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Monthly Archives: April 2018

The R@SKLs get fried


I suspect what will be remembered most about today’s ride to Pulau Carey is how hot it was while we were riding back to Kota Kemuning.  It got up to 37° C / 99° F.  Combine the temperature with the humidity of almost 70%, and the temperature felt like 45° C /  113° F.  Even a rare tailwind – hooray – between Jenjarom and Bandar Rimbayu did nothing to cool us down.


We shouldn’t have been surprised that it got so hot.  It felt warmer and more humid than usual at 6.15am when the first R@SKLs arrived at Restoran BR Maju.  Warning sign #1.

Carey Island early arrival

Photograph courtesy of Alfred Chan

30 of us were ready to roll at 7.00am.  Under a cloudless sky.  Warning sign #2.

Carey Island start

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Twenty minutes later we were riding through Bandar Rimbayu, with the sun already making its presence felt as it rose above the horizon. Warning sign #3.

Carey Island riding

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We were in Jenjarom at 8.00am.  The temperature was 28° C / 82° F.  About half of the group could only do a short ride and were turning back at Jenjarom.  We all flooded into a coffee shop for breakfast before the group split up.

Carey island breakfast

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Carey island breakfast 2

Photograph courtesy of Jiv Sammanthan

40 minutes later 17 of us continued on to Pantai Tanjung Rhu, Pulau Carey.  We were very happy to see that sections of Jalan Klang Banting had recently been resurfaced.  Including the section between the Lebuhraya Lembah Klang Selatan flyover and Jalan Bandar Lama, which had been exceptionally badly rutted and potholed.

As you can see from the route map above, Pulau Carey is barely an island.  The land mass of Pulau Carey is separated from the peninsula by the Langat River and a narrow meandering finger of the Strait of Malacca.

When we got to the sea at 9.20am, the tide was out.

Carey Island panorama

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

There was no shade, which was inconvenient as Jiv had a puncture just as we got to the end of the road.  There was quite a bad cut in his tire, so the fix was a bit involved and took some time.  CK to the rescue!

Carey Island flat

Photograph courtesy of Jiv Sammanthan

We interrupted the repair for a group photograph.  It was too hot to linger, so as soon as Jiv’s tire was fixed we started the return leg to Kota Kemuning.

Carey Island group

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

By 10.30am we had covered the 16km / 10mi between the beach and our regular cendol stall.  Wet, ice cold and sweet.  Just what the doctor ordered when it was 32° C / 90° F and felt closer to 37° C / 99° F.

Carey Island cendol

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The temperature kept climbing as we rode the 28km / 17mi from the cendol stop to Restoran BR Maju in Kota Kemuning.  We needed a short rest in the shade at Kampung Sri Cheeding after 15km / 9mi.

Lots of sunblock and sunscreen were applied today.  Nevertheless, I suspect some of us got burnt over the last 35minutes of the ride today.  It was a scorcher!  Probably hot enough to do this.

Carey Island fried egg

Photograph courtesy of


Enough already!



Flat Banner

Diorama courtesy of my Biker Chick

I’ve been fixing flat tires a few too many times lately.  As in three times in one week.  More often than not, the punctures were caused by staples like these.


I have pulled entire “fresh” staples out of my tires.  After staples have been on the road for a while they look like this.

The Culprit Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

The latest rash of staple-induced flats got me thinking.  I had many punctures while riding in Houston and Den Haag, but none of those were caused by staples.  Broken glass, sharp flints and stones, and thorns – yes.  But not staples.

Do Malaysian roads have an unusually high proportion of staples mixed in with the other road debris?

I did a little survey, asking respondents to rank the following causes of bicycle tire punctures, from most frequent (1) to least frequent (6).  The choices were:

  • Glass
  • Thorns
  • Staples or other wire
  • Pinch flats
  • Flints or other small stones
  • Unknown cause

I received 42 responses.  The table below shows the number of times each option was ranked as the most frequent cause of punctures.  Two respondents did not indicate a top cause of punctures.

Chart 2

30.00% of respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the number 1 cause of punctures.  22.50% of respondents ranked Pinch flats as the number 1 cause of punctures.
22.50% of respondents ranked Glass as the number 1 cause of punctures.

