Around Taiwan - Day 04 - Budai ~ Kaohsiung

The fourth installment on my "Cycling Around Taiwan" series. Day 4 started in with breakfast in the market in Budai and ended in a Love Hotel in Kaohsiung. It was a really hot day: sunshine all the way on the hot tarmac of the road. I met my mate Peter in Tainan for lunch and was going to meet Queenie and my niece Rochelle in Kaohsiung on Saturday. The day promised much and delivered all (including more sunburn).

Morning Market in Budai
Morning Market in Budai

The Route

I rode 105km from Budai, through Tainan, to Kaohsiung. Had a long break in Tainan and got to Kaohsiung in time for the sunset over Lotus Lake.

Morning in Budai

Fish Vendor in Budai
Fish Vendor in Budai

Waking up in a place like Budai when cycling around Taiwan is awesome. It is a small local town and the morning wet market now occupied the place where the night market was the night before. I got out of bed and found a quaint little breakfast shop near the hotel and sat there for a while eating some chicken rice and thinking about the day's route. I was thinking to stop and overnight in Tainan but that would prove to be too short a ride so I decided to head straight for Kaohsiung, which I calculated I could get to with ease. So, after a delicious breakfast and a lovely walk through the morning market, it was time to get back on the bike and head for Kaohsiung. I was looking forward to this as Queenie and my niece Rochelle were going to meet me in Kaohsiung for the weekend and I would have two days break.

Cleaning Fish in Budai
Cleaning Fish in Budai

Budai Morning Market
Meat Stall in Budai

Riding out of Budai

Road from Budai
Hot Road out of Budai

Looking out from my hotel I saw that it was going to be another blistering hot day. It was a blue sky and the sun was streaming down. I was excited to be on the road again but knew it was going to be a brutally hot ride to Kaohsiung. Hydration throughout the day would be the watchword - and of course lots of sun tan lotion on exposed parts of the body. As soon as I got out on the road and saw the naked tarmac with no trees or any other objects to provide shade, I knew I would be stopping at every convenience store to top up on water and get some air-conditioning to cool me down (well I wasn't that bad).

The first town I hot after Budai was Beiman. Riding along the road to Beiman next to the lakes and canals was calm and quiet: hardly any cars on the road and hardly anything around me. One I arrived into the Beiman township itself there was a large gate and flags laid out all along the side of the road. There was some festival going on and, once inside Beimnen itself, there was a busy morning market (much like the one in Budai) and a huge puppet theater.

Chinese Gates
Gate Outside Beimen

Road Flags
Roadside Flags

Puppet Theater
Puppet Theater in Beimen

Onwards to Tainan

Once past Beimen it was pretty much a straight ride down to Tainan along some very hot, straight roads. I remember shortly after Beimen seeing this huge temple where I stopped for a break. It was a fairly popular tourist destination with a lot of buses going in and out. I got speaking to a lady there who said many cyclists who go around Taiwan stop there. She said she once met a guy with a 10/11 y/o kid who was riding around the Island too. Amazing! After stopping in the Temple.

Big River Near Tainan
River on the way to Qigu

Chinese Home
Pagoda in the South

Temple Near Beimen
Temple Near Beimen

From Beimen the next destination was Qigu and heading and this part of the ride saw me riding next to a lot of lakes and canals and also seeing some interesting buildings along the way. Some of them looked like temples but I wasn't quite sure. I was enjoying the scenery (as barren as some of it was) and being next to the water was great but by this stage I was anxious to get past Qigu and into Tainan where I could take a break, have lunch and get a couple of things for my bike. When I got to Qigu I took a break in the convenience store and then got ready to head into Tainan

Canals and Wetlands
Canal on the way to Qigu

In a Convenience Store in Qigu
Convenience Store Near Qigu

Leaving Qigu and heading to Tainan saw me riding next to a lot of lakes and canals and also seeing some interesting buildings along the way. Some of them looked like temples but I wasn't quite sure. I was enjoying the scenery (as barren as some of it was) and being next to the water was great but by this stage I was anxious to get into Tainan where I could take a break, have lunch and get a couple of things for my bike.

Into Tainan

Welcome to Tainan
Tainan City

One of the more difficult parts of the ride was actually getting into Tainan city itself. You arrive in the outer city limits but then still have a significant stretch of road to cover before you actually arrive in the center of the city itself. The town is ahead of you and you can see the buildings in the distance and for a long while they never seem to get much closer. The road is long, open, no shade and plenty of opportunity for the sun to burn you.

