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Taiwan Day 4 – Cycling Taichung 台中

Cycling Taichung 台中 was the best family activity from our 10D9N Taiwan itinerary! We also mentioned before that we prefer Taichung to Taipei.

When we were researching for Taichung attractions (and there are plenty!), cycling caught our attention. I knew we had to cycle through the railway tunnel!

東豐綠色走廊 and 后豐鐵馬道 (Dongfeng and Houfeng, with 鐵馬 Iron Horse referring to trains) are two popular tracks for Cycling TaiChung.

 

Cycling Taichung
Cycling Taichung

I had actually Googled for Dongfeng entrance, but our driver sent us to Houfeng.

Go and Google Map “隧道口烤肉租車中心” (GPS 24.299679, 120.735695) for estimated bike rental location.

We rented our bikes and cycled South to 九號隧道 Tunnel No 9. Trains used to run through the tunnel!

I would recommend Tandem bicycles and motorised bikes for those less fit adventurous.

 

 

The famous no 9 tunnel entrance, many folks will stop to selfie here, slow down.

The tunnel is long and straight, very windy, we kept shouting to hear our own echoes haha.

(take note the tunnel is quite narrow, one lane in each direction, and overtaking requires some skill, kids should be good at balancing)

This iron bridge (花梁鋼橋) await you once you exit the tunnel, we would love to admire the 360 degrees scenery ( and waterway below), but the bridge might be too narrow for us to linger longer. We did not want to block  other cyclists.

iron bridge
iron bridge

It was only 5pm, but Sun was almost ready to set.

 

HouFeng (Purple) and DongFeng (Yellow) are two popular cycling paths in Taichung. If you have 2 hours, go for HouFeng (estimated 8 km to and fro), 3 hours+, go for DongFeng (estimated 14 km to and fro). Dongfeng track is famous for the “golden” Shigang Dam. Tunnel itself is about 1.5 km.

The highlights for both routes are the old train tunnel and iron bridge. We saw many joggers along the route too.

Looking at the map below (imagine it is inverted 180 degrees), we started nearer to the ranch and cycle “South” towards No9 Tunnel (九號隧道) and the “iron bridge” 铁桥 in the direction of Dongfeng.

Refer to our Google map for the points estimation.
(A=Houfeng Rental bike area, B=Entrance to No9 tunnel, C=Iron Bridge, D=Intersection of two bike tracks, and rental for Dongfeng, E= Shigang Dam)

Only Happy faces, the boys manage to look out for each other. And we do not cycle in jeans normally :p

As the track is one directional, you will not get lost. We can ask impatient kids to cycle infront and wait for us. We always emphasized that Road Safety is No1 priority.   

There are a lot of shades along the route.   

Why did we enjoy the cycling trip so much?

It was a fun activity which the whole family can participate together.
Electric bike allowed some of us to chill and enjoy the scenery, rather than worry about peddling.  Where else can you cycle through a tunnel!

Video : Cycling Fun (YouTube link)

 

=== Additional Tips ===

-First question, are you going to start at Houfeng(Gps 24.299679, 120.735695) or Dongfeng(Gps 24.272623, 120.740969)?
We started at Houfeng (and some call this track Houli Bkeway too, since this area is 后里 Houli district.)

-Bicycle track are easy to navigate, but it is challenging to avoid those taking selfies! Try not to selfie inside the narrow tunnel or at the bridge!

-The cooler 15 degrees weather in December Taiwan is ideal for sports, it can be chilly when the wind blows.

-There are many other scenic cycling spots in Taiwan, example Google “Sun Moon Lake 日月潭, Hualien 花蓮, Furong 福隆 etc). Taichung Gaomei Wetlands 高美湿地 should offer spectacular sunset routes too

*We did mentioned in this post (with Google Map reference) that Taichung is big and train network not as mesh as Taipei’s. It will be more time consuming to travel by public bus. Do plan your trip such that attractions are near to each other.

– Nearest station to Houfeng bikeway ( 后里 Houli station), and nearest station to Dongfeng bikeway is (豐原 Fengyuan station)

-Once you reach your “start point”, be it Houfeng or Dongfeng, many bike shops would be competing for your business

-If you are unsure of bicycle skill or fitness, go for eBikes (aka Motorised)
-Estimated bike rental rates is NTD400 and normal bikes NTD300

-Buy extra mineral water (just in case), there are bikes with baskets

 

Our kids wanted another round of cycling after our Taichung experience. We guaranteed that Cycling Taichung will me a memorable activity for your family in Taiwan.

Do pop by below photo albums and previous Taiwan posts to view our Fun itinerary.

Photo albums :

Day 1 Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing
Day 3 Xitou Nature Education Area, Monster Village, Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Taichung (Zhongshe flower, ShengXin station, Cycling, Fengjia)
Day 5 Taichung (Animation Lane, Rainbow, Miyahara)
Day 6 Keelung 基隆

Blog posts :

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Taichung 台中 

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Tai Chung

Fun Gokart with Maricar Tokyo !

