Think you could bike 600+ miles around the coast of Taiwan? Owen, one of the winners of our Taiwan Fly N’ Bike contest, had the chance to do just that—and, despite the wind and the rain, left calling it the trip of a lifetime. Read his story of his time cycling through Taiwan!
It was 5AM, but I was still laying awake in bed. I was in Taipei, Taiwan and still jet lagged from my flight from San Francisco yesterday. Waiting before me was a week-long adventure of cycling around Taiwan. I had never done anything like this before, but I was so excited for everything to begin!
After a quick debriefing the night before, we woke up to this amazing view on our first day. Three of our tour guides met up with us as we got ready to head out for our first mile.
Our ride started out in Taipei, coursing along a river that snaked through the city. After about 30 kilometers, we took a breather to relax at a port and snap some pictures. Our next stop? Miaoli! We packed up all the bikes atop the van and got ready to head out to Miaoli.
Then it was time to climb! We biked through the hills of the Sanyi township just as the sun was setting over the beautiful countryside. It was the end of a pretty substantial first day of biking. We were grateful for a quick break for snacks and soda before our final descent.
The next day we flew to Penghu, an island off the coast of Taiwan where we would spend the next four days. A typhoon was passing nearby so it was incredibly windy. We spent much of our time in Penghu battling the strong winds of the island.
As we sailed to an island just off the coast of Penghu, the winds rocked the boat so strongly I worried the boat might tip! (No worries though. Just as soon as I had gotten my sea legs we docked quickly and safely.)
We then embarked on a beautiful climb, taking us to the summit of a hill that overlooked the entire island we were on. All the winds and the climbing are worth it when you get to have views like these!
Once we had finished our biking for the day, we took another boat back to mainland Penghu so that we could settled into our new hotel. Our tour guides joined us for dinner and then we had time to explore the area near our hotel. We ended up finding some pretty cool spots, like this really neat tunnel that had lights and music.
Of course: more biking! By now, it was clear why there were so many windmills on this island: it was SO windy! The wind quickly became one of the most memorable parts of my visit to Penghu. Even so, we made slow and steady progress towards the east side of the island.
We stopped by a great place for lunch and then it was back on the bikes for the rest of our third day. Along the way, we biked past some of the most beautiful bays in the world and even had time for a little hiking detour. Then, back to our bikes until we arrived at a military base at the tip of the island.
We woke up early as usual and ate breakfast at the hotel. (I was beginning to really appreciate the daily hotel breakfast: a mantou and soymilk combo). Today, we had plenty of time for exploring the coast as we biked. We also got to take a break and watch the waves from a lookout point in Magong.
Lunch was at an Italian restaurant today: a small break from all the delicious seafood we’d been eating all week. Plus, it was amazing to all devour a bowl of onion rings, espeically after all the biking!
One of my favorite parts of the entire trip was visiting the beaches. They were all lined with beautiful fine sand. And, despite the rain and wind, we went swimming anyways. It was a blast!
We finished off our fourth day by exploring some old buildings in the Husi township. Each of the houses was beautiful in its own way. It was great to get to spend some time learning more about the history of the island, too.
Today was our last day of biking on the trip (and also the windiest and rainiest). Because of the timing of the trip, we saw endless political ads, posters and billboards as we rode. Many of the candidates even had trucks with signs on the side and loudspeakers mounted on top that would play a short ad. It was quite the sight!
Thankfully, after another long day, dinner tonight was at a fancy banquet hall. All of the dishes were so beautiful. Afterwards, we continued to explore the area around our hotel before finally getting some rest.
We packed up our stuff and left the hotel early in the morning. Before we left, we were hoping to see a famous Penghu landmark that happens at certain parts of low tide. The low tide reveals a natural rocky path between the shore and another island! Unfortunately, it was too windy to see it, so instead Andrew taught us all a new dance. It was still pretty fun! After a morning of historical sightseeing around Penghu, we flew back to Taipei. It was hard to believe our trip was already almost over!
That night, we went to Shilin night market and got to try so many amazing foods. There was a stand for everything you can imagine! One of my favorites was a stand with deep fried balls filled with custard. The perfect late-night snack!
It was our final day in Taiwan as a group and we did touristy activities all day. Two places we got to visit were the National Palace Museum and Taipei 101. Taipei 101 used to be the tallest building in the world. We took a speedy elevator down to the ground floor of the Taipei Tower to enjoy some dumplings from the famous Din Tai Fung. They were amazing.
After lunch, it was already time to say our goodbyes. The end of an amazing trip with a great group of people!
I spent an extra day in Taiwan spending time with relatives and enjoying some delicious food in Taipei. I even got to visit another night market in Taoyuan. I also spent some time unicycling: first with some kids in a unicycle camp, where I taught them how to do some tricks (some of them were teaching me). Then I met up with a riding buddy I had met while riding in the Netherlands! We went to an obstacle course park, which was a lot of fun.
Looking back, I can honestly say this was the trip of a lifetime. I loved the entire week and it was one of the most rewarding and satisfying things I have done. I’m so thankful for the generosity of StudentUniverse and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, especially for their help arranging the trip and making travel so easy!