Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wet, wet, wet in Taipei

Taipei 101 tallest building in the world once    Pic - Roland

The wet view, day after day after day from our hotel room window   Pic - Roland

Pic - Roland

Pic - Nick Wong

We all LOVE Taiwoon (the guy in the pic) too!  Pic - Roland

Delicious Mochi    Pic - Roland 

Taiwanese comfort food   Pic - Roland

Pic - TW

Small gift of our big appreciation to George & Cindy for making this happen!

It rained the whole night and it rained the whole day. In fact, it kept raining for 3 days until we left for the airport. Despite the wet, cold and miserable weather, we made the best of our stay in exciting Taipei.

Pic - Roland

Our hotel was a nice 25 min walk by the river from the Danshui Train Station and that meant we could explore the city as we liked, at least the indoor attractions.

The first day our bus came to take us to a famous tourist spot - Jiufen. This is named after 9 families who used to stay in their village in the 1800s in the Qing Dynasty and they always ordered 9 portions thus the name Jiufen. It was not until a movie shot there in the 1989 made the place famous.

It was pouring when we arrived at Jiufen and and loads of tourists were there as well. Big crowds are not exactly my cup of tea but this place is fascinating enough with plenty of quaint shops selling curious, souvenirs and all types of food.

Papa Mike treated us to fantastic fried prawn balls and our mission was to try everything possible. Of course we did not succeed but we did have a taste of some very interesting food.

Pic - TW

I had grilled snails which I still can't decide if I enjoyed that. The shaved peanuts crepe with ice cream was delicious.

Pic - CW

The big bowl of soupy beef noodles was of course satisfying on a cold and rainy day and we had traditional steamed radish cakes which was mildly enjoyable.

Pic - Esther

The other thing on our agenda is to visit bike shops and we attacked 4 shops including the Bike Friday store in Taipei. They had custom made Tikit Front Derailleur hanger which we grabbed! Celia got Pearl Izumi bike shorts for only US$50 on sale and together, we must have single handedly lifted the Taiwanese economy in one evening at least in the Merida bike shop.

Pic - CW

We took a trip to see Taipei 101, once the world's tallest building but it was pointless to go up to the viewing tower as the weather was really bad. It is a huge shopping centre filled with the best upmarket stores equal to that of London and New York. I had fun window shopping.

A real treat was discovering that one section of the Taiwan International Bike Show was nearby so we went to check that out. Its easy to get all biked out with so many bikes, parts and accessories on display. My interest in e-bikes were spurred when I tried the latest pedal assist one from Europe.

It was great to discover that there is a free shuttle to the main section of the Bike Show and we went to check it out and collect our free gifts - much appreciated bike scarfs! The displays here were numerous until I was seriously sick of bicycles.

One fantastic buy was a beautiful black pannier bag from New Looxs. This is a company from Holland that had fashionable bags of all shapes, colours and sizes that can fit onto bike racks. We spent quite a bit of time looking at their products and ended up parting with our money with great delight!

Needless to say, we enjoyed the fantastic food Taipei had to offer. We had to go to Shilin Night Market and sampled the famous fried chicken steak. It was a huge portion and greedy me should have shared it. There are over 500 stalls so staying here every night for a year is just about enough time to try everything.

Joshua and I got tired of waiting for the rain to stop and did a spot of wet riding to the Fisherman's Wharf, about 4km north of our hotel. Yes, it may be cold and wet and we had great fun nevertheless. It was a pity we could not cycle more around Taipei's excellent bike network and thus, this begs for a return trip.

We stopped for a second breakfast at a local soya milk shop and were so impressed with the kindness of the owner who gave us more food. She wanted us to try another kind of local bread and gave it to us free of charge! Popping into another bike shop near our hotel saw the whole gang there. The poor owner was visibly overwhelmed by us however the constant ringing of his cash register, was something he could not complain.

Pic - CW

It was sad to finally pack and leave for the airport. But we dropped Roland and May first to the hi speed bullet train as they extended their holiday south to Kaoshing. One challenge we had was whether we could check in all our stuff as we were all overloaded due to excessive shopping. Fortunately, Desmond and Shelby had some spare and so did George (he left his Moulton for extra special modifications) and everyone managed to board properly.

Pic - CW

The 8 days we spent in Taiwan were surreal and I couldn't believe it went by so quickly. This was a cycling adventure of a lifetime, experiencing so much and for the first time, high altitude riding for me. Flying downhill at ultra high speeds with numerous hair pin curves is every cyclist's wish come through, and for a good 50km! Being claustrophobic, going through the tunnels will always be a challenge for me but it gets better with practice, so they say. Too many highlights to mention but perhaps the key one I will not forget is making new friends and sharing a special camaraderie as we suffered and enjoyed scaling Wulin and descending quickly together. Add in the fun, laughter and all the food we shared, this is what it means to be truly blessed.

Taiwan, we will be back hopefully in Dec!

Pic - TW

Update 4 Apr  - A presentation evening of the Taiwan ride will be held on 14 Apr at 7pm in Singapore. Should be fun with about 40 folks!

1 comment:

Unknown said...


Can you tell me the name of the bike shop in taipei and the direction to go there?