Taiwan by scooter!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Prillok, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. Prillok

    Prillok Wannabe adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Sweden
    I was not going to write a ride report about this but I've seen some amazing roads that I have to share.

    I'm renting a scooter in Taipei, I've got 2-3 weeks or so to go around the island, should be an easy cruise...

    Day 1, Short trip over to Yilan
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    Entering clouds at about 600m (2000ft) elevation
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    Yilan
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    Day 2, Yilan -> Lishan -> Taroko National Park
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    My Kymco 125cc piece of shit. Gonna name it Donkey.
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    Couple of hours later
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    Cold up here at 2000m (6560ft) elevation
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    Even these short detours at construction sites stress Donkeys suspension to the limit :D
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    2500m (8200ft) elevation, unlit tunnel. It was at this point I noticed my lights were broken.
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    Descending into Taroko national park, many roadworks.
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    Had to stop taking pictures after this and hurry down the mountain, it was getting really dark since I'd been riding all day and it was getting quite sketchy without lights. As dusk settled I put on my indicators so at least people could see me. As darkness fell it got rather terrifying as I could only see the white roadmarkers and the reflectors on roadsigns blinking yellow every second or so.
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    Celebratory still alive dinner. Only 7/11 was still open so had to settle for instant noodles.
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    Day 3, Spent a day looking around Taroko, this is Baiyang trail.
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    I'm staying at some form of catholic church hostel, it's swarming with half-starved cats and my bed is rock hard but it's only 400TWD ($13) a night.
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    Day 4, Heading up to Wuling pass, 3200m (10500ft) elevation.
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    The french built these for use as train bridges in Vietnam, when they lost Vietnam they were sold to Taiwan who put them up here.
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    Sadly this is where I had to turn around. The low oil light came on. First I thought it was broken since I checked yesterday evening and it was at ~75% but I stopped and it had indeed dropped to roughly 30% on the stick. Since it was another 1200m up to Wulan pass and then who knows how far to a mechanic I had to turn around or the engine would have blown for sure.
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    Managed to roll down the 60km (37 miles) to the nearest mechanic keeping the engine at either idle or off most of the way.
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    Changed the oil, bought a spare oil bottle. Donkey only holds 0.8l. Mechanic was unable to fix the light :(

    It's already afternoon so heading into Hualien for a place to stay.
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    There is an airforce base here, saw some F-CK-1A fighters coming in to land right above my hotel room and this C-130 Hercules as I drove into the city.
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    In Taiwan agoda gets you the best deals, only 1150TWD ($37) including breakfast.
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    Heading downtown, on foot since my light is broken.
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    I think I'm going to head down the coast tomorrow, going up that road yet again is not appealing and I think I can reach Wuling pass coming from the south-west instead. Taiwans highest road will have to be the finish on the trip.

    Bonus picture:
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    #1
    roadcapDen, Kyron, klaviator and 6 others like this.
  2. BShondeck

    BShondeck n00b Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2018
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    Looks pretty cool!
    #2
  3. Prillok

    Prillok Wannabe adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Sweden
    Thank you.

    Day 5, Leaving Hualien
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    Speed limits here are just ridiculous
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    You can roll up to any little food shack and have noodles or rice for no money at all. Don't expect them to speak much English but google translate will fix that for you and the very friendly locals will always be happy to see you. 50TWD ($1.60)
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    Passing the tropic of cancer
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    Sanxiantai nature preserve
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    It's just as annoying to cross as you'd expect
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    Stopped in Dulan for the night, a tiny village with a beach, a surf shop and two restaurants for westerners. Extremely tasty pizza. 380TWD ($12).
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    Bonus picture, trying to get money from an ATM is always interesting. This one just gave up and shut down when I put in my card.
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    #3
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  4. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Love this! I spent countless weeks over several decades in Taiwan on business, and always looked towards the mountainous coast with yearning, thinking what an awesome place that would be to ride! Whenever I would tell that to my Taiwanese associates, they would inevitably react with “to dangerous!”, but none of them ride. Wish Taiwan, and South Korea, would relax their restrictions on motorcycles on the expressways, and allow larger displacement bikes to ride, would make getting around so much easier. I think it would lead to a boom in moto tourism in both countries.

    Thanks for posting!
    #4
  5. Triple8

    Triple8 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    LOS ANGELES, CA
    thank you for visitng my country, hope you enjoy your stay, btw you can rent a better bike than scooter, and will give you less problem.
    #5
  6. Prillok

    Prillok Wannabe adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Sweden
    Day 6, Disaster!
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    Donkey is leaking oil and dead in the water. Pushed him to a local mechanic who spoke just enough English to say "engine very bad" and point to the engine. Yeah thanks, I know it's a piece of shit. I've lost all faith in this thing and it was cheaper to ship it back to Taipei (1850TWD, $60) than have it repaired so that's what I did.

