Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Cycling Taiwan 2017 Day 16: Cycling In Hualien

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Cycling Taiwan 2017 Day 16: Cycling In Hualien
Taiwan Day 16: Sunday, 29th October - Around Hualien
This is part of cycling tour around Taiwan, around Hualien (花蓮市):
Chantai Hotel (阡台大飯店)>Zhongshan Wet Market (中山市場)>Yuanyuan Temple (淵源堂)>Shen An Temple (花蓮勝安宮)>Cinshui River Bike Path>Nanbin Park (南濱公園)>Pacific 3D Landscape Park (太平洋3D地景公園)>Beibin Park (北濱公園)>Meilun Coast Park (美崙濱海公園)>Hualien Port Bridge (花蓮港景觀橋)>48 Highland (四八高地)>Chisingtan (七星潭)>Chantai Hotel (阡台大飯店).
Cycling Distance: 30.22 km.
Level: Medium
Time : 8:45am to 4:25pm
Time Taken : 7 hrs. 40 mins. (including visiting parks, stops for breakfast, lunch & tea breaks, and many photo opps).

This is page 15 of a 19-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D15 Hualien          |         Go to Other Days        |         Go to D17-18 Taroko >

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 is includes was fairly flat but with some climb to the 48 Height Lookout Point. Click here to download a PDF guide on Cycling Around Taiwan.

3. Weather
    At Hualien City (花蓮市), the daytime weather was fairly warm, averaging at 26°C and a high of 32°Cwith partly overcast skies. Evening temperatures averaged at 25°C at night. Wind speed was averaged 25kph with gusts up to 40kph.
    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
Yuanyuan Temple (淵源堂) (GPS: 23.97794, 121.58588).
Shen An Temple (花蓮勝安宮) (GPS:23.97748, 121.58672 ).
- Cinshui Bike Path along the Jinan River, a nice path with cherry-like trees along its banks.
- Jinan River Suspension Bridge (GPS: 23.96299, 121.6075) located at the river mouth.
- Chishingtan-Corniche Bike Path which includes the Liangtie Coastal Bike Trail, starting from the Jinan River to the Chishingtan Scenic Area.
- Hualien Pacific Landscape Park (花蓮太平洋公園) which includes:
  - Nanbin Park (南濱公園) (GPS: 23.96634, 121.60928), from here are great views of the Pacific waves crashing onto the coast.
  - Pacific 3D Landscape Park (太平洋3D地景公園) (GPS: 23.97736, 121.61785) with 3-D murals of marine life that seems to jump out from the paintings.
  - Beibin Park (北濱公園) (GPS: 23.97836, 121.61802).
  - Aurora Timber Bridge (Shuguang Bridge) (北濱曙光橋) (GPS: 23.97949, 121.61829) a former railway bridge spanning across the Meilun River (Hualien Qingxi Stream).
  - Meilun Coast Park (美崙濱海公園) (GPS: 23.98364, 121.62424).
  - Saburo Memorial Park (Eguchi Ryosan Memorial Park) (江口良三郎紀念公園) (GPS: 23.98785, 121.62917).
Hualien Harbor Landscape Bridge (花蓮港景觀橋) (GPS: 23.99268, 121.63591).
48 Height Lookout Point (48高地瞭望台) (GPS: 24.02228, 121.63487).
Chishingtan Scenic Area (七星潭海岸風景特定區) (GPS: 24.03061, 121.62731) with the beautiful Crescent Beach.
- River Bike Path at along Beipu 

5. Food
- Breakfast: Fried noodles and side dishes at Zhongshan Wet Market (中山市場) (GPS: 23.98972, 121.59841).
- Lunch: Instant noodles at Chishingtan 7-Eleven outlet (GPS: 24.03600, 121.60519).
- Tea: Boloking Pineapple buns at Bolo (台灣BOLO花蓮店(GPS: 23.98875, 121.60026).
- Dinner: Fried rice with side dishes at 大眾扁食店 shop (GPS: 23.99156, 121.60272) opposite our hotel.

6. Accommodations
Two nights in Hualien (花蓮市) at  Chantai Hotel (阡台大飯店) (GPS: 23.99139, 121.60279) three 2-pax rooms at NTD1,000 per room per night.
Address: 970, Taiwan, Hualien County, Hualien City, 國聯一路83-1號.
Tel: +886 3 833 0121

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 continued riding in the Huadong Valley (花東縱谷, East Rift Valley) it was a good varied route going partly along the scenic Yuli-Yufu Bikeway (玉富自行車道) and passing by the a tectonic plate fault line. After that we veered away from the padi-fields and climbed up to the tea-growing area of the Wuhe Terrace and then down to a forest park.
We had decided to skip a day at the valley and proceeded onwards to Hualien (花蓮市) thus giving us a full day to explore the city and it's scenic Pacific coast. Will it live up to its reputation?


