11/1-11/2 Over the Mountains and through the Fog
When we arrived at the Formosan Naruwan Hotel in Taitung the evening before, the sky was active — high clouds moving quickly across the striking landscape. Indeed, the town itself is charming, cradled between the end of the coast range and the sea.
But further south across the China Sea, the Typhoon named Krossa was brewing, its progress charted on local weather stations and satellite maps. It was moving westward towards Vietnam, and its long spinning tendrils stretched out North and South, and they were touching the southern part of Taiwan where we were heading.
In Taitung the morning dawned cloudy with occasional spitting rain, but we gathered outside the hotel in our motley riding outfits and decided to go for it despite the weather. It was to be another long day, out of the Rift Valley now and down south along the coast for about forty-five miles on route 9, then turning inland, west up over the central mountains to a pass, and finally descending southwest on a small one-and-a-half lane road, route 99, for about twenty miles to the town of Sichongxi. There we had reservations at a quiet little inn at the edge of town called the South Wind Resort. We were there when the storm caught up with us.
Partway down the coast we stopped at one of the ubiquitous 7-11 stores in Dafu, where our guide David produced and entire bag of sugar canes.
Full of fruit and coffee we wandered up the street to a curious Catholic church originally established by the Spanish for the local aboriginals and dedicated to St. Joseph. All the decorations, art and carving, and the architecture of the building itself was based upon local religious figures and habits.
On we traveled to another seaside town, Daren, where we stopped at a local eatery for lunch. It included the usual avalanche of food, mainly seafood. Afterwards the owner brought out a beautiful tea set and served us some delicious Oolong tea.
We pressed on, up and over the headlands before turning inland.
Then came the steep climb up to the pass.
It was nearly dark, and it had already been raining when we arrived at Sichongxi. The inn was comfortable, and we celebrated the end of this long day before going out to dinner.
We retired to rest up for the next day’s adventure, but sometime after midnight we all awoke to the sound of rain pouring down outside our doors and windows. The typhoon further south had spun off some very serious rain; it didn’t simply pelt down, in came down in sheets, pounding on the buildings, trees, and an impossibly sodden lawn.
The rain had not let up by morning, but we had breakfast and packed up as though we were going to ride. It was supposed to be a short day, with a simple ten or fifteen mile ride down into Kenting, at the very southern tip of Taiwan. But this was not a day for riding.
Michael provided us another tasty tea tea service; then we packed our bags, put them into the van, and, except for Rich and some of the crew, simply drove the short distance into Kenting.
By days end we had moved ourselves and our bikes down to our new hotel, where we would be for two nights. We were certain that things would get better, that the Typhoon would blow itself out and that we could again pick up our adventure where we had left off.