Daren to Zhiben

(56 KMs)

Thursday 7th March

Daren - Zhiben

Hot springs of Zhiben

Breakfast was served at 8am and was a tasty mix of pink bread, scrambled eggs, vegetables, fruit and yoghurt.  Jonno only ate the bread so we had seconds on the fruit and yoghurt.

Si, G and I were moving just after 9am.  Fortunately the intermittent morning drizzle had stopped and though cloudy, the day was good for cycling. We passed a little pink dinosaur on the way out of town.  We were on the main, and only road, given the nearby mountains.  It hugged the coastline with its concrete tetrapod structures protecting the shoreline from erosion.

We passed a little fishing village, and some interesting sculptures before stopping at a lookout with panoramic views along the coast.  We ventured inland to a little town in search of Kituru cafe which served the best coffee we have had on the trip to date.

Back on the main road, we continued up and down the hills, with frequent spectacular coastal views and the odd sculpture. We stopped for lunch at a brunch restaurant where we tried something different.  G’s panini turned out to be a toasted sandwich, my triangle set was a jaffle with the crusts served separately and Si’s bagel was just that.

Once we had finished, the hostess presented us with two custard apples that she opened for us and gave us spoons so we could eat the sweet fruit.  Jonno caught up to us as we were leaving, and after a quick chat, he zoomed off ahead of us.  We continued a little more slowly and it started to drizzle, encouraging us to pick up our pace.  We donned our raincoats knowing we only had 5 kilometres to go. 

We stopped at a 7-11 for some supplies and a lady tried to explain something to us.  We worked out that there was a store next door selling local produce so G and I went in search of some interesting snacks including pumpkin and sweet potato chips.

Jonno had checked in to the hotel and, after checking out the troughs where you could boil eggs, we wheeled our bikes into the lobby.  We dropped off our gear and found our swimmers and swimming caps, intending to make the most of the hot springs.  We had the obligatory showers then followed the instructions, stepping first in the foot bath, then the shallow pool before entering the deeper pool. 

There were lots of places to sit and buttons to push, and we enjoyed all the different water features, including a range of massaging jets from the gentle to the more agitated as well as spouts that poured water at high pressure on our backs and shoulders.  The water temperature ranged 37.9 to 39.5 degrees depending on the temperature gauge.  A Taiwanese couple who had been sitting near the pool when we arrived had been joined by two friends, and they watched us with some amusement.

I tried the steam room which was around 40 degrees and then returned to the pool for a final time before we headed to the showers and our rooms for some snacks and rest before dinner.

We went to a little restaurant almost directly outside the hotel, which fortunately had an English menu. We ordered wild boar stirfry, three cup chicken (made with a cup each of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil) and sweet and sour whole fish as well as an omelette and fried rice.  The dishes were tasty and filing. 

For dessert, Simon decided to cut up one of the green apples we had been carrying for a couple of days.  Turned out it had a seed in the middle, and wasn’t an apple at all, but rather a jujube, a fruit mostly grown in southern Taiwan.  It was refreshing and crisp, tasting a little like a nashi pear.