RouteChantai Hotel (阡台大飯店)>Zhongshan Wet Market (中山市場)>Yuanyuan Temple (淵源堂)>Shen An Temple (花蓮勝安宮)>Cinshui River Bike Bath>Nanbin Park (南濱公園)>Pacific 3D Landscape Park (太平洋3D地景公園)>Beibin Park (北濱公園)>Meilun Coast Park (美崙濱海公園)>Hualien Port Bridge (花蓮港景觀橋)>48 Highland (四八高地)>Chisingtan (七星潭)>Chantai Hotel (阡台大飯店).
Cycling Distance: 30.22 km.          |          Level: Medium
The route starts of with visits to the local market, a couple of temples and then head down a cycling path along the Ji'an River (吉安河). It continues along the Pacific coast where mighty waves came crashing onto the beaches on one side and beautifully landscaped parks on the other. Onwards, a short stretch goes through the 48 Highland (四八高地) where there are panoramic views of the Chisingtan Crescent Beach, a bit of carrying of bicycles is required as this stretch is a walking trail with steps.
Hualien is one of the nicest area to cycle in Taiwan, and should not be missed as as cycling destination.

A full and exciting day lies ahead of us and a good meal was what the doctor prescribed to start off the day. We decided to try something different, rode off to and around the Zhongshan Wet Market and ended up at a stall there where we had some rather appetizing noodles together with side dishes of soft tofu, veggies and a bowl of minced meat-fish soup.
Our route to the market took us down through an underpass at Zhongshan Road running below railway tracks near the Hualien Station, where thankfully there are separate lanes for cycling as the traffic there zoomed by fiercely fast.

It's been a while since we visited some temples (the last ones we saw was at Xiao Liu Qiu, about a week a go - which is a long time by cycling standards 😏), so off we went to the nearby Shen An Temple. The temple had a very large compound from where one can appreciate the many its different buildings all topped up with dragons and other colorful statues.
Here too we met Mr. Goh, dressed very respectfully in a rich blue traditional Chinese jacket. He's the head of the temple who gave us a short history of the temple and passingly remarked that the temple does provide accommodations for travelers (including cyclists!).

He also strongly suggested that we go up to the top floor of the five-storey temple. Advise from a respectable elder must be taken in earnest, and up we went via lifts to the top floor. From here there is a bird's eye view of Hualien, with the backdrop of the misty Meilun  Mountain behind. Somewhere out there lies the famed Taroko Gorge.

As we were admiring the view, I noticed another temple to the left, one with green roofs and a unique pagoda with curving roofs.
Hmmmmm.... that temple looks familiar..... Hey! That dragon on the roof looks like a photo I saw on the internet.......... Hey! That's IS the Shen An Temple. Hah! We were at the wrong temple, the one we were at is the Yuanyuan Temple; but it was a good mistake as this one was also a beautiful temple and we got to meet a kindly old man.

While my buddies continued to admire the Yuanyuan Temple, I scooted over to the Shen An Temple. Inside it was equally beautiful (for more photos of this temple click on the link at the bottom of this blog).

We now headed for the coast, about three kilometers away, and then another discovery - the the Cinshui Line Bicycle Path that runs along the Jinan River (吉安河, Ji'an River).

The first stretch of the path runs along roads and pavements with bright cherry-like trees lining both sides. These trees were not cherry trees but trees that had yellow blooms that turned red as it matured and bloomed almost all year round.

As it neared the coast, the path became full dedicated bike lanes. At the river's edge some locals were fishing and there were even water buffaloes grazing down there.

Almost at the coast, the path was shadier and zooms down to run below Highway 193. It ran right next to the river and "bamboo" railings prevent people from falling in.

Right at the river mouth was this dedicated pedestrian/cycling suspension bridge, it's nearby to the Ji'an Seaside Park (吉安海濱公園).

Crossing over the bridge and we were onto the Chishingtan-Corniche Bike Path which runs all the way to the Chishingtan Scenic Area about fifteen kilometres away. The south-eastern stretch here runs about five kilometres until the Hualien Harbor Landscape Bridge; it passes through several beautiful green parks (such as the Nanbin ParkBeibin ParkMeilun Coast ParkSaburo Memorial Park (Eguchi Ryosan Memorial Park)) on one side, and the bright blue Pacific Ocean on the other side. Then it runs a short stretch on roads and highway to the 48 Height Lookout Point from where it continues on the north-eastern coast.