33 of the respondents live in Malaysia.  3 live in North America.  2 live in The Netherlands.  2 live in Australia / New Zealand.  1 lives in The United Kingdom.  And 1 lives in another Asian country.

2 out of the 3 North American respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the number 1 cause of punctures.   The other North American rated Staples or other wire as the second most frequent cause of punctures.  So perhaps I was just lucky to avoid staples when I lived and rode in the United States.

Interestingly, both of the Dutch respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the least frequent cause of punctures.  Which matches my own experience over more than two years of cycling in The Netherlands.

The sample size is small, and the methodology is not scientific by any means.  Nevertheless, this survey does show that Malaysian cyclists suffer more punctures due to staples or other wire (usually fragments of steel wire from failed car and truck tires) than from any other cause.

I don’t know why there are so many staples on Malaysian roads.  Perhaps stapled paper, being light, gets blown out of rubbish trucks and onto the road.

I do know that some Malaysians have the atrocious habit of tossing rubbish out of their moving cars.  Which has to be the explanation for the most unusual cause of a puncture reported by a Malaysian cyclist.  A chicken bone.

Other causes of punctures reported by respondents were variations on pinch flats – hitting a pothole, drain grille etc. (4), faulty valve stems (2), worn or misaligned rim tape (2), old inner tubes (2), nails or screws (2) and overheating by being left in a car under a hot sun.

I have my share of pinch flats too.  My fault for not checking my tire pressures before every ride.

There’s not much I can do about the staples and other debris on the roads, apart from staying off the road shoulders as much as possible.

Perhaps it is time to consider an old-school device – a tire saver / tire wiper.

Tire Saver Stronglight flickr com

Photograph courtesy of Stronglight at


What causes your flat tires?

I’ve had four punctures in the past eight days.  Which made me curious about the common causes of punctures amongst cyclists.

If you want to share your experience, please click on the link below to respond to my survey on the subject:

Link to my survey

Thank you.


The R@SKLs in Taiwan: Day 6

Day 6 banner

It was a cold, wet and windy Sunday morning.  Not a good time to be outside on a bicycle.

We had other things on our mind anyway.  Firstly, how to fit our bikes back into their cases?  I get there in the end but am never able to duplicate the way I got my bike to fit in its case the last time.

Day 6 Bike Packed

We took our bike cases to the hotel lobby at 8.00am.  Xiao Ger was waiting to load them onto a small truck for transport to Taoyuan Airport.

At breakfast, the thirty-three boxes of Sunny Hills pineapple cake that we ordered were distributed.  Many Taiwanese consider these the best Feng Li Su (pineapple cakes).  I had strict orders to bring some home for my Biker Chick.

Day 6 Sunny Hills

TH, Kiam Woon, and Heng Keng went to the Rapha Taipei shop after breakfast.  They wanted to buy Pai a gift in appreciation of all his hard work arranging this trip and looking after us so well.  Sadly they had been misinformed about the Sunday opening times.  The Rapha cafe opens at 9.00am, but the shop doesn’t open until noon on Sundays.  So they came back empty-handed.

As with our arrival, we were on different flights departing Taipei.  Lay, Simon, and Pai were the first at the airport.  They followed the lorry carrying our bike cases, helped unload them, and kept an eye on them while waiting for the rest of us to arrive.

Luane, Voon Kiat, Ralf, and Aaron were next.  I don’t know how the Hong Kong boys convinced Luanne to get drinks for them.

The six boys on the MAS flight checked in together.  Which was a good thing for those who had overweight check-in bags.  (Courtesy of the Kavalan distillery shop).  The counter staff allowed us to lump together the weight of our check-in bags so that the average weight came under our individual baggage allowances.

Day 6 Airport Liew Kiam Woon

Photograph courtesy of Liew Kiam Woon

Then it was on to one last snack before boarding.

Day 6 Mos Burger

We all had a fabulous time in Taiwan.  And we can’t thank Pai, Xiao Ger, and Ah Dar enough for all that they did to make our cycling visit to Taiwan such a success.

Day 6 xiexie

The R@SKLs in Taiwan: Day 5

Day 5 banner

This was our last full day in Taiwan.  The itinerary at the start of this trip listed a Day 5 ride as optional.  Not having ridden at all the day before, we were all up for riding in Taipei.

