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AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures
Cycling Taiwan 2017 Day 11: Xiao Liu Qiu To Kenting - Into the Wind!
Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球) (Bai Sha Wei Ferry Pier,白沙尾渡船碼頭)>by Tungliu Ferry>Dongliu Ferry Terminal (東港渡船碼頭)>Nanzhou (南州鄉)>by TRA train>Fangliao (枋寮鄉)>Fangshan (枋山鄉)>Checheng (車城鄉)>Kenting (墾丁).
Cycling Time : 9:30am to 5:50pm
Time Taken : 8 hrs. 10 mins. (including train ride, stops for brunch, tea-time, drinks, and many photo opps).
This is page 10 of a 19-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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 flat and mainly on Freeway 1 of Taiwan's National Highway. 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.
At Pingtung County (屏東縣), the daytime weather was quiet hot, averaging at 30°C during the day with a high of 33°C (the overcast skies did help shade us) and 26°C at night. Wind speed was strong, averaging 40kph with gusts up to 60kph.
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
- Cyclable Promenade at Dongganghedi Park (東港河堤公園) (GPS: 22.47057, 120.44622).
- Fangliao F3 Art District (枋寮藝術村) (GPS: 22.36704, 120.59545) located just outside Fangliao Station.
- Dao Shan Patriarch Temple (枋山八卦祖師廟) (GPS: 22.25122, 120.65766) on the outskirts of Fangshan (枋山鄉).
- Kenting Street Night Market (墾丁大街) (GPS: 21.94531, 120.79801).
- Brunch: Minced meat mochi dumplings at Mamatan Dumpling Shop (陈妈妈肉圆) (GPS: 22.49202, 120.5114) in Nanzhou.
- Coffee & pastries at Magic Cafe (魔幻咖啡) (GPS: 22.29615, 120.64363) at lay-by rest stop before Fangshan (枋山鄉).
- Bingsu & warm desserts at Bingsu shop (GPS: 22.07465, 120.71384) opposite the Checheng Elementery School.
- Dinner: Taiwanese beef noodles at 牛肉三牛肉麵 shop (GPS: 21.94527, 120.79923) at Kenting Street Night Market (墾丁大街).
Two nights in Kenting (墾丁) at Sea Cloudless Day Homestay (海晴天旅店) (GPS: 21.94602, 120.79525) three 2-pax rooms at 300NTD pax per night.
Address: 1946, Taiwan, Pingtung County, Hengchun Township, 屏東縣恆春鎮墾丁路310號.
Note: There are Minsu ladies plying Kenting Street.
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.
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 link to the TRA booking site.
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.
Yesterday we had given our bike a rest day and had explored Xiaoliuqiu on motorcycles, today we are back on our bikes and will return to the main island to head for another of Taiwan's favorite spot - the Kenting National Park!
Route: Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球) (Bai Sha Wei Ferry Pier,白沙尾渡船碼頭)>by Tungliu Ferry>Dongliu Ferry Terminal (東港渡船碼頭)>Nanzhou (南州鄉)>by TRA train>Fangliao (枋寮鄉)>Fangshan (枋山鄉)>Checheng (車城鄉)>Kenting (墾丁).
The route includes a ferry crossing from Xiaoliuqiu and a train ride from Nanzhou to Fangliao. Cycling was on the stretches from Donggang to Nanzhou, and from Fangliao to Kenting.
We started off by going to view the Vase Rock from the Xiaoliuqiu Lingshan Temple as when we saw it the previous day it was dusk. During the early morning light it looked better, with it's green crested top and on-rushing blue sea around it's base... But....
But it still look like an ostrich head!
Perhaps I should look at it from another angle?
Back in town (which was not really that far away, just around the corner actually); breakfast was at the 老李蔥油餅 shop that sells dumplings and other sweet breakie stuff. Xiaoliuqiu though a small island have this big yau char kwai (Youtiao, 油条 - Chinese Cruller). The ones here are more than a foot long, usually they are about six inches long.
These longer ones are useful for whacking Brompton cyclists who ride too slow. This was a something I learnt during our Europe Cycling Tour: Ride too slow... Whack! No stopping.. Whack! No taking of photos... Whack! 😅
The Taiwanese sausages (xiangchang, 香腸) sold at this butcher's was also super long. Dang, they must be more than a meter long. These superlatives got me wondering, are the islanders compensating for their island being small? No, they are just fine, friendly and warm, no inferiority complex; they just like long things!
At Xiaoliuqiu's Baishawei Ferry Pier, a woman vendor taking a rest, she has on a Asian conical padi hat. Hers is different, it looked like it's made of some bamboo bark instead of the usual straw.
Back at the main island, we rode along the Dongganghedi Park promenade. The same old folks were still there still nonchalantly lounging around, still playing the same board games, still taking life easy.
10:30am - It's just a short 9km. ride to the Nanzhou Station. To save time, we will be taking a train from this station to Fangliao and from there cycle onwards to Kenting. The next train was at 11:30am; with time to spare we might as well have an early lunch. We went a food hunting and found a shop with a cute name of Mamatan Dumpling Shop (陈妈妈肉圆) which reminded me of my mother. Let's see whether their food is a good as Mummy's.
