Leaving Taipei and huge typhoon Vongfong surf
We woke in our hotel room in Taipei with anticipation of the first day of riding. Its always an exciting day, we have travelled so far with our boards and bikes and now we get to put them to good use. We had assembled the bikes in our hotel room about level 8 and then wheeled the bikes vertically into the elevator and onto the street. The road directly outside our hotel is extremely busy. As I’ve said before the first day of riding anything can happen, there is a good chance for some of your equipment to break or malfunction on the first day.
We head for the back alley and make our way to the cycle path along the river, this path will take us all the way north out of the city. We make it to a harbour town and have some lunch, then onto the river mouth to check the surf. We cycled through what seemed like a university town, very quiet lots of abandon buildings as well.
We then pushed onto Baishawan and found a hotel for $NT 1700 ($62AUD) per night. Wind was really strong from the typhoon. We cycled 60km a good amount for a first day of riding.
We woke to a strong wind and when we rounded the first bay spotted some surfers in the water, about 4. I was very keen to jump in and get they first surf in a new country out the way so to speak. It was a very rocky jump and with a few rocks poking out the water I had to be careful. I saw a local getting out and copied his movements. The surf was about 3 or 4ft not bad for a first surf, but it had a fierce sideshore wind from the typhoon. I caught maybe 3 waves with probably one making it onto film.
Rian was filming from the lookout, I stayed in the water after the locals got out and surfed for a bit by myself. After that we headed to the most northerly point in Taiwan, lighthouse and all and got a few shots, we are planning to cycle the island from north to south along the east coast.
Rian tells me there is a dog temple in the area, not knowing what to expect we see the turn off up into the mountains, after 2km of climbing we see a massive dog statue and a temple underneath. The story goes “17 fishermen and their canine friend were crossing the Taiwan Strait when their boat capsized. The fishermen drowned, but the dog survived. When the bodies washed ashore, the locals, in keeping with customs, prepared a collective grave and ghost temple on a cliff overlooking the shore. The dog — ever loyal to its masters — jumped into the grave with the bodies and refused to leave. The dog was buried alive, and is thus called the 18th of the Eighteen Kings.”
We continued heading in a southeast direction and after asking around town for a spot to camp we find a youth centre and set up. The head office looks like a giant castle made entirely out of concrete. We set up camp and I decide to use my hammock for the first night camping, bad mistake. We had a view of the ocean and were on the edge of a hill, very exposed to the wind but we thought at least we won't get bitten by mosquitoes.
I learnt a lot about sleeping in a hammock that night. Firstly secure the ends to trees that don't bend, because once you lie in the hammock it pulls the trees closer and your tarp that is fixed to the same trees will sag and flap violently in the wind. The only way to stop the flapping was to pull my bike closer and fix the tarp to it, while hanging in the hammock. Once that was done I was able to get some sleep but the wind and rain constantly woke me up. The wind was strong and would sway the hammock side to side, quite hypnotic after a while. I also got bitten by mosquitoes through the hammock, so next time sleep with your mattress for insulation and protection from mosquitoes.
Riding from the youth centre we were on the lookout for breakfast. We didn't find much but then often while bicycle touring you would round a bend and find an unexpected place. This time as we came through a tunnel we found a quaint little harbour, with a breakfast shop. We had our usual dan bings and ice tea and then hit the road, not sure where we will end up today but we have to negotiate the city of Keelung. Its quite hilly through the city and then extremely busy in the centre, dodging cars and pedestrians we make it to Fulung Beach and find another massive camping ground. We are one of a few campers with an entire youth army of kids also camping there. We hit the beds early but the kids had a disco going on and then came the fireworks. So many fireworks.
The next morning we were rounding the headland where we would be travelling completly south. There is a 2km mine shaft that you can cycle through which cuts out about km, we cycled it and then cycled back to fulong for lunch. The km we have to do is working out quite small which is what we wanted. We need time to film and set up shots which is why we cant do massive km each day. So we headed back through the mine shaft and rounded the peninsular, this was the most easter point in Taiwan. The wind is still gusting and the surf quite wild, but as we head around the headland the wind switches offshore and is grooming the ocean flat. We can see the huge swells coming in, still a bit too big for us to surf.
We make it to Daxi where we will stay for the night, Ange gave us a contact here, for Jeffs Surfshop, jeff is one of the first professional Taiwanese surfers on the island and has set up shop at honeymoon bay. Usually a good place to surf but the surf is wild today. We check out the room and its very basic, just a mattress on the floor, so we decided to save some money and do some wild camping.