There are at least 200km of bike paths in the city.  All the bike paths are coloured orange in the map below.

Pai plotted a 95km route that took us from our hotel in the centre of the map north to Tamsui where the Tamsui River empties into the Taiwan Strait.  Then we reversed direction to Bitan which is where the MRT Green Line terminates at its southernmost point before returning to our hotel along the opposite bank of the Tamsui River.

Day 5 Route (1)

Twelve of us did the ride.  Simon had a cold and opted to sightsee rather than ride.  Arthur kept him company.

Day 5 Ready to Toll Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Within 3km of the hotel, we were on the bike path alongside the east bank of the Keelung River.

The bike paths are uniformly excellent.

Day 5 Bike Path 3Day 5 Bike Path 1Day 5 Bike Path 2

As were the river views.

Day 5 River view Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Day 5 River view Luanne Sieh

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Day 5 View

Our first stop was at one of the Bicycle Stores which dot the bike path system.  These shops offer bike rentals, cycling accessories, and equipment repairs.  Luanne is holding a rear blinker which she had just bought.

Day 5 Pathside bike shop Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

At the 20km mark, we were at Tamsui. Tamsui Old Street is lined with shops, restaurants, and vendors selling local specialties.  Some R@SKLs went off in search of snacks.

Mark and I went exploring to the end of the bike path.  We came upon a memorial to Dr. George Leslie Mackay, who was the first Presbyterian minister in northern Formosa (Qing-era Taiwan).  He landed at this spot on 9th March 1872, later making Tamsui his home and place for his missionary, medical, and educational work.

Day 5 Dr Mackay

Mark and I needed a pedalo to go any further.

Day 5 Pier End Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

On the way back to the others, we passed these statues of a girl with a group of cats.   I’ve tried to find information about this group of statues, to no avail.

Day 5 Cats

Snacking was still going on.  Pai shared his red bean-filled cake with me.

Day 5 Snack Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Arthur and Simon were in the meantime exploring Taipei on foot.

Day 5 Taipei 1 Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Day 5 Taipei 2 Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Taipei 101 was officially classified as the world’s tallest building in 2004 and remained so until the completion of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010.

Day 5 Taipei 101 Arthur Ang

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

Back at Tamsui, Kiam Woon had a problem with his rear derailleur.  How many cyclists does it take to . . . . ?

Day 5 Kiam Woon repair Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Once we got Kiam Woon rolling again we rode south and crossed the Tamsui River via the Guandu Bridge which links Tamsui District and Bali District.

Day 5 Guandu Bridge

This yellow zero marks the start of the Bali Left Bank Cycling Path.

Day 5 Bike Path marker Pai

Photograph courtesy of Pai Hsing C

Day 5 Cycling Path Map

We got rained on, sometimes heavily, during this ride.

Day 5 Wet wet wet Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

You wouldn’t expect much climbing on bike paths alongside rivers.  There wasn’t any, except when you had to get up onto elevated bridges and overpasses.  Then you had to get up and down ramps like this one, up to and alongside the New Taipei Expressway.

Day 5 Ramp to New Taipei Expressway

The section alongside the New Taipei Expressway was about 1.2km long.  About halfway along there was a bike path interchange of sorts, where the path dropped to a set of ramps that took you to ground level.

If you were going straight you had to climb back up to expressway level.  It was narrow and wet when we were there.  Better safe than sorry.

About 10km from Bitan Aaron had a puncture.  How many cyclists does it take to . . . . ?

Day 5 Flat Liew Kiam Woon

Photograph courtesy of Liew Kiam Woon

Bitan was our turnaround point.  It was also where we had lunch.  Most everyone headed down this street looking for food.

Day 5 Bitun Street Luanne Sieh

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Here is an annotated photograph of what was on their table.

Day 5 Food Luanne (1)

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Mark and I went Western rather than Asian.  KFC for him and this old standby for me.  I couldn’t get enough of that Super Supao sports drink.

Day 5 Bitan 7-Eleven

We took a group photograph with the Bitan suspension bridge behind us.  The pedestrian bridge across the Xindian River was built in 1937.

Day 5 After Lunch Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

It was a 30km ride back to the Golden China Hotel.  We made a couple of pit stops along the way.  Along with the Bicycle Stores, there are restrooms at regular intervals on the bike paths.  Outstanding!