From afar, we had thought they were selling baozi (包子) but these were in fact mochi (餅, もち) with a difference. These were mochi dumplings stuffed with minced meat inside instead of the usual red bean or sesame seed pastes. And they are eaten steaming hot! Each order is served in a stainless steel bowl with some garlic-ish gravy. Cuts of coriander leaves and a dash of chili-garlic sauce is added on top as garnishing. Very nice presentation here, as the garnishing looks like a strawberry. Within them were mince meat that looked all juicy. The meat had been prepared with chopped turnips and spring onions to add some crunchy bite. The dumpling was very good, with the chewy skin balance by the solid meat-mixture inside.
We liked it so much that we went for seconds!
(... more on Mamatan's dumplings)
To our dismay, Nanzhou Station does not have lifts; so it's back to carrying down our bikes and luggage, fortunately there were ramps on one side to push our bikes up. There goes our mochi dumplings, all burnt up in this stairs exercise 😜.
Here comes the train! This one was a yellow one, I think the TRA trains have different colors to indicate whether they are for local service or express service.
Fangliao Station was a much bigger station. I like this long poster above the ticketing counter it shows the different trains used by the TRA, there's even a couple of old steam locomotives on the far left.
12:30pm - Just outside Fangliao Station is the Fangliao F3 Art District (枋寮藝術村), but we are in a hurry and will leave visiting it to another day to visit. As we rode out, we passed by this scene of fishing boats moored at the riverside which brought back memories of cycling in Sekinchan back home.
This locality is renown for their mangoes, along the way were billboards and even this large red mango statue advertising them.
About a quarter way along the route, we stopped at the Magic Cafe for a quick bite of coffee with some sandwiches and pastry. It is located at a large lay-by rest area with many shops, and also shady dining areas facing the sea.
After this it got tougher a bit, the temperature had shot up to 33°C. This coupled with the undulating sloping roads zapped us!
To add to these, the wind with gusts up to 60kph made it harder. Trees could be seen swaying and large pennants fluttering. We are at the southern tip of Taiwan where it is much narrower and the strong winds from the east coast can easily blow through.
At a 7-11 store, a small vestibule at the entrance forms an airlock to abate the effects of the strong wind conditions here.
Despite all these, we did enjoy the scenery here. The coast were getting to look even much more beautiful with streams and rivers flowing into the blue sea and wide beaches with craggy rocks.
Another interesting sight at the Dao Shan Patriarch Temple, a large statue of the statue deity, patriarch of the mountains located behind, sits on top of the temple guarding the mountains from all evils.
This locality is also well know for seafood. Many roadside stalls were seen selling a local favorite - dried cuttlefish.
At Checheng we made another stop at a bingsu shop sell. We did have mocha bingsu but it was the local desserts that we found even nicer. The above photos shows cincau (仙草, grass jelly) on the left and soybean curd on the right, both came with chewy tapioca cubelets flavored with sweet potato and yam (taro) and topped with coconut syrup.
This was interesting dessert, looks like red frog's eggs sitting comfortably on top of a bed of soybean curd. Perhaps these were dyed basil seeds but it could really be frog's eggs; the Chinese do eat almost anything like frog legs, and even frog fat (suet kap, 雪蛤 - Hasma) a favorite with pregnant Chinese ladies as it will give their babies a smooth complexion!
The route into Kenting town was along cycling lanes, we did see motorcycles riding on them too - perhaps, they are shared lanes.
By then it dusk was setting in, it was only close to five-ish but it was already getting dark. We could even see the moon peeking out from the far left.
Passed by this windmill (another indication of the strong wind?) which reminded me of seeing many of these during our European tour, especially at Kinderdijk.
After checking in at our home-stay, it was time to go explore the Kenting Street Night Market. First was to look for food (what to do, stomach's growling). There are many stalls lining the street, selling many different varieties of food. One sold Spicy Obtuse Horn Shell (Mud Creeper, 墾丁大街). These ones here were stir fried with some chili. Back in Penang, we used to eat these (called Balitong); the Penang version is stir fried with chili gravy. How do one eat this? The shells have a bit of the top ends cut off, one sucks out the flesh from the bottom. Some sucking power is required, so it's a good exercise for kissing 💋💋💋.
Vendors here have imaginative ways of attracting customers. This stall selling banana pancakes have leering statues that indecently exposed their "bananas"!
Hey.... mine's bigger!
Still stall advertise selling frog eggs. They do eat frog eggs here!
Perhaps the bingsu shop at Checheng did really sell frog eggs after all.
Even on a weekday, Kenting Street Night Market was crowded and busy with activities. Besides the food stalls, other stalls sold all kind of stuff. And the shops lining the streets were also opened till the wee hours of the night.
Ann was up to her lively self, posing with a zebra and deer mannequin. Who says bikers can't be models?
We played it safe and forgot about the frog eggs. For our late dinner we had beef noodles at 牛肉三牛肉麵 shop. My order came with chewy beef tendons and cuts of cow's stomach - not so save after all ... Heh.. heh...
Back at our home-stay, the girls seem to love their room. It has a unique name of Sea Cloudless Day Homestay (海晴天旅店). The lady running the place a Madam Tan was one of those hardworking binsu ladies, riding her motorbike up and down the street to canvass for customers. She persistently approached us several times until we finally relented.
Her place, although slightly away from the busy Kenting Street Night Market, was quiet and well decorated. While the girls had a pink room, Bert and me shared a blue room having walls paining of a beach with colorful sail boats on a dark blue sea and a lighter blue sky.
I will be dreaming of a Sea Cloudless Sky!
(For more photos of the Day 11, Click Here)
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