Wow!

Posted by on 17, Feb 2020 in 2020 - Winter in Taiwan, Taiwan, Tilly the Tandem

Wow!

Leaving the glitzy second city behind, (slowly) we had my front bag support snap off the handlebar on one of the numerous bumps. And that dear reader is why you bring tonnes of elastic cables and cable ties with you! A few minutes later we had some cable ties and the elastic cable holding the mount and my front bag securely in place and proceeded southwards towards the Tropics .

The few days cycling from Taichung was some of the most stunningly beautiful we have ever done. Not for the scenery, but just for the things we saw along the way.

The temples are exquisite and we pass on average 1 every kilometer. You just can’t stop at them all but they are all so intricate and beautiful you’d not be disappointed if you did.

Our first stop out of Taichung was Changhua where after a quick coffee where the punters came out to help us lift Tilly (fully loaded) into a parking spot, we headed up to the Buddha on the hill. This was another nasty hill, and as we went up a teenager was hurtling down tried to do a backwheel skid and ended up slamming himself into the steel crash barrier. He didn’t get up in a hurry but was alive – and it was that bad an impact we did for a moment think he may not have been – but the locals were quickly on the scene looking after him so we headed on upwards with Linda telling me to make sure I used the brakes on the way down.

We reached the top under pedal power much to the amazement of the cycle racers who were taking their photo at the top. More pointing thumbs up and general wows! ensued.

The Buddha looks out over the plains before him and is a popular attraction having various market stalls around the temple where we sat for lunch trying to forget the poor lad on the bike.

The evening Hotel was right on the edge of Yuanlin and would you believe within walking distance of a cocktail bar and a vege Chinese restaurant. Not a food stall or someones front room but a proper tables and chairs posh restaurant. And oddly enough this area of the town had 4 other really posh restaurants. The steak house even had LCD monitors on the tables to order your food from. We’ve seen very few western style (think Pizza Express setup) restaurants. Generally the tables are on the street or the footpath or if they are inside its more of a greasy spoon style setup with Formica tables and plastic chairs. So finding these restaurants was a real surprise. The town doesn’t look different from any other we’ve passed through and we’ve remarked that as we cycle through the centre of each city it would be impossible for us to distinguish between any of them. They are all wide streets, loads of cars and mopeds and millions of neon signs and food stalls, small shops and traffic lights and great fun to cycle or walk through. But we thoroughly enjoyed our Cocktail and Vege meal.

The next day we were happily cycling along when in the distance we spotted an enormous statue poking up on the horizon. We stopped and were discussing whether we should head off to investigate when an elderly lady (always dressed in pink here) on a bicycle with her bucket strapped to the back passed us and her knife fell out. So we picked her knife up and hurtled after her to return the knife and were rewarded with an enormous smile and plenty of Chinese chatter which I interpreted as “That Borris Johnson’s a right tosser, and thanks for picking my knife up” and we headed off to see the statues.

Sadly these were closed and we couldn’t really see them but the temple opposite was breath taking. I’m really running out of ways to describe these places they are just amazingly beautiful.

We sat peacefully watching the world go by and admiring the temple then plodded on. Surely they can’t be better than that?

Of course they can… As we cycled down a rather forgotten river cycle path that seemed to have been abandoned many years ago and would not look out of place in zombie apocalypse movie, in the haze on the horizon we saw three more statues. A quick replot and we tracked them down to a tiny sleepy village no bigger than Rackheath with a temple with these three 25m Samurai like figures perched on the top. We sat and had our banana and drink break gazing at them and wondering how they kept them so clean!

We were still talking about these figures when we rolled into Beigang who decided to one up the statue town by building a simply ginormous temple with the most monumental Hall clad in gold we’ve ever seen. It was so beautiful it almost made me weep. Honestly, I’ve rarely seen anything like it. Pull yourself together man!

The town itself was big and had another huge temple in the centre at the end of one of the oldest streets in the country lined with shops selling the local delicacies which seemed to be mainly pastries. We strolled through this pedestrianised street with Tilly causing much waving and smiling and left the town to head toward our hotel for the night. But our sites were not over for the day. The Southern Palace Museum, though closed for the day, houses many of the ancient Chinese treasures and is brand new and built in a landscaped Park which was open so we got to cycle around the building and admire it from every angle. It’s quite something. And that was it for the day!

That has to be our best cycle day ever and we just so enjoyed it. Easy cycling, great weather, wonderful temples and such a warm and welcoming people.

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