Rain Riding to Fulong and Back

All pictures @ Rain Riding to Fulong - Please do excuse the picture quality, it was raining and difficult tot ake pictures.

Lush Vegetation on the way to Pingxi
On the Way to Pingxi

I chose to ride to Fulong today. Queenie was busy so I was free and decided to get on the bike and see how far I could go. It was an awesome ride and I made many new and wonderful friends along the way. The only trouble was, it rained most of the way and I was filthy by the end of the ride (no mudguard on the rear wheel threw all the crap in the puddles onto my back). It was a great ride and I had a tremendous sense of achievement at the end of it. It wasn't the longest ride anyone has done, but for me it was challenging and I am super pleased I got to the end. I left in the morning at around 10:15am and I got home at around 8:00pm: a full 10 hours on the seat of my bike.

The Route

Mucha Road.
The Beginning

My friend Peter has posted an approximate map of the route I took here (thanks Peter). The basic route is easy to follow. I headed straight down Hoping East Road until it changes into Wolong Street and then onto Jun Gong Road. From there I turned left onto Mucha Road Section 4 and followed the road until it became Route 106. From there I followed Route 106 all the way to Fulong going through Shenkeng, Shiding, Pingxi and Shi Fen. In She Fen I turned right onto Route 2 South towards Shuang Shi and Gong Lia0 township. From there I connected with Highway Route 2 for the final 500 meters into Fulong. From there I turned around and followed Route 5 all the way up to Keelung and then turned left onto Route 5 through Badu, Chidu, Shi Zhr, Nangang and finally home. It was an absolutely brilliant ride.

Keelung Harbour
Not Quite the End - Still needed to ride to Taipei

Starting Out

I knew Queenie would be busy on this Saturday for a long time and so in my mind I had planned a long trip on my bike. Although the preceding week started with some beautiful weather, as we got closer to the weekend the weather started to turn sour and by Friday night it was pouring with rain. I thought I would forget the ride. I had remembered my last disasterous attempt of riding in the rain that ended in failure in Tamsui (Cycle Trip to Tamsui, Via Keelung). By the time Saturday morning came around there was a slight drizzle which cleared up around 10:00am. I planned on going on a short bike ride in the beginning and just head out to the zoo. Once I got down to Mucha I pushed on to Shenkeng and saw the 106 and decided to follow it to Shiding. Once in Shiding it had already started to pour with rain and I was completely drenched so decided to push through to Fulong and back home through Keelung. What a beautiful day it turned out to be.

Near the Zoo



Election Posters
Election Posters were all along the route

Rain Riding: Advantages & Disadvantages

Empty Tunnel
Empty Tunnel from Pingxi

The huge advantage of rain riding is that the road is your own which makes it surprisingly safe. At least through the mountains. Traffic was minimal, there were few other cyclists on the road and it was very peaceful. It gave me the opportunity to enjoy nature without much disturbance and allowed me to be alone with my thoughts. Of course the views of the mountains in the middle of the route were outstanding in the rain. The low lying clouds made the views magical and mysterious: absolutely beautiful. The vegetation was a lush green and one could breathe all the fresh air in the world, which can only be good for you. The other advantage is that you don't get sunburn and don't dehydrate as quickly. The disadvantages are obvious: you get wet, the road is slippery, you cannot ride as fast and because of the wind, I started to get severe cramps towards the end of the ride in Shi Zhr in both legs. It was hard to carry on pushing on the pedals but I just breathed through the pain and made sure I got through to the end.

Temple Before Pingxi
Temple outside Pingxi

Lush Vegetation on the way to Pingxi
Looking Back into the Valley

Lush Vegetation on the way to Pingxi
Lush Vegetation

Misty Mountains

New Friends

New Friends in Pingxi
New Friends in Pingxi

Along the route I managed to meet a lot of new friends. I bumped into a group of riders in Pingxi and stopped to chat with them and take some pictures. They had also come from Taipei but refused my invitation to ride on to the North East Coast and back home through Keelung. We took pictures together, handed out facebook addresses (some of us are now connected) and I headed off on my own pushing for Fulong.

