86 km, 720 m
After an amazing breakfast at the hotel, the rain stopped and we continued south along highway 11.
Our first stop was the Tropic of Cancer Monument 5 km out of town. It was so early we pretty much had it to ourselves. We decided to count to tour buses as in each direction as we biked today. Take a guess for south to north and north to south and I’ll reveal the answer at the end of the post.
Our second stop was the Baxian Caves. The map looks flat but most of the caves are high on the hillside. They’re pretty underwhelming but the view is great. If you’re in a hurry, a quick loop will take you to the two nicest ones, two (the first one up the wood stairs) and the large one to the right in the paved path from the visitor center. The lady at the visitor center was very nice. Rob forgot to return our room key from last night and she helped us call the hotel and get it returned.
Our next stop was a fruit stand on the roadside. Taiwan grows a large quantity of tropical fruits. One of the specialities is a sugar apple. We had one in the night market with Liggy and Petey in Taipei, but we hadn’t tried the pineapple sugar apple or atemoya, a cross between the sugar apple and a cherimoya. The lady running the stall showed us how to eat it by pulling off sections and gave a bucket for the rind sections and seeds. She also got really into helping us photograph the event by providing more fruit for props and posing me with them. She also had us eat whole normal sugar apple and some poquats? in syrup.
For lunch, we found one of the large agricultural association buildings mentioned in lonely planet. Besides a large display of objects constructed out of straw in a field of flowers, they have a nice restaurant. We ordered two things which both turned out to be fried so were very tasty.
Our biggest stop en route to Doulan was the Sanxiantai Island. The sight is a bit off the main road, so we biked through a small town on the way. As we went down the main street, a truck blasting campaign slogans passed by with its wind shield wipers on despite the lack of rain. Attached to the wipers were hands that waved as the wipers moved back and forth. Rob and I both wished we had been able to capture that moment. The bridge to the island has 8 arches because of a story about some immortals. There was a parking fee of all motor vehicles, but not of bikes. We were able to leave our bike bags at a security office while we hiked around. This was a popular tour bus stop with about six in the parking lot when we pulled in.
Despite being pretty full, we decided to pick up bao or steamed buns in Donghe since they’re known for them and we needed breakfast for tomorrow. Just as we got the menu, a tour bus pulled up causing excitement along the ladies behind the counter who started frantically packing up buns. One lady disembarked the bus and picked up the bags of buns for the whole bus. While we ate a couple buns taking a bike break, another 5 buses passed. One of them definitely had passengers with buns in hand.
Finally we arrived in Doulan after 5pm and found a friendly place to stay at the backpacker dog hostel (1 dog and 2 cats). The town is small but lively and has quite an expat community. There’s an Indian restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, a Vietnamese restaurant, roadhouse with burgers and a bar.
We decided on Indian since lonely planet said they have excellent home-made ice cream. Despite being quite full after splitting one veggie curry set meal, we had to get a scoop of brown sugar and green tea. It was so great we devoured it and probably could have even had more.
Back at the hostel, we had fun hanging out and playing with the stacking cats.
Final tour bus total : 113+/-5 south to north and 15 the other direction. Most of the south to north were before 1 pm.