Our time in Taiwan is slowly coming to an end… just six days left. We are all still completely and utterly in awe with this country. So diverse, interesting and friendly. It will hard to top this place. Anyhow, we had our first little crisis, despite the whole trip has been extremely harmonious so far, with mainly laughter and wonder and the constant twitter of Max. This is an astonishing ability of Max. He can talk and talk and talk about the most unrelated things possible, while we are puffing up a steep hill, offering with last energy, a reply like “I don’t know”, “Yeah, whatever” or “ Can you please just be quiet Max?”.
Anyhow, back to the morning of disharmony. We had a couple of chilled days at Donghe, where Max and Ellie went long board surfing with a lovely guide called Toby. We both had a ball and caught our first ever blue/green water waves – Max had to be forcibly removed from the water, Ellie retreated once the sun started setting and temperatures dropped. Steffen spent his rest day riding 80 km up a mountain (go figure!). Maybe it was because we’d been on the road for three weeks, perhaps the steam buns were just too delicious (Oh my god, the KimChi one…), or we were enjoying the water too much – our departure from Donghe was an unhappy one. We all seemed to be in a bad mood – at some point in the day we’d all called each other something nasty under our breath and had defiantly rode an outrageous 200m ahead of the main peloton. However, by the end of the day, the Schark harmony had returned and we spent the night in a strange and delightful town called Jinlun. Our host at our homestay plied us with many drinks and foods – vivid purple dragonfruit smoothie, some homemade rice-based fizzy drink, pickled chilli and garlic and at one stage, pollen (it’s surprisingly hard to eat a spoonful of pollen and it’s not delicious).
The next day was a big one, crossing over from the wild east coast to the west coast. It should be mentioned that we have had the best luck with wind. We enjoyed fantastic, strong back winds for a number of days. The trip was a long one, all up over 90 km with some consistent climbs up over the green centre. Our descent was glorious, a quiet little winding road, through wet tropical vegetation and some slightly spooky indigenous villages (I think it was a combination of the wind, gloom and the only scary looking dogs we have seen).
We’ve finally landed in Hengchun, one of the few towns in Taiwan where the original protective old gates and walls are still standing. This area is the gateway to the Kenting National Park and we’ve spent another couple days relaxing around the beaches. We’ve had some great food here too - hot pots, noodle soups, dumplings, egg pancakes and some very good coffee.