Chiayi to Tainan

(65 KMs)

Friday 1st March

Chiayi - Tainan

Along the irrigation canals

I had found a new bike path when searching for bike routes in Tainan and Si adjusted our route accordingly so that we could avoid busy roads.  Si, G and I left just before 9, leaving Jonno to check out at his leisure. It was a slow trip through the city with lots of traffic lights but eventually we reached the quieter rural roads.

A few kilometres further on, we picked up the bike path which ran along the Chianan Irrigation Channel. It was only opened in March 2022 and according to the article I found, the 88 km long Igreen road bikeway “exposes visitors to a deep understanding of Taiwan’s rural areas” and is recommended for riders “who love in-depth travel”.  It was a lovely, flat route and easy riding except for the annoying little scooter barriers leading up to and from each intersection, that were just the wrong height for bicycles with panniers. Lots of trees had been planted along the path and it was very quiet - we only met one other cyclist on the route. 

It started to drizzle when we were 5 kilometres out from Longtian station, but fortunately the rain held off.  We purchased tickets for our bicycles for the next train to Tainan and G and I dashed off to the FamilyMart to stock up on lunch provisions.  We were in position for the first carriage with a few minutes to spare.  The carriage was quite empty, in contrast to our first train ride, and we were able to lock the bikes in position and sit down on the plush seats to enjoy our lunch on the 30 minute ride.

Tainan was a busy, bustling city and the supposed 11-kilometre Miele bikeway seemed to just be a lane marked on some of the busiest roads.  We made our way to Chikhan Tower (formerly Fort Provintia) which was original built as a fort by the Dutch in 1653 and originally used as the administration centre during the Dutch’s occupation.  It was later used as a Chinese-style pagoda in the Qing dynasty, an army hospital during the Japanese period and is currently a museum. 

With half an hour till we had arranged to check-in, we did a quick detour to Snail Alley, a network of narrow pedestrian lanes with a population of little snail artworks and statuettes scattered through little nooks and along fences. We continued onto Shennong Street, with its quirky shops and cafes before returning to the main road to meet Jonno at our accommodation, Lucky 1960, a little terrace house in a tiny alley.

After dropping the panniers off, we headed out to Anping, back along busy roads until we reached the river which had a nice cycling path.  The wind had picked up and it was quite cold so we moved quickly to keep warm.  First stop was the Anping Tree House, formerly a warehouse of Tait & Co, one of the top five trading companies in Anping during the Japanese colonisation. An enormous banyan tree has taken over the abandoned warehouse, with aerial roots and trunks embedded in the crumbling walls and taking over the ceiling. 

The Anping Fort was nearby and we had enough time to wander through the buildings and visit the little museum. Completed in 1634, Fort Zeelendia (as it was then known) was built by the Dutch as a defensive stronghold and the inner fort later became the seat of government for Taiwan, before silting of the shoreline reduced the fort’s importance and it was neglected and damaged.  It was rebuilt after World War II and renamed Anping Old Fort   The Surveillance Post with its panoramic views over the city was built in 1945 to monitor the surrounding area. 

We detoured via Anping Old Street and bought some sweet egg rolls for dessert and stopped at a supermarket on the way home to pick up some supplies, including a bottle of French Bordeaux as the cold weather meant it was a night for a glass of red wine.  I suggested the Essence of Chicken restaurant for dinner, but the indoor seating was full.  We were offered a table outside right next to a busy four way intersection in the cold wind, so decided to find somewhere else.  A couple of Taiwanese girls came out of the restaurant and suggested some alternative restaurants.  We decided on a noodle restaurant and had a quick walk through the Blueprint Culture and Creative Park that would have been more interesting during the day as many of the shops and cafes were closed. 

The noodle shop did takeaway only, so we settled on a little Japanese restaurant that offered a range of pastas and risottos as well as Japanese curries.  It was warm and comfortable and only a block from our accommodation as we walked quickly back after dinner - definitely the coldest night we have experienced so far