I arrived in Taiwan with no bike lined up, but a plan to cycle tour for the next two weeks. Giant do a rental program but had failed to reply to my emails, so it was time to go and hunt thier stores down! Taipei has multiple Giant outlets, of which only one seems to do the rentals. After several hours going on a whirlwind tour of taipei, being met with no english (although my mandarin is just as lacking) and being passed from store to store, i finally ended up at the right one. Giant require you to book in advance as their bikes are very popular but i lucked in as someone had failed to pick up thier allocated bike and I could take it!
My Giant Great Journey saddled up on our way out of taipei.
The road through Taroko Gorge, if you are cycle touring in Taiwan, you Need to go there!
Bike is dwarfed by the massive temple gates
There are many dark and scary tunnels on the east coast…
Out of the freezing fog at last! Taiwan is well known for its “sea of clouds”.
So it is a very mountainous country, and the road builders had a lot of hill to play with. Top tip, get a map with altitude! This turned out to be Taiwans highest road, going to Wuling with an elevation of 3275m, starting from sea level. However I would deffinatly do this road again and was dissapointed I didnt have time to take more of the trans country roads through the mountains.
Even in mid winter the flowers are out and there is fresh fruit everywhere, such a delicious country!
I cheeky camped every night on route, sometimes it was hard to find a suitable spot, especially on the lower more agricultural areas. However I had no problems apart from feral dogs who would investigate my tent in the night. The primary schools are very welcoming to cycle tourers, you can stay in them overnight but must leave very early and I found them hard to locate sometimes.
My route took me to Maulin, the purple butterfly valleys. This was an incredibly beautiful place of deep valleys and tumbling steams. Well worth spending some time.
Scooters rule the roads, sometimes a good thing as there are seperate scooter lanes that you can cycle on so are away from the cars, however the scooters will overtake on mass, very close and are very smelly.. Most of my time i avoided being near citys, only when leaving Taipei and arriving into Kaohsuing city. However the east coast is heavy with trucks transporting gravel and can be narrow with lots of badly lit tunnels. Good bike lights are essential and some nerves not to end up in the ditch. I was rather relieved when I turned of the main east coast route. Although it might have been nice to say I rode all the way around, I got alot more enjoyment out of the more mountain route and saw many beautiful and quiet roads.
Taiwan is an amazing country for cycle touring and I hope many more people get out there and explore it!