Our Beautiful Cats

We adopted a new cat Shadow, on the right of the picture. Pudding is on the left. I love these cats. They are so beautiful. And Pudding (seen below) is one of the best natured cats I have ever known. Happy to be with them. They are both boys. Pudding is now 5 months old and Shadow is now 3 months old. Getting big fast!

Window Cats


Our Kitten Shadow


Riding the (Insane) Toucheng (頭城) Loop - 165 km

This time I definitely bit off more than I could chew! Riding to Toucheng and back would have been fine if I didn't take the Yilan First Highway (宜1). If I had just ridden straight to Fulong (福隆) on Road 2 and then turned left through Gongliao (貢寮) I would have been fine. However, I decided to do the loop through the mountains and I can honestly say, this was my toughest day on the bike yet. For me it was a monster ride and I think I still need to train more to do it effectively. I left home at 5:30 am and only got back at 8:00 pm: 14.5 hours out on the road is too long. Still, I am proud that I got to the end and now I know how tough this one is. Also, it is a beautiful ride! You first ride to Pinglin(坪林), then Toucheng (頭城), then along the coast to Daxi (大溪), over the mountains to Shuangxi (雙溪) and then through the (lower) mountains to Shenkeng (深坑) and home. It is a beautiful ride but a tough one and you need to be fit and have stamina to get through it.

Turtle Island, Toucheng (頭城)


Cycling to the Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫) - 116 km

The Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫) (Wikipedia page) is located in Taoyuan (桃園) and I was told is a decent destination for a day's ride. I have never been there before so when I was recently invited by a Church friend, Ming, to ride with him and another mate, David, to the Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫), I agreed. Ming had previously invited me to ride there with him but we could never really find a compatible time. Ming and David typically ride a "straight-line" there and back route but I dislike those and prefer riding in loops so I can explore more. I suggested a route I had seen on Strava. Happily they agreed. The route proved to be an awesome adventure with a few decent climbs and a prolonged ride next to the reservoir. It was a great day out and riding around the reservoir is certainly a great thing to do and should be a part of anyone's riding itinerary in Northern Taiwan.

Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫)
Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫).


Another Sunset

I previously posted a picture of a Beautiful Sunset in Taipei. On Friday I saw the sun going down again and it was so beautiful. I charged onto the rooftop of my apartment building to take a picture. The beautiful sunset is shown below. Absolutely stunning!

Today's Sunset in Taipei


Cycling the Pingling (坪林) Lasso - 109 km

This was the ride I meant to do when I went on my ride to nowhere. I didn't quite do the planned route, but I still did what I set out to achieve, four big climbs in and around the mountains of Pingling (坪林). The last climb nearly destroyed me and I had to walk the final 2 km up the mountain, but it was still a great day out on the bike riding through the mountains, hills and tea fields of Pingling (坪林). I call it the Pingling Lasso because of the shape of the route as reflected in the map below. The scenery up there is stunning and I was so happy to be out there, in the sun, breathing the fresh air, sweating and working hard. It was a great ride. If you like cycling mountains, this is certainly a ride you should consider. You won't regret it! You can modify the ride to your liking, but certainly the ride to Pingling  (坪林) through the tea fields is well worth the effort (even if a little tough).

On a Quintessential Chinese Screen - Temple Gate, Tea and Bicycle


Ta-An Forest Park (大安森林公園)

Ta-An Forest Park (大安森林公園) is probably the nicest park in Taipei. I have always been fortunate to live close to this beautiful park. However, now that the new MRT is nearly done, I fear on the weekends it will become even MORE overcrowded (if that is possible). Still, it is a great place to walk around and chill out in on the weekend. We have had many a good time there.


Saturday Lunch

My niece and nephew came to visit Pudding on Saturday. They didn't want to go out and leave the cat so we prepared food by ourselves. This was what we came up with. Pretty healthy I think. Sashimi, tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers and scrambled eggs. I think it was a pretty healthy meal. And good for me as these type of meals are helping me to maintain my 15 kg weight loss, meals like this and aggressive exercise programs. The kids were amazing (considering my nephew is 5 and niece is 10) and they even helped do the washing and cleaning up afterwards. The plated food is shown below.

Saturday Lunch


Ride to Nowhere - Two Big Climbs - 97 km

Today's ride didn't turn out as intended! Instead of doing the ride I had planned I went a different way. At some point I started to feel I was in the middle of a Talking Heads song on a Road to Nowhere. That of course happened after I drifted off course a few times. Before that though I felt I was riding through a Chinese painting and towards the end of the second major climb I  felt I was in the middle of Vangelis' Heaven and Hell since half of that album is as painful to the ears as the lactic acid burn in my muscles, but the views were heavenly. Even though the ride lost its objective somewhere along the way, it was still a good 97 km grunt with 1,250 m of climbing. It was a great ride to nowhere. Loved being out there in the mountains.

Mountain Clouds along the North 31 (北31) Road
Mountain Clouds


Pudding - An Introduction

Five and a half years ago we had to say good bye to our precious and most beloved cat Mimi. We were devastated. She had polycystic kidney disease and diabetes. We kept her alive with insulin injections and regular runs to the hospital as long as we could but eventually there was nothing that could be done and we put her down. Well, this past weekend, we decided to adopt a new cat from the Chienkuo Flower Market (建國花市). Queenie's mom named him Pudding. I am sure from time to time we will be posting pictures of Pudding on our blog so just thought we would introduce him now.

