On to Taipei

Posted by on 2, Feb 2020 in 2020 - Winter in Taiwan, Taiwan, Tilly the Tandem

On to Taipei

Our first proper cycle was good to get under our belt during the Chinese New Year with the much reduced traffic. We didn’t actually have to venture on to too many roads as there’s a very good cycle network here and where that is absent you can tuck yourself in amongst the three million mopeds that dominate the road. They even have their own roads! So sometimes you have a footpath, next to a cycle path, next to a moped dual carriageway next to a main road. It can take you about 20 minutes to get across that lot on foot.And the traffic lights spend ages without changing most have a timer counting down and they are usually in excess of a minute and sometimes 99 seconds. You can hop off and have a sit down whilst you wait! The other good thing about the lights is the launch box the lanes have for mopeds and bikes at the front of the queue. It’s not uncommon to see 40 or more mopeds in it, so cars stay completely out of it and are used to waiting for the two wheelers to go before they move. Not like those cycle boxes in the UK! And the little green and red man telling you when it’s safe to cross are animated and the green guy (and the bike ones when they are used) actually run and pedal faster toward the end. Loved that!But the mopeds for us are a godsend. Traffic here is used to mad people cutting them up and weaving from lane to lane at the last minute so a well behaved tandem gets treated with a great deal of respect and patience and even more thumbs up hoots and waves.The cycle in to Taipei was great, a river cycle path, a few kilometres through a bustling city centre and then another river path all the way to Taipei. Wonderful.Our hotel staff were great too. They had a spot for Tilly and a great room for us with Romantic lighting (changing colour through the rainbow) and a jacuzzi bath but we had arrived a bit later than we had planned due to what is now becoming an unwelcome routine of a puncture on our first day. The tyre itself was a write off with an 8mm hole in it and I’m surprised we managed to get to the hotel by stopping every 2 km to pump it up. Needless to say on the last tyre pump up the pump broke too!Anyway, In our last post we mentioned we stayed at a love hotel and on this trip, like our Korea trip, we will stay at many more. They do sound dodgy when you say you’re staying at a love hotel and the welcome you get when you enter your room of the two condoms on the bedside table doesn’t help (and is certainly asking a lot of a 57 year old arriving from the UK after an 18 hour journey) but they are excellent hotels.Always very clean, reasonable prices and very helpful staff often with a private garage for Tilly. They are also a fun end to the day, they are never like you’re Premier Inn, same all over the world, executive double room.Say hello to round beds, gaudy decors, hot tubs, stilleto heel baths, sex toy vending machines, massage chairs, steam rooms, jacuzzi baths, TV’s in the bathroom, massage showers etc in your bedroom and I’d imagine plenty more surprises we are yet to encounter.It certainly brightens your day to enter your room and find something to make you chuckle at the end of a long cycle.But one of the big concerns about this trip was the Coronavirus. On arriving at Taipei airport the only people we saw without a mask were the people getting off flights. Everyone else was masked up and we thought that the country would be the same. But once we started exploring we found the opposite to be true, certainly outside Taipei itself. Most people were going about their day without a mask on, maybe 20% of people wore a mask. This wasn’t at all what we expected with the Coronavirus being wall to wall news on the TV here, but maybe that will change as the virus spreads.It’s obviously a concern and we have decided to avoid visiting crowded places or using public transport whilst in the capital but probably won’t go for the masks either. The advice is to wash your hands properly, use alcohol gel on them regularly and avoid contact with raw meat, as well as stay away from animal markets. We shouldn’t have a problem with any of that advice especially as we never go to meat markets anyway.We are due to visit Taipei again at the end of the trip so we will see how things are in a months time before deciding what to do on our next visit there and perhaps then we can go to some museums and on the metro.Some people may think we were foolish to travel here with the virus and only time will tell whether we were. But we did read the FCO advice and contact our insurers who all said travel was fine.And do bare in mind, that whilst this virus has made the headlines non stop and is obviously a very serious threat to health and a tragedy to those affected and their families more people are killed on the roads each day than will die from this virus. We weren’t bothered about getting a taxi to the airport so our view is to be vigilant and sensible and up our hygiene routine and continue on our way.

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