South Taiwan Ride 2015: Tainan to Pingtung City

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Riding through the countryside in southern . This looks remarkably like the area near where I grew up.

Bicycle touring is one of the best ways to experience . I don’t have an opportunity to go touring as much as I’d like but managed to find some time last year, in June of 2015, to embark upon a multi-day bicycle trip around southern . My intention was to cover some of the same territory that I had rushed through on my first bicycle trip down south in 2013. I ended up racing a typhoon from to that year—so the chance to explore the backroads of at a more relaxed pace really appealed to me. I started my journey in , my favourite city in , and cycled through to , putting about 70 kilometers behind me. Gathered here are some photos from the first day of this trip, continued here.

South Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City

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Moody skies over a market in downtown Pingtung City.

One of the pleasures of bicycle touring in Taiwan is the freedom to change plans on impulse. On my second day of a trip down south in June 2015, having previously cycled across Kaohsiung from Tainan, I opted to hang out and see more of . A dire weather forecast calling for bouts of torrential rain had already introduced some uncertainty but I was also curious about this city of 200,000, about which almost nothing is written in English. Finding an interesting place to stay sealed the deal—and so I checked out of a grimy hotel near the train station after breakfast, moved my stuff to the new place, and spent the day exploring the administrative center of , the southernmost division of .

South Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City to Fangliao

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A Tudigong 土地公 statue on the outskirts of .

After spending a day riding around Pingtung City I was ready to hit the road again. With no specific destination in mind—only an intention to head in the direction of , far to the south—I checked out of the vintage homestay I lodged at the previous night, stopped at Eske Place Coffee House for a delicious and healthy vegetarian breakfast, changed into cycling wear, and exited the city to the east. I knew almost nothing about where I was headed or what I might see on the third day of my south Taiwan ride in 2015. I only had one stop planned in advance: a hospital in rumoured to be . I didn’t know it at the time but I would spend almost the entire day riding through the historic Hakka belt of .

South Taiwan Ride 2015: Fangliao to Manzhou

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Metal fish in the sky: a monument to aquaculture on the outskirts of Fangliao.

Last summer I embarked upon a weeklong bicycle tour in the deep south of Taiwan. I began in , cycled through to , spent a day hanging out, and then continued on to , where the coastal plain narrows to a thin wedge between the mountains and the sea. There is only one road leading south from here—which meant I covered a lot of ground I had already seen while riding all around Taiwan in 2013. I didn’t mind repeating that beautiful stretch of coastline and, actually, I was looking forward to checking out some places I had breezed by on that first big tour, particularly in and .

South Taiwan Ride 2015: Manzhou to Dawu

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Riding through the remote valley of Manzhou in Pingtung, Taiwan.

My fifth day of riding around southern Taiwan in June 2015 delivered me to the most remote parts of the island’s 1,139 kilometer-long coastline. On the previous day I rode from , on the southwestern coast, around and into the foothills of the Central Mountain Range 中央山脈 to reach , one of the last places to find lodging before forging on to . I had already taken this route while riding all around Taiwan in 2013 so I was familiar with the territory, but that first tour was so rushed that I hadn’t been able to enjoy the scenery. (Actually, I had been outrunning a typhoon the last time I was here—but that’s a story not yet told on this blog.) This time around my intent was to take it slow and explore more of this obscure part of coastal .

South Taiwan Ride 2015: Dawu to Taitung City

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The vast Pacific Ocean from the east coast of Taiwan. Due east of here is Mexico.

My last big day of riding around south Taiwan in June 2015 began in , , with only about 55 kilometers to go before arriving in . I had been out in the sun far too much the previous day and was feeling rather sluggish and a bit sick so I didn’t end up taking any side trips into the mountains as I made my way north. Even so, the scenery was fantastic, and while I won’t have as much to write about this particular day of my trip, I have plenty of beautiful photographs to share.

South Taiwan Ride 2015: Taitung City

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The view looking northwest from Carp Mountain, Taitung City, across the alluvial plains toward the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan.

, the administrative capital of , was my final destination on a multi-day bicycle tour around southern in the summer of 2015. Previously I shared words and photos from every day on the road so this post will act as something of an epilogue. Start at the beginning or read the last chapter to get up to speed—or treat this as a singular post about some of what I saw in an extra day of exploration around the most remote major city on the Taiwanese mainland.