Sunday, October 02, 2011

Kenting Once Again

This weekend I went down to Kenting yet again for riding with a friend visiting from Shanghai. It's the seventh time I've visited the peninsula this year and I am scheduled for one more trip there in November! Nevertheless, though the trip was cut short by the typhoon, it was still lotsa fun.

I was supposed to ride with my friend Paul and his friend George, whom I had never met. But Paul got sick, so leaving him to suffer at the Kenting Training hostel in Hengchun (highly recommended, $1200 for a double, $1600 for a four-person room, clean and comfy), George and I headed out. As you can see, George is totally old school, with a tough old steel bike and leather shoes custom made here 30 years ago.

The day started with lovely blue skies but quickly deteriorated.

Stopping at the village just before 199 and 199A split, we ran into a funeral. Here a musician strides past.

There I made friends with an Indonesian maid who was working up there and had been in Taiwan a year. All over the back roads of Taiwan you meet such people.

Some serious customers in the mountains.

When we got down to the ocean after the wonderful descent on 199A -- George was a monster going downhill, as befits the former fighter pilot and cycle racer that he was -- things started to get a bit grim. The gray skies and booming surf completely transformed the coast into a desolation of stirring beauty.

It was end-of-the-world empty that day. The wind was fearsome and the waves pounded. Like riding through The Road

We ducked inside the restaurant at Gangtzai as the skies opened and stripped off all our soaking clothes except our biking shorts. The owner was kind enough to run them through the rinse machine for us, so when the rain cleared our clothes were almost dry. Outside it poured and poured. The highlight of the trip occurred just before this: as we entered the port, a small troop of wild deer crossed the road in front of us. Wonderful.

Another awe-inspiring moment occurred as we climbed 200, just short of Fenshuiling. I spotted a giant wolf spider running across the road. Realizing that the only reason a spider runs like that is because it's the prey, I stopped and dug for my camera. I missed the moment when the wasp stung it. In this photo the spider has already been paralyzed and the wasp is now crawling over its body looking for leverage to move it. This link will take you to video of the moment right after the spider has been stung but before it stops moving, while this link has video of the wasp dragging the spider across the road. Awesome.

Here's how she got around the problem of the irregular, rock-covered surface by the edge of the road: she dangled the wasp over the edge and then walked sideways along the edge of the ditch.

After that we rocketed downhill through Manjhou township, just cleansed by the rain.

Manjhou was as green as could be.

Great views in this lovely stretch of downhill.

Water buffalo of the Serengeti.

George powers home.

Hengchun at night wasn't exactly hoppin', but this girl was doing her best to energize the town.

By nightfall we linked up with Paul. Since the ability to consume beer is the minimal indicator of good health, it is clear that Paul had recovered robustly. A great time despite the untimely intervention of the typhoon.
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OzSoapbox said...

Yeah how crap is this rain hey. Pretty much ruined everyone's weekend I'd imagine.

I like the steel bike and dig the leather shoes.. but what on Earth is going on there with Georgey boy's socks?!

D said...

I didn't even know wasps could walk, much less walk backwards. Neat.

Anonymous said...

Not having been on long rides for at least 20 years, I was almost dying riding through the last few kilometers. Socks are supposed to be mostly white which turned gray in the rain.
This part of the island planned for the ride is a part I had never ridden though before, too bad we could not ride the whole 3 days as planned.