As I mentioned, I’m heading off on a rather unplanned trip to Taiwan next week, to check it out as a cycling destination. I suppose the unplanned modifier is really unnecessary in my case – the only trip I’ve *really* planned for in the past few years was to hike Machu Picchu, and that was so derailed by the birth of my nephew that we ended up in Prague, instead (did I just blame a small child for my poor judgement? Yes. Yes I did. It’s not like he can argue with me.). In any event, I’ve done what I do for any trip – I bought another Lonely Planet guide, and have started surfing the web. I feel like I’m coming up a little short.
On one hand, the web’s already been good to me – Taiwan resident Michael Turton (who found me, out of the blue) has quite graciously helped me assess my itinerary, and the author of Taiwan in Cycles has solicited his readers to make sure I “get to see what [I] really should be seeing.”
On the other, well, that language barrier is significant. There’s a *ton* of Taiwan cycling info out there – and it’s all in Mandarin. Believe me, I’m doing my best to get the basics down before I arrive. But I couldn’t possibly gather up enough in time to sort out a trip with it.
There are some decent English-language resources – like the Tourism Bureau’s “Let’s Go Cycling in Taiwan” site. It describes cyclo-tourism routes (with Google maps – a serious plus), gives contact information for local resources, and appears to hit the high points. But I don’t see the sort of individual feedback that I think really adds value. For the folks looking for racing in Taiwan, Craig Johns’ Taiwan Racing seems to be the place to go.
There are plenty of English-language blogs to mine for info. Swanky Frankie’s journey (complete with daily music tracks!), the Hungry Cyclist’s search for the perfect meal, and sites with a wider focus that briefly turn to Taiwan (yet produce useful stuff like telling you about “Ni you pijiu ma? You pronounce it: ni yo pee jyo ma? It means ‘do you sell beer?’.”).
But with all that, I’ve yet to discover a good site centralizing the basics – where, how, and how much. Which is fine enough for me – things are tastier when I have to work for them, instead of picking them off a platter. Can’t say that I’d turn down an assist, though.
Then again, sometimes you don’t need words at all. Check out Ewa Kamila‘s video of her solo tour across Taiwan (including the brief unpleasantry at 1:30):