Cycling Ruisui to Yuli, Day 3 along East Rift Valley

*Video will be uploaded soon*

Cycling Ruisui to Yuli, Day 3 brought us to beautiful Hualien East Rift Valley 花蓮花東縱谷!

Personally, this was the MOST SCENIC route on our 4D3N Cycling adventure!

We wanted to go slow and soak in the views and fresh air.
We covered less than 50km from Ruisui to Yuli to Antong ( 瑞穗, 玉里, 安通).

 

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You might want to review our Day 1 journey from Hualien to Ruisui here.  We are still on Hualien East Rift Valley 花蓮花東縱谷, which stretches 150km from Hualien to Taitung.

I suspect this area could be Taiwan’s rice bowl, there are so many padi fields! Although many tourists would only remember Chisang’s famous Mr Brown 池上伯朗大道 . Maybe Bento and 金城武 :p

Imagine yourself on a TRA train, the window view would be Yellow, Green or Golden depending on seasons, and Blues (sky and ocean) So Romantic!

More photos on Taiwan Tourism website or this Instagram Erv_IG account (花東縱谷_官方).

Anyway, we followed GPS and headed South on County Road 193. This road runs parallel to Highway 9 (in Hualien), and actually starts at Xin Cheng 新城.

Internet would recommend the 20km stretch between Ruisui and Yuli as the Best segment.

Bicycle panniers packing
Bicycle panniers packing

On a side note, kids can now pack their panniers faster.

Click on our custom map for the attractions on East Rift Valley

Within 5km from our start, Green Fields greeted us already!

Cycling Ruisui to Yuli
Cycling Ruisui to Yuli

Fresh air!

Courtesy stop at Police Station 花蓮縣政府警察局玉里分局春日派出所 . Refill our water and toilet break. Police stations are pit stops for cyclists 🙂

  

Many small towns will have these cute landmark drawings. Even the bustop has a cute black bear decoration.

Before we proceed further, most of the attractions on this post would be listed in our Google Sheet itinerary. The distance marker are relative to Hualien Train Station.

With a name like 玉里天堂路 (GPS 23.432846, 121.377370 ), we could not want to miss this spot.

Winding road, only green plains and mountains. Let the wind blow against the lush stalks.

台灣稻草田
台灣稻草田

Google will highlight two popular eateries around. 谷悠GuU咖啡民宿 and 米達雞排 (best chicken chop but only for dinner). The former has closed already, too bad for us.

There will be some slopes but gradient is not too steep.

The green fields along us has a calming effect.

赤科山 will be covered by Daylily (金针花) in August September, but would take cyclists a few hours to ascend!

Map below, we are near to Yufu Bikeway 玉富自行車道. From the photo below, the bike route is built over the old train route.

We had one more stopover before exploring further.

Yufu is reputed to be the best cycling track in Taiwan! This bikeways below are exclusive for bicycles, and used to be the old railway track.

This is the bridge (GPS 23.321188, 121.330339) where you can STEP on two tectonic plates! European and Philippines plates.

Instagram spot.

Other attractions near to Yuli. Many would actually stay 2D1N in Yuli to explore nearby attractions.

We had to cross Route 30 (over the mountain) to Highway 11 the next day, thus we missed the following attractions :

關山鎮 (and another famous bikeway, Guangshan 關山環鎮自行車道)
池上伯朗大道 Mr Brown Boulevard
瓦拉米步道 Walami Trail
六十石山金針花海

As we have more time today, we headed to Yuli town for their famous noodles.

傳統美食玉里麵 . Those from Singapore and Malaysia will find the noodles so so compared to our mee pok 🙂

Do go and try yummy Taiwan version.

 

85 degree cafe cake and coffee. We just wanted a cool spot to chill, and the cakes are good too 🙂

Sometimes kids are to engrossed in their phones, they might not realised if their bikes are stolen! (it is locked if we stay longer than 10 minutes)

Exploring more Fun under the sun, and iconic red bridge in Yuli “客城鐵橋 Kecheng Iron Bridge” (GPS 23.318884, 121.311827).

There are a few angles to capture the bridge, hardcore fans will wait for the trains. We had fun playing tourists 🙂

We hop back on to Yufu Bikeway to explore the other end. This bikeway is 10km one way.

Cutting across two old railway stations (Antong 安通 is in photos below).

This is the other “old” station, Dongli.

..and the new Dongli station 東里車站. The train passing by Keching Red Iron bridge will pass this station too.

東里車站
東里車站

Folks will visit the 2nd level for an elevated view of the padi fields.

Relive our Cycling Ruisui to Yuli  🙂

With that, we make our way to the last stop of the day, Antong Hot Spring Hotel. Do take note you have to exit Yufu Bikeway at Antong Old Train Station, refer this Google Map link.

