On Friday I took a bus down to Chiayi along with my friend Ian who was visiting from Australia. I took my own bike down on the bus, while Ian hired a touring bike from the Giant store. The hire service offered by Giant is very good with quality bikes at a reasonable price (more details here). The only problem was the CRX-1 model Ian hired didn’t have a good selection of gears for hill climbing. In the afternoon we went on easy ride out to the Solar Exploration Center (北回歸線太陽館) in Chiayi County, which sits on the Tropic of Cancer.
We headed out of town on Saturday morning and once we got outside the city the roads were pretty free of traffic. The original plan was to cycle up to the Zengwen Reservoir, however this was changed to a shorter and easier route to the hot springs town of Guanziling (關子嶺).
After arriving in Guanziling it didn’t take long to find a place to soak in the hot springs. It was a very nice way to relax after a climb up some steep hills. The water in the hot springs in Guanziling is grey and muddy unlike other places in Taiwan where it is clear. Anyway I am pictured above in the cold pool with clear water.
Just outside Guanziling is an interesting geological phenomenon, the Fire Water Cave (火水洞). Here a large flame burns continuously on the rocks. It is a result of methane being released from the water.
After leaving Guanziling we cycled down to the plains again and reached the town of Baihe (白河). It soon started pouring rain and we took shelter in a tea shop. The ladies there were very friendly. Their new business selling traditional style tea and tofu dessert (古早味紅茶與豆花) was set to officially open the next day. If you ever visit the town make sure you visit the shop.
After a few hours the rain eased and we cycled on to Xinying (新營) where we found a place to stay for the night. The television news showed that the downpour had caused floods in parts of Tainan County. We had been lucky to avoid the worst of it.
The next day we set out to cycle through the farmlands of Tainan County. We discovered a man with his buffalo working on a paddy field. It was quite a wonderful sight. The roads took us through flat country with small towns and lots of agricultural activity. It wasn’t the most beautiful country in Taiwan to cycle through, but easy going without any hills. The weather was pretty hot and I got a bit of sunburn, although not too serious.
As we got closer to Tainan we reached Qigu (七股), which has a salt mountain.
Next we went to visit the Black-faced Spoonbill Research Centre. The spoonbills only visit Taiwan in the winter time, so we didn’t see any. The center has quite an extensive display and interpretive information about the birds and the wetland ecology.
When we reached Tainan City we stopped at this place for some good Australian beef in Taiwan style beef noodles. We spent a bit more time in Tainan visiting various places before heading back to Taipei via the HSR on Monday.
*More photos in the Chiayi and Tainan cycling tour set at flickr.