Huandao Day 2

A slow, wet journey from Kenting to Taitung…

A Taiwan Railways Corporation train passing the clifftop platform at Duoliang Station.
Duoliang Station. Photo: Zhen-Kang.
Distance 160 km
Ride time (with stops) 6 hours
Number of bugs in my eye 1

The day started well, when I opened the curtains and saw it wasn’t raining. But then I discovered my dashcam was smashed.

My scooter has front and rear cameras connected to a recording module under the seat. Last night, in the dark, I removed the microSD card to download the day’s footage. Everything seemed fine.

But this morning, I noticed the screen was smashed:

A motorcycle dashcam recording module with a smashed screen.
I hadn’t realized yesterday, the plastic buckle of my bag—squeezed into my under-seat compartment—had focused pressure on the screen. (It can still record.)

Minutes after this discovery, as I turned onto the main road, a bug flew into my eye. And then it started to rain.

So later, when Google Maps suggested a 14-minute-longer route in the direction of clearer skies, I blindly accepted the offer.

It was a mistake.

Soon I was riding on poorly-maintained single-lane mountain roads, in the rain. In safer conditions it would’ve been great ride. But crawling up slippery, narrow, remote roads at 30km/h, counting down the dozens of kilometers until I rejoined civilization, was a slog.

Looking over the rooftops of Kenting Township. The bay is visible in the distance. The sky is coudy.
Kenting Township, just after I woke up. At this point I thought I’d dodged the forecast rain.
Rice paddies in the foreground, and forest-clad mountains in the distance.
Soon after accepting Google’s detour, I was passing vibrant green rice paddies.
A painted concrete arch over the road marking the entrance to Mudan Township. Welcome is written in Paiwan, Chinese, and English.
There was one upside to taking this route: I passed Mudan Township, an indigenous mountain township populated by the Paiwan people. There were red-and-yellow gates at either end, and Paiwan art on all public buildings.
A painted relief on a bridge. The paintings show people carrying dead animals or hunting animals.
Bridges and retaining walls featured Paiwan art, as well.
Wide-angle view of Mudan Township beneath a large dam filled with water, and surrounded by bush-clad mountains.
Mudan sits below this large dam.
Screenshot of Google Maps on an iPhone showing a winding route ahead, and 4.7km until the next right turn.
I didn’t take photos once it started raining, so I took a screenshot to remind myself of the torturous-in-the-rain Route 199.

The rain eventually stopped, and somewhere near the top of the mountain I rejoined a road with more than one lane. Coasting down the dry eastern side, with intermittent views over the Philippine Sea, I rediscovered the joy of huandao.

Forested mountains in the foreground, with the sea visible in the distance.
My first glimpse of the Philippine Sea.
A scooter parked on the side of a four-lane coastal road, nested between forested mountains and a stony beach.
I removed my rain jacket to enjoy the relatively warm, dry air.

I stopped at Duoliang Station—reportedly the most beautiful station in all of Taiwan. I can see how that was once true, but it isn’t anymore.

Don’t be fooled by its Wikipedia entry—that photo was taken before track electrification. Nowadays, the disused station and the sea views are partially-obscured by overhead lines and supporting infrastructure:

This was the least-obscured shot I could get of the station (the part with red handrails). Three passenger trains passed while I was there. The station’s been closed since 2006.

I rode onwards to Taitung City, where I caught up with a former classmate at his famous house (as featured on his son Xiaofei’s YouTube channel), and met another friend for dinner.

A good way to end a good-and-bad day.

Screenshot of a Presidential Alert on an iPhone lock screen. The English part of the alert says: ‘[Air raid Alert] MIssile flyover Taiwan airspace,be aware.’
As I was arriving at my friend’s house, I received this Presidential Alert on my phone. The Chinese text translates to: “[Air Defense Alert] China launched a satellite at 15:04, it has flown over Southern Taiwan. Please pay attention to safety. If an unknown object is found, call the police to deal with it.” (The military later apologized for using the word “Missile” in the English text.)
Tray of food including soup, rice, a bowl of braised vegetables, and a side of passionfruit.
At dinner, the ‘Taitung Seasonal Veggie Set Menu’ (NT$280/NZ$14) was excellent.

Day 2 soundtrack

  1. Seu Jorge – The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  2. The Crane – Talent (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  3. Patti Smith – Horses (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  4. R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  5. R.E.M. – Accelerate (Apple Music) (Spotify)

Dashcam timelapse