Cycling the Northern Cross Island Highway

scenery on the Route 7 yi between Sanxia and Sanmin

I set off at six o’clock on Monday morning to ride across the Northern Cross Island Highway. This road, which Taiwanese call the Bei Heng (北橫), begins at Daxi in Taoyuan County and goes across the mountains to Yilan. I stopped to eat breakfast somewhere on the road between Xindian and Sanxia. Once I rode through Sanxia the worst of the traffic and urban ugliness was behind me. The scenery on Route 7乙 between Sanxia consisted of small farms with bigger mountains off in the distance.

David on the Luofu Bridge while cycling the Northern Cross Island Highway

At Sanmin I joined the Route 7 proper passing by Fuxing and the Xiao Wulai waterfall which I had visited before. I stopped on the Luofu Bridge to take a few photos. Continue reading

Weekend in Yilan

typical rural scene in Yilan

I went to Yilan on the weekend. I love going there and enjoy the rural feeling with the backdrop of mountains. The rice fields seem to be giving way to new houses at a rapid pace though. I wonder how long it will be before this is just another ugly urban area like many other places in Taiwan. 

luodong sports park in yilan county

On Sunday morning we went to the Luodong Sports Park (羅東運動公園). I am sure just about everybody that visits Yilan goes there. There is a good reason why though. It is a beautiful park and I don't know of any others in Taiwan that could compare to it.

gods in sanqing temple, yilan county

"The General Temple of Taoism Sanqing Temple" (道教總廟三清宮) was an interesting and busy place. The three deities in the photo are the Three Pure Ones. I didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have liked but you can see a couple more photos here

tea fields at Yulan in Yilan County

Yulan (玉蘭) is a small village where tea is the major industry. This photo shows the view from above Yulan with tea fields covering the mountainside. On a clear day there would be spectacular views of some of Taiwan's high mountains and the ocean here. 

entrance to xueshan tunnel in toucheng, yilan county

Returning to Taipei on Monday morning I went through the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) for the first time. My main impression of the tunnel was that it is very long! Driving for 12.9 km at the 70 km/h speed limit, it should take about 11 minutes to get through the tunnel. I am curious to know why there were two motorcycles parked at the entrance to the tunnel (motorcycles are not allowed to travel through the tunnel). 

travelling through the xueshan tunnel

206cc in Yilan

My friend 亮亮 is a dedicated member of 206cc and she has long promised to take me on one of their trips. I finally had the chance on Sunday, joining the trip to Yilan.

rear shot of Peugeot 206

Peugeot 206cc

206cc stands for 206 convertible car. It is also the name of a a club for owners of Peugeot 206 cars in Taiwan.

guishan island off northeast coast

Shot of Guishan Island taken from the train

Most of the club members had gone to Yilan on Saturday night, but I caught the train to Luodong and met them there on Sunday morning. Even though there was a typhoon looming off the coast the weather was perfect.

motorbikes in Yilan

Motorbikes of all shapes and sizes

From Luodong we drove up to Toucheng. When we stopped at 7-Eleven there were motorcycles of all shapes and sizes parked outside. These were from a variety of clubs also heading out for a weekend excursion.

206cc beautiful girls

206cc girls

Our first destination was the Toucheng Farm (頭城農場). Tourist resort would be a more apt description for the place than a farm (although I did spot two goats).

bbq food

Preparing food for the BBQ

bbq cooking

The BBQ

It was about lunchtime when we arrived there and we started preparing the BBQ. The food was great. One of the 206cc members was a prawn farmer and he brought several boxes of prawns for everyone to enjoy.

swimming hole

Post-BBQ swim

After lunch we walked a short distance to a nearby river for a swim. Well, most Taiwanese people can't really swim so "playing in the water" might be a more accurate description. Still it was a great way to cool off and relax.

206 topless action

Top down 206

After the swim it was late afternoon. The weather had cooled down and it was time for a bit of top down, open road cruising.

david in 206

David ready to roll

cars in mirror

Hitting the road

view of the road

On the road

206 cruising

Nothing like the feeling of the wind in your hair

green 206

Green machine

We went back to Luodong for a while. At about 8:00pm the car park freeway back to Taipei was backed up with traffic all the way to Yilan and beyond. We went into Yilan to eat dinner at the night market and wait for the traffic to clear.

xueshan tunnel entrance

Entrance to the Hsuehshan Tunnel

By the time we started to head back to Taipei at 11:30pm traffic was still entering the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) at a snail's pace. We drove to Pinglin via Route 9 and then took the freeway back to Taipei from there. It made for a late finish to a great day. 感謝亮亮