Friday, January 19, 2018

Cycling Taiwan 2017 Day 10: Kaohsiung To Xiao Liu Qiu - Round Island By Motorbikes!

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Cycling Taiwan 2017 Day 10: Kaohsiung To Xiao Liu Qiu - Round Island By Motorbikes!
Taiwan Day 10: Monday, 23rd October - Kaohsiung to Xiaoliuqiu Island
This is part of cycling tour around Taiwan, From Kaohsiung (高雄市) to Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球):
Kaohsiung (高雄市)> by Kaohsiung Metro (高雄捷運)>Xiaogang>Xiaogang Bike Path>Shuangyuan Bridge (雙園大橋)>Donggang Bridge (东港大桥)>Dongganghedi Park (東港河堤公園)>Dongliu Ferry Terminal (東港渡船碼頭)>by Tungliu Ferry>Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球) (Bai Sha Wei Ferry Pier,白沙尾渡船碼頭).
Cycling Distance - 21.07 km.     Level: Easy
Cycling Time : 8:00am to 11:15pm
Time Taken : 3 hrs. 15 mins. (including train ride, stops at parks, and many photo opps).

And around Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球):
Greenia Minsu>Biyun Temple (碧雲寺)>Tiannan Fu An Temple (天南福安宫)>Haizikou Viewpoint (海子口)>Dafu Fishing Harbor (大福漁港)>Xiaoliuqiu Sunset Pavilion (落日亭)>Xiaoliuqiu Lingshan Temple (小琉球靈山寺)>Vase Rock (花瓶岩)>Greenia Minsu.
Motorbiking Distance - 18.09 km.     Level: Easy as we did it on motorbikes; Medium if cycling.
Cycling Time : 3:00pm to 7:00pm
Time Taken : 4 hrs. (including stops at temples, harbors, parks, dinner, and many photo opps).

This is page 9 of a 19-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D9 Kaohsiung          |        Go to Other Days          |         Go to D11 Kenting >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
     The Taiwan (台湾) is left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. Same thing applies when crossing the road, take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    The route goes round Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球), there are some sloping stretches at the center of the island. Click here to download a PDF guide on Cycling Around Taiwan. Although a busy highway, there were dedicated or shared cycling lanes to ride on.

3. Weather
    The weather was quiet hot, averaging at 29°C during the day with a high of 32°C (partly cloudy) and 24°C at night. Fortunately, overcast skies spared us from the heat. Wind speed was low, averaging 9kph with gusts up to 20kph.
    It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites for the Taiwan are the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau and AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

4. Places of Interest
From Kaohsiung to Donggang:
   - Xiaogang Bike Path (GPS: 22.55249, 120.36366 to 22.51615, 120.36222).
   - Shuangyuan Bridge (雙園大橋) (GPS: 22.49839, 120.41995) spanning over the Gaoping River (高屏溪).
   - Donggang Bridge (东港大桥) (GPS: 22.4777, 120.45938) spanning over the Donggang River.
   - Red Jinde Bridge (進德大橋) (GPS: 22.47057, 120.44622) spanning over the Donggang River.
   - Cyclable Promenade at Dongganghedi Park (東港河堤公園) (GPS: 22.47057, 120.44622).
At Xiaoliuqiu Island:
   - Biyun Temple (碧雲寺) (GPS: 22.33802, 120.36988).
   - Tiannan Fu An Temple (天南福安宫) (GPS: 22.32274, 120.35828).
   - Haizikou Viewpoint (海子口) (GPS: 22.32244, 120.35835).
   - Guanyin Rock (觀音石) (GPS: 22.32268, 120.36139).
   - Rat Rock (老鼠岩) (GPS: 22.32303, 120.36227).
   - Dafu Fishing Harbor (大福漁港) (GPS: 22.33399, 120.37689).
   - Xiaoliuqiu Sunset Pavilion (落日亭) (GPS: 22.32463, 120.35339).
   - Vase Rock (花瓶岩) (GPS: 22.35564, 120.38075).
   - Xiaoliuqiu Lingshan Temple (小琉球靈山寺) (GPS: 22.35485, 120.3809).

5. Food
- Breakfast: inclusive at hotel.
- Lunch: Chinese dishes at Happy Restaurant (GPS: 22.35198, 120.38027).
- Dinner: Chinese dishes at old lady restaurant (GPS: 22.35312, 120.38157).