As we leave jeffs it starts to pour with rain, the first heavy rain we've seen in Taiwan. We bunker down at a temple near the beach with 2 other guys sheltering as well, one wheeling a cart, looks like hes doing some long distance walking. We asked the caretaker at the temple if we could sleep under the metal room shelter and she said its fine. We have protection for the rain so we roll out our mats and sleeping bags and get some sleep.
We were planning on surfing this area for at least a day but with the bad weather we decide to push on. We make it Toucheng by 9am and then its a long flat and quiet road to Suao at the start of the huge mountain section which includes the Qingshui Cliffs. At Suao’ we find a natural cold spring right in the middle of town, its looks very dirty but we strip down and take a dip. Apparently the only other natural cold spring like it is in Italy says the sign, one of just 2 in the world.
We camp that night at another massive camping ground, this one next to a river. It cost about $20aud each for the night, a bit expensive when we can wild camp for free. We have to rest up because the next day we will be climbing the mountains.
On the way into Sa-uo Rian saw a small beach break but it was right inside the harbour. The swell was so big the waves were breaking right inside the harbour through the narrow entrance. We checked the wave in the morning before we hit the mountains and it was too full with the high tide.
We headed up the first mountain and it wound along the coast with a great view of the Sauo harbour. It then went through the back hills and we popped out near the town of Nano, a valley town in the range with a massive river flowing through it. We read that there was free camping ground, once we found it we set up camp with the families and land rover enthusiasts. It was like a small farm house with fields for free camping, free showers and toilets, amazing.
We then decided to check out the surf and see if its decreased in size. We headed downhill along the river and followed the massive breakwall. Once we found the small bush path to the beach we saw massive waves breaking on a left point, is it surfable. We walked a bit closer and saw that it was a bit fast but it just got us pumped. We took photos and video, the wind was howling offshore, really strong.
We headed back into town and got some dinner, I tasted my first bubble tea, so delicious. Then back to the camp to rest up for the next leg the Qingshui Cliffs!
We started off early as the past few days had been quite warm, we headed behind the mountains and followed the climbing road to the ocean ,when we popped out out we found ourselves about 250m up on cliffs that dropped straight into the ocean, incredible! This was the start of the Qingshui Cliffs! The roads winded around the cliffs and then down a big valley. The traffic was super bad as it was a long weekend and everyone was checking out the cliffs. I came out of one tunnel and then saw the largest cliffs I have ever seen. Breathtaking about 1000m up with sheer vertical faces. I captured it all on my gopro so you’ll have to wait for the tv show to be produced.
We stopped for a quick photo with all the tourists around and then dodged a few trucks and cars to make it past the cliffs and onto flat ground. After lunch we cycled inland about 5 km to the small village of Taroko. The start of the famous Taroko gorge.
Rian resting on the way out of Taipei City, Taiwan.
Dylan fully loaded touring bike. Taiwan 2014
Taipei River, small sets lining up.
Dylans first surf in Taiwan, Very windy but great to be in the water.
Rain cycling into another bay on Taiwans Northern Coast.
Rians loaded touring bike.
We are making an effort to get more photos and video for this TV Show we are producting.
Dylan at taiwans most northeren Point.
A nights sleeping at a temple which the typhoon lashes the coast.
No need for a tent, just sleeping bag and mat, then we are set.
Rian shoot some photos of waves. We are still on the look out for surf.
Large slab on taiwans coast form typhoon Vongfong.
Selfie at our campsite near a river. This was a massive camp ground with many familys staying the night.
Rian setting up camp.
The river near the camp ground.
Surf exploring at its best, here is small wave that lined up.
The Start of the climbing and cliffs.
Lone peak breaking.
Rian seen just before a aqua duct.
Rian in the distance about to head into a tunnel.
Rian setting up for the steep climb.
The massive rivermouth break we stumbled across.
Rian shoot some photos.
The impressive Quinshui Cliffs. AMAZING!
Dylan at the start of the cliffs.
Dylan and another tourist taking photos of the massive surf, a surreal situation with such massive perfect waves and only us.
To prove that we were there. Amazing day cycling.
I also thought your story about sleeping in the hammock was funny. You always see photos of people in a hammock and it looks so romantic. But sleeping in a hammock... in the rain... with mosquitoes buzzing around... makes the experience a little different. haha.
The Quinshui Cliffs look amazing. I didn't go there when I was in Taiwan. You're making me want to go back!