Day 5 Toilets

We got drenched again as well as lost for a while on the way back to the hotel.  But the paths and the views were so nice that we didn’t mind.

Day 5 Bridge Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Pai got his bearings back and pretty soon we were one traffic light away from the hotel.

Day 5 Almost back at the hotel Pai

Photograph courtesy of Pai Hsing C

We would all be packing our bikes that evening for the trip back home.  Everything was covered in sand, so a wash was in order.  There wasn’t a hose, so Ralf improvised.

Day 5 Hotel Bike wash Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Xiao Ger had arranged dinner for us at a restaurant / karaoke bar.  I have just noticed that Ralf’s shoes match the front door.

Day 5 karaoke restaurant Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Belting out the tunes.

Day 5 Karaoke TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Four of us snuck out during dinner to make a quick visit to the Taipei Rapha store.  We’ll see how long it takes the other R@SKLs to spot who has a new jersey.

We got back to the restaurant in time to sing Alles Gute dir to Ralf.

Day 5 Ralf birthday TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The night rocked and rolled on until 2.00am.  Celebrating the most perhaps was Pai, after successfully leading us through an excellent tour of Taiwan.  Thank you Pai!

Day 5 Pai can relax Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

THE R@SKLS in Taiwan: Day 4

Day 4 An Tong Hotspring Hotel Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

The plan for today had been a 125km ride from An-Tong to Hualien.  With 1,139 metres of elevation thrown in just for fun.

Pai modified that plan into something less ambitious.  We would instead drive part of the way and then ride.

While Xiao Ger adjusted bikes we all got suited up.

Day 4 Driver 2 TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Except for TH, who didn’t think it would be comfortable to drive for hours wearing bib shorts.

Day 4 An-Tong lobby Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

We left the An-Tong Hot Spring Hotel fairly late.  When we reached Hualien City 90km away it was time for lunch.  This is the front window display at our chosen restaurant.

Day 4 Lunch Selection

The R@SKLs can eat.  The dish at the top is the specialty of the house.  I’ll leave it to you to guess what it is.

Well-fed and happy!

Day 4 Lunch stop TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The entrance to Taroko National Park is thirty minutes from Hualien City.  The Arch of Taroko at the Taroko Gorge marks the start of the climb up Wuling Mountain.  With 3,500 metres of vertical gain in less than 80km, it is one tough climb.

Day 4 Wuling Gate

The view up Taroko Gorge.

Day 4 Wuling Gorge

There are things to see on the ground as well.

Day 4 Sidewalk detail

We hopped back into our vans and drove to the coast.  10km later we were looking at this.

Day 4 Ocean View

Day 4 Cliffs

Amazing scenery.

There was one “must visit” destination for some of the R@SKLs.  The Kavalan distillery in Yuanshan.  Taiwan’s first whiskey maker.  As it turned out, the Kavalan distillery was a long 95km north.

There was a lot of traffic on Route 9.  The slow driving conditions were made worse by roadworks where only one lane was open, necessitating long waits for your turn through the one-way section.

Work was being done to shore up the rock faces on the land side of the road.  We were lucky to have been on that road on Friday.  There was a landslide the next day which closed the road.

We saw some touring cyclists earlier in the day.  They wouldn’t be on Route 9 north of Suhua Township.  The tunnels are so narrow that bicycles are not allowed.

Day 4 Touring Riders Ralf Hamberger

Photograph courtesy of Ralf Hamberger

Ah Dar stayed in good spirits while driving the van despite the slow going.

Day 4 Driver Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We were too late for the tour when we got to the Kavalan distillery.

Day 4 Kavalan Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

But not too late for a quick sample taste and to buy out half the distillery shop.  There were some overweight bags at the airport when it was time to leave Taiwan!

Long before we reached the distillery we had resigned ourselves to not riding on this day.  To his credit, TH wasn’t too smug about not wearing his cycling kit.

We decided to eat dinner near the distillery to avoid the Friday evening rush hour in Taipei.  Funnily enough, we were starving, despite just sitting in a van for most of the day.

Goose was the specialty of the restaurant we ate at.  I can assure you that we ate more than just goose.

