I knew that after a visit to the Pastureland Resort Experience, life was going to be a pale imitation of its former self, but I was determined to soldier on.
It seems that Guanshan Township is part of the great Taiwanese bicycle experience. Sometime after our last visit, a bicycling craze overtook the island, with thousands of people touring round the island. As a former long distance bicycle rider, it’s a craze I can approve of, even if the idea of riding a bike on Taiwan’s roads fills me terror.
Dozens of places in Guanshan rent bicycles and several of the hotels offer bicycles for their guests. Neither of my kids can ride a bike, but the hotel offered bicycles built for two and we were able to coax Michelle onto one. (James was not the slightest bit worried about it.) Michelle road with me and, unfortunately, none of the bicycles were big enough for someone 6’3″. I extended the rusty seat post well past the minimum insertion line, just enough to let me peddle without smacking the handlebars with my knees (except when turning) and we were off. Still, a full downstroke, my knees still fully bent and I couldn’t get much power, making the ride difficult.
We rode about 5 km part way around the nicely built bicycle path that circles the town and the important part was that Michelle had a lot of fun and I have hopes she’ll really try to learn to ride her bike when we return to Arizona.
Between the incredibly uncomfortable seat, heavy bike weight, Michelle’s extra weight, poor gear ratio, no leg extension, high humidity and most importantly, my complete lack of shape, it was a brutal 5km.
I really want a bike like this. (OK, technically a trike)
After we checked out it was on to Taitung and then the Jhihben Hot Springs, or so I thought, but this trip had at least one more surprise for me.
A Visit to the Chu Lu Ranch! A tourist dairy farm! Oh Joy, I feel I was dealt a Royal Fizzbin.
So, after an hour or so, plowing around another dairy farm, in deadening heat and humidity, I can honestly say I’ve seen all the dairy farms I ever want to see in Taiwan, if not the entire world!
I must say, Chu Lu Ranch is better than Rareseed Ranch, if you must go to one or the other.
As we had to pass through (or at least near) Taitung before we went to Jhihben, I decided enough was enough. I wanted to eat at McDonald’s. I’ve been in Jhihben before and I know the food selection is limited. I was prepared for that, but I wanted a western meal on the way through, and I wasn’t above priming the kids to get them to want McDonald’s, too. My father-in-law clearly didn’t want to go, but I did, and he subjected me to a second cow farm. Fair is fair. I deserved McDonald’s. (Really, is that a sentence that’s ever been written in English before?)
Leaving the cow farm and with the GPS and the iPhone, I was able to navigate us directly to the nearest McDonald’s, where I had fried chicken. (McDonald’s in Taiwan, and indeed throughout much of Asia, sells fried chicken. It’s really quite the best thing on their menu, I don’t know why they don’t have it in the US.)
That bit of necessary business out of the way, we headed on to Jhihben, where we got a resort hot spring spa room that is to die for. Not only do they have the standard outdoor spas, but the pipe it into the spa rooms, too. (OK, the whole nonsense about the natural water being any different than heating water is just a huge marketing thing, but it’s still nice to soak in the hot, hot water.) The rains came, which prevented us from doing much outside, but I soaked my weary, bicycled-tortured legs and it was good.
We slipped back into Taitung for dinner and, after much wandering the streets, we ended up at the only Indian restaurant in Taitung. The menu was limited, but it was good.
Tomorrow, we take the day in Jhihben before catching the train back to Taipei. I’m taking things one day at a time, but my goal for tomorrow is simple: no cows.
Wish me luck.