Temples & Fixies (Rian)
The day had finally arrived, our departure for another incredible adventure overseas. I have found that over the years and numerous long-distance rides, my preparation process has become more streamlined. I know my equipment and what works and doesn’t. I check the weather forecast to pack appropriate clothing and see which sleeping bag is necessary. Having not ridden with Dylan for almost 2 years, this new adventure to Taiwan would be a great opportunity to get back into a riding pattern with a good mate. Riding solo has it’s benefits and in some respects I usually prefer that the only person I have to worry about or please, is me. I jump on a domestic flight down to the Gold Coast where Dylan is based and decide to do my final prep for a few days at his beach side apartment. I hired a car so I could run around town for last minute things like spare batteries, a new pair of boardshorts and duct tape. I end up collecting a bicycle box for Dylan to pack his bike into for transport to Taiwan. Dylan is working up until our departure so he hasn’t had much time to get organised and ends up packing last minute whereas I have had the two days on the Gold Coast to get sorted.
Flying day arrives and we make it to the airport with enough time to spare. Travelling with bicycles is not the easiest of processes and totally depends on the check-in staff you get. My luggage punches over the designated weight limit and am stung with $100 fee. We settle into the 8 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur for a quick aircraft changeover and continue on towards Taipei, Taiwan. The approach see’s us arriving at about 10pm and my excitement starts to rise. The smell, sights and sounds of a new adventure start here and I can’t wait, but first we need to make sure our bikes have arrived safely.
We had organised through a contact we made in Taipei for a driver to pick our heavy equipment and ourselves from the International airport to our hotel in the city. By the time we check-in, it’s pushing midnight but we have a great room and are soon welcomed by our contact, Anje.
Anje is a South African expat who has been living in Taiwan for 14 years. Quite the entrepreneur having owned and managed restaurants, dabbled in venture capitalism projects and now running a very successful Vlog ‘We View Taiwan’, Anje is the perfect person to have on our Eat.Sleep.Surf Taiwan team. Fluent in Mandarin, Anje would prove to be a lifesaver on several occasions throughout our adventure. Our first stop with Anje at 12:30am on a Friday night, the local Family Mart for a cold beer. There are no laws on consuming alcohol in public which meant we received our first guided tour of Taipei with a few cold beers.
Dylan and I were pretty shattered and decided to call it night after our long day of travel.
We woke the following morning rested and ready for a productive day. Our first job was to set up the bicycle and ensure that all inside after the long journey was still working and in one piece. All of our equipment turned out fine and we managed to assemble the bikes within our hotel room. I already start to notice the excess of cables and chargers we have between us for cameras, GoPro’s, phones, power banks, laptop and lights. It’s a nightmare and something I need to dwindle down to essentials for my next adventure. Filming, photography and sharing my adventures from around the world is important and this equipment is essential, but there needs to be an easier way.
Anje meets us for breakfast, where we write down some key phrases to help get us through rural Taiwan where English may not be widely spoken or understood. We stumble through our breakfast order of Dan Bing (Taiwanese Pancake with Egg) and milk tea. Delicious. Anje was kind enough to drive us around during our time in Taipei which helped immensely. I needed a new rear pannier rack and managed to find one just streets away from our hotel. We also secured a local sim card (once again thanks to Anje).
Next on our 3 day tour of Taipei was YinHe Mountain Temple and Cave. Anje had heard through a network of friends of a small hike to this stunning temple. Once we parked the vehicle we started our brief hike into the rainforest. It had major similarities to that of North Queensland where I run several types of tours throughout the Daintree Rainforest. We arrived into the temple and were welcomed by the caretakers who, with Anje’s interpretation, indicated how we should behave and present ourselves within the temple. Check out this great Video from Anje’s Vlog she put together after our visit.
After our first temple visit, we stopped in at a beautiful lookout for a view over Taipei. It was a great perspective of the landscape around us and to see how mountainous the area was.
We needed to get back to our hotel for a quick change and to meet up with the Taipei Fixie Crew. A local Taipei fixie cycle club that meet several times a week and throughout the year celebrating the pure love of the bicycle. A group of likeminded individuals from very different backgrounds, this club has a love of riding throughout their beautiful city to experience the culture, people and landscape. We met with Chelsom who I had been talking with online for months prior to our arrival. I told them of our world adventures and our plans for Taiwan. He was instantly interested in our project and was gracious enough to host us for a training ride throughout the city. There is no better way to see a city than by bicycle with new friends. With language barriers, our love of adventure and bicycles brought us together. After a ride through the city and dusk, we stopped for a beer before riding on to find a local restaurant for dinner. 12 riders around one big table enjoying a meal. This is exactly what I wanted from this meeting with the Taipei Fixie Crew. We parted ways soon after a quick interview and had further plans for a night out in Taipei with Anje. Check out the Taipei Fixie Crew at their Facebook page here.
We had a slight hangover the following morning after a messy night out with Anje including several different coloured shots, and too much drink mixing. Still a fun night out and we met some great people. After a greasy breakfast we had planned to see the changing of the guards at Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall and this was our first opportunity to interview and film a significant cultural event. Anje was extremely knowledgeable and with her background in film and television, she knew the right shots and angles to get, even with our small two man team. It was an impressive event which was soon followed by a visit to the local night market. As with many markets all around the world, expect great food and in particular here in Taipei, some more unusual food. We tried our hand at chickens feet, snails and the world famous stinky tofu. Stinky tofu of course has to be followed up by a foot massage. Dylan struggled to feel comfortable with the older lady kneading her knuckles into the soles of his feet and he winced like a little school girl much to the amusement of the staff and other customers. It was decided an early night was in order as the following day would see us riding out of the city fully loaded with our camera equipment and surfboards for a month of touring around the island of Taiwan.
Dylan getting the shot of Taipei city and the 101 Tower.
Rian left and Dylan right.
Dylan at the temple just south of Taipei City.
Automatic parking building in taipei. This place is the future.
Rian getting the shots of the Night markets.
The asortments of wierd foods, pigs blood and other delights.
Night market shop.
Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall changing of the guard.
Our bikes with the fixie crew after our night ride into and through the city.
Eating at the basement of a resturant, food just kept on coming out.
Waiting for a table at the resturant, we got a few shots and did and interview with Chelsom.
Nick, Rian and Chelsom discussing the finer points of riding a fixie bike in Taipei.
The spread of food, such wierd and interesting flavours.
This is the moment we first tasted Dan bings (egg pancakes) Best breakfasts ever.
2. That's so great that you came into Taipei with a plan or sorts and people to meet right away. I think that's a good way to start any bicycle touring adventure.
3. How much planning did you do in advance for your bike tour in Taiwan? I think the difficult thing about shooting a documentary is deciding what you do and do not want to shoot... especially when traveling with a partner. Did one of you just yell, "Stop, let's film this!" whenever you saw something you wanted to shoot? Or how exactly did that work?