Day 4 Goose Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Our first task after checking in at the Golden China Hotel in Taipei was to retrieve our bike cases from the hotel’s basement storage.  The bike cases had been delivered to the hotel direct from Taoyuan Airport.

Day 4 Cases

After a shower, the more energetic in the group went to the Shilin Night Market.  One of the largest and most popular night markets in Taiwan, especially when it comes to food.

Day 4 Night Market Aaron Au

Photograph courtesy of Aaron Au

I didn’t ask Heng Keng, Mark, Luanne, or Lay what they thought of the WOW Frog eggs!

Day 4 Night Market Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng


THE R@SKLS in Taiwan: Day 3

Day 3 Jersey

We were all resplendent in bespoke jerseys today.  Thanks to Pai.  In addition to spending a lot of time and effort sorting out every detail of our time in Taiwan, he gave each of us a commemorative jersey.  Such a nice thing of him to do.

Thursday dawned bright and sunny.  We started earlier than we did yesterday.  By 7.00am we were getting ready.

Day 3 Getting ready to roll Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

By 7.20am we were lined up for the first group photograph of the day.

Day 3 Ready to roll Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Our route today took us northeast out of Taitung across the Beinan River and along the coast for the first 35km.

Day 2 Route

Our first stop was at the Jialulan Recreation Area.  Not even 10km under our wheels and we were already stopping for photographs.  You must admit that the views are stunning.


Day 3 Sea view Lai Von Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Day 3 Sea View Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

The site was formerly the waste soil dumping area when the Taiwanese Air Force was constructing the Jhihhang air base.  It has since been converted into an art and recreation area.

This is one of the kinetic sculptures at Jialulan.  Look closely and you can spot a fighter jet on training maneuvers.


I couldn’t resist the opportunity to photobomb TH and Voon Kiat.

Day 3 Photo bombing Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

It was probably karma that I then had a puncture 7km up the road.  Ah Dar was on the case like a shot.  Both he and Xiao Ger were worth their weight in gold on this trip.

Day 3 Flat TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We had decided to stop every 30km or so to top up bottles etc.  The rural township of Donghe was 35km from where we had started.  And there was, no surprise, a 7-Eleven.

Day 3 7-Eleven TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

It turns out that Donghe is the site of many international surfing competitions.  Which explains the statue outside the 7-Eleven.

Donghe marked the point where we crossed the bridge over the Mawuku River and turned left to start the long climb along Route 23, over the mountain to Fuli.

This is the profile of that climb.  It is 45km from Donghe to Fuli, with more than 1,100 metres of elevation.

Day 3 Elevation (1)

Profile courtesy of Veloviewer

Chai yo!  (Go go go!)

It is a long climb with a number of false summits.  In other words, the road tips downward and you start to pick up speed.  But only until the next corner reveals the road heading upwards again.


It is a long climb.

Day 3 Mid-climb rst stop Arthur Ang

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

Pai at one of those false summits.  You can see the road he was on in the distance behind his bicycle, and the hairpin turn on the left of the photograph.  From the road in the distance, where Pai is standing looks like the summit.  It isn’t!

Day 3 Mid-climb Pai

Photograph courtesy of Pai Hsing C

Pai was right when he warned us to fill our bottles and have enough to eat before starting the climb.  There is virtually nothing between Donghe and Fuli.  Except for the beautiful view.

Day 3 Descent view Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

And these two cool tunnels.

Day 2 tunnel Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Day 2 tunnel 2 Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

I stopped at the Hualien County Police Bureau on the other side of the climb to ask where the closest 7-Eleven was.  The answer was “In Fuli.”  5km away.

Those 5km were through paddy fields.  Of which there were more to come.

Day 3 Cimbing Done Kenix

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

The7-Eleven in Fuli had a seating area at the back of the store, with enough tables and chairs for fifteen or so people.  I camped there with my Super Supau and a couple of pineapple yogurts while waiting for the others to get to Fuli.


Ralf, Voon Kiat, and Lay were the next to arrive in Fuli.

Day 2 Fuil Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

It started raining while we regrouped in Fuli.  We had a very wet 9km ride from Fuli to the “green road of paradise,” which runs through vast rice paddy fields set against a mountain backdrop.  In recent years, the road has become better known as “Mr Brown Avenue / Mr Brown Road / Mr Brown Boulevard” after the area was used in a commercial for Mr. Brown Coffee.