Fellow Riders in Fulong
From Tainan to Fulong in Five Days

In Fulong I met two guys who had ridden up from Tainan over 5 days. They were soaked and where overnighting in Fulong. They felt sorry for me all drenched in rain and mud and offered me their raincoat which I politely rejected arguing I was already soaked and it wouldn't make much of a difference anyway. They told me to get my ass down to Tainan as some of the best riding in Taiwan they believed was in the South. I might just do that and get my buddy Peter to ride with me. It would be a joy to ride with Peter again.

AMD Green Team Round Island Riders
AMD Green Team - Day 15/16 Around Taiwan

As I was heading back to Keelung I ran into a bunch of round island riders. They were on day 15 of day 16. They were heading for Keelung and asked me to join them. Since the North East road was really busy and they had three cars driving with them with one in the front and two in the back forming a safety pocket for the riders, it seemed sensible. They too offered a rain coat which I refused (since I was already wet) and we rode together all the way to Keelung. The only problem with riding with these folks was that they were really fast and I struggled to keep up with them and, very often, landed up behind them. In the end all was good and we managed to ride into Keelung together which is where I took my leave, turned my bike onto the road by myself again and headed along the No. 5 Road back to Taipei.

Abalone Farm Outside Fulong
Abalone Farm

North East Coast
Wild Coast

Small Bay Past Fulong
Fishing Boats

The Last Stretch

This part was tough. I had already been riding for 8.5 hours, I hadn't had anything to eat since I 11:00am in the morning and only a cup of coffee to drink in Fulong. It was cold, I had been wet for most of the day and when I was going up the final incline from Chidu to Shi Zhr both my legs started cramping badly. I knew I needed to eat and drink something. I finally made it to Shi Zhr and stopped at a McDonald's for something to fill me up. After that it was a pretty uneventful, but painful ride back into Taipei and home. All in all the ride took 9 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Some Additional Thoughts

Dead Lotuses in a Pond
Dead Lotuses in a Pond

When I got back home everyone thought I was stupid to ride in the rain. I also thought it was a bit dumb but whatever. Was I cold? Yes! Was I wet? Of course! Was I tired? Yes! Was it dangerous? No! Why ride in the rain? Because I can! When I was out there on the road in the rain, especially on Route 106 in the mountains, there were hardly any cars, trucks, motorcycles or bicycles. It was very very peaceful. And I loved it. The mountains in the rain and low lying clouds are beautiful. The vegetation is so lush and green and reminds me of how beautiful Taiwan is. It reminds of how beautiful God's bountiful nature is. It reminds of where I grew up (the climates and vegetation is similar). But most of all it is peaceful and beautiful. When you want to stop, you stop! When you want to ride fast, you ride fast. And when you want to slow down, you slow down! It was fantastic and at the end of the ride I had a real feeling of accomplishment. As I said at the beginning, it is certainly not the most challenging ride one can do in Taiwan, but it was challenging enough for me given the conditions. That does beg the question: would I deliberately ride in rain like that again? Probably not. But if on the road the rain came, it wouldn't deter me: I would just carry on going.

One last thought: Over the past two months I have been doing a committed excercise program. I noticed on this journey my endurance was much better on the bike than before and pushing 10kg less up a mountain road with more muscles in the legs certainly makes things easier. When my speedometer was working I noticed on some mild grade inclines I was able to sustain 30km/hr speeds for significant periods of time. Of course, the steeper inclines made that impossible. Still, being fitter helped the riding and I am happy for that. The leg cramps at the end I believe were my fault for not hydrating and eating properly on the way. Next time I will prepare better.

The Final Damage

My odometer only worked intermittently: the final damage was 114km. But I believe it might have been closer to between 135 ~ 140km (maybe more). My legs were definitely sore the next day and my bike needs some maintenance (the chain kept slipping). Other than that, a brilliant ride and one that would be super amazing in the right, rainless, clear-day conditions. So get on your bikes and start pedaling.

All pictures @ Rain Riding to Fulong - Please do excuse the picture quality, it was raining and difficult tot ake pictures.


Rochelle's Violin Recital

Our beautiful niece Rochelle had her first violin recital in October 2010. She did an amazing job. The video is below. We love her so much and were so proud of her. Enjoy the video.

