My Wednesday in Taiwan started out slowly, as did most of the days on my relaxed vacation. We had wandered around the night market in Taichung (台中) until about midnight, so we slept late and weren’t in a huge rush to get moving. We grabbed a quick breakfast near May’s house, then waited around for about 20 minutes for a bus before we decided to go looking for a taxi to get us into the city. Apparently there aren’t many city buses going out near May’s family’s house – and taxi’s weren’t easy to find either.
But I did get to snap a few shots of a couple burning paper money (a sacrifice to whichever god they were wanting a blessing from). Apparently, the gods of Taoism enjoy when you burn paper money, cars, boats and other material goods for them. (Not actual items but paper representations of them.)
We made our way into the Taichung train station where we caught a slow-local train to Houli (后里) a small town in Taichung province. It was a perfect, beautiful day. Probably about 27-28 degrees Celsius or around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, blue skies and sunny. As soon as we got to Houli, we were greeted by a woman eager to show us to her bicycle rental shop just about half a block from the station which is precisely what we were there to do.
Houli has a great cycling path on which you can explore the area, if you want to do the entire path it is around 35 kilometers I believe.
We followed her to her shop, tested out a couple bikes – including a tandem which we decided against, paid the daily rate to rent the bikes (200 New Taiwanese Dollars per bike for the day or about $6.50 US) and got directions to find coffee for the road (7-11) and a map.
Once we grabbed coffee for the road, we quickly were off the streets and onto the path where only bicycles were allowed. Quickly we came to the large tunnel through a hill, an old railroad tunnel – at about a kilometer in length it was pretty impressive to ride through. Out the other side was more impressive as the tunnel opened up to a large bridge over a creek, beautiful blue skies, and countryside.
Just off the bridge was the first tourist trap, most places were pretty dead as it was a Wednesday afternoon during a typical work week for the Taiwanese, but there was still someone standing out on the bike path to usher us in for free wine tasting at the Railway Valley Winery. Several tastes of different wines, almost all of which were far to sweet for me, and we were back on the bikes. (I didn’t try the Onion Red Wine, I’m just not sure what to think of onion wine.) I believe all the fruit was local though, as we cycled along many grape vineyards, rice patties and other crops growing.
The bike path was a beautiful tree lined path which they have named the green tunnel as the trees completely envelope you, bringing you through the outskirts of a small Taiwanese town.
Past a sugar refinery, the water treatment plant, the small businesses set up for tourists like restaurants, an ice cream stand and go-karts, along the creek until you reach the large dam.
The path continues on to another bridge and more sights, but even after a quick snack of sausage and rice sausage, (and a pit stop at the squatter porta-potty) we decided to head back towards town. School was getting out, and as we neared town the bike path was busy with high school students riding home. We grabbed ice cream at 7-11 (the ice cream shop was closed) and I was the attraction of the day for all the elementary school students who stopped by the shop for a snack before heading home.
After returning our bicycles, we hoped back on the train for our 20 minute ride back to Taichung. From the station we walked through Taichung Park to May’s family’s business, a stationary store in downtown Taichung. We grabbed a scooter (and unlike in China also grabbed helmets) and made our way to GB’s for a western dinner and cold beer. (See my Taiwan = Food post.)
A walk around the park like setting of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, where many others were relaxing, practicing Tai chi or getting their excercise dancing, completed our lovely day exploring beautiful Taiwan. It might well have been my favorite day in Taiwan.