Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cycling Tainan: Uplands and Badlands

My friend Blair Hargreaves snapped these boars waiting for the inevitable end.

Another weekend, another bike ride. This one took us to the back roads of Tainan, including the gorgeous 175 and the strange Moon World, one of the few tropical badlands in the world. Short days, but super enjoyable. Click on READ MORE to see moar pix and the route notes for day 1 and day 2...

DAY 1 ROUTE NOTES: We took the train to Houbi and then rode the 172A straight out of the train station to Baihe. Swinging around Baihe, we picked up the 172 and went up to Guanziling, the hot springs tourist trap. Guanziling has lunch or breakfast, depending on your timing. At Guanziling we picked up the 175 and took it to the 174. Be sure to do this stretch of road on a clear day as the views out over the surrounding hills and the foothills down to Tainan are breathtaking. Out of Guanziling it is known as the Dongshan Coffee Road, and there are coffee shops, along with a few restaurants, everywhere. It is 18 kms to Henglu where you pick up the 174 and go over the ridge to Yujing. On the other side of the ridge we picked up the 183, the Zhaofeng Industry road. That turn is tricky -- you turn off the 174 and immediately there is a triple intersection. Take the rightmost intersection which is the largest road. A pleasant ride through farms at first, then villages, it takes you to the 84 and Yujing, where we overnighted.

Our trip began at tiny Houbi Station in Tainan.

There we picked up the 172A (172) directly across from the station, and headed to Baihe and the 172.

One after another, the road to Baihe and past it to Guanziling is lined with free range chicken places. Few other restaurants are available. We stopped at 7-11 instead.

In Baihe you swing around town and pick up the 172. The way to Guanziling is lovely.

Guanziling is a tourist trap organized around hot springs.

The climbs through town are steep but the views at the top are excellent, the first of a series of ever more gorgeous scenes.

My mistress, resting.

Outside of Guanziling the Dongshan Coffee Road begins. Coffee shops everywhere, and coffee trees dotting the slopes.

We stopped for lunch here. As we ate, several of the diners came up and gave us some oranges. We thanked them. Moments later a man came up and told us about his trip to Scotland, and gave us some oranges. As I went to pay the bill, the boss offered me a pile of oranges. Yes, it is orange season there now. We feasted.

Coffee beans drying in a temple.

On a clear day, you can see forever.

Coffee beans drying against gorgeous views.

Resting at Henglu where the 175 ends. Here we hung a left and headed over to the ridge to Yujing on the 174.

Every corner with a view.

The 183 (Zhaofeng Industry Road). This road runs parallel to the 3, but is almost completely untrafficked. A couple of short steep climbs, but worth the effort. Below and center are Dragon Fruit farms, while on the left in the shadows is the road.

Resting on the 183 with riding buddy Mike Surly in light blue, and Blair Hargreaves in dark blue.

In Yujing we visited the Tapani Incident Memorial to the 1915 revolt, the last major Han revolt against the Japanese.

The rebel leader's announcement of the Da Ming Mercy Kingdom. See Paul Katz's excellent When Valleys Turned Blood Red: The Ta-pa-ni Incident in Colonial Taiwan for the story of the revolt.

The memorial was right next our bed and breakfast, the very clean and affordable 芒果物語(No. 16, Minsheng Road, Yujing District, Tainan City, 714). Recommended. We paid $2000 for three people in a room with two large beds and a mattress on the floor. 7-11 and the town center are right nearby.

DAY 2 ROUTE NOTES: We headed south on the 20 out of Yujing into the Moon World, the badlands area. From there we turned left (east) onto the 20C and then south to the 168, which is presently not marked due to road work. The road immediately became a pleasant two lane pavement drifting up and down through farms. At the church we turned left onto the 171, and things became more desolate. We followed that to the 122, one of the best stretches of low altitude road on the island. Just before it reaches the 122 the 171 begins climbing steeply at first, then onto more easily doable switchbacks. The turn onto the 122 is brutally steep, but at the top it levels off as it runs along the ridge. The views over the badlands on one side and the valley around Neimen and the mountains behind it are stunning. I walked this stretch, not because it was hard, but because it was easy and lovely. Highly recommended, it vaulted immediately to my top ten list. The downhill on the 167-1 is brutally steep, and the 122 is much easier from the north than the south. After we left the 167-1 we got on the 182 and went back to Guanmiao and the HSR to home.

On day 2 we were up at dawn and on the road by 7. Mike, very much a dog lover, greets a friend.

Morning over the moon world.

The turn to the 168. This road is popular with cyclists out of Tainan, which meant that it is not difficult at all.

In case you need to rest by the side of the road.

The church and the turn to the 171.

The farms gave way to more desolate land.

Blair grabs an image.

Someone was taking care of six cats here at this overview pavilion. The map was great -- no road numbers of course.

The badlands rise along numerous streams.

Do not arbitrarily farm this land. Make sure you have a definable reason.

Matou Overlook on the 171

We had a lot of fun talking with these friendly women.


Ancient one, probably a sacred tree once.

The turn. Head right here.

Mike explains the route to Blair.

Blair rests on one of the switchbacks below the 122. The opening ramp is steep but after that the climbs are not difficult.

The higher we went, the better the views.

Motorcyclists taking a break.

Getting there.....

Finally, the 122. Brutally steep opening ramp, but after that it is not difficult.

On the west side were the badlands.

On the east, the mountains.

Blair checks his camera.

On a clear day it would be amazing. It was amazing anyway...

Badlands, with one of the many abandoned restaurants in the area adding atmosphere.

Mike takes a break with Mr Brown coffee. Some of the restaurants were open and selling stuff.

"Yum! These passion fruits are really good!" "Here, have another!" He sent me on my way with four more.

A lovely day. We finally ran out of ridge, and slipped off it to hit the 167-1 and roll down it to the 182 and the HSR station in Tainan.

I'll be back... hopefully with you...

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1 comment:

StefanMuc said...

Looks like a great tour. How do you plan these trips, how do you pick the tours?