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May 03 Arrival in Taipei

We enjoyed a few drinks with our first dinner together in Taiwan at a local expat hangout near the hotel.  Since we'd be on Taiwan food for the next few days, a good western fees was in order with plenty of cold beers.  Our visit to check the bikes out was around 20:00 and when they rolled in, it was like Christmas morning - 4 excited boys pondering how the big red Ducati and super sleek Aprila could be so beautiful and ready to just run like mad.  Weather was cooperating and I was hoping for cloudy by dry skies the next morning.

May 04 Taipei to Cingjing Farm

All the prayers and incense burned to the weather gods must have gone somewhere else. On the road early and absolutely pissing down rain all morning. It cleared here and there and at lunch we had no rain but some really great food.  We looped around the Yilan valley and headed south over the 3300 meter pass and damn it was a bit cold for a while.  We reached Chingjing Farms and our hosts had a massive BBQ set up and a quick trip to 7-11 loaded us up on cold beer.  We spent a little time with our hotel hosts and enjoyed learning a bit about Taiwan food and life. The boys did manage to get some work in via email between the ribs, prawns, whole steamed chicken, pork strips, steaks and veggies...  A great first day even with getting dumped on with rain.  In the photo is Bryan and it's really coming down on us.  He's happier than his best day at work and riding a Ducati S2R 1000 - not a bad way to spend a Friday.

May 05 Hot Springs Night

A great weather day with a cool morning ride to Sun Moon Lake.  Each rider had a GPS with the route laid into it with all the fuel and important points.  Dan and Bryan took a bit of an extra ride while Steve and I wondered where they went.  Steve did manage to get in all the really good paved forest roads around Sun Moon Lake and I split down the main roads looking for a Ducati and Aprilia.   In time, we all met up and the weather improved greatly.  Lunch at a high overlook restaurant was fantastic and we then road over Alishan Mountain.  No monkeys on the side of the road but great riding with almost no other vehicles on the roads. A quick stop at a fresh bread place in Longmei and we took the longer route via a really smaller road down to Dapu.  We managed to get a quick beer in at a hot springs resort that I'll use on the next tour and then the last 30 km were great riding on narrow twisty roads via Betel nut plantations.  I booked rooms with private hot springs on the balcony for the boys but only Bryan took advantage of it for some reason.  The resort was pretty busy with people wanting to get us involved in their photos and I guess we're famous now.  A pretty relaxed night but we did manage to catch a live band.  A bit odd for us but the Taiwanese around us were well into it.  We were the only table in the entire place having beer though...

May 06 to Kenting, Southern Tip of Taiwan

A slow start to the day as the DRZ needed a little attention but we were off after a while.  Thankfully the mechanical shop commandeered over was 4 km away and all downhill. Twisty roads for the morning to the east a a beautiful lake and a few short hops across the central Taiwan valley towns and back up into the hills.  Great weather and hotter tires allowed a little more fun on the roads for sure.  The boys opted to skip the ride across the suspension bridge in Maolin as a little email was needed before dinner tonight, no problem.  A killer lunch at a vegetarian place south of Maolin and we were on the final leg to Kenting.  I'm absolutely sure Steve picked up 3 speeding tickets from the camera traps on this road.  We joined the main highway along the southern coast.

Dinner in Kenting at Fred's and a total feast of assorted food and again, way too much.  The night market massage was great and the boys loaded up on fireworks for the next night.  Kenting is one of my favorite places in Taiwan and the boys loved it not only for the great ride in but the lively atmosphere of main street in town as well as the variety of cold beers!

May 07 to Huting Farm, south of Hualien

Clear weather and warm temps again.  Steve's GPS must have been on upside down as after the fuel stop, he headed west, a bit wrong but only a minor slow down to the morning.  Our first stop was at the Southern Most Point of Taiwan and while I opted to stay with the bikes, the boys managed to get a unique photo of the bottom end of Taiwan not seen by most. The ride up from the southern coast weaves along very fertile valley areas and I'm not sure if we saw more than a dozen cars before we arrived at the link road to Taichung.  A great stretch of road up to Taichung and Merc probly picked up a dozen speeding tickets today.  It was cool to ride by the ocean again Dan's wish of McDonald's came true for lunch.  We took a stop at Water Running Uphill and did uncover the mystery, an optical illusion to lure tourists to this spot.  Oddly, there are few vendors here.  We pushed up the ocean side highway and met some local minority Ami at the Tropic of Cancer Monument. Just a great afternoon with perfect weather.  A quick ride up the coast and cold beers at the beach hotel.  We were the only guests and after dinner the entire staff left and we burned up all the fireworks from the night before while being overflown by the Taiwan air force a few times. The resort is basic but dinner was perfect size and having the beach and resort entirely to ourselves was cool.  The staff didn't understand my request for a cooler with ice as well as 2 dozen beers but after a while, we were good for the night.  Corona by the sea, fireworks and low flying F-16's was a pretty good ending to the day.