6. Accommodations
Greennia Binsu (GPS: 22.35128, 120.3815) one room for two pax and one room for four pax at a total of 3,500NTD.
Address: 116-2, Zhongshan Road, Liuqiu Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 929.
Tel: +886-0933688244     |     Website: http://www.longsianghotel.com
Note: accomodations at Xiaoliuqiu can easily be obtained from Minsu ladies plying at the Baishawei Ferry Pier [Tai Fu Lun ] (白沙尾渡船碼頭 [泰富輪]).

7. Travelling By Trains And Bringing Bikes Onto Trains
    Folding bicycle are allowed onto most trains (express, local and metro trains) but must be bagged before entering the platform, and only unbagged after leaving the platform. Unbagged folding bikes (and full-sized bikes) will usually face a charge equivalent to 50% of the fare. Do note that at smaller stations there are not lifts or escalators for getting to the platforms, so do expect some carrying across bridges or underpasses. A few stations do provide bike-way for pushing across the tracks, do look for signages indicating these; but use of them is subject to the station master's discretion on safety.
    For more details on charges on bringing bikes onto the different trains (local or express trains) click here for the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) Guide On Carriage of Bicycles.
    Click here for a link to the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) website for booking train routes and fares; and also to see which railway line totally does not allow bicycles on board.
    Click here for guidelines on bring folidng bikes onto the Taipei Metro.
    Train services are quite regular between larger towns, but at smaller towns services may not be that regular (perhaps like every two or three hours). Do check at the respective stations for the train schedules or at this TRA booking site link.
    Fares for the Kaohsiung Metro train ride from the Kaohsiung Arena Station to the Siaogang Station was NTD45 pax.

8. Bringing Bikes Onto Ferries
    In order to avoid additional charges, we bagged our Bromptons to be brought on board the Tungliu Ferry heading from Dongliu Ferry Terminal (東港渡船碼頭) in Donggang (東港鎮) to Baishawei Ferry Pier [Tai Fu Lun ] (白沙尾渡船碼頭 [泰富輪]) at Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球). The round-trip fare was NTD400 which we bought from touts (NTD410 per pax from counter). For foreigners, passports need to be produced during purchase of the tickets. The charges for unbagged bikes is NTD50 each way.

9. Renting Motorbikes on Xiaoliu Qiu
    We rented our motorbikes from a rental (GPS: 22.35300, 120.38288) opposite Baishawei Fishing Harbour (白沙尾港). Rental each per day was NTD300 inclusive of petrol.

10. Communicating with Each Other
   When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost from the rest.
    At Taipei Taoyuan Airport Terminal One, just after exiting the into the arrival hall, there are several booths on the left selling pre-paid phone SIM cards. We got pre-paid 4G prepaid SIM cards from Chung Hwa as they had good coverage even in remote areas. These cost NTD1,000 for a 30-day plan that includes unlimited data and NTD$430 credit for texts or calls. These can also be booked on line.
    Those without sim card could try using free Wifi that are sometimes available at the airport, some bigger train stations or hotels; do note that these free wifi may not be stable and registration could be required.

11. Communicating with Locals
    Most Taiwanese (台湾人) speaks Mandarin (官话) and Hokkien (福建話), and very few speak English. So it would be good to have a person in the team who can converse in Mandarin or Hokkien.
    When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedules.

12. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.
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PRELUDE

The day before we managed to find the Yantian, the painted village, and were quite taken in by the artwork that depicted life at the village while it was at its prime. Along the way we also saw some colorful bridges. Today we will be taking a ride of a different kind, we will board a ferry for a short ride across the sea to Xiaoliuqiu island.

THE RIDE - KAOHSIUNG TO DONGGANG

There are two maps here, the first below is our journey from Kaohsiung to Donggang where we boarded a ferry to Xiaoliuqiu.
 

