Huandao Day 1

Evading the fuzz from Kaohsiung to Kenting…

The Maritime Building in the middle of the Dapeng Bay.
Dapeng Bay Maritime Building. Photo: Zhen-Kang.
Distance 240 km
Ride time (with stops) 6 hours
Number of times someone took a photo of me “for church” 1

Five minutes before starting my 11-day huandao (環島) solo scooter tour of Taiwan, I was chased by a cop.

I’d heard someone furiously blowing a whistle in the distance behind me. But I hear a lot of random sounds in Taiwan, so ignored it while I looked for a place to photograph my scooter at the start point: Kaohsiung Music Center.

But when I parked up, I was surprised to see a panicked cop racing towards me on his bicycle, one arm in the air and a whistle still in his mouth.

“You can’t park here” he said, breathlessly, in Chinese. (I think.)

“I’m sorry”, I said in Chinese.

“I’m doing huandao”, I said in Chinese.

I looked for a glimmer of interest in his face, but he was more exacerbated than intrigued.

“Is it OK for me to photograph my scooter?”, I asked in mixed sign language, Chinese, and English.

He rolled his eyes, moved a plastic barrier, and gestured for me to push my scooter two meters to the left.

I pulled out my camera and asked “is it OK?” in Chinese.

He said yes, and watched with disdain as I took this pic:

A scooter parked on the street outside Kaohsiung Music Center. A short, lightweight, yellow-and-black barrier is erected on the other side of the scooter.
Parked legally, under observation, two meters from where I broke the law.

I didn’t see the officer’s face as I then took a photo of my watch, but I can only assume he was falling into a deeper despair:

Close-up of an Apple Watch on a wrist. The time shows 12 o’clock on Monday the 8th. The weather complication shows it’s currently 23ºC.
It was 12 o’clock and time to go. If all goes well, in ten days’ time I’ll be back here at 12, having circumnavigated Taiwan by scooter.

I bowed my head and thanked the officer multiple times. He gave 1% of a smile and waved me off without a ticket. And with that, my huandao had begun!

Around 30 minutes later, as I nearing the outskirts of Kaohsiung City, I pulled up at the lights with two po-po on scooters to my right. The officer in front noticed the “I’m doing huandao” sticker on my scooter (a gift from a friend), and tilted their head to read it.

But that didn’t matter, because seconds earlier I’d been speeding.

“Don’t make eye contact” I thought.

“Act normal” I thought.

“Where do I usually put my hands when acting normal?” I thought.

I opened my visor, pretending to breathe fresh polluted air, while hoping they’d see I was foreign. (Apparently, police don’t want to deal with illiterate idiots, so they ignore minor infractions by foreigners.)

Then… the light turned green, the police turned right, and I continued on.

A scooter parked on a narrow road below Dapeng Bay Bridge. The bridge is in its lowered state.
Soon I’d crossed the border into Pingtung County. I stopped for a cold drink near Dapeng Bay Bridge (鵬灣跨海大橋). The one time I’d been here before, the bridge was in its raised state to let a yacht sail through. Nanping Seawall Beach (南平海堤沙灘), just across the bridge, was the furthest south I’d been in Taiwan until today.
Water being aerated in a raised fish farm next to a country road.
Soon I was passing fish farms…
A stray dog laying on a concrete country road, looking at the camera.
…And stray dogs…
The Maritime Building in the middle of the Dapeng Bay.
…Before circling back to take a photo of the famous Dapeng Bay Maritime Building (海上教堂). It’s now an extremely-popular cafe with a cathedral-like interior and a queue of influencers outside. While I was taking this shot, a local in his 20s came up to me and asked (in English) “Can I take a photo of you for my church?”
A historic concrete-and-brick seaplane traffic control tower. Vending machines and human-sized robot figures stand outside.
This nearby tower—now an ice cream shop—was originally used for seaplane traffic control.
A scooter parked on a tiled path next to a stony beach and a calm sea.
Back on the road, I followed the coastline south towards Kenting National Park.
A long exposure of Kenting Baishawan Beach. The sand looks warm and golden, and the water is a vibrant, clear, azure blue. There are few people on the beach.
I had a late lunch here, on Kenting Baishawan Beach (墾丁白沙灣). It reminds me of Abel Tasman National Park. While I was eating, for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, a man stood motionless 10 meters to my right, looking out to sea. I wish I could be half as good at contemplation. But later, while I was taking this photo, he drove off on a very-cool-but-obnoxiously-loud motorbike, ruining everyone else’s contemplative efforts.
A spiral concrete sculpture on a wooden viewing platform. One person is sitting on the handrailing. The ocean is in the distance.
From the beach, I rode 20 minutes south to my B&B, checked in, then rode another 20 minutes to this spot: the southern-most point of Taiwan. There wasn’t much to see, but I’m glad I saw it.
Minutes after sunset, my final stop of the day was Taiwan’s southern-most lighthouse, Eluanbi (鵝鑾鼻燈塔).

For reasons I don’t understand, it felt apt to end my first day at the southern-most part of Taiwan.

Tomorrow, I’ll start my four-day journey up the eastern coast.

I had an excellent first day. There was even a moment, ambling down the coast at 70km/h, listening to music, and enjoying the scenery and the absence of police, when I had an undeniable feeling of self-acutalization.

I feel stupid writing that, but it’s true.

Day 1 soundtrack

  1. Mylo – Destry Rock & Roll (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  2. Fleetwood Mac – The Very Best of (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  3. Ryan Adams – 1989 (Apple Music) (Spotify)

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