|On the train to Douliu|
|Waiting for our train at Kaoshiung station|
|Beef noodle for lunch|
|All ready for Xiluo, powered by "Moo Moo"|
|Detouring to Hedi South Road which runs parallel to the waterways|
|Beautiful ride in the park|
|Take ONE : Quiet countryside, Hedi South Road|
|Take TWO : Quiet countryside, Hedi South Road|
|Take THREE : Quiet countryside, Hedi South Road|
|Floats in commemoration of Mazu's birthday|
|Sedan chair to carry Mazu to the coast|
|Procession on Xiluo bridge|
|Procession on Xiluo bridge|
|Quieter side of the river|
|Joining the procession|
|Grinding to a halt|
The complimentary breakfast provided at the basement of J Hotel was sufficient but somewhat boring. There were the dumplings, bland fried noodles, congee….. all standard Taiwanese fare except for the toast and soggy scrambled eggs.
Checking out to catch our 9.32 am train, CL and VT were slapped with a NT500 fine for loss of key card. They suspected it could have fallen out from CL’s back pocket the day before as nobody could find it even after a thorough room search!
At the train station, we were pleasantly surprised the same ticketing officer was on duty again. Yesterday, he had diligently wrote down the train’s departure and arrival time including the train number. This morning, he gave us clear directions to Platform 4 where the train will be arriving. In fact, a helpful cleaning lady also pointed out the stairs and lifts to us as well!!!
|Our bike friendly train...always take the last coach!|
|Bike docking areas located on the last coach|
|Human docking area ???|
It was not easy to get to Platform 4. We had to take turns squeezing bikes and selves into the tiny elevator. After passing the turnstiles, we had to take a long walk along the elevated walkway before going down to the ground level again. Somehow frustrated with the tiny lifts, few of us gave up and carried our bikes down instead.
The trains in Taiwan were very precise. We arrived in Douliu, right on the dot!
Looking for Well Live Hotel was something else! Despite google leading us to the same location twice, we were convinced we were at the wrong place. No doubt, none of us could read Chinese but it was not difficult to discern the daily and hourly rates flashing on the LCD screen!!! Besides, the small English print of, “Fun House Hotel” raised our scepticism!
After landing ourselves at the same spot thrice, Sue went in to enquire. She came out beaming but not for long as it was still too early for check ins. We supposed, after a long tryst, the guests would prefer to sleep in the next morning!!! Arranging to leave our bags in their messy store room, we left for lunch and then Xiluo.
Riding along Route 1 for Xiluo, the beetlenut booths along the busy highway kept us alert. The competing sales factor is NOT the beetlenut but the scantily clad ladies by the full glass windows!!! Age and looks does not matter. Vulgarity takes precedent.
Approaching Xiluo bridge, a procession was taking place. The whole road was jammed up with floats and pilgrims numbered by the thousands. Nicknamed the Mazu March Mania, the 9 days celebration is observed all over Taiwan to commemorate Mazu (translated to mean mother ancestor) the Goddess of the Sea’s birthday.
It was a beautiful day, sunny and windy at best. Food trucks parked by the river bank lent an excuse to stop which we did, to get away from the crowd. When we finally realized there was no end to the procession, we joined in, grinding to a push bike status.
Once on the other side of the river bank, we followed Route 145 but turned off just before Shuiwei town to avoid the crowd who were heading there. Following a narrow farm road which ran alongside the river, we decided to return to the other side via the new bridge. Midway, we bumped into local cyclists, who guided us to Route 154.
Blessed with a strong tailwind, the ride back to Douliu was an easy cruise. We passed endless green fields of paddy, villages and even a levee.
Little did we realized, the blustery wind was bringing in the rain clouds for it started pouring while we were dining over hotpots that night. It did little to dampen our spirits for we went shopping despite the rain, buying disposable raincoats but never having to use them!!!
Photo credits :
Train from Kaoshiung to Douliu
Ticket costs per person : NT203
Ticket costs per bike : NT203
Foldable bike : FREE
Time : 9.32am to 12.12 pm
Last coach : Bikes and Passengers
For more information on Mazu celebrations : http://travel.cnn.com/taiwan-mazu-religious-festival-pilgrimage-226351/
Well Live Hotel, Douliu
|Hotel with hourly rate!|