Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cycling around Taiwan: Day 4: Dawu to Taidong

Start day 4: February 12. Location: Dawu Township (大武鄉), Taidong County (台東縣). Remarks: In the morning we looked outside to discover that the blue skies had been replaced with heavy cloud-cover. We started cycling at about 8am. A kilometre from the homestay I put on my cheap plastic raincoat but it turned me into a sail and slowed me to a crawl. With some difficulty I took it off again and we persevered into the headwind.

Overcast skies, a big road, and a beach made of grey rocks lined with rows of tetrapod concrete wavebreakers.  Not a great example of the beauty of the east coast.  Still, that blue ocean and those adjacent mountains offer a lot of promise.

This water course is covered with a swathe of material deposited by Typhoon Morakot in August of 2009. 

A view from the same spot, looking in the other direction towards the ocean.  Note that the house seems to have been ripped from its base and the top half with torn walls ended up in this spot.  That truck in the photo seems to have been involved in some of the construction and repair work going on in the area.

Down the road we stopped in the little town of Jinlan for our second-breakfast consisting of bananas, apples, 7-Eleven coffees and dan-bings (omelets).  Although John ordered the two dan-bings at the same time we soon received one dan bing and one toasted egg sandwich.  The mind boggles.  Anytime you order more than one of anything at the same time your chances of not getting what you asked for increase exponentially.  Actually the increase is not exponential but I threw the word in there because it sounds good.

We were greeting and being greeted by a lot of other cyclists who we saw on the road and generally getting into the spirit of cycle-touring.  Some guy in a black sedan passed by us, swerved off the road in front of us, stopped his car, wound down his window, and pumped his fist in the air shouting, "Go go go!" as we passed by.  He was certainly getting into the groove.  We were sometimes getting shouts of encouragement from other motorists but the sudden loud noises coming from cars passing close by us tended to startle us more than encourage us.

Further down the road we stopped in a small town to sample the delights of the local specialty: the sweet sop (or sugar apple or Annona Squamosa).  Andrea and I had never tried them before despite having had plenty of opportunity.  And when we did try them here we wondered why we never had before. 

It's really good.

After investing a substantial amount of time in resetting the balance of his digestive system in a gas-station bathroom John caught up with us for the ride into Taidong.  Actually getting to Taidong City seemed to drag on and on while the wind blew hard against us and blew a light rain into our faces.  The day seemed more grey and dull than when we had started out in the morning and so did the road.  When we finally, inevitably made it to the city we plonked ourselves down on a bench at a 7-Eleven, a little dispirited, and rested while we decided what to do next.  We ended up moving a short way down the street to the Madina Indian Restaurant where our spirits were buoyed by some rich cuisine while several Indian men tried to wrestle a large industrial refrigerator through a doorway at the rear of the premises.  The doorway proved to be only very slightly too small and they set about removing the frame and the door itself.

Downtown Taidong.  We checked into a hotel we had used before on our east coast trip and then spent a while recovering.  In the evening we went for a walk and a meal.

A beautiful photo of Andrea transacting with a fruit vendor on Taidong's famous Fruit Street.

End of day 4: February 12. Location: Taidong City (台東市), Taidong County (台東縣). Distance on my electronic odometer: 344km. Accommodation: a cheap hotel on the edge of the downtown core of Taidong. Remarks: The wind blew hard against us as we pedalled along the seemingly endless, dull road into Taidong. For the first time on the trip it rained on us, albeit, very lightly. Got into town and plopped down outside a 7-11 at about 2pm. After lunch at an Indian restaurant we cycled to a hotel we had stayed in on a previous trip down the east coast. Later that evening we enjoyed a walk along 'fruit street'.

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