It was still raining when we got to the green road.  This pavilion overlooking the paddy fields provided cover while we ate our boxed lunches, courtesy of Xiao Ger and Ah Dar.



A closer look at the rice paddies revealed clusters of salmon coloured eggs attached to the rice stalks.  Laid by little snails like this one.

The rain stopped while we were eating and the sun peeked out over the mountains.


We joined lots of tourists riding along and taking photographs on the “green road of paradise.”

Day 3 Paddy Fields Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

EVA Air filmed a commercial here in 2013.  In the commercial, a traveller relaxes beneath a tree, quietly savouring a free cup of tea.  To capture the timeless spirit of that popular advertising campaign, EVA Air invited contemporary artist Yang Mao-lin to create a work of art representative of the compelling scene.


We stayed off Route 9 on our way out of Chinshang township.  Riding instead for 25km along a quiet country road and then a bike path.

Day 3 Last sction Pai

Photograph courtesy of Pai Hsing C

The pace was calm and relaxed for 6km.  Suddenly the quiet air was disrupted by a shout of “LAI LAI LAI!” (COME COME COME!)  It was TH as he sprinted past everyone.

That LAI LAI LAI shout is the proverbial red flag to a bull to the R@SKLs.  A few always rise to the challenge and race off in hot pursuit.  This bit of fun went on for the next 15km.

We crossed Route 9 at the junction with Route 30.  2.5km later we were at our destination for the night.


We washed off our bikes and parked them in the inner courtyard.  Then we took showers ourselves before slipping into the hot pools.


The An-Tong Hotel hot springs are natural, with a faint but distinct sulphur smell.  The pool in the rear is hotter than the one in the front.  We made it a rule that you had to sit in the hotter pool before you could cool off with a cold beer in the warm pool.

Day 3 Hot pool cold beer

The hotel has a bar.  Which we felt duty-bound to use.

Day 3 Pre-dinner Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

I don’t think we bought anything to drink there though.  We had brought quite a stash with us.

Day 3 Rehydration Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Rehydration continued during dinner.

Day 3 dinner Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Day 3 Dinner Arthur

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

And on throughout the karaoke session which followed.  I didn’t know you could get karaoke lyrics on your mobile phone.

Day 3 Karaoke Arthur Ang

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

We had been noisy in the restaurant.  We were noisier in this private room.  Voon Kiat, Kiam Woon, and Luanne sought some quiet on the balcony.

Day 3 Balcony Arthur Ang

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

I believe the partying went on for some time.  And there might have been some hot pool skinny dipping as well.  You know what they say.  “What happened in An-Tong . . . .”

The R@SKLs in Taiwan: Day 2

The Kenting Youth Activity Centre is on a beach.  Those who were up early enough took a stroll to the rocky shore, taking care to avoid the vicious thorns on the plants lining the trail.

Xiao Ger and Ah Dar arrived with our bikes at 7.30am as promised.  We had planned to be on our way at 8.00am.  Last minute adjustments and photographing meant that we got away at 8.30am.

Day 2 Ready to Roll Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Some of us had rain vests and jackets on because the weather forecast for southern Taiwan was accurate.  It was Wednesday, and it was raining.

Day 0 Weather

Our route for the day took us close to the southernmost point of Taiwan Island before heading up the east coast to Taitung.

Day 2 Route (2)

We tried to get to Eluanbi Lighthouse, but it is only accessible on foot.

Day 2 Lighthouse

The rain had stopped as we approached the lighthouse.  But it wouldn’t be the last rain shower of the day.  And the 80 metre climb from the point where we turned north wouldn’t be the last climb of the day either.

Day 2 On the road Pai

There were another 490 metres of climbing in the next 28km.  The view from the top of the climb made the effort worthwhile.

Day 2 Rain on the way

Certainly worth posing for a group photograph there.

Day 2 Rain Coming Pai

Photograph courtesy of Pai Hsing C

Stopping for photographs became a regular occurrence.  The views were spectacular.

Day 2 Breakwater

Day 2 Coast Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

We stopped so often, including here to regroup and dry off after yet more rain, that it took us just under 3hrs 15min to cover the first 50km.

