Written by Yeo Jing Wen
One of Yee Chao and my favourite cycling destinations have always been Taiwan. With its famous cycling routes traversing mountains and coast, breathtaking sceneries, friendly locals and fantastic food, it always leaves us yearning for more.
Hence, we decided to return for a third time last year during November. However, instead of a fully self-supported bike-packing trip like previous times, we opted for a more relaxed itinerary by renting 2 Giant E-bikes (Electric bikes) to explore the Eastern coast.
More info: Giant Bike Rental Rates
Day 1 – Hualien to Chishang (125km)
Strava Route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1940874352
We arrived in Hualien the day before and arranged to pick up our E-bikes from the Giant Bicycle Rental shop just beside the train station the next morning.
The E-bike rental also comes with two pannier bags, in which we stuffed our minimal belongings, and were ready to set off!
The bikes came with these accessories and equipment: Lights (Front & Rear), Cycle Computer, Top Tube Bags, Bottle Cage, Rear rack, Pannier Bags (both side), Mini Pump, Mini tools, Key and Lock.
However, spare inner tube/tire, patch kit (repair kit) and helmets are not included. You can bring them by yourself or purchase them at the Giant Store.
We brought along our own accessories (such as Clipless Pedals), and the staff helped us set them up on the bike. But we had to bring the original pedals with us and return them with the bike, or you must pay extra fees to send them back to the destination store.
The e-bikes were great fun! Moreover, for most times, we were grateful that we had the electric boost as the entire bike setup along with the panniers weighed an estimated 20kg or more!
Although it was raining the entire ride, that did not dampen our mood. We stopped by Mr. Sam – 山姆先生咖啡館 for a coffee, and had amazing wanton noodles for lunch at a local eatery.
We reached Chishang just past 5 pm, and checked-in to our lovely bed & breakfast located right beside the famous rice padi fields.
After a couple of hours of washing up (you can imagine the amount of grime and dirt from the rain and 6 hours of riding), we finally headed off to dinner at 大陸婆婆麵食 – a local eatery well-known for its to die for dishes made by a grandmother from Shaanxi, China.
Day 2 – Exploring Sixty Stone Mountain
Strava Route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1942367317
After a good night’s rest (and fully recharging the e-bike battery), we set off to visit Sixty Stone Mountain (六十石山). It has an elevation of around 800 meters above sea level and is at the North-Eastern part of Fuli Village (富里) It is most famous for its daylily flowers which bloom once a year between August and September.
Although it is not the blooming season, our primary objective was actually to test whether the e-bike can make its way up the notoriously steep slopes.
Even with the electronic pedal assist, it was tough to reach the top, and some sections were crazily steep! However, the view at the top was breathtaking (even without the blooming flowers), and made the push all worthwhile!
Unfortunately, on the way down, Yee Chao’s bike had a flat tyre, and he had to roll at a speed of <10kmh all the way down and back. About 10km away from Chishang, we turned into the smaller Fuli town to search for a local bike shop, and that’s when my five-year-old MTB shoe sole suddenly came off entirely. Funny sight indeed!
Eventually, we made it back safe and sound, ready for the next day’s adventure.
Day 3 – Rest day in Chishang
We spent a lazy quiet day in Chishang, cycling around town and soaking all its loveliness.
Tip: Make sure to wake up just before sunrise to catch the sunrays spilling across the golden padi fields, and get awestruck by its beauty.
Day 4 – Chishang to Shi Ti Ping
Strava Route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1944595814
The route to Shi Ti Ping would take us past two hill passes before hitting the coast. It was thrilling to ride up the climbs with the pedal assist, and when we rode past a bunch of cyclists pushing hard, we enthusiastically cheered them on, while shamelessly zooming past them. Definitely a morale booster for them!
When we hit the coast, the strong headwind again reminded us how lucky we were to be on e-bikes. There were times when we had to switch the pedal assist off to save battery for the remaining mileage, and our rolling speed immediately reduced by half when reality began to set in.
Our accommodation for the day Adagio 118 is situated about 50 metres away from the main road. It looks abandoned on the outside, but the interior décor blew us away. Pass through the hall out the backdoor, and you will be rewarded with the famous Shi Ti Ping 时梯坪 view.
Dinner was a sumptuous seafood feast at the Shi Ti Fishing Harbour about 20 minutes walk away. Be sure to carry a torchlight along, as there are absolutely no roadside lights and can get dark!
Day 5 – Shi Ti Ping to Hualien
Strava Route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1946968147
This was our last day of cycling, as we had to return the e-bikes at the Giant store in Hualien (note that only for e-bikes do you have to return at one of their main stores either in Hualien or Taitung).
On the way back, we had to encounter another puncture before we visited the new and trending Starbucks constructed using shipping containers. We were surprised to see so many locals visiting the Starbucks too, mostly taking selfies to post on social media. I guess we were people watching more than checking out the architecture in the end!
We finally reached back to Hualien and checked in at Kadda Hotel (a cyclist’s dream hotel!) We could easily roll and park our bikes just outside of our rooms on the 8th floor, allowing us to unpack conveniently. After washing up, we returned our bikes before evening, just in time to proceed for dinner.
My advice for people who would like to go on a backpacking trip:
- Pack just the minimal essentials with rain gear, bring along your own patch kits/multitool,
- Plan your route in advance (we used the maps.me offline app).
- Book your accommodation in advance, but also make sure to have emergency plans and save the key contacts should you not be able to reach the destination as planned (bad weather etc.).
- Most importantly, make sure to enjoy the journey!