Route: Kaohsiung (高雄市)> by Kaohsiung Metro (高雄捷運)>Xiaogang>Xiaogang Bike Path>Shuangyuan Bridge (雙園大橋)>Donggang Bridge (东港大桥)>Dongganghedi Park (東港河堤公園)>Dongliu Ferry Terminal (東港渡船碼頭)>by Tungliu Ferry>Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球) (Bai Sha Wei Ferry Pier,白沙尾渡船碼頭).
The route includes a train ride from Kaohsiung to Xiaogang, The cycling is from there to Donggang (東港鎮) for a ferry crossing from the Dongliu Ferry Terminal over to Xiaoliuqiu Island. Part of the cycling route is along the Xiaogang Bike Path and the promenade at Dongganghedi Park. At Donggang is a must view sexy red bridge.

After a twenty minutes ride on the Kaohsiung Metro, we get to scratch our itchy cycling legs riding from Xiaogang (小港) to Donggang, and were surprised to find the nice dedicated Xiogang Cycing Path to ride on. Although just a short track of four over kilometers, it was well shaded making it pleasant to ride on.


After that it was onto local roads running parallel to the highway. Along the way we passed by the suburbs of Linyuan (林園) and Xinyuan (新園鄉). Somewhere in Linyuan, we stopped for topping up our water and saw this stall. Hah! I thought this was an ice-cream stall, but no, it is a stall selling betel leaves (Piper betlepre-packed with areca nuts (Pinang). The nut and leaves are consumed together with slaked lime paste, an addictive and euphoria-inducing formulation called Paan. which is consumed by some locals. Paan is also commonly consumed in some South Asian and South-east Asian countries.
I was quite tempted to give it a try; but no, I don't want to be spitting red Paan saliva all over the place.


We crossed the Shuangyuan Bridge which spans the Gaoping River, which forms the boundary between Kaohsiung City and Pintung County (屏東縣). It's a fairly long bridge, spanning not just the river but also over farm land and brush land below.
Further ahead, we did stop by the Donggang Bridge, we had to as from there we got down the main road onto the riverside road that would take us to Dongliu Ferry Terminal. Next to the bridge is a pipe crossing (see above photo), with six red arches forming beautiful curves. I like things with beautiful curves, 😆.


Here we are riding on the promenade at the Dongganghedi Park. It's very wide and many locals come here to take respite below the shady trees. Many could be seen just lazing on lounge chairs, and some were playing Chinese Chess (象棋: xiàngqí); life at this small town was at an easy pace.


Our favourite bridge, the Red Jinde Bridge. It's one will very sexy smooth curves 😍.
And the girls tried doing some nice jumps to match the beauty of the bridge. Ann was doing a open stride jump to form a V, so that Siah would look like she's between the V. Sorry, from my angle, I couldn't get a good shot. Still I think it's a nice photo.



At Dongliu Ferry Terminal, we bought tickets for the Tungliu Ferry from touts outside the building - this was slightly cheaper than buying at the official counter. We were a bit apprehensive of getting it from the touts, but it must be their way of handling the large volume of passengers; we boarded without problems or any odd stares from the boatmen. For foreigners, there is a form to fill in and passports must be produced. It's a way of registering just in case anything happens along the ferry ride. Surprising, for a modern ferry, boarding required a bit of walking the plank ala pirates style - simple and easy.


The ferry is very comfortable, passengers sit on cozy chairs within an air-conditioned compartment. Luggage (and crates of food too) are put at an open section at the rear, just behind the opened doorway at the far end. We had bagged our bikes so as to avoid having to pay the charges for unbagged bikes of NTD50 each way. Some passengers had even brought their motorcycles on board!


A binsu lady negotiating with our buddy, handphone ready to call the owner once a deal is closed.
At Baishawei Ferry Pier on Xiaoliuqiu, it was a busy hive of activity when we landed. There are now worries about getting accommodations here. Binsu ladies will approach disembarking passengers to offer a range of accommodations. These ladies usually don't own the home-stays, and act as commissioned agents; perhaps because of this staying on the island was slightly more expensive than the motels on the mainland.


Our debut cycling on the island was following the binsu lady (who was riding a motorcycle). A quick peek of the harbor from the slope at Zhongshan Road.
Located off the southwest coast of Taiwan, Xiaoliuqiu, also known as Lamay Island, is a small island of 2.6 sq. mile. It is one of Taiwan's largest coral islands and the only one with significant population and human activities. There are no rivers so farming is very difficult. Most residents make their living by fishing.