If I can recommend only one activity, go for GoKarting with Maricar Tokyo !

It is seriously FUN!
I first came across Maricar Tokyo from Mashable (link), how cool is that!

Some folks dressed in their Mario characters and drifting driving in Metropolis Tokyo! When I saw this YouTube clip, I was flabbergasted.

.. flashbacks of the fabulous scenes from Tokyo Drift  Fast and Furious, drifting through the crazy crowd at Shibuya Crossing! (YouTube link)

Maricar please take my Yen and give me a Gokart!

..nah the first rule of Maricar is NO Drifting (and no throwing of bananas :p) . You may overtake when it is safe, but I already had so much adrenaline driving on Tokyo street. Safety is our No1 priority.

YES, GoKarting at 60kmh on the street is already super COOL !

 

 

Maricar Tokyo Gokarts
Maricar Tokyo Gokarts

 

Take note there are 8 Maricar outlets in Tokyo alone, and there are franchises in Osaka, Yokohama and Okinawa too. Besides Maricar, there are many other vendors who do GoKart on the streets (price, costume and routes differs).

My experience is based on the Shinagawa Outlet #01 (GPS 35.621081, 139.741621 ) , Facebook link  (General Maricar website)

..before we drove off, we already had so much fun dressing up and playing our role, and wefie!

I am Luigi

First thing first, these are the few steps which you need to fulfill before heading down.

Registration and Booking

-Choose your  Maricar Tokyo outlet (out of 8) . Different outlets have different routes

-You can book through their Facebook app too. Maricar Facebook response is fast, they will advise you on the logistics

-Choose you package (1, 2 or 3 hours). Fee starts from 7000 Yen (estimated $85 SGD), please choose minimum 2 hours package

-Go and register your International Driving Permit (IDP, aka License) from AAS ($20, on the spot)

-Beg a Gopro and strap from your friend (or you can rent on the spot). Do not selfie while driving.

On the actual day

– Registration and payment might take up to 15 minutes, choose your costume (another 15 minutes)

** I would recommend you to go 1 hour earlier, cater for train and navigation delays. If you reach early, you can pick your choice costume too

-Safety briefing and GoKart mechanics, your GoKart comes with signal lights, head light, hand brake and horn too

We are ready to roll in Mario Kart style!

-There will be a front and rear guide. They will take photos and Airdrop to you at the end. Ramie was my guide at Shinagawa.

The cool Spyder (bottom right) is for those who prefer to “pillion” or who do not have driving license. Fees apply.

My 2 hours package brought me to Tokyo Tree and Shibuya crossing! Checkout my Maricar video below (Facebook link).

 

Our Maricar Tokyo convoy of crazy characters ! Bowser, Mario, Luigi, Mr Potato, Angel and MonsterInc’s James. I spotted Nemo, Sesame Street and Minions in other convoys too! (more costumes at this hashtag #Maricar )

We will just pose silly at every stop, or wave to the other road users and pedestrians.

Yoshi costume is cute, and Mushroom (Toad) is not available today.

My trusted GoPro 5 session kept the Fun rolling (for extra juice, I would recommend the ultra slim 6700 mAh Ravpower 6700)

Maricar Gokart Tokyo feels exhilarating, you get to see the city from another angle!

Look, Tokyo Tree!

Shibuya crossing!

Hello Mario brother! My kids were mad jealous when they saw my GoKarting video!

Other tips to enjoy MariCar GoKart in Tokyo

 

a. I cannot emphasize enough, go Early. It is not easy for tourists to navigate Toyko subway :p

b. I chose the earliest package at 1000, so I could finish in time for lunch.
Some might recommend a 3 hours package from 4 to 7pm, so you get to play in the day and night too. Shibuya in Neon should be spectacular!

*c. Choose the package which has Shibuya Crossing! (only three outlets) Other outlets might offer circuits with icons Ginza, Skytree,  Ueno, Rainbow Bridge and Odaiba.

d. You need to bring along your Passport, Driving licence, and IDP

e. There is a small pouch in your GoKart for a few loose items (phone, passport, Driving license) Leave everything else in the locker.

f. You can rent a GoPro (and strap) at Maricar

g. Maricar GoKart Tokyo adventures are weather friendly (sun or rain), unless it snows

h. If you are going during Winter (0 to 10 degrees), layer up, I got 6 layers under my Luigi costume. Extra Jackets and Glove are available from Maricar, while stocks last

*i. Make sure you clear your bladder before riding off. It is no fun to peel off the layers in a public loo. Those with 3 hours package definitely need to go to the loo once.

j. For a even better experience? Gather your friends or spouse along!

k. Keep smiling! At every junction, someone will be curious enough to take photo of your Mario Kart gang!

l. Be vigilant and look out for each other. We are driving on the road and GoKarts’ lower profile might be harder to spot . Have Fun but Be Safe!

j. As long as you keep to your lane and do not perform stunts, Maricar Tokyo is relatively safe

Maricar karting in Tokyo is One of the craziest things I have done in my life. YOLO!

