Thursday, November 16, 2017

Luye Highland and Biking in Chishang

Third Day on Trip Around Taiwan

Very famous tree
I’m now on my third day as a solo traveler around Taiwan using public transportation and as someone who cannot speak any Chinese. My second day was spent in Taroko Gorge with a night at the very nice Silks Place resort hotel. Today will be a little different as I am meeting up with friends at Luye about 2 train stations before Taitung and they will have a rental car. Even though we had a car, many of the places we visited are reachable with the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus.

From Silks Place in Taroko Gorge National Park, I took a local bus to the Hualien train station. Not a pretty station and it appears they are doing construction to enlarge it. I got a reserved seat on one of the express trains going through Luye. Since this was a holiday weekend, I had my friends purchase the train ticket in Taipei about 2 weeks before. Taitung seems like a very popular place with local tourists during holidays and weekends.

The favorite pastime for locals on a nice holiday weekend is to enjoy biking on paved farm lanes among the recently planted rice fields around Chishang about 30 minutes north of Luye.  But not any ordinary bike will do, these had to be quad electric bikes! The experience was unlike one I have ever had. Effortless biking on smooth roads where all around are lush green fields with stalks gently swaying in the wind and mountain ranges in the front and back. It was beautiful, serene, and culturally very interesting because there were a lot of us.  Most the locals were young couples having a nice “date” among the pretty fields. 

Apparently, this area became very popular after Eva Airlines used a scene in one of their commercials and my understanding is that the model was a famous movie actor. That explains the large crowd taking selfies around a large tree used in the commercial that unfortunately was badly damaged in a recent Typhoon. That one tree is worth many thousands of tourist dollars, so everything is being done to keep it alive.

Spot where Eva Airlines "I See You" commercial was filmed

Right here was the shot

After the wonderful “bike” ride in our electric bikes, we headed to the Luye Highlands which is a flat plateau where Taitung has their hot air balloon festival. Our October visit was too late to see the festival and the balloons, but we had fabulous views from the plateau to the valley below and the Central and Coastal mountain ranges. To calm a morning chill, we had coffee at a little shop on the Highland called Lao Wang Coffee. The homemade pastries also hit the spot.

Too late for hot-air balloons, but beautiful none-the-less

Let those kids run and work off their energy!

Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus comes up to Luye Highland

Camping on the Luye Highland

Nice place for a cute coffee shop

Later in the day, my friends dropped me off in Taitung before they headed back to Taipei. I stayed at the new Gaya Hotel in downtown Taitung. Somewhat of a boutique hotel with amazing views from the infinity pool on the roof. My next post will be what I did on a rainy day in Taitung. 

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