Slope up is quite steep, but Google Map indicate it as flat. I was beginning to doubt our fitness level :p

Fortunately, it is a short 2.4 km.

安通溫泉飯店
安通溫泉飯店

I was there for the hot spring and onsen, but kids found out about the Pokemon Gyms haha.

There are plenty of pools for everyone, and I found it weird that management did not enforce shower cap for visitors :p

Sulphur smell is strong but we got used to it after a while.

We badly need a HOT soak and the hot water soothes our tired legs and shoulders.

Everything met our expectations except two of us got bitten by bed bugs!
Maybe we were unlucky, do take precautions.

Saw a story of how Yuli Noodle became famous.
We had instant noodle in our room 🙂

Be it hiking, cycling or even rafting.  Farms and sightseeing await visitors and explorers.  Hualien East Rift Valley 花蓮花東縱谷 will not disappoint 🙂

More details and photos here -> https://taiwaneverything.cc/2016/05/15/east-rift-valley

Stay tune for more adventures and photos.
Do follow our IG Story too #sengkangbabiesTaiwan #SengkangBabies花東

Refer to our Taiwan cycling posts here :
*Google Sheet itinerary

*4D3N Cycling itinerary and summary
-Day 1a-Hualien-Taiwan Railway Online booking
-Day 1b-Hualien-Taiwan Giant bicycle rental and Hualien attractions
-Day 2-Cycling Hualien to Ruisui
-Day 3-Cycling Ruisui to Yuli, route 193 is SO beautiful!
(wip) Day4-Antong to Donghe (Coastal Highway 11)
-Day 4/5 – Surfing at Dulan
(wip) Day 5 – Taitung, Kaohsiung, Home

ps.. Do follow our Cycling adventures on Instagram hashtag #Cycling

If time permits, check out this 3D bear picture on the paddy field “玉里熊讚彩繪田“. Ask around first as the Drawing would be bare after harvesting :p

 

Taiwan Day 1 – Reference our Google Map for GPS and Aowanda National forest

We will cover Aowanda National Forest 奧萬大國家森林 and our itinerary in this blog post.

We took 3 to 4 months to plan our Taiwan trip. After zooming down the number of days we can spare, we focus on the areas which we wish to visit.

(do read our 10D9N summary here)

Both me and Mrs wanted to explored the less touristy area, for a more memorable experience.  I planned for too much hikes and cycling, kids wanted some “shit” I-mean-Fun-novelty cafe, but the only thing we all agree was to sample more street food. Yes, Night Markets 🙂

aowanda national forest
Aowanda National Forest

 

Besides Taipei and Kaohsiung, many other cities have lesser developed public transport system, or the Metro is not as wide spread.
One good example is Taichung, which is better served by bus network rather than train.

You should plan to visit attractions which are nearer to each other. Taichung is huge and contain many attractions (Not including those in neighbouring Miaoli, Nantou, Tainan yet!)

Do visit our itinerary (Google sheet) and sample proximity maps for Ruifang and Tai Chung. The itinerary (with GPS) would help you pinpoint the attractions and rates, the maps will help plan your travel route.

** The Google Sheet and maps are in our GDrive folder.

1)Google Sheet link  (This reference is 95% accurate, as we improvised along the way). Column “G” contains the GPS, and Column “H” indicates the “location markers” .

2)Taichung Map (link) below. Please stay at least two nights in Taichung!

Example below, we should plan to visit (roughly) attractions denoted by location “1,”2″,”7″ and “10”.

3)Ruifang Map (link) below.

Refer to Google sheet link and get an idea of distance between Jiufen, Shifen, PingXi, Keelung Night Market etc. Once you decide on your “focus” area, plan nearby accommodation for easy hop.

 

Back to Day 1 Taiwan, we arrived at Taiwan at 0600.

Our driver 小李 picked us at Taoyuan International Airport and we headed towards Nantou, destination Aowanda National Forest (奧萬大國家森林遊樂區, GPS 23.954341, 121.169178)

A 2 hour + journey, we stop for breakfast at one of the traditional breakfast eateries. 豆浆油条 is nice. (not related to JJ’s song)

 

The highlight was 蛋餅 Egg Crepe (bottom right pic). Humble appearance (and price NTD20) with slight pepper powder, but the crunchy and chewiness soft egg taste so good!

What greeted us along the highway was endless ridges and more mountains, and marvelous skyline! Somehow, it is setting our expectations for more hilly roads ahead!

Google Map of hilly zig zag terrains! Our kids took turns to vomit in the van (ooops), plastic bags alert!

 

Reach Aowanda National Forest at a cool 15 degrees. This nature reserve is famous for Autumn maple leaves and a 180m suspension bridge.

Ticket pricing (Adult NTD 200 child NTD 150)

 

Leaves are still green and yellowish, with few turning red.