Temple Near Tainan
Temple in Tainan

Wooden House in Tainan
Wooden Building in Tainan

Long Ride into Tainan
Open Road to Tainan

Shortly after I entered the outskirts of Tainan I received a call from my mate Peter who said he was on the road on his bike and trying to catch me up. I waited for him under a tree for about 30 minutes but when he didn't arrive I headed off into Tainan, crossed the big river into Tainan city center and waited for him at the nearest 7-11. When he finally caught up he was exhausted having ridden so fast to catchup. It was great to see him and have lunch with him at the 7-11. But the time was too short and soon he was headed off back home and I was cruising South to Kaohsiung.

Tainan River
Tainan River

Peter and Me
Me and Peter in Tainan

Leaving Tainan

Peter and I chatted for about an hour before it was time to leave. I stopped at a bicycle store to buy a seat cushion for my bike (my butt was pretty sore at this point) and then rode through the beautiful city of Tainan. Tainan is a great place and a city I hope to spend more time in. The good thing about leaving Tainan is that I got to see the ocean again for the first time in a couple of days.  It was great to get back next to the sea and enjoy some of the ocean views. There still wasn't a lot of shade in the area but the road was a good one to ride on and it wasn't too busy. I stopped to look at the beach for a bit and enjoy the coastal view of Tainan City. It is in some ways similar to the view of Durban (my home town) from Umhlanga Rocks.

View of Tainan
View of Tainan

Riding along the coastal road I was a bit stupid: I put my head down and, with the wind at my back, started to speed down the road at a fair clip. Unfortunately I was only looking at the road ahead of me and wasn't paying attention to the signs. I landed up going about 3km in the wrong direction and hit a big river with no apparent bridge. I was bummed - I thought I was making some good time. I stopped at a temple next to the river and had long water break and chatted with some of the locals. It was good!

Road into Tainan
Coastal Road

Roadside Temple

Leaving the temple I backtracked to the correct road, crossed the river and was soon on my way back to Kaohsiung. From there until I reached Kaohsiung I didn't get lost, just enjoyed riding in the sun and tried to stay properly hydrated. The road was mostly the same for long stretches of time and it was hot with no cover or shade to ride in. I did see the first and only solar power farm along the road into Kaohsiung and I did stop and have some water at some of the small roadside stands and chatted with the locals. Chatting with the locals was the best. 

River Boats
River to Kaohsiung

Solar Panels
Solar Panel Farm

Into Kaohsiung

Into Kaohsiung
Into Kaohsiung

Eventually I got to the outskirts of Kaohsiung and the side of the roads became built up, the traffic became heavy: I was once again in the midst of trucks, buses, scooters and cars. It was a real culture shock. I carried on riding past the HSR station and towards the center of Kaohsiung but inevitably got a little lost. I stopped on the side of the road and a beautiful young lady stopped to help give me directions. Turns out I was riding the wrong way.

Kaohsiung Girl
Beautiful Girl Gave me Directions

In Kaohsiung
In Kaohsiung

On the way into Kaohsiung I realized I was really close to Lotus Lake and decided to stop there for a bit. I got there exactly at the right time for the sunset. It was wonderful sitting on the side of the lake and enjoying the sunset with the locals. They were so kind to me and one guy even suggested he become my Taiwanese father and wanted to go buy me dinner. I stayed there for a long while before riding into the center of Kaohsiung in the dark. I will say this, Lotus Lake at sunset is stunning. I have been there before during the day on previous trips and it is great, but at sunset it is so beautiful. I was sorry to have to leave it when I did and I was almost willing the sun not to set.
Bike at Lotus Lake
My Giant at Lotus Lake

Friendly Taiwanese Guy
Me and my "Taiwanese Father"

Lotus Lake Sunset
Me in the Sunset

Sunset at Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung
Stunning Sunset at Lotus Lake

After the sun went down I rode out into the city and found a cheap hotel for NTD800 a night and checked in. I found a place to eat, drifted off to an internet cafe and then settled in for the night - the next day would be a short ride to a hotel Queenie had booked where I would spend the weekend with Queenie and Rochelle swimming and relaxing - it was a nice hotel. On the following Monday I would head out to Kenting and then the great and wonderful East Coast of Taiwan was waiting for me.

Other Cycling Round Taiwan Installments

1 comment:

  1. Have just cycled from Taichung to Kaohsiung with my girlfriend (with a 3 night break in Penghu and Qimei Islands) and found your blog very useful. We were less ambitious than you covering 55-60 km per day!


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