Thursday, January 31, 2019

Yuli: Exploring the East Rift Valley

John's bike went to the bike shop.  All we have to work with is a small single speed and a 6-speed.  We decided to have a ride in the valley up to Ruisui, through rice fields that are in various states of being planted.  The valley was hillier than we had hoped for.  John and I took turns riding the single speed.  Though small, it rolled along really smoothly, which I loved, the only problem was I couldn't get up any kind of slope.

Since going to back Yuli from Ruisui is even more uphill, we decided to take the train home, after touring around the back roads of Ruisui.  For Taiwan Rail, you can roll the bike directly onto a designated car of any local train, after buying a tickets for the bike at 50% of a regular ticket.  This is our first time time trying it out -- very cool, too convenient! 

When we got home the other 6-speed was back from the bike shop, which meant the next day, we hiked the much touted Walami trail, up the mountain towards to center of the island.  First thing in the morning, we rode our bikes 12km from 115 to 300 m.a.s.l.  That's the best we could do with the 6 speeds.  We parked our bikes, walked the last 3km on the road to the trailhead at 460 m.a.s.l.  We then walked the first 7km of the trail up to 800 m.a.s.l., before turning around.

The fame and popularity of the trail was immediately evident.  It has historical provenance: an ancient tribal path that was superseded as a military road during Japanese occupation.  It is super well maintained, not particularly steep, suspension bridges, waterfalls... -- it had everything.  This is the first place we noticed large number of fir trees.  In spite of being midday, we could always hear birds chattering.  On this particularly day, mist was coming and going. it's like like being in an enchanted fairyland.

To Ruisui: Up early and cycling by 7:30. First we head over to the YuFu Bike Way and make our way over the clashing techtonic plates to Rt 9, the main East Rift Valley highway, and head North.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

The local farmers are preparing the fields and planting rice non-stop from dawn till dusk.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

Here are rows of rice seedlings that will be rolled up (like sod), transported to rice planting tractors, unrolled, and mechanically planted.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

Taking a break on the Rt 9 bridge into Ruisui.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

The area in front of Ruisui Train Station is decked out in red lanterns for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

Ruisui has it's own 10km bike way that heads out to the hot springs and back through fruit and vegetable fields.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

The hot springs spa monstrosities. Disney-esque, yes?
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

Jack Fruit tree.
Jack Fruit - We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

Chinese pumpkins.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

Heading back to Ruisui we enjoyed this 2km section of downhill below a levee although it's not aesthetically pleasing.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

After working hard on our 6-speed and 1-speed we drool for a moment over this electric-assist bike for rent at Ruisui Station's bike rental shop.
We Cycle from Yuli to Ruisui on Route 193

Here's the GPS track.
Yuli, Taiwan

The next day we pedaled out to the Walami Trail in Yushan National Park. Had to stop and take a pic of this pod hotel we saw on the way.
Pod Hotel -  Near the Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

The Walami Trail recently opened after being closed due to a landslide. Below is Sun-Ling waving on the old Shanfeng Suspension Bridge. A new bridge is under construction to its side.
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

The uh wobble in the middle of the bridge.
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Whew. Made it. Maximum Customers: 5 People.
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

The 2nd suspension bridge offers great views plus a waterfall. I lost my head over it.
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Then a beautiful section with overhanging ferns, dripping water, soggy railings, and mesmerizing views.
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

We somehow found ourselves in the middle of a large group of Taiwanese hikers as we traversed the new section of trail through the landslide zone.
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

After 5kms the trail is less traveled, a permit is needed, and it's more lush, more quiet, and IMO less recently logged.
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Rock that looks like a whale's head?
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Tons of air plants like the ones above my head.
Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

On the mostly downhill ride back we stopped at the lower Visitor Center to check out the rice fields.
Near the Walami Trail - Yushan National Park - near Yuli, Taiwan

Once in town we pulled in to our fav bakery to buy tomorrow's breakfast.
Fav Bakery - Yuli, Taiwan

GPS track of the bike + hike + bike. Long day out, almost 10 hrs.
Yuli, Taiwan

Yuli: Our New Base in the East Rift Valley

One of the highlights of our 2012 Taiwan trip was bicycling in the East Rift Valley. This time we tried out a new base, Yuli, north of Guanshan. We both found Yuli very likable. It is a very laid back small town with plenty of services for travelers. Exactly the kind of small town we like, full of local life, not tourists.

The first day we rode on the Yufu Bike Way, a rail trail. With no hills or powered vehicles there to worry about, we could look around and see much evidence of spring planting in this center of Taiwan's rice country. The bridge right outside town has markings of the tectonic plates that gave rise to the East Rift Valley.

On the way back, John had to squeeze the breaks really hard in order to avoid being crushed by a right-turning bus while in a roundabout. The front brake handle broke. We picked our guesthouse partly because of the free bikes. While the guesthouse was perfectly nice, the bikes were not; only maintained when something breaks. We are just grateful a) John was not hurt b) it happened only two blocks from home after a wonderful tour around town.

John adds: The local night market was very authentic; that is, friendly, foody, and not for solely for tourists. And we found a veg resto run by a Vietnamese lady and ate there all 5 nights, tweaking the noodle soup each evening so that the 5th bowl was perfect.;-)

The sun finally came out over Taroko Gorge the morning we walked to the train station to head to Yuli.
View from our Window - Xincheng, Taiwan

As soon as we were settled in our accommodation in Yuli, Little Town Guesthouse, we headed out to a nearby vegetarian restaurant for some famous Yuli noodles.
Yuli, Taiwan

Then happened to walk by a place that was making said noodles by the pile.
Yuli, Taiwan

Yuli has a branch of he Tzu Chi Foundation.
Yuli, Taiwan

Our base for 5 nights was the Little Time Guesthouse - the white building on the corner - on a quiet street where dogs can safely lie in the sun.
Little Time Guesthouse - Yuli, Taiwan

The Yufu Bike Way (Yuli to Fuli - get it?) starts near the train station and follows the now-not-in-use-tracks to the former Dongli Station now relocated to the new tracks.
Yuli, Taiwan

Yuli, Taiwan

So soon after we settled in at our guesthouse we borrowed their bikes and headed to Dongli Station on a beautiful afternoon.
Yuli, Taiwan

Crossing the old railroad bridge where there is a big plaque marking the point where the Philippine Sea and Eurasian tectonic plates meets.
Yuli, Taiwan

Yuli, Taiwan

Tectonic Plates Meet - Yuli, Taiwan

Tectonic Plates Meet - Yuli, Taiwan

One of the old station platforms.
Yuli, Taiwan

It's rice planting season.
Rice and Mountains - Yufu  Bikeway - Yuli, Taiwan

Yuli, Taiwan

The very cool Dongli Cycling Station as it's now called.
Yuli, Taiwan

Yuli, Taiwan

Click on this pano to get the full size.
Cycling Station - Yuli, Taiwan

And video.


Link here.

The first bowl of wide noodles.
Yuli, Taiwan

Some of the many red lanterns put up for Chinese New Year.
Yuli, Taiwan

The night market.
Friday Night Market - Yuli, Taiwan

Pastry Vendor - Friday Night Market - Yuli, Taiwan

The former Japanese shrine above Yuli.
Former Japanese Shrine - Yuli, Taiwan

The GPS track of the route.
Yuli, Taiwan


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