Bicycling Taiwan’s East Coast: Day 1, Hualien to Changbin

Day 1 (3/14/2014) - Hualien (花蓮) to Changbin (長濱) , 104 km

Route (Highway 9 》Highway 11): Hualien (花蓮) 》Cow Mountain (牛山) 》JiQi Beach, Fengbin (磯崎海濱遊憩區,豐濱) 》Shitiping (石梯坪) 》Tropic of Cancer Monument (北回歸線紀念碑) 》Baxian Cave (八仙洞遊客中心) 》Changbin (長濱)

I’ve packed my gear and picked up my Giant bike near the Hualien Train Station. Got there a little early, they hadn’t opened yet and I had a bit of time to burn, so I headed to the Hualien Tourist Center across the street. This place is great if you need to pick up any last minute maps of Taiwan – supplied in both English and Chinese. Conveniently, I signed up for the Taiwan Youth Travel Card, it’s free and allows you to get discounts to local tourist destinations. Got a few route suggestions from the Giant representative, repacked my gear in the panniers and I was set to go.

Ugly morning. Donned on compression long sheet and long gloves

I spent a few days in Hualien before the first day and  never saw the sun peer through the clouds. This morning it was 14C, a bit chilly particularly with the humidity. I took the first 5 km to warm up and get used to the bike.

Leaving Hualien. A farmer and cow.

Betel nut stations are/were notorious for having beautiful attendants. I was really hoping for something to offset the nasty weather…

Many huts and abandoned houses on the road side. Many areas were suitable for camping

The road shoulders were extraordinarily wide and dedicated for scooters/bicyclists, except for the occasional tunnels just on this day.

Hate tunnels. Scooters sound like cars, small car sound like trucks, and truck sound like they will run you over. Luckily there were only a few on this day, relatively short.

At the 24 km marker, there is a constant climb up to Cow Mountain, 牛山.

Short steady climb up to Cow Mountain(牛山), a popular tourist destination, there were many hotels/B&B’s in this area

Shiba Bridge (十八號橋)- Road on the left with a small pedestrian bridge on the right. Some beautiful valleys views here.

Slow steady climb up, but the scenery doesn’t disappoint.

The road turns inland a bit and veers back towards the coast.

JiCi Beach. Many areas suitable for campers. Even saw a few surfers out on the water.

Taking a break at Dawan (大灣)

Rice Patty

Can’t miss the Tropic of Cancer monument!

Accomodations

There are plenty of accommodations along this route. B&B’s (民宿)are common from Shitiping (石梯坪) to Changbin (長濱). The ones located right off the highway are nicer, but will be pricier. If you are looking for a budget location, nicely ask a local, mention your budget, and I’ve found that they will do the best to help.

If you are looking to camp, there are very many areas. Many police stations offer public restrooms if you need to wash off. If you need a rinse, the beach is always a stone’s throw away.

Places Worth Spending More Time 

Cow Mountain, 牛山 – Nice to stop in for a cup of coffee, but beware of the hill! It’s a steep downhill and unless you have a spare time in the day, it may not be worth it. An overall nice place if you are looking to escape the rustle and bustle of the city. From what I hear camping is allowed ($150NT/person).

JiQi Beach, 磯崎海濱遊憩區 – One of two beaches between Hualien (花蓮) and Taitung (台東) that will allow you to swim. Hiking trail, showers, swim/surf, and available for camping. Camping is allowed ($500NT/camp site). Rental equipment is also available, more information here.

Shitiping – Stone Steps, 石梯坪 – Small fishing village with volcanic rock. The coastline would be wonderful if you like exploring rocky and rugged terrain. Camping available ($250NT/site) – showers, BBQ pits.

Link to Flickr album here

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