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.
The road shoulders were extraordinarily wide and dedicated for scooters/bicyclists, except for the occasional tunnels just on this day.
At the 24 km marker, there is a constant climb up to Cow Mountain, 牛山.
The road turns inland a bit and veers back towards the coast.
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.