Liang-tan (Inter-beach) Bike Trail
Cycling is one of the hottest activities to pursue in Taiwan. We got a small taste of it at Sun Moon Lake (Shuishe Pier-Toushe Dam) and hoped to repeat our experience in Hualien. Hualien County lies on the east coast of the country and is home to the stunning Qixingtan Beach. We picked up maps from our hotel and selected Liang-tan (Inter-beach) Bike Trail, which is also Course A on the map (not in post). I couldn’t find a map online and used Google Maps to chalk out a rough course of the route that we planned to follow. We had already covered Deyan Coastal Gardens and Qixingtan Scenic Area on the previous day. Our plan was to cover the course from our hotel to Liyu Lake.
We woke up to the gorgeous views of the sun and the sandy beach. We wanted to get a head start and cover most of the trail — before the sun was out and shining.
There are many bike rental shops around the beach. We could hire bikes from our hotel without a rental fee. We had to write the number of hours that we’d take it for, along with our local number. We weren’t sure for how long we’d need the bikes for and took it for a couple of hours.
I was excited. The views were unparalleled and it was still quite cool in the morning. Very few tourists were around the beach. Most of the cycling groups had already left earlier than us. They must have gone to Taroko Gorge because there wasn’t anyone in sight.
The Cycling Trail
Unlike the other half of the Qixingtan Bike Trail, the section near our hotel was uneven and under construction. This was way back in October (2018) and it’s possible that work on the trail would be completed now.
The waves had retreated and exposed the pebbled beach. Basil couldn’t resist touching the water and walked closer to the blue line. Swimming isn’t allowed on this beach because of the strong tide. The coast guard is vigilant and keeps a close eye on anyone who flouts rules.
First Lookout Point
We should have started earlier because the sun was pretty sharp by half past nine. It’s not fun to carry a bike uphill. The views from the first observation deck made the effort worth it.
From this point, the trail continues to rise, and we had to lift our bikes for most part of the trail. The trees protected us from the sun. Stray dogs chose to rest in the shade and we disturbed their morning nap. They weren’t too pleased and I just hoped that they wouldn’t chase us.
After a rather long climb uphill, we reached level ground. The sun was too sharp to enjoy the views and we decided to keep moving. There was a map (the last one for a long time) with instructions in Mandarin. The trip wasn’t turning out to be as much fun as I thought it would.
We didn’t know where we were headed after this. For some reason I expected the bike trail to run parallel to the beach and we had already exited Qixingtan Beach. Basil coaxed me to keep pedalling.
Follow the Road
The cycling path runs parallel to the road and in some parts overlaps with pavements. The cycling icon showed that we were on some trail, but we didn’t know on which one.
We approached some kind of port and we passed a huge factory. There weren’t too many signs to help us here.
We hadn’t factored the heat or lack of directions before starting out. We were getting frustrated with the bumpy road and humidity. I doubted how much further I’d go from here.
We reached a spot in the shade that was claimed by few strays. They didn’t like us speeding by and we had to stop or risk getting bit. I didn’t mind the brief rest-stop. We didn’t know where we were and it didn’t matter. Liyu Lake seemed like a far shot from here.
The Long Climb
I had read some blogs which said that most of the bike trails are not too difficult for anyone who is used to physical activity. My all-time best along Seoul’s Han River is around 25 Km and I was reasonably confident that I could cover more than three quarters of the Inter-beach Biking Trail. Again, we hadn’t considered the heat and the terrain before the trip. Also, it wasn’t possible to cover the whole trail and return to the hotel on the same day. In Seoul, we generally take the subway from the point we stop at.
Basil crossed the Red Port Bridge and looked at the other side. There’s a nice green patch that runs parallel to the port and there’s a route to get to the other side.
Most of the shops were closed on a lazy Saturday morning. We were lucky to find this cafe with a stunning view of the port below. I decided that I couldn’t continue further and it made sense to head back to our hotel. I was disappointed, but it was wiser to quit when I had energy.
Views from the Terrace
This cafe has an outdoor viewing area offering splendid views of the port below.
We spotted a cute bird hiding in the bush.
Going back always seems easier and faster. The heat was still bad, but the thought of going back to the hotel kept us going.
As we approached Qixingtan, we discovered a scenic spot that we had missed earlier in the morning. The views of the sea and mountains took my breath away.
It’s hard to capture the true beauty and expanse of the sea. I tried clicking some panoramic shots and it might look a little stretched.
The Route Back
A huge cycling tour group had started their tour. I felt sorry for them because it was getting very hot and they had a long way to go. We could spot the route that cut through the thick cover on the hill.
The wooden trail was easier this time and we tried to avoid sleeping strays. We reached the beach and tried to soak in the last views of the sea.
After returning our bikes, we rested for a bit, and went in search for lunch. This neighbourhood is a sleepy village town and most restaurants close early. We were eating most of our meals at the local convenience store and I was desperately hoping to have a freshly prepared meal. Thankfully, Sarlees was open and we had a real lunch after nearly 4 days.
Storm clouds were brewing in the sky and I wasn’t looking forward to the TRA ride back to Taipei. I hoped for the weather to change on the next day. It was time to head back to the city.