Day 2 After the climb Lay

Photograph courtesy of HC Lay

At the 50km point, we were riding along the beach again.  The roads were very very nice.  Smooth, clean, and very quiet.

Day 2 Beutiful Roads Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Day 2 What a view Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Those blue waters were irresistible.

Day 2 Ocean Photo Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

So irresistible that even the gods look out over the sea at Manzhou township.

Day 2 Statue

We stopped for a break at the Pingtung County Police Bureau.  We were 56km into the ride, and the climb of the day was just ahead.  700 metres of elevation over 21km.

Day 2 Snack Stop Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Many of the police stations in Taiwan are equipped to assist cyclists.  We could refill water bottles at the Pingtung police station.  There was also a pump and a basic toolkit available for roadside repairs.

Day 2 Police Station

I didn’t see a crayfish restaurant though.

Day 2 Crayfish

After we raided the support vans for bananas, candy bars, and cakes, we hit the climb.  That big lump in the profile below.

Day 2 Elevation (2)

Profile courtesy of Veloviewer

Xiao Ger had headed off to buy packed lunches for us while we were at Pingtung.  He was waiting for us when we got to the three-way junction about halfway up the climb.  Where, most conveniently, there was a roadside restaurant where the owner was happy to let us sit at tables to eat our packed lunches.

Day 2 Lunch stop 2 Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Of course, we bought lots of cold drinks there.  Including my favourite, a Taiwanese grapefruit flavoured sports drink called Super Supao.

Day 2 Super Supao

The biggest incident of the entire trip happened at that lunch.  TH cracked a tooth on a chicken bone hidden inside a dumpling.

Having two support vehicles suddenly became a godsend.  Ah Dar ferried TH, and a few others who had called it a day, to Taitung.  Xiao Ger followed while Voon Kiat and the rest of us tackled the second half of the climb.

Day 2 On the climb Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Voon Kiat might have preferred to do the climb on the back of this beast, rather than on his bike.

Day 2 Lunch stop 2 Voon Kiat 2

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

We were moving away from the coast but were high enough that the sea was visible in the distance.

Day 2 Jungle

The Shouka Bike Station is at the top of the climb.

Day 2 Poice Station after the climb Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

From the Shouka Bike Station it is 11km at an average speed of 40kph to the 7-Eleven store at Anshuo.  7-Elevens were our go-to places for snacks and drinks.  There are more than 5,200 7-Eleven stores in Taiwan.  So one was never very far away.  They have an amazing range of products on offer, and most provide in-store seating.  If we had needed it, 7-Elevens in Taiwan also provide internet access, photocopying, printing, bill payment, and shipping and pick up services.  You name it, and 7-Eleven probably has the solution.  They operate 24/7 to boot.

We were a few kilometres from the Anshuo 7-Eleven when we realised that we had left Kiam Woon behind at the store.  We stopped at this temple to wait for him.

Day 2 Temple

Kiam Woon had decided to ride with Arthur at a slower pace, so we headed off again.

We didn’t know it at the time, but the really hard work was ahead of us.  We were a couple of kilometres from the coast.  Which we expected to be very nice.  Much like the riding along the coast that we had done earlier in the day.   However, we were now on Provincial Highway 9.  An important highway along the eastern seaboard.  The traffic was suddenly an order of magnitude heavier than it had been for the first 90km of the ride.  Worst of all, there was a strong headwind.

Those 47km on Provincial Highway 9 were a challenge.  That section included 630 metres of elevation and a number of lane closures due to roadworks.  All ridden into a block headwind with the occasional bus passing, at speed, right next to us.

Day 2 Coastal road Bus Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

We took a break from battling the wind at 110km.

We needed another rest 15km later.  One of my cleats had come loose, which provided a convenient excuse to stop.

13km later we finally headed away from the sea, and the headwind eased.  It didn’t stop completely until about 10km from the Traveller Inn in Taitung.  Voon Kiat and I had pulled ahead of the others and were following the route which I had downloaded onto my Garmin.  We would have been better off sticking with Pai and the others.

Pai realised that there was a shorter route to the hotel that the way our Garmins were taking us.  Only 5km shorter, but after 150km and 2,300 metres of elevation, every kilometre less would have helped.

What did help was the fact that Voon Kiat had two front lights.  I hadn’t packed a front light.  By 6.15pm it was dark, and we still had 10km to go.

