Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cycling around Taiwan: Day 1: Tainan to Chaojhou

Start of Day 1: February 9.
Location: An-ping district (安平區), Tainan City (台南).

Andrea prepares one of the essential stays of our expedition: 'gorp' or trail mix; a great form of slow-release energy food; nice and easy on the stomach and bowels and a guard against the potential for gastrointestinal complications caused by the sometimes caustic mix of eating a lot of questionable food and long-distance cycling. By the way, a lot of people believe that the term 'gorp' originates as an acronym for Good Old Raisins and Peanuts but this may not be true according to Michael Quinion.

The requisite before photo, expected to be matched up later with an after photo. We began pedaling at about 8:25 in the morning. It was a foggy, hazy morning and the sun was only a warm glow in the sky. The roads were quite busy. It felt good to finally be starting out on an adventure we'd been talking about for months.

A stop in Kaohsiung for lunch: hearty beef noodles and fruit teas with a lot of pulp.

A major intersection in Kaohsiung with cool architectural features. John always says that Kaohsiung is so cool. Obviously.

Down the road from Kaohsiung we stopped at a 7-11 for a rest and refreshment stop. Sitting out in front of the convenience store, we admired the local architecture adorning this provincial highway.

Sitting outside the 7-eleven. From left to right: A bag of gorp; me; Open-Chan!, the 7-eleven mascot.

Sitting outside the 7-eleven.

Further down the road, I noticed how strangely beautiful is the blending of this river fringed by aquatic flora and southern Kaohsiung's heavy industry.

Heading south, the central mountain range looms far ahead through the haze.

After cycling through the town of Linyuan down the No.17 Highway we discover that the bridge over the Gaoping river is closed due to maintenance and repair and so we must find another way across. We re-route up the No.21 and onto the No.88 which will take us across the river.

One of the many, many bathroom stops of the journey. John seems particularly pleased with this one. With exposure you build up a collection of expectations about what bathrooms are like in gas stations and conveniences stores and it is nice when you are pleasantly surprised. Some gas-station bathrooms even exhibit potted plants and perpetually smell of flowers.

Reconnoitering in the township of Chaojhou in search of dinner.

End of day 1: February 9. Location: Chaojhou (潮州鄉), Pingdong county (屏東縣). Distance on my electronic odometer: 100km. Accommodation: cheap hotel close to the downtown area. Remarks: didn't sleep well due to fireworks, nasty diarrhoea (those afflicted will remain anonymous to save embarrassment), and mid-sleep leg cramps causing the victim/s to suddenly leap out of bed (anonymous again).

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