Well that was easy…

Posted by on 9, Feb 2020 in 2020 - Winter in Taiwan, Taiwan, Tilly the Tandem

Well that was easy…

We retraced our steps out of Taipei toward the airport and had a coffee break at the Old Cermaic Street tourist attraction en route. We seem to be more of an attraction than the pottery to the tourists but sat in the sun enjoying a coffee and watching the world look at the bike, point at us and wave. I can’t see why Harry and Megan got fed up with this celebrity lark….As you will all probably know I’m a fussy one with caffeine and sugar and the Taiwanese love both so decaf Coffee doesn’t exist and sugar free stuff is in its infancy. You can get Coke Zero with added fibre which was new to us, but it’s still caffeine so no go for me.So for coffee we now ask for a hot milk and I slip half a sachet of nescafe decaf in that we brought with us! Obviously we brought more than one sachet!We had read that Taiwan isn’t very keen on dairy but every shop sells milk, yoghurt etc so I think nowadays it’s not an issue and as I guzzle milk before during and after a cycle it’s a great relief too.Hotels here are very accommodating to cyclists and our next one allowed us to park Tilly next to the reception desk for the night whilst we nipped out for the best pizza in Taiwan, which actually was really good. New York Pizza too, and amazingly it was very much like proper New York Pizza. And, as usual the menus all were In English as well as Chinese. Almost everywhere you go things are in dual language. Signposts, menus, hotel welcome packs, condoms! It makes sense really as the language is so incomprehensible that you’d be utterly lost without a Latin alphabet to help you make sense of things.I’ve been under the weather since we arrived with a cough and runny nose which is not helped by the cycling in quite cool weather. It’s warm enough for shorts and sandals to cycle but you need three layers on your body to keep warm. The wind is very chilly, the sun very warm and the air pleasant. Very unusual. If you’re out of the wind in the sun you’re hot, then turn the corner and you need you’re gloves on. The locals are wrapped up like nannook of the North in Parkers, scarves and gloves and I’m cycling around in shorts….But, whilst the weather here is sunny but cooler than we’d like the food is more of an issue. I’m afraid my aversion to Chinese food hasn’t been helped by the general drabness of the food here. The local dishes don’t look at all appealing and are so devoid of colour that it almost looks like you’re viewing eveything on a black and white telly. Even Linda, who loves Chinese, says it looks so unappealing. And as for the smell of the stinky tofu, good lord that’s terrible. Its like a skunk died in a septic tank. It is utterly repulsive and how anyone can eat that is beyond me.We have had the obligatory 7-11 meal though. 7-11 convenience stores are ubiquitous here. They sell snack foods, drinks and oddly enough huge presentation boxes of biscuits from the UK – Mcvities style. They also provide facilities for you to reheat the snacks you’ve just bought and eat them on the premises. We had to ask if any of the snacks were vege and out of about 50 or so there were 2, so we had one of each. Mine was a spicy little sucker and I’m glad I wasn’t wearing socks. They do like it hot!It’s not often we have a tropical storm behind us and in fact we didn’t when we left Taoyuan but boy did it feel like it. We hardly peddled and were seriously miffed we had the shortest of cycles to do that day. Though as I’d been snoring like a trooper and Linda was pretty knackered then perhaps it was a blessing after all. We’ve never cycled with that kind of wind and when we had to cross bridges with the wind across us we had to get off as it was too dangerous to cycle. But once it was behind you that was amazing! Who needs electric bikes! Of course we’re trying not to think about coming back up the other coast and what the wind will be like there!Taiwan is an extremely safe country, far more so than the UK but we still worry about leaving Tilly overnight so when we stopped at another nice hotel Tilly came into the foyer for the night whilst we nipped across the road to the Sheraton for a quick bevy. Then off to our room for some pasta for tea. It was a brand new hotel but for some reason our aircon didn’t work and you couldn’t open the windows so at 2:30am I phoned reception to say it was 25.5 in the room and just a tad warm for us. They sent their ‘engineer’ up, who I suspect was the car park attendent as he had a thick winter coat on and struggled with the contoll panel giving up after about 10 seconds. He then asked if we wanted the windows open which were locked with big signs saying ‘You cannot open these windows’ which we said yes to. He again struggled with the locks managing to unlock only one and then couldn’t get the child lock off the window to open it more than a crack. He departed back to the comfort of the car park and I then sorted out the child lock and found he had managed to unlock the second window fine but the handle had beaten him. Once these two were open the room cooled down nicely and we were able to sleep instead of sauna the night away. Isn’t it odd having to have aircon on to keep the room cool when it’s about 10C outside?

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