Pudding is, at the time of adoption on 1 June, 2013 two months old. He is cute but of course very nervous and unsure of his new environment. We are looking forward to years of joy and fun with our new cat.Pictures of Pudding are below

Pudding - Whats Up


Riding in the Mountains of Wulai (烏來) - 130 km

Cycling to Wulai (烏來), from Taipei (台北), is a regular route for me. It combines beautiful scenery with some nice, not too devastating climbs, and some good flats, with the promised reward of almond milk at the end of the trip. Yesterday (29 May 2013) I decided to do the Wulai (烏來) fork (my own name). The first road on the fork, that goes to the Tong Hou (桶后), trail is truly a ride along God's own road! Easily the MOST BEAUTIFUL road I have cycled on in Taiwan. Straight through the mountains with magnificent views of the river and vegetation and very little traffic. A tremendous reward for such great and challenging effort. The second road that goes past the famous Wulai (烏來) waterfall goes all the way up to the small village of Fushan (福山). This road is not as impressive as the first, but it is still stunning. It is well worth the effort and both roads are highly recommended!

A River Runs Through It
Beautiful River Road on the way to Fushan (福山)


Cycling Taiwan's North Coast - 187 km

This is a ride I have been meaning to do for a while. Unfortunately ripping my AC ligament off the bone and tearing the meniscus ligament (both in the left knee) while playing rugby last year in October put paid to any cycling for a long long time. My knee is feeling better and I decided to do the massive North Coast loop (Monday, 20 May 2013). It was a good day for riding and I am glad to report that there was no significant discomfort and, apart from the usual aches and pains, the ride went off smoothly.

Beautiful River View
Mountain View on the way to Fulong


My new BLOG - Who Needs a Gym

Well as everyone knows on this blog by now, I am an avid cyclist. I love cycling, but I am also a fitness enthusiast and I love to encourage people to workout, eat right, exercise and just generally to start moving to get fitter and healthier. To this end I have started a new online project call "Who Needs a Gym" at http://www.whoneedsagym.com. The project is aimed at detailing workouts and things I do outside of the gym to stay fit and healthy, and of course one of those things is cycling. So anyway, hope whoever does read this blog can support this project. Thanks.


The Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Our latest travelog to Durban in 2013 shows our trip to the Moses Mabhida stadium. The last time we were in Durban in 2010 the stadium wasn't finished so it was quite nice to be able to go see the stadium and enjoy the 360-degree panoramic view from the viewing deck at the top of the stadium. To get to the viewing deck there are a long flight of stairs or, alternatively, a sky train that takes you to the deck that is more than 100m above the ground. The day we went on to the viewing deck was a spectacular summers day in Durban: sunny and hot. Of course, at the top of the stadium the wind was blowing quite strongly. which in the absence of shade, kept us cool. We would both recommend this to any tourist visiting Durban. It is a worthwhile thing to do and is close to the city center.

Front of Moses Mabhida Stadium (by Queenie)
Moses Mabhida Stadium (by Queenie)


Bunny Chow in Durban, Cafe India

Our latest travelog to Durban in 2013 shows what a truly delicious bunny chow really looks like. 2013 saw us back in Durban after three years and, of course, I had to go and find the most delicious bunny chow available. My dad knew of place (Cafe India) in Sea View (a suburb of Durban) that had won a few Bunny Chow awards so I decided to head out there to sample their quarter-mutton bunny chow - and it was awesome. The great thing about it was it cost R45.00, which is incredibly cheap compared to food in other parts of the world (especially for the quantity and the quality you are getting). As you will see, the owner Devon is a really friendly guy and takes pride in his work and this pride is reflected in the taste and quality of the food he served to us.

Bunny Chow - Cafe India
Quarter Mutton Bunny Chow


Train to Ella, Sri Lanka

Our latest Sri Lanka travel blog is about our longer than expected journey to Ella from Nuwara Eliya. We started the morning with a good breakfast in the King Fern Cottage guest house and ended the day on the train station platform in Ella. In between we went on a beautiful train ride in the hill country of Sri Lanka and enjoyed the spectacular views of the terraced tea fields. The ride was long, but beautiful and when we reviewed the pictures and video, we were filled with the nostalgic desire to return. Queenie mentioned we should go back to Sri Lanka and spend more time in the Hill Country. Not a bad idea!

Queenie on her way.
Queenie on her way


Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka's Little England

Our latest Sri Lanka travel blog is about Sri Lanka's own Little England. Nuwara Eliya is a small town in the highlands of Sri Lanka that, because of its moderate climate, was a getaway from Colombo for the colonials.  Indeed: we were there in the summer and it was cold and I certainly didn’t have the gear with me to stay warm. The short time we spent there was the most uncomfortable in Sri Lanka. For us the town was a bit of a bust. The two main attractions are the tea museum and Land’s End. We didn’t get to do either. However, we did have a lovely walk through the town, Queenie managed to get her broken shoes fixed and we did enjoy the lovely Victoria Park in the middle of the town.

Tuk Tuk in Nuwara Eliya
Tuk Tuk in Little England


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