The third installment on my "Cycling Around Taiwan" series. Day 3 started in Taichung and ended in the beautiful fishing village of Budai in Chiayi county. Although it was a hot day it turned out to be a fairly decent ride, especially towards the end of the day with some beautiful sunsets off the wetlands. It was also a weird day as, although I was riding fairly close to the sea, I didn't see it much. It would also prove to be the longest stretch I did on any day during my circumnavigation: it was a great ride.
The route is shown below. It was a fairly decent 135.65km ride that started in the center of Taichung and ended in a hotel outside the nightmarket in Budai.
I woke up surprisingly early (around 6:00am) considering how sick I had been the night before: while I was terribly stiff from all the cramps in my abdomen from the night before, I did feel much better. I found a small breakfast shop next to the hotel and had an egg roll and some noodles for breakfast and then decided to start the day. The initial goal was to get to Tainan but that would prove to be a destination too far.
After breakfast I got on my bike and started heading up the big hill I came over the day before: fresher legs and cooler weather in the morning and being properly hydrated helped me get over the hill in short order. Still, tight muscles didn't make it an easy ride and it wasn't as simple as usual. Also, after my experience the day before, I made sure I remained properly hydrated the whole day to ensure I would not have to visit the hospital again. Of course, one of the great things about riding through Taiwan are all the beautiful girls you get to see. I saw the girl below at the top of the hill climbing out of Taichung.
After taking a break at the top of the hill I enjoyed coasting all the way down back to Wuqi where I had turned left to get into Taichung the day before. The downhill was awesome and gave me a good time to rest my legs and enjoy the morning sun. I was dodging a lot of trucks and buses but it was still a very enjoyable downhill ride. It should be noted, this would be the only real downhill I had all day. From Wuqi to Budai would prove to be mostly flat.
So finally I was ready to head South towards Tainan (my stated target) but I think I had already decided that wouldn't happen. The rest of the day would prove to be a fairly generic experience: drifting through small, indistinct towns, passing a lot of rice paddies, riding over bridges crossing giant rivers, stopping to rehydrate, enjoying the sun and wind in my face, and pedaling on. It was utterly enjoyable (except for the trucks that were occasionally getting too close. As I headed further south heavy industry seemed to get less and more farmlands opened up and there seemed to be an increasing number of rice paddies. The rice paddies all over the island make riding in Taiwan spectacular: they are green and add tremendously rich colors to what could otherwise be a mostly bland urban landscape.
I passed through towns like Shengang, Lugang, Fangyuan, Xigang and Taixi. For the most part it felt safe and for large stretches of road there were cycle paths along which cyclists could ride and feel safe. I seldom saw other vehicles riding in these cycle paths and so tried to stay pretty much in the cycling lane to stay safe. Some of the time though (especially in the smaller towns) there were no lanes and I had to share the road with some big trucks, buses and lots of other exciting traffic.
Some of the time heading south was spent riding next to a highway under construction. This part of the ride was particularly uncomfortable as it was dusty and there were many trucks and heavy vehicles coming and going as they were delivering construction materials. It was safe enough but certainly not comfortable. The road next to this highway was unavoidable and so I had to persevere next to it. Thankfully it wasn't a large portion of the ride but it was still an uncomfortable place to be.
One enjoyable part about heading south on the west coast are some of the large rivers you get to cross - and some of them are wide. Riding over them you can see the river beds are very often dry or only a few percent full but one can only imagine how the rivers fill up during a typhoon or during torrential rains. The bridges are long and on one bridge I came across a man who had parked his car in the middle of the bridge and was fishing off the bridge. Certainly a novel way to go fishing.
Heading towards Budai I arrived in the wetlands on the west coast where there are a lot of lakes and rivers. It certainly is a beautiful part of Taiwan and the first time I have ever really traveled there. I enjoyed riding next to the water in the late afternoon and early evening. There were some awesome views and a beautiful sunset. It was also starting to cool off and the ride was becoming more pleasant. I realized at that point that to make it to Tainan I would have to spend most of the way from here riding in the dark and so decided to stay in Budai. I had already done 130km or so and thought it was a decent day's ride.
On the way into Budai I ran into some college kids who were down in the south doing some ecology projects. I stopped and had a chat with them. They seemed to be having a very relaxing and enjoyable time in the South and were not missing the hustle and bustle of Taipei too much.
Arriving in Budai
I decided to end the day in Budai, a small town primarily known for the ferry services it offers to Penghu Island. I rolled into the town and some teenagers directed me to a small hotel for NTD600 a night right outside the night market. The room was big and spacious. I checked into the hotel and quickly dashed into the night market for a scrumptious steak dinner that was incredibly cheap.
After dinner I walked through the night market enjoying looking at the different wares on offer. I drifted to the town and walked over the brightly lit bridge crossing the bay in Budai. It was a wonderful little town. After heading back to the hotel I realized I was still hungry and decided on a second dinner: I was happy I could eat again after the previous day's troubles in Taichung. After my second dinner it was time to head back to the hotel and get some sleep: I was surprised to see it was only 9:30pm, but I fell asleep fairly quickly. The end to an another awesome day.
Other Cycling Round Taiwan Installments
- Around Taiwan - Final Overview
- Day 01 - Taipei ~ Hsinchu
- Day 02 - Hsinchu ~ Taichung
- Day 03 - Taichung ~ Budai
- Day 04 - Budai ~ Kaohsiung
- Day 05 - Kaohsiung ~ Kenting
- Day 06 - Kenting ~ Dawu
- Day 07 - Dawu ~ Chenggong
- Day 08 - Chenggong ~ Hualien
- Day 09 - Hualien ~ Suao (Suhua Highway)
- Day 10 - Suao ~ Ilan
- Day 11 - Ilan ~ Keelung
- Day 12 - Keelung ~ Taipei