The fifth installment on my "Cycling Around Taiwan" series. Day 5 started in the beautiful Hailan Hotel in Kaohsiung and ended on the beach in Kenting. Along the way I met a couple of new friends, had an awesome lunch and green bean soup and the start of the fantastic views that would stay with me pretty much all the way back to Keelung in the North. I was looking forward to this part of the ride and was glad to see the weather in the morning was still holding out and it was still nice and sunny.
The overall route was about 107km from Kaohsiung to Kenting. Probably because I got a little lost here and there inside Kaohsiung but it was mostly good. Once out of Kaohsiung it is fairly hard to get lost and the roads are really clear.
So after relaxing for two wonderful days in the beautiful Hailan Hotel in Kaohsiung (with awesome views of the city) and a beautiful swimming pool, it was time to get back on the road and head South to Kenting. This would be the last day I spent on the West coast and would also find the standard of my lodgings becoming much lower. Leaving the Hailan hotel was hard. The hotel was too comfortable and I never really get tired of nice hotels (who does). Anyway, after a good breakfast in downtown Kaohsiung, I got packed and ready to leave. Went down to the hotel and asked the concierge to bring me my bike so I could be on my way in the early morning traffic of Kaohsiung.
The day in Kaohsiung started with wonderful weather but by the time I arrived in Kenting, clouds would be very heavy and torrential rain would start to arrive before the night was out. The rain would last all through the next day and would make riding to the East coast especially hard. But anyway, leaving Kaohsiung was good. I meandered through the city heading in the general direction of what I thought would be Kenting, passed the airport and was on the road for real. I decided to stop for a second breakfast along the way and then headed off towards Kenting.
The great thing about leaving Kaohsiung was that this would be the last place I would see any heavy industry along the road for a long time. All down the West coast there were parts of the ride with big industry and a lot of construction. Past Kaohsiung and all the way up the East Coast up until the cement factories along the Suhua highway there would be a dearth of heavy industry. It should be noted though that the last factory I saw in Kaohsiung was along a beautiful river.
After riding the first 30km or so I bumped into two friends recently returned from a working holiday in Australia who were also riding around the island - Ivan and Jamie - they had a friend on a motorcycle that was trailing them. I just connected with them and started riding to Kenting with them. It was great to be able to ride with some people again and have a few conversations. The pace was fairly relaxed and smooth and I was really enjoying the ride south and started to look forward to the trip into Kenting.
Lunch and Green Bean Soup
The great thing about riding with the locals is they know some awesome places to eat. Ivan and Jamie knew of this really great buffet restaurant along the side of the road which was super cheap. I managed to get a full plate of food and a coke for about NTD100. The food was also amazingly delicious too. I was surprised at how cheap it was. Also, further along the road Jamie and Ivan also knew of a famous green bean ice restaurant close to Hengchuen I believe. It was really delicious. It was also great to have some people to eat with and chat with. Since I was riding alone most of my meals were alone so I was happy to be able to eat with some people.
On the Road to Kenting
Once out of Kaohsiung and on the road to Kenting, the views became pretty good in some parts. You get to ride next to the sea quite a lot and get to enjoy some fantastic views of the mountains on the side of the road. I have been on this road before in a bus but going there on a bicycle is very different and enables you to enjoy the outdoors and the views with greater appreciation. I especially enjoyed the sea view and just being more in the countryside than the cities and out of the main industrial zone of Taiwan. However there were still many tour buses and the tour buses would prove to be the most dangerous vehicles on the road from now until the end of the Suhua Highway. Many of the tour buses were carrying mainland Chinese tourists and the roads were filled with them. Of course, being in the South of Taiwan we were still blessed with beautiful views of rice paddies and there were still some big rivers to cross too but these became fewer the further south we rode.
The long wonderful road to Kenting threw up some beautiful views (as Taiwan always seems to do). I was quite happy riding along the road but towards the end of the day the weather started to turn and bigger winds came in gusts up the peninsula and smashed straight into us. The cloud cover that started co come over us indicated that rain was definitely on the way and that we would probably in the middle of the rain the next day. Still, when riding, the only thing to do is stay in the moment, enjoy the views, and pedal ever onwards. I was having fun and wasn't to fussed by the turning weather or the wind. When riding next to the sea, and breathing the sea air out on the open road, there was a real sense of freedom and wonder.
Arriving in Kenting
I was really ecstatic having arrived in Kenting. I remember coasting down the hill into Kenting feeling exhilarated that I had made it there from Taipei. There were a bunch of ladies on the side of the road looking for cyclists (and others) who needed hotels. I was dragged to a NTD600 a night hotel near the beach. It was a small, comfortable room with a mattress on the floor. I was comfortable enough and even managed to get some laundry done in the hotel for free (although they were doing me a favor). I got my bags into the room, took a quick shower and wandered off to the beach. Once on the beach it was easy to see the weather was turning. Huge cloud cover over the sea showed that there was bad weather due. I was hoping the bad weather would be only for the night but that was a pipe dream.
To be be honest, I have always thought Kenting is an over-rated, over touristed seaside town. There are way too many tourists and the beach there is not that great. Although I was happy to get there as it was a goal I had set, I think I should have left earlier and pushed on a little bit further to a smaller town further on that was quieter and seemed to be more quaint. Nevertheless, after leaving the beach, I went for a walk in the town. I also stopped off and had a great pasta dinner and also found some awesome hotdogs. Although I don't like Kenting that much, I still enjoyed my time there. Shortly after dinner, I found a pub, had a beer and then headed off to bed.
When I went to bed that night, I slept easily and happily. I was tired, I had cycled to the deep south of Taiwan, I was nearly at the point where I would finally turn around and start heading North, I was excited to face the challenge and beauty of the East Coast. As I went to sleep I heard the rain start to gently fall outside my room. I knew the next day was going to be wet but little did I realize how wet and how hard it would prove to be.
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