Voon Kiat and I needed one last 7-Eleven stop with about 6km to go.  If I hadn’t had an almond Snickers bar and a bottle of Super Supao, I would have had to call Xiao Ger or Ah Dar to come and rescue me from the edge of the road.

It was a tough day, but we all made it to the hotel

Day 2 Traveller Inn Tiehua Taituyng City

Our day wasn’t as tough as TH’s day.

Day 2 TH Dentist Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Everyone felt better after a shower and a change of clothes.  Dinner was at a restaurant across the road from the hotel.

It was Pai’s birthday.


Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Some of the R@SKLs had the energy to hit a night market after dinner.

Day 2 Night sights Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

I hit my pillow.

The R@SKLs in Taiwan: Day 1

Taiwan Banner

Photograph courtesy of

Last year Pai floated the idea of a R@SKLs cycling trip to Taiwan.  Pai is Taiwanese.  He offered to make all the arrangments.

In September 2017 planning started in earnest.  When to go?  How to get there?  Where to ride?  Where to stay?  What support would we need?  What would it cost?

By early December the dates for the trip had been confirmed.  April 10th to April 15th.

Pai flew to Taipei a few days before to finalise arrangements.  Kenix and Mark were also in Taipei a day or two early,  The rest of us flew into Taoyuan Airport on Tuesday.  Arthur, Heng Keng, Kiam Woon, Lay, Luanne, Simon, TH and I were on flights from Kuala Lumpur.  Aaron, Ralf and Voon Kiat flew in from Hong Kong.

This was the queue to depart Kuala Lumpur International Airport.  It took an hour to taxi to the runway.

Day 0 Taxiway queue

We unpacked and assembled our bikes in the Taoyuan Airport arrival hall.  All the bikes arrived unscathed.

The trio from Hong Kong had been the earliest to arrive.  While the rest of us were building up our bikes. Pai, Ralf, and Voon Kiat set the tone for our trip.  Yam seng!

Day 0 Setting the Tone Pai Tsing C

Photograph courtesy of Tsing C Pai

After all the bikes were assembled, we took the party outside the airport.

Day 0 Assembly Done TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

There was one casualty during the bike assembly process.  A broken seat post clamp on Heng Keng’s bike.

Day 0 Seat clamp TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Pai had laid on excellent local assistance.  Xiao Ger and Ah Dar would be driving the vans and providing mechanical support.  They knew where to get a new seat post clamp for Heng Keng’s Cervelo.  His bike would be sorted out in the morning

Our bikes were loaded onto the vans to be driven to the Kenting Youth Activity Centre, 450km to the south.  That is where we would spend our first night in Taiwan.

Day 0 Loaded

We started by rail.  First via the Taipei Metro from Taoyuan Airport to Taoyuan Station.

Day 0 MRT from Taoyuan Airport to High-Speed Rail station TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Everyone was hungry, so we had something to eat at Taoyuan Station.  Some of us opted for Mos Burger.

Day 0 HSR Station Dinner

Arthur had an aperitif while waiting for his wagyu beef burger.

Day 0 Aperitif Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

After dinner, we rode the  Taiwan High Speed Rail to Zuoying Station.  At times we were travelling at more than 295kph.

Day 0 HSR to Zuoying TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The Kenting Youth Activity Centre is about 115km from Zuoying.  We had planned to take the express bus.  The last express bus for the day had left by the time we got to Zuoying.  So we piled into three large taxis instead.

The centre is designed in the classical Minnan style.  Minnan or Hokio architecture features, among other things, the swallowtail roof with its upward-curving ridges.

Day 0 Kenting Nature Park Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

This is the entrance to a set of guest rooms.

Day 0 Kenting Nature Park Room 1

Within walking distance of the activity centre is the Kenting Street Night Market.  It is probably the biggest market in southern Taiwan, second only to the Fengjia Night Market in Taichung.

Where there is a night market, there is food.  And where there is food, there are R@SKLs.

Day 0 Kenting Night Market Food Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Day 0 Night Market Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

There are also lots of stalls sellingknickknacks, gadgets, accessories, and clothes.  I am just glad that Ralf didn’t wear these while riding!

Day 0 Cycling Shorts Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim