Sunday, 17 March 2019

LTF Spring Ride (14-26 April 2018), Day 2 : Kaoshiung to Douliu and Xiluo

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!
Collapsible seats 
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.

Duck farm
Garlic sale along the mainroad
Friendly stall owner

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.

Hangover!

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 :
KC


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




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Well Live Hotel, Douliu

Hotel with hourly rate!
Foursome?
TV with up to 3 free porn channels!!!
Amenities
Concealed door by the staircase
Hidden passage to other rooms
Hidden passage to other rooms
Hidden passage to other rooms









Sunday, 10 March 2019

LTF Spring Ride (14-26 April 2018), Day 1 : Kaoshiung

Sizihwan Bay Tunnel
The great sent off by Chief Alvin and YC
Kaoshiung airport
Riding along the airport
Riding along the airport
Junction to turn
Cheese!
With the local cyclists
At the elevated pass
At the elevated pass
KC was so determined to get this shot, he got us worried!
By the harbour
Love River
Love River
Oceanside Cafe
Oceanside Cafe
View from Oceanside Cafe
Streetview along Oceanside Cafe
Dumplings before dinner
Wantan mee after oyster omelette and noodles



Arriving at Kaoshiung International Airport, we were taken aback by its balmy weather. Expecting a cool spring morning, we were surprised when sweat started oozing out our pores as we went about assembling our bikes outside.

Bike set up
The damsel took more than 20 minutes to unpack and repack before she could begin setting up her bike!!!
These pros had to help her!

Rolling out after a long delay, it was difficult to adjust ourselves to riding on the right side of the road. We had to recondition ourselves! Time after time, we got disorientated after maneuvering a turn.

Note the white box on the road

Luckily for us, KC was around, guiding us to stop at the little white box at major junctions. Painted white on the road, the box serves as a stopping point for all 2 wheeled vehicles.



Taking the route suggested by YC, we rode to our hotel via the elevated pass for both pedestrians and cyclists, whilst taking on the view of The Eye of Kaoshiung and 85 Sky Tower. Later, we rode close to the wharf before diverting to a more scenic view along the Love River. When it became necessary, we braved the busy Jiuru Road 3 to arrive at the doorsteps to our hotel.

It was way past lunch hour when we docked at J Hotel. All of us were famished except for Christoph who was seen cradling a take-away coffee in his hands. He could have snacked as well, arriving at the hotel by train with lots of time to spare. Time which he chose to spend on the phone instead of collecting his rented bike from the nearby Giant bike shop as instructed!!!


After dumping our heavy weights by the reception desk, we went out in search of food. This we quickly found, a stone’s throw away from base and midway to the train station. A shop specializing in take-away lunch boxes, they come in a few selections of pork ribs, fried chicken and others; accompanied by rice and 3 side dishes of choice. As the food was piping hot and it was our first meal in Taiwan, we relished every bite!

E Bike
Pedal powered bike

When we were done nursing our hunger, we proceeded to the train station to get our tickets for Douliu. Then, we crossed the road to Giant Bike Shop to collect Christoph’s bike before proceeding to the lanes behind to buy our Taiwanese simcards. It was all long but necessary procedures to get us started on our holiday!


Returning to the hotel for a quick check in, we began our Taiwan tour, riding out to Oceanside Café for a sunset view of the ocean. It was a scenic ride passing by the ferry terminal and lighthouse. However, to get to the cherry of the cake, we had to take a long steep climb, passing by the university campus and hillside farms!


The café itself, has a wide verandah on the rear portion. The best views were all taken up when we arrived hence we were just thankful to secure a table to ourselves. Anyway, we weren’t on any romantic moods and staring at a blurry horizon with a few ships can get quite boring after awhile!


On our way back, we made a detour to Sizihwan Bay Tunnel, a historical monument built in 1927 by the Japanese. This tunnel connects to National University of Sun Yat Sen and was once used as a shelter from US bomb raids during WWII.

Entering the city center, it was total chaos. A race event was ongoing and one lane was totally blocked off for runners. This created a bumper to bumper traffic.


When we did escape the throngs of sweat infused flesh, we bumped into a glitzy, live, stage performance. The loud song rendition in hokkien was another call for escape but KC was mesmerized by the singer in cabaret glitter and feathers! Turning back, he had disappeared amongst the small crowd of bored old men and had to be plucked away!




That evening, after savouring Kaoshiung’s famous dumplings, we returned to Giant Bike Shop for a final tweak on Sue’s bike. Either that or she was totally smitten by the 2 young technicians!



At the oyster omelette and noodles shop
Desserts before calling it a day


Later, we had to satiate her “hunger”, offering her food instead of “young flesh”! We hit Rehe St and found the place filled with endless street food. One thing for sure though, the food offered on the streets kept repeating itself…oyster omelette, oyster noodles, wantan mee, fried foods… oyster omelette, oyster noodles, wantan mee, fried foods… oyster omelette, oyster noodles, wantan mee, fried foods.

That’s probably what lulled us to bed that night!!! Not sheep but food!!!

Rehe Street
Rehe Street




Lunch : NT500 for 6 pax 
Train tickets (Kaoshiung to Douli) : NT203 per passenger. Bicycles on board is charged the same rate
Sim card : NT500 for 2.2 GB


Photo courtesy :

1. KC
2. Sue