May 08 Running Taroko Gorge and to Jiufen

On the road a bit earlier today and a long haul of 340 km.  Packing seemed to take a little longer than usual for some.  Fresh waffles for breakfast and we were off.  A quick ride through Hualien town and a short briefing on the road at the entry gate of Takoko Gorge.  On most of tours, clients listen to about 3.2% of what I say and this was no different. A short ways up the Gorge road is a really beautiful stretch of road under rock cliffs and slotting along the main part of the gorge.  Dan and Steve missed the turn but Bryan was behind me and we made the 6 km run along the gorge with absolutely no cars on the road or tourists.  We had it all to ourselves and the film should be good!  We caught up to Steve and Dan a little later and I cut them loose to just ride the uphill mountain twists at any speed (no speed cameras out there).  They returned down the mountain and we took in the next leg of the coastal ride.  This one is a bit different than the day before as we traversed many tunnels and road at higher elevation directly alongside the ocean - great views all morning long.

Lunch was a spot I'd seen earlier on a survey trips and completely local - point and order menu photos helped a great deal.  Over lunch, Bryan said it was time for local prawns and I knew a place for later in the day.  We took our time up the coast and arrived in Juifen Port around 17:00.  Two heaping plates of medium/big steamed prawns on a second floor terrace were the ticket and a great stop.  We arrived at the hotel and were happy to see us but most likely happier to see us go as the stench of so many days on the road was a bit much.  Parking the bikes in the indoor garage was pretty loud, all 4 bike roaring away at the same time might have woke the dead in that small space. 

Dinner was not what was in the cards, Quynh's favorite place was under renovation and it got late.  Walking the small step alleys of Juifen could take a full day of enjoying the place and we ended up with a fantastic overlook terrace.  Our return to the hotel saw Dan pretty wiped out but Steve, Bryan and I decided to stay up late on the last night.  We'd ridden quite long and hard over the last few days and I was actually ready to go for another week. 

May 09 Small Roads to Taipei

Getting A spit of rain in the morning and we left Juifen and ran 120 km of back country roads to Taipei.  This turned out to be my favorite day of riding as we just keep on very small roads in the hills with virtually no other vehicles on the road.  The roads got really narrow and steep as I remembered them but on a big bike were a blast to ride.  We rode a small loop at the start and then really zig-zagged our way to the Tea Museum Cafe in Pingling.  A needed break before the cafe saw us parked next to half a dozen big bikes - great to see local riders getting out on weekdays for a ride, gotta love that.  We were pretty close to Taipei at this point and one last run in the hills put us on a main road into town.  Nature wasn't about to let us go without one more drenching.  It opened up with heavy rain 3 km from the last stop but was good in a way - all the scooters waited it out and the road was pretty easy to ride into the city.  One quick stop at 7-11 for some tall beers and we were set.  Back at the shop, we stripped down the bikes from all the mounts and enjoyed a victory beer on a really busy corner of Taipei.  No damage to any bike was a huge bonus and it was off to the hotel for showers and fresh clothes. 

The boys took in an hour massage prior to dinner and as Bryan and Dan had a very early flight, a return trip to the expat bar was in order.  Final farewells but not forever as we all live/work in Laos so it was see ya later.

Why Taiwan?

If you enjoy riding, this is really the place.  Taiwain is the undiscovered riding destination in Asia.  Great roads, beautiful scenery, big bikes, great food, excellent accommodation and quite simply, it's the best paved riding I've ever done.  Steve Mercer, rider on the first tour has ridden Australia, EU, India, Bhutan and a lot more.  At the end of the tour, his thoughts were that the last week was the best riding he'd ever done. 

Small groups - no more tha
n 4 or 5 riders allow this to be a really flexible ride and every tour rider has a GPS to use for the ride so you can go at Your Own Pace.  I lead tours but not riders around by the nose.

I hope you enjoy the photos and tour daily text.  I may not wax as lyrically as some motorcycle rider - writers and if you have comment or questions on the tour, please feel free to email me. I'm looking forward to riding Taiwan again and would love to show you around!

Taiwan - The Undiscovered Ride