We hope she goes on to have many more wonderful recitals and we love listening to her rehearse at home. Even her young sister is trying to get in on the act and tries to play the drums at home too. Great kids. Great kids.


Beijing August 01: Late Planes and Broken Tooth

Beijing Restaurant Area
First Restaurant Stop

Air China is always late!

Myself, Mom and Queenie left for Beijing on 31 July 2010. I had to go to the Beijing office on business and since mom was around decided to drag them along. We had originally booked Eva airlines that left early on a Saturday morning and came back late the following Sunday. Unfortunately they cancelled the flight so we had to change to Air China. The departure time was meant to be at 1:00pm on Saturday and return at 8:35am the following Sunday. The flight was delayed without reason. A frequent Air China flier then informed us that they are always late. The kicker was they gave us each a meal voucher valued at NTD180. That couldn’t even buy a Burger King meal (Burger King in the airport is more expensive). We finally got off the ground at around 4:00pm and landed in Beijing at 7:00pm and checked into the Landmark Hotel at 7:30pm. Only a three hour delay but we lost all the daylight in Beijing. That is life.

Exploded Chicken, Broken Tooth

There is no such thing as carved poultry in Chinese Cuisine it seems (except maybe for Beijing Duck). Most of the poultry seems to be “exploded” chicken, duck, turkey etc. The reason they seem exploded is that instead of carving the poultry the chefs hack it with a meat cleaver with bones and flesh mixed together. Anyway, after arriving in Beijing Queenie selected a restaurant from her guide book and off we went. Of course we ordered some chicken. I selected a slice of chicken that I thought was boneless and tested it as much as possible to see if there were bones. And then I took that fatal bite! I felt the small piece of bone cracking into my tooth and felt an incredible surge of pain. Realizing what had happened I quickly spat out the bone but alas, it was too late. Soon after spitting out the bone I spat out the part of my tooth that had broken off.

Beijing you bitch,” was my response.

Picture 008
Guilty Chicken

Picture 003
Mom, Queenie and Me

Picture 012
Our Waitresses

Picture 006
The Amazing Menu

Picture 007
Another Dish

The result of my first dinner! One week of chewing on one side of my mouth, a visit to the dentist in Taiwan and the need for an NTD8,000 cap on the said broken tooth, which will take three weeks to get. At least I now have a temporary cap and can eat on both sides of my mouth.

After leaving the restaurant we went for a walk around the neighborhood and came accross our first Dog Meat Restaurant. Yes, dog cuisine is still alive and well in China.

Picture 014
Dog Meat Restaurant

Naked Swimmer, Expensive Lake

After dinner we were in the mood for a little life. So Queenie, Mom, me and my half tooth headed off to Hou Hai Lake. This was a happening place! People danced in the square in front of the lake, music was blasting out of the riverside bars, people were fishing in the lake and others were swimming. We took a casual stroll around the lake and stopped to talk to one of the swimmers in the lake. After chatting with him for about a second we realized he was completely naked. Good thing it was night and he was in the water. We just wanted to know if it was safe to swim (and perhaps go for a dip ourselves). We decided against it. We strolled around the lake, I was offered girls in a bar but they didn’t want Queenie or mom to come. Eventually we landed up in a quiet bar, drank some lemon tea and had a plate of fruit. We thought Hou Hai was expensive. On Day 2 we went there for some snacks and some drinks, it came to RMB500 (NTD2,000) and the food was crap and the drink small and disgusting. We will never eat or drink there again.

Picture 016
Masks on Hou Hai Lake

Picture 020
Us at Hou Hai Lake

Picture 023
Paul at Hou Hai Lake

Don’t worry, despite the late plane, the broken tooth and the disgustingly expensive food at Hou Hai, we had a blast on the first day (that is said without Sarcasm) and the whole trip to Beijing was amazing. We were glad to have the opportunity to take mom along for the ride.


Rugby at the Brass Monkey in Taipei

Paul, Queenie and Mark
Springbok Supporters

Well the first game of the Springbok's international was on today. A few of us trooped off to the Taipei Brass Monkey to watch the game. We also ran into some old friends and had a thoroughly good time. We also had some dinner there (the chicken pies are always good) and one or two beers.

