Onwards to the Tropics…

Posted by on 24, Feb 2020 in 2020 - Winter in Taiwan, Taiwan, Tilly the Tandem

Onwards to the Tropics…

After our couple of wonder days we woke to a gloomy and cool day as we headed to the Tropic of Cancer Marker on the coast.

The park this was housed in was a bit dilapidated but not at all helped by it still being winter and the many splash pools were empty of water and children. It would probably be a completely different place in the summer sun.

The monument itself has the names and flags of all the countries that border the Tropic on a path leading to a statue.

The information plaque, like so much of Taiwanese culture was about hope, love and friendship, a theme you see repeated again and again throughout the country. We really like the fact that it seems the Taiwanese will stick a Love sign or some Hearts in many of their public parks bridges and shops. You are left with a feeling of positivity and hope by it all. Our favourite though was the traffic light pedestrian signals. Some had a the red sign showing a man going down on one knee to propose to a lady and the green showed them walking off hand in hand with hearts around them. The next one showed the couple, with the lady pregnant on red, and on green a family crossing the road. Simply fabulous and we actually forget to cross the road as we wanted to watch it all!!

We’ve been really fortunate with the wind so far but today the wind changed and as usual here it increases steadily throughout the day. We have about half a dozen weather apps on our phones and keep a close eye on wind as its second to hills in our hate list for cycling! So, we had planned ahead and were away early to try to beat the wind!

We passed the usual incredible temples and an interesting Crystal Church on an island and about 4 million oyster ponds.

The route we took weaved its way through pond after pond and everytime you came to small village there were enormous piles of oyster shells along with elderly ladies splitting open oysters or going through the piles of used shells looking for something, but we couldn’t figure out what. There must be billions of shells here, some piles are as big as a bungalow and full dustbins of shells sit outside almost every house. There must be a collection service but we have no idea what the empty shells are used for. The ponds themselves were normally aerated by a small electrical water wheel that churned the water up allowing you to see how radioactive green it looked! Enjoy your oysters!

As the wind picked up we could see our destination Tainan loom up out of the haze as the sun decided to give the wind a hand in making our cycle a little bit more unpleasant by raising the temperature into the low 30’s.

It didn’t seem to matter which way we turned the wind changed to be head on and we decided to stick to the main road into the city rather than the coastal route to try to get some shelter. So we crawled along in the cycle Lane, next to the two Lane moped road, next to the four Lane Highway. It sounds terrible but actually feels pretty safe until the roadworks when they do away with the cycle and moped lanes and it’s a free for all. We hate those bits and of course as we got to the middle of one of the roadworks the wind thought we were doing far too well and blew Linda’s hat off into the oncoming mopeds, cars trucks and buses. I managed to pull over into a gap and then time a run out into the road and back between traffic retrieving the hat! You’ll have to do better than that Wind!

We obviously reached our hotel in the end and had opted for a room with no window. This may seem odd, but if you want a window in some hotels then it’s extra and even then you can end up looking at the side of another building a meter away, so we had decided to get a deluxe room with no window rather than the standard room with!

The hotel was a central large 4 star affair with expensive cars parked on the pavement in front of it and we rolled in through the front door on Tilly! We now just wheel the bike up to the front desk rather than park outside as its so much easier for the staff to understand that we need somewhere to store Tilly if they can see her.

The staff here were as usual excellent and found us a space in the underground car park where we actually got a parking ticket! The ticket was sellotaped to the handlebar, so we stuck it to the fire alarm when we left!

Our room though was fabulous. The hotels here have been generally excellent and very cheap too. We were in a huge room with an enormous bed, designer bathroom and mood lighting (moody to Linda as she can never figure out which buttons to press on the control panel to turn any light off and we have a five minutes of disco lights every night to the sound of Linda Going Off On One)!

So, rather exhausted and feelingba bit too old for all this we set off in search of food and ended up at TGI Fridays having a Beyond Vegetarian burger and cocktails! Absolutely delicious! We did feel guilty (no idea why) but judging by the number of Westerners there we are not the only ones struggling with the Taiwanese food.

We had opted for our rest days in Tainan and the next day had a short cycle to Anping, site of the old Dutch settlement and Fort. It’s bizarre seeing a clear European Fort sitting in the middle of the temples and hustle and bustle and apparent disorganization of the city and its obviously heaving with tourists. We bought the multi museum ticket so we could visit the fort and the old European Trading Houses and Old British Consulate. These were all very interesting and one had an enormous Banyan tree growing out of it that now housed a walkway it was so big. It doesn’t matter where you go, you always end up with some plaque saying something about the British landing there, trading or more often than not invading.

The old street in Anping was more a tourist thing then the previous old street we had visited but was good fun to amble down and sample a few of the sweet treats they sold.

The centre of Tainan was a mix of history, the remains of another Dutch Fort, a Dutch gate and some Japanese houses all remnants from invasions and some beautiful temples too. One of which someone kindly took us around on a free tour explaining how young men and women would come and ask the Dating God about potential partners whilst We watched as two teenage boys do this.

We through enjoyed the city and even managed to have a Chinese Vegetarian at a food stall, but time to head further south….