Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Heading to Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

So it turns out that I’m going to Taiwan next week, courtesy of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB).  I’ll be checking out the cycling along the east coast of Taiwan (primarily in Taitung and Hualien) and in Taipei.  The agenda is packed, but I hope to push out regular updates while I’m there, and then produce some more thoughtful pieces after I return.  Free time will be at a premium, but if you’ve been (or are thinking about going) and have any suggestions for must-sees in the areas I’ll be in, please let me know.  One universal response I’ve already gotten is Taroko Gorge, which I’m pleased to say I’ll be visiting.

I’m particularly excited to be coming at this trip from a cycling-specific perspective.  While my personal travel has come to more frequently involve cycling (riding the Koppenberg in Belgium, mountain biking in Australia, or hitting the road in Nova Scotia), I’ve never made an overseas trip for the primary purpose of riding.  It’s something that I’ve been thinking about (one day, to the Giro!), so I’m really quite excited to be doing this, and hope that – afterwards – I can help others figure out what’s involved in doing this themselves.

As you might already know, I quite enjoy writing about travel and all of its bits and pieces.  From the need to move, the means of getting there, and the destinations themselves.  Sometimes you can do it with just a photo.  Other times, many words are required.  And then there’s always music.  If I do this right, I’m sure Taiwan will give me all three.

Finally, I want to note that this only happening because of Richard Masoner, who was kind enough to connect me with the folks at the TTB.  He will be hosting much of the content that results from this trip at Cyclelicio.us.  If you’re into cycling, you’re already reading Cyclelicio.us.  And if you’re not, give it a try.  My larger travel pieces will be here (along with everything else . . . eventually), but the cycling-related stuff will show up at Cyclelicio.us first.  I’ll soon be posting more about the trip itself, but I thought this would be a good way to kick things off.

Photo by Alex Lin.


An Issue of Fundamental Decency


A Brief Note on Language


  1. Great place to get a new frame and/or bike.

  2. MB

    Believe me, Geof, I’ve been thinking about just that (cx, anyone?). But first I’m going to have to get over just how much I’m going to have to pack for this on the *way there*, nevermind the return trip. My usual laptop + carry-on small duffel will not suffice, I’m thinking . . .

  3. Sasha

    And now we know why you were looking to borrow glass. Have a great trip, looking forward to the photos. Try to take some of things non-cycling, please.

  4. MB

    Yeah, I was trying to consolidate packing by replacing a few primes with something that could cover the range.

    And I’ve been known to take a decent picture or two without a bike in it.

  5. Thanks for the tip about the site, Cyclelicio.us

    Taiwan deserves to get much more attention from America, especially since they are not a Communist led dictatorship, and have proved to be a shining example of a free market economy to their Asian neighbors.

    I once hosted a Taiwanese Naval Officer on my ship and he told me that the air quality in the manufacturing sectors could get really bad. That was over a decade ago. During your visit, I hope that you can assess how well Taiwan is blending its manufacturing with environmental protection.

  6. Mo Syed

    Mark – this is awesome, have fun! Look forward to the full report. I’d like to share this on Facebook, can you provide me a link or are you planning to set up a button on your site so that we can share with FB directly?

  7. MB

    Barring unimaginable circumstances (say, me being discovered as having the perfect voice for Taiwan’s next boy band), there will never ever be a Blacknell.net page on FB. However, if you just drop this link – https://blacknell.net/dynamic/2010/10/04/heading-to-taiwan/ – onto your FB profile, it should show up just fine. As things get rolling, I’ll probably create an index that will serve a useful purpose.


    Will definitely talk about the environment, Tyler.


    Mo, you know what happens when buses are involved. So you’re really going to enjoy this.

  8. Sounds exciting. Bringing a camera while on the bike I trust? ;)

    Safe travels

  9. Glad to have the publicity, we have the greatest cycling in the world in Taiwan. I hope you can discover it.

    I’ve done the coast many times, it is one of the best parts of the island. If you want ideas, you might want to peruse:



    Our most recent trip down the east side of Kenting peninsula might also be of interest.


    and this one from last year on the neglected NE coast:


    Feel free to call, email, whatever.

    Michael Turton
    The View from Taiwan

  10. Have fun with this, Mark!

    @JTylerBallance – Taiwan’s air quality has improved significantly over the past decade with better air pollution restrictions. Besides cleaner air, though, another result has been the export of polluting industries to mainland China, same as we do here in the USA.

  11. Richard

    Definitely have to visit the east part of Taiwan tho…especially the “Chi-Sing-Tan Bay” in Hualian County. Beautiful coastline! http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/File:Taiwan_2009_HuaLien_City_CiSingTan_Bay_FRD_8326_Book_Front_Cover.jpg

  12. welcome to Taiwan!!

  13. Robert Kelly

    Mark will be on the east coast. It’s the cleanest part of the country with a population density like that of Coast Rica or East Timor. It’s a different world from the west coast which is why it’s emerged as the most popular cycling route.

  14. MB

    The air’s certainly great, Robert, and I can see why folks enjoy cycling here. I’m seriously blown away by what Taiwan has to offer. I hope I can do it justice as I write more about it over the next week.

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