After Kaohsiung, on the south-western coast, my anti-clockwise route should have taken me further south. I initially contemplated Kenting, on the southern tip. However, it was getting unbearably hot and would have been hotter further south. So, instead, I took a train to the east coast.
Chishang has a unique selling point. It is renowned for tourist-friendly cycling routes. As a result, you can hire all sorts of self-propelled or motorised bikes and vehicles with two to four wheels.
I went to my hostel and was greeted by this sign.
After I checked in, I returned to the station to hire an electric bike. It was the first bike-hire I came across and I wanted to try out an electric bike.
The person at the shop explained how the bike worked. He warned me not to use the manual gears. Instead, he said change the power setting of the bike, which went from zero to six.
On initially riding the bike, I was a bit unsteady. The lack of traffic helped. However, I soon got the hang of it and was on my way to the famous lake, which you can go around.
The route is mostly flat, so I didn’t need to use all the bike’s gears. As a cycled around, I tried out the different power settings on the bike. Just going from power setting zero to one was quite a boost and made going uphill effortless. I eventually got to about 30kph on one of the straight roads.
Some of the cycling route was well signed. Other times, I referred to a map I found online. Quite often, seeing other tourists, mostly in their four-wheeled bikes seating four people, helped to know where the attractions are.
One of the famous attractions was the Takeshi Kaneshiro tree, named after the actor, which featured in an advert in 2013. Apparently, the tree became such a draw that the crowds were disrupting farmers’ work. There was talk of cutting the tree down. However, that turned out to be unnecessary when a typhoon blew it down. In an ironic twist, the fallen tree was carefully revived by arborists. A way has now been found to combine the needs of locals and tourists.
There are some other landmarks which, if you saw them elsewhere, would be unremarkable. When highlighted on a map and surrounded by hordes of tourists taking group photos and selfies, these locations take on a different significance.
I sent the photo on the right to a friend. She replied that she loved the women doing tai-chi in public! When it comes to selfies, people are incredibly creative.
But Chishang is a beautiful place. The green of the grass is genuinely vibrant.
My hostel had recommended a local veggie restaurant which, when I went to it, was fully booked. They asked me to return in 45 minutes, which I did. It was worth it. They threw in a dessert when I thought I’d finished.