Bicycle The Taiwan Mountains - Day 1 - Henchung to Chaozhou
- Distance 76km
- Max Elevation 53m
Bicycle The Taiwan Mountains - Henchung to Chaozhou Ride Profile
Today marked a change of direction as we turned north along the west coast on Highway 26 to start our Bicycle The Taiwan Mountains route.
It was very hot and humid and despite the fact that we seemed to have had a head wind all the way down the east coast, there was still a stiff northerly breeze making progress a bit slower. The highway from Henchung to Fangliao runs between the mountains and the sea, but then enters the broad western plain of Taiwan where the main population and industry is found.
We were now on Highway 1 with it's fast and, consequently, noisy traffic and decided to find a quieter route along the minor roads on the east side of the highway. The agricultural here is mainly fruit orchards, which stretch for miles, with flat, straight roads and the heat was intense. There were few towns and even fewer places to eat. At a scruffy roadside eatery we brought some drinks and were given a bunch of bananas to eat.
In Taiwan it seems that it used to be standard practise to have a man waving a flag to warn motorists of roadworks ahead. With increasing wages it appears that it's now too expensive. Instead they go to great trouble to dress up shop dummies, using small motors to move the arms up and down.
Automated roadwork dummy
Further north the roads passed through intensive chicken and pig rearing buildings, with their stomach churning odours, and fresh water prawn farms. Chaozhou was the nearest and largest town and by 2pm we were ready for a fast food lunch at the 7-11. Because we entered on a minor road we found it really difficult to identify where the town centre was and seemed to search around for ages before finding it.
After a long tour around we identified three, mouldy, downtrodden hotels. Choosing the least bad of the three, Steve was sent to examine the rooms. The two old ladies in charge could not seem to understand what two strange foreigners on bicycles could possibly want in their establishment. After a lot of sign language, copious Chinese symbols scribbled on scraps of paper and a bit of translation on the phone app, we couldn't face sleeping in the horrible room so headed off towards the by-pass in hope of something better.
Close to Highway 1 was a smart looking motel and our hopes were raised. The receptionist informed us they were full and we despaired again.
Asking for directions to any alternative accommodation realisation suddenly dawned on her. "So you want a room for the WHOLE NIGHT? Well then we do have a vacancy." Obviously most people rent by the hour.
They gave us the keys to the room at the end of the row. It had its own garage and an enormous bedroom with no windows, a huge,modern four poster bed with pink curtains, low lighting and a large flat screen TV. In the bathroom was an enormous spa bath and another TV to watch in the bath. You can only imagine the choice of TV channels available.
The Pink Room of Pleasure
The most puzzling item of furniture was the enormous leather chair thing which had a control panel attached to make various parts of it lift up and down, tilt, or move backwards and forwards at any speed of choice. We couldn't imagine what anyone would do with that.
To add a bit of fun there was a catalogue of saucy outfits and 'appliances' available from reception. We felt quite guilty that all we wanted to do was sleep. We did have a lovely spa bath though to relax the muscles.
Chair of Pleasure
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