We underestimated the distance to the suspension bridge, and it was a brisk 60 min walk for the boys. Normal relaxing pace will take you 90 mins.

Mrs and girl was intimidated by the endless flights of stairs! It will be challenging to climb up on the return trip 🙂

They decided to wait for us near the carpark.

The steps are long, no wonder called “好漢坡步道” (Heroes trail).

While we enjoy the fresh air, we found some acorns along the way.

The plaque at the gate  indicated that not more than 110 person should walk the bridge simultaneously. Who’s counting?

Many Taiwanese were out to enjoy the beautiful park too.

180m long, but surprisingly the bridge did not rock too much, unless the kids purposely run or hop :p

Visitors can walk the whole length and admire the valley on both flanks. 

Patches of Autumn are in view, when will they turn Red?

At the other end of the bridge, pine trees greeted us.

 

Saw some campers on our way back. Although it was a cool 15 degrees, we had to remove our jackets along the walk. Tiring to climb stairs and brisk walking with Daddy.

However, we felt autumn leaves at Aowanda National Forest are not too spectacular (maybe wrong season?) and the meandering route might not be suitable for younger kids. If you really like to explore this forest, expect to spend 3 hours.

We love the photo opportunities, but there are many other National Forests which are easier to access. Taiwan is really blessed with nature and a dreamland for hikers.

On our way to our Bnb, we pass by this scenic dam and reservoir. As we climb higher, mist will float in and out out the road.

Lunch was Urn chicken (甕仔雞) on the way up to Cing Jing. 伊拿谷餐廳 (Inako Valley View) (gps 24.036825, 121.146705).

You will see many shops selling this type of chicken in Nantou, or in general Central Taiwan.

The chicken are roasted in the special urn,  We love the chicken and side dishes so much we went for dinner the second night! Many folks will actually takeaway the chicken to enjoy in their own room.


Soup is always welcome in the cold weather, kids love the crispy prawn (水晶虾)

A hearty meal, and the evening temperature was a cool 12 degrees! The wind along the corridor was chilling.

With a full tummy, we rested in our Bnb before soaking at 廬山 Lu Shan later in the night. Taiwanese call soaking in Hot spring, 泡湯 (literally dipping in soup).

維多利亞溫泉會館 (Victoria Spring Resort, GPS 24.022925, 121.186482) , this is not the Japanese type on (naked) Onsen, but family friendly. We book two tubs for about TWD 1000, the big pool was unavailable then.

*take note transport fee could be NTD 1000 and above for the estimated 12 to 15km trip, we had a van to and fro for NTD 1500.

**All the resorts around has some sort of Hot Spring facility. Business was roaring until a devastating earthquake shattered the town in 2013.

Victoria was recommended by our BnB, our initial Hot Spring venue was “廬山正揚溫泉渡假飯店” because it has fish spa :p (those doctor fish which can nibble at your feet)

We noticed many tourist coaches were packed to Ming Lu, which has a much more luxurious exterior. Glad the kids enjoyed their Hot Spring soak in the cold weather 🙂  #TheirFirstOnsen :p

Hungry again after our dip, we walked 8 mins from our Bnb to Mist Plaza 清境商場 (GPS 24.043918, 121.157100).

This is actually a mini shopping area with limited food options. The dishes are decent and not too expensive (I had expected tourist pricing).

 

Maybe it is winter period, the blue dim leds and the mist added a fog of surreal experience for us.

The highlight for us was hot Chocolate and cheesecake at Starbucks 🙂
The 星巴克 Starbucks (GPS 24.043685, 121.156977) and 7-11 here are landmark for gathering points.

 

Enjoying Starbucks in cold weather is simply different from tropical Singapore. Hot chocolate and Cheesecake always taste nicer and warmer 🙂

Mist Plaza, really misty 🙂

 

We will share more about BnB and 清境 Cing Jing Farm in the next post.

Tip : The average rate for booking a car and driver ( full-day) is around NTD 6500 to 7500.

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
-Day 7 Ruifang, Jiufen and Shifen
-Day x Taipei HomeAway and Neighbourhood
Day 8 永康, Xi Men Ding, 象山, 饒河 Raohe
Day 9 and 10 北投 Beitou, Toyshop, 士林 Shilin

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 
Day 4a 台中 Taichung  attractions
Day 5a 台中 Taichung food Ice cream and Bubble Tea
Day 5b 台中 Taichung Fengjia night market
-Day 6 基隆 Keelung
Day 7a Jiufen attractions
Day 7b Shifen attractions
Taipei Neighbourhood around our HomeAway Vacation Home
Day 8a Yong Kang Street and Xi Men Ding
Day 8b Raohe Night Market, Wu Fen Pu and 象山 Elephant Mountain

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