    Stuck in Dulan for another night. Some burning man inspired hippies have taken over an old sugar factory and made an art market
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    Day 7, Bus to Taitung :(

    I love these little vegetarian buffet places. 70TWD ($2.3)
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    My hostel was very helpful and called several places here that rented scooters, only one would consider renting to a foreigner. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

    Bonus picture: are those exposed mains? Don't stick your fork in this!
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    Oh really? My internet research so far indicate that this is basically impossible for a foreigner here. I see proper bikes zoom past all the time but I don't really mind being on a scooter, there is a certain charm in driving what everyone else is driving.
    #6
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  7. Ironchef

    Ironchef Warren

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    75
    Location:
    Kitchen Stadium, Japan.
    Great to see someone else riding Taiwan. I had a nice time there on a 125 Scooter. Mine was near new flagship model so no breakdowns. But the feet forward ride position killed my lower back.
    Your report reminds me I need to get back there. Thanks for posting.
    #7
  8. Kyron

    Kyron Oncler Inds

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    893
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona > Pacifica Ca
    This is a bucket list ride for sure
    #8
  9. Prillok

    Prillok Wannabe adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Sweden
    Day 8, Got new wheels, continuing south.
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    50TWD ($1.60) Very filling.
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    Hazy/cloudy today. Taiwan has the same weather situation as Luzon, being the first body of land next to the Pacific Ocean means frequent clouds and unpredictable weather.
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    Donkey Junior. I can't believe Kymco makes a bike with drumbrakes front and rear in 2019.
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    All alone on this beach, and the next one, and the one after that.
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    Kenting national park.
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    Sunset at Taiwans southernmost point.
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    The variety in food here is great, had amazing Spanish style creamy risotto for 240TWD ($7.80) which is fine dining class here and then go around the corner and buy delicious exotic fruit or weird street cheese things food for next to nothing as dessert.
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    Bonus picture: hehe
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    #9
    B10Dave, Kyron and roadcapDen like this.
  10. kruzuki

    kruzuki Gear in the Machine

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,003
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    We were in Taiwan for a few days at end of July, mostly in the city of Zhongli. My g/f had a classmate of hers who lives there give us a day tour in the countryside. Wish we had seen more of the beautiful country. $3.00 for dinner for both of us!
    #10
  11. Prillok

    Prillok Wannabe adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Sweden
    Day 9 Driving up to Kenting national park
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    Still hazy.
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    The remnants of a coral reef at 300 meters elevation is not something you see everyday.
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    Natural gas leaking from the ground. A popular BBQ place.
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    Bonus picture: Yes, alcohol free "SUPERLIGHT" water tastes just like regular water. So disappointed. 20TWD ($0.65)
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    #11
    B10Dave and Kyron like this.
  12. jimmydteach

    jimmydteach Living the Dream

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Oddometer:
    46
    Location:
    Valparaiso, IN
    I am in.
    #12
  13. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,570
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Alcohol free water? Does that mean there is alcohol water? I'm lost.
    #13
  14. Prillok

    Prillok Wannabe adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Sweden
    I think it's called bud light in america.
    #14
  15. Prillok

    Prillok Wannabe adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    89
    Location:
    Sweden
    Day 10, Back to Taitung

    Taking a different route this time.
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    Now you might think you can pronounce "Fangshan", in reality you have less than 50% chance to get it right. However unlike the Vietnamese here in Taiwan they are pretty good at understanding what you are trying to say anyway, maybe because their English is better?

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    It's 10/10 day or National Day of the Republic of China. Must have seen 1000 Taiwan flags today.
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    I don't think I would want to live under a dam.
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    Taiwanese drivers are pretty good at staying on their side of the road but meeting a bus on a road like this is still nasty.
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    The number of people trying to cross mountains or go around the island on a bicycle is not something you'll see in any other Asian country.
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    Red plates means you are a big boy bike and can go on express roads. Good luck renting one.
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    And that concludes the ride report. It didn't turn out quite like I intended but I went north to south, over the mountain and down the east coast. Going up the west coast would have been one long start stop between red lights so switching to train might actually work out better in the end.

    Taiwan is a nice country and I would encourage you to visit. The people are friendly and helpful, their English skills vary wildly but it always works out in the end.

    It hits that sweet spot where food can be super cheap but still safe, no tourist price, usually fixed price (no tipping either), fruit is amazing, 4g coverage is very good (recommend Taiwan mobile) and the cops leave you alone (though international driving permit is a good idea to have) and no visa required or questions asked at the border.

    If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer here or in pm.

    If you enjoyed this I suggest taking a look at the other reports in my signature or follow this link.
    #15
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