On the rocky shores of the Nanbin Park were many avid photographers patiently trying to get good action photos of the waves. The eastern coast here is exposed to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean where mighty, blue waves came rolling in to lash onto offshore rocks, and then shooting tall white splashes upward accompanied by pounding, thunderous roars. We too stopped and took in this scene of Nature at its best, playing a symphony of sights and sounds.

Ahead was the Pacific 3D Landscape Park, with murals of marine life that seems jump out from walls. Goofy's here with some Manta Rays, there are drawings of killer whales, sharks, dolphins, clown fishes, and other colorful marine fishes too.

The best one I liked was a huge floor mural of a large dragon flying over the earth. Put yourself onto the white circular spot and one can "fight" the dragon and save the world from destruction.... okay, that's my day-dreaming wish.

We crossed the Meilun River (美崙河) via the Kitahama Shuguang Bridge (北濱曙光橋). It's also called the Aurora Bridge (极光桥), not sure why though, perhaps from here one can see a colorful dawn. This arch bridge use to serve the eastern railway line (Lingang Line) that previously ran here, and is thus a historic structure that has been preserved.

Over on the other side were shady paths of the Meilun Coast Park, with overhanging branches that reminded us of the Rain Trees of the Taiping Lake Gardens.
It then passed the Saburo Memorial Park (Eguchi Ryosan Memorial Park); it's a park dedicated to Enokiro Eguchi who was the fifth director of Hualien Port (花蓮港) during the Japanese occupation and was an important figure in the setting up of Hualien Port. There's even a torii gate there!

The south-eastern stretch ended on boardwalk paths running pass the red  Hualien Harbor Landscape Bridge. Unfortunately the bridge was closed for maintenance and we could not use it to cross over to the Hualien Port Waterfront Recreation Area (花蓮港親水遊憩區) and piers on the other side.

Beyond that it was on cycling paths running beside the railroad tracks for a short section before exiting onto shared lanes on Highway 193.

At the 48 Height Lookout Point, it's back to dedicated paths running through brush land that slowly led upwards to the look out point.

The path here is undulating with several bridges crossing over gullies so some pushing and carrying of our bikes were required...

It was a worthwhile climb as from the 48 Height Lookout Point there is a great panoramic view of the sea, now I understand why it's called the Crescent Beach.

Back on flat ground, a couple of hiccups, erosion caused by a storm one week earlier had sunken two areas of the path... but we were not troubled as the beauty of the place have enraptured our hearts.

The flat ground here does not have that many trees, and the strong winds blowing from the sea could be seen billowing through the palms and ruffling our wind breakers.

The Chishingtan Scenic Area is a large park with various sections and huts where we took a short rest while admiring the sea. The sea here were not as strong as at the south-eastern coast yet they still came roaring with two meter high waves breaking against the sandy shore. But the mood of the sea can change and with it bringing in taller waves; several signboards were posted along the beach cautioning visitors to run for it should large waves come, and also advising people not to swim here.

At one section this aborigine man was playing tribal songs, he seems to be a landmark here as many photos of him were pasted on the web.

Slightly in land but still within the park was this tall statue of Guanyin, it was only mid-afternoon but the dark skies had cast a gloom over the area. Strangely, a bright spot had formed behind her making her seem encircled by a halo.
At a nearby 7-Eleven, we stopped to have a late lunch of instant noodles; somehow we were not that hungry, our appetites were already sated by the many scenic sights along the way.

While hunting for the Beipu Station we came across this statue of aborigines doing a harvest dance round a large tribal totem (GPS: 24.037608, 121.604491).

But instead of taking the train from Beipu, we decided to cycle when we realized it was only eight kilometers back. The initial section took us along a river (Bei Pu River, perhaps). Overhead we heard roars of a different type, not from lashing waves but those from aircraft flying from a nearby airbase.
Hualien did live up to its reputation of being one of the nicest place to cycle in Taiwan!

One last bite before we returned to the hotel, pineapple Boloking buns at the 台灣BOLO花蓮店 outlet. These buns do not contain pineapples but were so named because the pastry studs on it's surface made it look like a pineapple. It's best eaten hot as a slice of butter is put in between, it melted drippingly..... and our saliva dripped too!
Later during the evening we had a dinner at a shop nearby and looked forward to tomorrow when we will head for another of Taiwan's famous landmark - the Taroko Gorge!

(I snore loudly when I had a good day!)

(For more photos of the Day 16, Click Here)
This is page 15 of a 19-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D15 Hualien          |         Go to Other Days        |         Go to D17-18 Taroko >


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