The game was a good one. Wales went ahead 16-3 in the first 20 minutes. The boks managed to pull it back and get to 31-19 with 12 minutes to play. The Welsh then ran in a try to push the score to 31-24. The boks managed to put over a penalty to push it up to 34-24 and then a bad mistakes by the Boks allowed the Welsh to run in another try to make it 34-31 with three minutes to go. It was a good game. We are glad the Boks won but kudos to the Welsh for keeping the game alive. Anyway, some of the pictures below of those who pitched up.

Doug and Queenie
Doug and Queenie

Hector, Queenie, Andy & Paul
Hector, Queenie, Andy and Paul

Doug, Queenie, Paul, Thomas
Doug, Queenie, Paul and Thomas

Hector, Andy, Queenie, Paul & Doug
The Crowd

Queenie and Paul
Queenie and Paul

Paul and Mark
Paul and Mark

Hector and Andy
Hector and Andy


Hecor and Queenie
Hector and Queenie

Hector, Queenie and Andy
Hector, Queenie, Andy


We had a great time with everyone. Thanks all for coming out to watch and support the Boks and the Welsh. We had fun. Next week, France! Oh, and by the way, The Brass Monkey is a good place to watch live sports. Two chicken pies and four beers only cost NTD1,038. Not bad for a night out.

Highlights of the game are below. Thanks RugbyDump.


Dinner Tonight - Rib Eye Steak in Taipei

Tonight we had dinner in the The Red Kitchen. I chose to have the rib-eye steak, well done of course. It was really delicious.

Rib Eye Steak

Queenie chose just to have the salad bar which included chicken pieces, savory biscuits with liver pate, lots of fresh salad, boiled eggs and lots of fruit.

Some of the Salad

The meal, as always, was delicious. We still highly recommend the food their. You can find them at:

No. 1, Alley 2, Lane 118
Hoping East Road, Section 2
Tel.: (02) 2377-6186

Taipei Africa Week - Love for Africa

Love for Africa

Last week was Africa Week here in Taipei. Africa Week is apparently a yearly event which is organized I believe by the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) (if I am wrong, please correct me). This event highlights the charitable work done in Africa by multiple organizations and emphasizes the relationships Taiwan has with some of those countries. The weekend events were run at the Hua Shan Art District in Taipei. A few businesses in Taiwan that are run by South Africans and other Africans were invited to put up some stands. There were also many other charitable organizations in attendance that were highlighting the work they do in Africa including Buddhist Organizations, Churches and other charities.

One of the Taiwanese Charities in Africa

Some of the businesses that were there included Grillmasters, Frankies, and Afriwine. Grillmasters is a BBQ company that specializes in South African Braais, Frankies is a restaurant in Yonghe run by an old colleague of mine at Kojen and Afriwine is a new shop that opened and imports wine from South Africa. There was also a central stage on where a lot of Taiwanese performers were playing African drums and on which a few presentations were given. The Taiwanese government had also flown in a dance troupe from Swaziland. From what we could see, they were pretty good.

Roelf the Grill Master

Etienne & Roelf, the grill masters and Paul

Unfortunately the weather played the spoiler. It rained all weekend. According to one of the stand holders, they were very optimistic at the grand opening since Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) himself attended. The stand holders were told they could expect at least 10,000 visitors over the weekend but by Sunday afternoon when we visited they said they were lucky if 1,000 people had shown up. All the stand holders we spoke to said they were losing money being there but were hoping the marketing opportunity would help their businesses grow. Those we spoke to thought that although the weather was bad, poor organization and poor marketing were responsible for the low turnout. This may be true. I only heard of the event last week on ICRT and Queenie said she had seen nothing in the Chinese press about the event.

Nevertheless, the main hall had a host of displays highlighting different countries in Africa including Burkino Faso, South Africa, and Nigeria. There were also stands highlighting medical missions to Africa and the health issues faced by Africans including HIV and malaria which afflicts a large portion of the population. There were also presentations by Taiwanese people who had worked in Africa as well as African students in Taiwan who were learning Chinese.