After checking in at the Greennia Binsu, we cycled out for lunch. It was a happy meal of rice with local dishes as we Happy cyclists ate at the Happy Restaurant on Minsheng Road. The cute, low tables and stools added to the happy atmosphere; sort of reminded us of being small kids during kindergarten days.
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MOTORCYCLING AROUND XIAOLIUQIU

This second map is our motorbiking ride around Xiaoliuqiu. 

Route: Greenia Minsu>Biyun Temple (碧雲寺)>Tiannan Fu An Temple (天南福安宫)>Haizikou Viewpoint (海子口)>Dafu Fishing Harbor (大福漁港)>Xiaoliuqiu Sunset Pavilion (落日亭)>Xiaoliuqiu Lingshan Temple (小琉球靈山寺)>Vase Rock (花瓶岩)>Greenia Minsu.
A route that goes to a couple of temples, harbors, some significant rocks and a beautiful sunset.


After lunch, we left our bicycles at the binsu and rented motorcycles to go explore the island. We could have cycled but we had not much time before sunset set in, so motrobiking it was - it's limited time but maximum fun!
But first a disclaimer: See the top-most photo, please do not attempt to ride a motorcycle this way, it's dangerous. My motorbike was parked while I emulated the Mat Rempits of Malaysia.
Above, Sin was asking Heong, "Ready?"
VROOOOM! VROOOM!
Off we go!


.... just a bit of vrooming only at first, as just a short distance ahead the reflections from this shiny silver Large Hairtail Fish caught our eyes. These ones here are very fresh, probably just unloaded from a fishing boat.



Our first destination, the Biyun Temple. This is an old temple first built out of clay and hay in 1736 and is dedicated to Guanyin (觀音). After people heard that Guanyin was very responsive to their prayers, scores of fishermen believers began to worship there. After the reconstruction of the temple during the Guangxu era of the Qing dynasty, even more worshipers were drawn here. In 1954, community fundraising enabled the reconstruction of the current Biyun Temple.


Less than three kilometer away is the Tiannan Fu An Temple. The bright afternoon sun really enhanced the colorful beauty of these dragon and phoenix sitting at the temple's roof.


Eh? What's happening here? Why is Bert shooting water at Ann's bum?
Near the Tiannan Fu An Temple, is the Haizikou Viewpoint which have a picturesque view the sea. the shores here were lined with concrete slabs to prevent erosion. Over time, seaweed and algae grow on these slab creating some green beauty. Ann's curiosity got the better of her, when she stepped in for a closer look through the crystal clear water .... ooops! ..... the bright green algae had formed a slippery surface, she slipped and landed on her bum! Fortunately, other than some minor bruises she wasn't badly hurt and we continued on our journey.
(.... click here to see what got the better of her curiosity)



The Guanyin Rock. Trees and shrubs growing on this rock made it looked like Guanyin has a modern day green hairstyle.


The Rat Rock, also with green hair! This one does look like a rat's head, there's even a small black stone where the eye is suppose to be.


At Dafu Fishing Harbor, these brown seaweeds were being left out in the open to dry out in the sun...


... the sea here is so clear and through the navy blue water we could see right to the bottom. At the far end of the the pier, people were fishing; they could literally see the fishes that the were catching.


We rode around a bit to while away the time so that when we reached the Xiaoliuqiu Sunset Pavilion, our timing was perfect for this glorious sunset - the sun's rays shooting out from behind the clouds to be reflected on the sea... just heavenly!


A "We Are The World" moment here.


Back to reality! On the hills opposite the Xiaoliuqiu Sunset Pavilion, were these security outpost also interested in the view of the sea but for a different reason - to ensure that the territorial waters are secured.


Back in town, opposite the Xiaoliuqiu Lingshan Temple, is the Vase Rock. Hmmm.... doesn't look like a vase, to me it looked like the head of angry ostrich; I better go have my eyes checked 😵.


6:30pm - Dinner time! This was at a shop run by an friendly old lady. Very good seafood dishes here. This seafood omelet was fried to look like a coral... or perhaps a bird's nest (which reminds me of the bird next laksa I had back home).

Good Night & Sweet Dreams!

(For more photos of the Day 10, Click Here)
This is page 9 of a 19-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D9 Kaohsiung          |        Go to Other Days          |         Go to D11 Kenting >

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