TOUR JOURNAL: DAY 7, HUALIEN – RUISUI
Our seventh day on the road saw the Pedal Taiwan team cruise through the beautiful rift valley of eastern Taiwan and cycle one of Taiwan’s best cycling roads – route 193. We passed rice paddies, orange groves and banana plantations before enjoying one of Taiwan’s finest hot springs, nestled in the jungle above Ruisui.
Chris MJ – October 29th – 6.28pm
But before we begin with Day 7 lets backtrack slightly to yesterday and the sights and sounds of Hualien’s famous nightmarket… Last night the group all wandered into town for dinner on the move, picking up whatever looked good on the hundreds of stalls spread across central Hualien. Highlights included stuffed chicken wings, rice hotdogs and fried squid, but sadly the stinky tofu and duck tongue will have to go down as lowlights… However the experience of the bustling market on a Saturday night was certainly one that the group will remember. But back to today – our 90km ride through the rice paddies and fruit plantations of the eastern rift valley. After breakfast at our great B&B in central Hualien, the team gathered at the start of the ride in high spirits and ready to make the most of the strong tailwind that would assist us on our way south.
The group made fantastic progress out of Hualien, averaging 30kmph on the pancake flat roads. All until Robin’s daily puncture – this one courtesy of a huge bolt lying in the middle of the road. Yet again after a quick roadside fix everyone was back on the move, speeding past the rest stop to cover the first 35km to lunch in less than two hours, despite the puncture!We regrouped of course at a 7 Eleven, where the team refuelled on iced coffee and locally grown bananas – the small and far more delicious kind that you just can’t buy in the UK. From here we turned left and started pedalling along one of Taiwan’s most scenic cycling roads – route 193.
The road was undulating (Clare’s words and not mine) so was by no means totally flat, but again the riders clipped along at a very good pace. We wound through orange groves and banana plantations, over bridges and through small villages, where we were greeted by smiling and waving children – it was Sunday, so school was out and playing games in the street was very much in.Rob and I had fetched our “Taiwanese picnic” lunch from the town of Fenglin and we stopped near to Guangfu for a lunch of bao, dumplings, tea eggs (eggs boiled in tea – delicious and much better than normal boiled eggs), fresh fruit and Taiwanese doughnuts (like a yumyums but chewy). By then we had covered most of the day’s distance so we made the choice to add in some Ks and a stop at the Ruisui hot springs. After all it was only 2pm and are there much better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than soaking in 40c natural spring water?
The baths were an undoubted highlight of the trip so far, with the jungle backdrop making it even more special a destination. Getting into the pools may have been interesting (all the signs were in Chinese and it was not in any way clear where the male and female changing zones were…) but once in we pretty much had the place to ourselves – such a great way to end the afternoon and to relieve those aching muscles.The final 8km of the day was a downhill roll towards our base for the night, a B&B on the edge of the small town of Ruisui. As I type, everyone is resting up before we head into town for another Taiwanese feast. I believe a huge sharing table of local specialities is on the cards again – but the big question is whether or not the food will be eaten as fast as it was in Lishan? My money is on no, but you never know with a bunch of hungry Pedal Taiwan cyclists…