Main Hall Information Booth

Highlighting HIV and Malaria

Swaziland Highlighted

Nigeria Highlighted

Traditional African Arts and Crafts

What was good for us is that we got to eat some boerewors (farmer's sausage) rolls at the grillmasters, eat some excellent chicken pies from Frankies and buy some good South African wine from Afriwine. Hopefully next year the marketing and organization is improved, the weather is better and more people attend. This has the makings of a fantastic annual event if the organization can be improved. Until next years, totsiens and sala kahle.


"Trafalgar Square" (1) 798 District (1) Africa (1) Airport (1) Archive (1) Art (1) Asia Art Center (1) Aviary (1) bagpipes (1) Ban Nam Dee (1) Beihai Park (1) Beijing (5) Birds (1) Bitan (1) Boracay (2) Bozburun (1) Buddhism (1) Buddhist Temple (1) Bunny Chow (1) Cafe India (1) canopy tour (1) cat (1) China (15) Christmas (2) Colombo (3) COPE (1) curry (1) Cycling (28) Cycling in Taiwan (8) dance (3) Dog (1) Durban (3) East Rift Valley (1) Eco Lodge (1) Elephant (3) Elephant Ride (1) Ella (1) Family (6) Fire (1) Flower Market (3) Food (2) France (1) Friends (19) Fulong (1) Galle (2) Galle Face Hotel (1) Gokova (1) Guandu Nature Park (1) hiking (2) Hong Kong (5) Hot Springs (1) Hsin Tien (1) Hualien (1) Hutong (1) Ilan (2) Japan (3) Jing Shan Beach (1) Kandayan Dancers (1) Kandy (5) Kandy Lake (1) Kaohsiung (2) Karkloof (1) Kayak (1) Keelung (4) Khiva (1) kitten (1) Koh Samui (1) Laos (9) Laos COPE (1) Laos Puppies (1) Laos Travelogue (3) Leofoo Village Theme Park (2) Library (1) Lion Dance (1) Little England (1) London (13) Luang Prabang (3) Marmaris (3) Matara (3) Mimi (2) Miscellaneous (32) Monkeys (1) Moses Mabhida Stadium (1) Namtha (1) Namtha. Huay Xuay (1) New Zealand (11) Nuawara Eliya (1) Nuwara Eliya (2) Osaka (3) Our Stuff (11) Pettah Market (1) Philippines (2) Photowalk (1) Pinglin (2) Pinnawala (1) Pot Pie Cafe (1) Pudding (1) Puppies (1) Puppy (1) Restaurants (11) Shek O (2) Shihmen Reservoir (1) Singapore (1) Snake Charmer (1) Snow (1) South Africa (12) Sri Lanka (17) street performers (1) Sung River (1) Sunset (3) Ta An Park (2) Tad Sae Waterfall (1) Taipei (18) Taipei and Taiwan Travel Guide (6) Taipei Fine Arts Museum (1) Taipei Hsin-Beitou (1) Taipei Restaurant (1) Taipei Video (6) Taiwan (24) Taiwan Video (5) Tamsui (2) Tangalle (1) Tangelle (1) Temple (1) Temple Lunch (1) Tennoji (2) Thailand (1) Tissahane (1) Train (1) Travel (62) Travel Guide (1) Travelogues (7) tuk tuk (1) Turkey (11) Unawatuna (1) Unawatuna Beach (1) Urgut (1) Uzbekistan (8) Vang Vieng (4) Vang Vieng Eco Lodge (1) Victoria Park (1) Vientiane (3) Vientiane COPE (1) Wattay International Airport (1) Wedding (2) Weherahena Temple (1) Willesden Green (1) Worship Team (2) Xindian (1) Yala Nature Reserve (1) Yangmingshan (1) zip-line (2) 六福村 (2) 北京 (2) 北海公园 (1) 大安森林公園 (1) 建國花市 (1) 新店 (1) 石澳 (1) 石門水庫 (1) 碧潭 (1) 花東縱谷 (1) 衚衕 (1) 金山海灘 (1) 關渡自然公園 (1)

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