to the path where there were seafood restaurants specializing in mussels cooked in soup. I was really surprised by the transformation. The government has done a great job and if you like vibrant, crowded and noisy places then this would be a great weekend destination for you. Of course riding through the crowd was murder.
Paul, Yun Chun, Stacey, Anna and Queenie
Watching the windsurfers was also great. I haven't seen people windsurfing on the Tamsui river before but it was well worth it.
Once we got past Bali the crowd thinned out quite a lot. We passed through some smaller homesteads and traditional red brick Chinese houses that looked a little old. There was also a lot of greenery.
We rode on a little further and arrived at a small town. We bought some drinks and then decided to escape the crowds and go to an observation deck that overlooked the mouth of the Tamsui river.
I then decided to try and give a brief introduction on the mouth of the Tamsui river, but as you can see (and hear) the wind was quite strong making it fairly difficult to record.
After hanging around for about half an hour we decided to head back. It was getting late and Queenie decided she would ride back to Taipei with me. So we started heading slowly back to Taipei. By this time the wind had come up quite a bit and although we it was still warm, it would get much colder later. As we rode next to the river we found our way back. We decided to take a short break at Da Dao Cheng Wharf. I have never been there and it was nice just sitting next to the river with friends drinking some tea. We then proceeded to ride slowly home finally arriving at about 7:30pm. The last part of the journey was cold. There was a wind blowing off the river and we had only packed for riding in the day. It just goes to show, that old motto I learned way back when "Be Prepared" still applies today.
|On the way back|
I am really impressed with the way the riverways have been developed for outdoor activities. There are plenty of bike rental shops along the rivers for people who don't own bikes or who do not wish to have the hassle of riding so far. The beauty and the tragedy is that while more and more Taiwanese people are getting out, excercising and enjoying the outdoors, the roads have become very crowded in places and riding through the crowds can be a nightmare. Still, all in all it was a pretty great day. We had fun and I would certainly do it again. But before then I have to buy Queenie a new bike. Her's is way too heavy. That said, I highly recommend the ride.