Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Tour de Hualien - Team Taylor style (Taiwan Part VI)...

And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. Okay, so first off - ANNOUNCEMENT - there will be NO BLOG until Thursday, 11 August. Why, you ask? Because Team Taylor is going tribal and heading to.....BORNEO, BABY!!!!! This is Malaysia's final shot to redeem itself after the Penang debacle - I'm counting on the orangutans and the mountains to come up BIG on this one. Okay, but enough of that - it's time to talk Taiwan...
So Team Taylor rose for brekkie at the hotel again (always included, and it featured this EXTRA AWESOME raddish cake that was LIFE CHANGING - seriously, throw some chili oil on that puppy and you've got a recipe for success. After brekkie, we hopped a cab (which is ALWAYS hilarious in this city considering that NONE of them speak a single WORD of English, so if you can't point to it on a map with Traditional Chinese characters, odds are you ain't goin' ANYWHERE) for the Park View Hotel, as we'd heard this was the best place to rent bikes. We'd never seriously toyed with walking, but it's a good think we didn't, as this place was ALMOST IN JAPAN. But after 10 minutes of driving, we arrived at one of the NICEST hotels in the country.
This place was HUGE. There was a massive outdoor play area, a spa, a huge restaurant, and the tower itself was quite ginormous. We ordered bikes for 4 hours, at which point they escorted us down to the depths of the car park basement. I wasn't sure if they were going to shoot us or not, but I was pretty sure that they were going to give us DONKEY TRASH bikes for the day. However, as the Taiwanese love their biking, this was NOT to be the case. Instead, they whip out CARBON FIBER BIKES with shimano gears and Rock Shox suspension that would keep you steady riding down the Grand Canyon! I could pick these puppies up like it was nothing - SO COOL.
And so Team Taylor set off for a 4 mile bike ride that turned out to be FAAAAAANTASTIC. True to the book's warning, there was definitely a long stretch (call it 4-6K) of industrial plants, but the rest of it was AMAZING, and given that it was a Wednesday, we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. The path was wide, and the views along the beach were simply EPIC. Oh, and check out the bike path dude - gotta love the rice paddy hat he's rockin' - who needs a helmet? The only detractor was the heat, as it was 37 C (which is 97 Fahrenheit) with PLENTY of humidity and not a cloud in the sky. We were sweating like rabid banshees, but as we looked like part of the US Post Office Team during their doping days cruising along the pike, all was well. We were chugging the water, and at one point I did have to stop for a pair of honey pork sausages (because meat on a stick is so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud (peppy cheekies). Jenny also discovered a GREAT energy drink here that we couldn't pronounce, so we just called it "Pokey Sweat," which is pretty much what the letters quasi-resembled.
We also rode a bit of the local river trail, getting lost on the ride home (with the Bull throwing one of his usual temper tantrums, for the record) before cutting it back to get to the Park View Hotel. And do you want to guess where we stopped on the ride back? That's right, baby - THE LOCAL 7-ELEVEN, where we BOUGHT OUT THE WAILUA WHEAT. It was funny, because I bought the 7 left, and the guy was motioning to me that I should go back to the beer cooler. I didn't understand, but after the 97th finger point, I figured he was saying "You can only buy six," but when I started walking he cut me off, marched back with me, and grabbed 2 more. Then it hit me - Buy 7, get 2 free! (seriously, what the hell kind of promotion is that?) They actually did have 1 more Wailua, but they also had a new Golden Ale, and so I tried that one. In a word - Yuuuuuuumaaaaaaaaaah.
We did get lost going back to the Park View (thank goodness it's about 500 feet taller than every other building around it, but we managed to get back there in the end and hail a cab home, at which point we set to some more cards and brewskis. It was then out for dinner, where the Bull and Striker went out on a MISSION to get into the fabled restaurant named "Taiwanese Cuisine." And whilst the menu was TOTALLY in Chinese and they really didn't understand a word we said the entire time, the bowls of noodles were the size of my TORSO and absolutely delicious. 3 mains and 2 drinks? TEN US DOLLARS. Again - this place is a small, foreign language version of Heaven.
It was then back to the house to pack and call it a night, which Jenny was able to do very quickly. Not the Bull, however, especially when TWO MORE EARTHQUAKES came through. Granted, they were both very slight, but given that the average was now more than 1 per evening, I felt it time to roll. And in case anyone's scoring, I just watched the news tonight and saw that a MASSIVE typhoon is heading there way, and whilst it will most likely make landfall in Shanghai, they will get PLENTY of rain.
I know that it's short, but the Bull's gotta pack for Borneo and it's already after 11. I will wrap Taiwan once I'm back - man, it feels like I just can't catch up these days!
That's all the news that's fit to print. Chat in a week!
Sam and Jenny

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