Day seven of my bicycle trip around Taiwan began with deep disappointment and ended in delight. I woke up in my hotel room on the main road leading into Budai 布袋 without a working smartphone. I tried to boot up but it was caught in a loop, resetting itself over and over again. Without a clock in the room I had no idea what time it was but figured there was no rush. There were at least three ferries plying the route to Penghu. Surely one of those ferries would sail in the afternoon.
On the sixth day of my round-the-island bicycle trip I set out across the Chianan plain, a desolate expanse of countryside littered with rice paddies, fish farms, salt pans, the occasional factory or industrial plant, and small, unremarkable settlements. My destination was Budai 布袋, a fishing town in Chiayi 嘉義, where I planned to catch a ferry to Penghu, a group of picturesque islands in the Taiwan Strait, the following day.