I’m writing from my bed at the Happy Owner guesthouse in Ruisui – a popular hot spring stop for cyclists on their way around the island and other tourists. I don’t usually document the cost of my accommodation and meals in these entries because I get bored reading shopping lists on other people’s blogs. But I’ll make an exception today – my double room (shared bathroom) at this guest house is 880 NT$ (roughly €26.40) with use of the washing machine included. Tyson’s single room is 700 NT$ (€21.00). Dinner at the Hakka restaurant next door cost 550 NT$ (€16.50) for two. My lunch of fried fish, greens, and a cup of cola was 75 NT$ (€2.25). There are lots of hostels catering to cyclists with dormitory rooms that are even cheaper – but dormitories might be best avoided during this coronavirus epidemic. Although the east coast of Taiwan is still disease free, all of the schools that I passed today were closed.
We started the day with a bus ride to get out of Hualien and into some more attractive country with quiet paths to walk along. Our starting point was a little further from Hualien than I had expected but that’s fine – I think we’re going to have to skip a few kilometres here and there if we hope to reach Taitung within a week. Tyson and I walked at our own paces today – I got slowly ahead of him but we kept in touch with text messages as we progressed.
The route that Tyson planned was very pleasant – It took us south along the gorge between Taiwan’s central mountain range and the coastal range. We passed through several aboriginal villages with friezes of traditional life on the walls, and we saw lots of tropical scenery. It’s as lush and green as Galicia, but with bananas and coconuts by the road instead of Galician cabbage patches and vineyards. In one place I saw some red- bottomed monkeys. Apparently there will be more tomorrow. The roads we walked on were generally quiet – we saw very little motor traffic, except when we walked in the cycle path alongside the motorway. Unfortunately, however, we were on hard surfaces for the entire day and I have felt a couple of twinges in my right foot, where I had plantar fasciitis at the end of my Camino in September last year. I am sleeping with compression socks on and I’ll wear a support tomorrow.
The weather has been kind to us – In the early morning the temperature was around 17 ℃ and by 10:30AM it had risen to its high of around 23 ℃. During my stop for lunch there was a torrential downpour, which calmed down a bit as I set off again with my waterproof top on. Within an hour the rain had stopped and the waterproof was getting wetter on the inside from my sweat than it was from the outside. So off it came.
Tomorrow we will head to the coast, along a river that cuts between two mountains of the coastal range. The gorge is a popular with white water rafters. It would be nice if we saw some tomorrow.