Xincheng to Toucheng

(40 KMs)

Thursday 14th March

Xincheng - Toucheng

Mackerel Wonderland

We were all on the same train so left together just after 9:30. It was nice to have a slower start to the day.  There was no one at the ticket barrier to let us through so we opened it ourselves so we had enough room for the bikes. Soon after an attendant came out to check our tickets and point us in the right direction.

A train pulled in soon after we arrived on the platform.  We weren’t sure it was the right one as it was still 10 minutes till the train was due to depart. Another attendant assured me it was our train and that I didn’t need to rush to the front carriage, We had purchased our tickets the day before to ensure that we could travel with our bikes, but there was no one else in the carriage. This train didn’t have dedicated bike spots, so we just parked the bikes in front of the seats.

Jonno got off first at Heping station as he was going to ride most of the route, just avoiding the busiest part.  We continued on to Suaoxin station, where a couple of other cyclists disembarked and there were quite a few cyclists milling about.

I had found a nearby coffee roaster and we headed there, passing near the Lucky Art Crayon Factory. We had already identified a taxi museum, that displayed different colour taxis, and saw a sign for a clog museum.  The coffee shop appeared closed, but the sign on the door said it was open and to ring the bell, which we did.  A young woman appeared and let us in.  It turned out that there was a very limited menu, but we could order pour over coffee.   Poor G couldn’t even order a cup of tea, The coffee arrived in a cup and a small wine glass, which was an interesting mix.  We swapped wine glasses so we could try different coffees,  The coffee was okay, definitely not one of the best. 

As we headed back to the bike route, we passed the Mackeral Wonderland.  Curious, we ventured in, to find a store selling a wide range of mackeral products, including mackeral plush toys in various sizes.  G bought one junior (40cm) and two babies (20cm).  The largest was 120cm, a little too big for G’s pannier.  We also bought a crab fridge magnet for Jonno and a turtle fridge magnet for me.

After a short trip on the main road, we turned onto a bike path that followed along the railway line passing Dongshan station with its interesting artworks and train engine.  We then picked up the Dongshan River bicycle trail, a beautiful path that wound its way along the river, with views to the distant mountains, and temples including one undergoing repairs.

We stopped at  the National Centre for Traditional Arts, which turned out to be a cultural village with shops selling traditional Taiwanese arts and crafts, food and clothing. We had a nice lunch in a little cafe and visited a few of the shops as well as an exhibition that looked at the use of plants in traditional art, craft and culture.  We enjoyed wandering through the precinct and buying a few souvenirs.

Back on the bike path, the river widened and we soon reached the coast,  We met up with Jonno briefly and continued on when he stopped for a rest, given that we had 45 kilometres less distance to cover, and we’d had a two hour lunch break.  At one point we had to detour off the path due to maintenance, and found ourselves cycling through a cemetery before returning to the beach.

Soon we could see Toucheng in the distance and Jonno caught up with us as we cycled into town.  He’d enjoyed his extended ride, with most of it being on quiet, hilly and windy roads, 

The First Shanhsi Hotel was one of the few places not to offer a free washing machine, but made up for it with a large room and massive table. There Crab and Turtle met their new magnetic friends. Mackeral emerged slightly later.

We had dinner next door at WooS Bar, with generous set meals, Jonno ordered the red eel, G and I had salted pork belly and Si had salmon.  The meals  came with soup, rice and side dishes.  Si and I also had a Spanish red wine with dinner, as a real treat!