-Nintendo had earlier sue Maricar for brand infringements
-We heard Police will enforce laws to mandate Helmet and seat belt in the future.

Meanwhile, participants can still ride and enjoy the street adrenaline!

 

Checkout our kids Mario Kart experience at Permas Jaya (photo above)and Mario Kart Wii . Japan experiences are documented on Instagram hashtag #SengkangBabiesJapan

 

Taiwan Day 3b – Xitou Monster Village and Sun Moon Lake

Xitou Monster Village 妖怪村 should appeal to visitors young and old. I have never seen anything so queer or weirder before. Monster Village itself has a Japanese feel and you can expect horror theme (and ghouls) around the corners.

We had visited the scenic Xitou Nature Education Area earlier, read about the bamboo forest here, before popping over to Monster Village for lunch.

 

Taiwan Day photos uploaded to this Facebook album.

 

 

Monster Village
Monster Village

Monster Village looks like a mini Japanese popup, hidden in the forest.
Torii gates, Ramen, huge Japanese lanterns and sake barrels too!

Xitou Monster village looks more mystifying with the mist !

A favourite meeting spot is the road along the “Post Office”. This is a real post office but it is easier to spot the huge Red Nose.

 

We can actually cover Monster Village in under 45 minutes, but you need to look closer for the Fun (and sometimes crude) stuffs haha.

Maybe not too close haha.

Parents would be hard pressed to explain some product with human anatomy :p haha

(L) Contraceptive concoction!
 Weird beyond description haha, one movie I will not be seeing with my kids

Monster Village would not be complete without its Monsters. Souvenirs, mascots, cosplay, you see monsters on the roof, in keychains and even your food!

We definitely would not selfie with it (or is it him or her) at night!

Game time, Monsters are let loose, not to scare folks but to gift prizes! Visitors just need to QR code and win.

Besides the crass jokes and puns, there are less harmful activities. The rubber “metal club” looks cute but you might have problem convincing Singapore customs.

Finally, our first cup of bubble tea, girl is so happy 🙂

Only one thing is constant here, the buses keep bringing in loads of tourists. So is it worth coming? I would say Yes just for the novelty.

 

Next stop, Sun Moon Lake 日月潭.

Boon Yee kicked me because he blamed me for the lost opportunity to cycle!

Nice scenery around the lake, I can imagine how romantic it is to cycle under the autumn leaves.

** If you cannot wait, do pop by our Taichung cycling photos, cycling happens to be our No1 Highlight in Taiwan  (link cycling)

 

Located at a central location, our HomeAway unit is just a few steps from “Shuishe Pier Plaza”, where you can book a boat or bicycle.

 

It takes 2 hours to cycle one lap around the lake. Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s biggest inland water body and you are supposed to see the shape of a Sun and Crescent within the lake (thus the name Sun Moon Lake).

 

Introducing our HomeAway unit at Shuishe Pier (GPS 23.864884, 120.911467) . More details on HomeAway webpage.

 

Love the loft style unit, kids had the freedom to choose their own “floor”. everyone can have their own comfortable bed.

The huge amount of space is ideal for big families, just take note the upper floor’s ceiling is designed for those under 1.6m 🙂

 

 

The best thing about our HomeAway unit is we got two separate showers, no need to queue. This is really a bonus for big families.

You may prepare a simple meal, but we chose to hunt around for our dinner.

Spotted Carton King at Shuishe Visitor Center (GPS 23.866467, 120.911275)

We had missed Carton King up at Cing Jing, so it was a surprise find for us in Sun Moon Lake.

Perhaps the “paper boat” (below) is designed with Sun Moon Lake’s water theme in mind?

 

 

Our first time at 紙箱王 Carton King, and the cutlery and furniture caught our attention. Everything is made of paper and cardboard!

Box creations  and presentation are super creative. How did the paper bowl hold the hotpot without burning?

 

Our set meal is NTD390 per pax, so so food quality but we are paying for the “cardboard” experience too 🙂

 

Carton King facility always has a restaurant and souvenir store side by side. Again, every decorative item and toy is painstakingly crafted from paper!

Love the designs, so unique and beautiful, especially those crafts with illumination.

We slowly walk back to our vacation unit.
Good Night Sun Moon Lake 🙂

 

The GPS for above attractions can all be found on our G Drive (link). Photos and previous blog post (including our 10D9N Taiwan Itinerary) are all listed below.

*Use promo code “HomeAwaySKBabies” and enjoy 8% off your booking. Valid until 31 Mar 2018.

Photo albums :

Day 1 Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing
Day 3 Xitou Nature Education Area, Monster Village, Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Taichung (Zhongshe flower, ShengXin station, Cycling, Fengjia)
Day 5 Taichung (Animation Lane, Rainbow, Miyahara)
Day 6 Keelung 基隆

Blog posts :

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Taichung 台中