Huandao Day 11

Completing my circumnavigation of Taiwan by scooter, with a short ride from Tainan to Kaohisung…

Chimei Museum, a large neoclassical stone building, in Tainan, Taiwan.
Chimei Museum. Photo: Zhen-Kang.
Distance 60 km
Ride time (with stops) 3 hours
Fountains of Apollo 1

Despite being so near, today was the first time I rode from Tainan to Kaohsiung by scooter. Every other time I’d taken the train.

With a goal of reaching Kaohsiung Music Center at noon—precisely 10 days since starting my quest—I departed Tainan at 9am.

View of a six-lane city street in Tainan, Taiwan. It’s an overcast day. There are four-to-seven-story buildings either side of the road.
The city center was cool and overcast when I left.
A motorcycle parked underneath new-looking solar panels with loose wiring.
I only had one stop today: Tainan’s Chimei Museum (奇美博物館). When I arrived, technicians were installing solar panels above the carpark.
A curved boardwalk next to a lake, with an arched footbridge in the distance.
I followed this boardwalk through the museum grounds…
Long exposure of the Fountain of Apollo in the grounds of Chimei Museum in Tainan City, Taiwan.
…To the Fountain of Apollo (阿波羅噴泉), a precise replica of the 1671 original from the Gardens of Versailles. Created with permission using 3D laser scans, the stone was carved in Italy then reassembled in Tainan.
Long exposure of Olympic Bridge leading to Chimei Museum. The museum is built of stone in a neoclassical style, with a large dome topped by a golden statue.
To one side of the fountain, Olympus Bridge (奧林帕斯橋) leads to the neoclassical Chimei Museum. The museum was funded by philanthropist Shi Wen-Long, founder of the electronics giant Chimei, for those “who don’t have a chance to travel and see museums abroad”. Entry remains free for Tainan residents. I visited once before and was astounded at how good this place is. It houses five collections: ancient weaponry, antiques and artifacts, fine arts, natural history, and musical instruments (including the world’s largest violin collection).
A narrow riverside road (one car-width wide). The river is unattractive, with concrete walls on either side. The area around the river is quite green with trees, including a banana tree in the foreground.
Happy to get a museum photo (it’d been raining when I visited before), soon I was back on the road. The journey from Tainan to Kaohsiung was almost entirely urban, apart from this stretch by a river. For the final hour, I played my all-time favorite road trip album, New Adventures in Hi-Fi by R.E.M.
A point-of-view shot of Chang-Gu World Trade Center in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, taken while on a motorcycle at a red traffic light.
It wasn’t clear where Tainan ended and Kaohsiung began. But soon I saw an outer station of the Kaohsiung MRT network, 17km from the city center. Then this building: Chang-Gu World Trade Center (長谷世貿聯合國大樓), the third-tallest building in Kaohsiung.
A point-of-view shot taken from a motorcycle while stopped at a red light, of a four-lane road in Kaohsiung with Monkey Mountain barely visible in the far distance.
Rounding a corner, I saw Monkey Mountain (壽山) in the distance. At this moment, I experienced a stirring sense of joy at being so close to home, and wondered if I should update my pepeha (a way to introduce yourself in Māori, which includes identifying your ancestral mountain—or, in my case, a mountain that is meaningful in some other way).
Photo of Central Park taken across a few lanes of traffic. A scooter is driving by in the foreground. The park comprises many tall trees with an arched footbridge in the distance.
Getting closer and closer, I passed Central Park (中央公園)…
85 Sky Tower, an unconventional 85-floor skyscraper with a hollow central core, viewed in the distance across a bridge over Love River, Kaohsiung.
…Love River (爱河) and 85 Sky Tower (85大樓)…
An SYM MMBCY scooter parked outside Kaohsiung Music Center. A motorcycle helmet rests on the scooter seat. It’s a beautiful sunny day.
…And then I made it to the finish point: Kaohsiung Music Center, where I’d started my huandao at midday; exactly 240 hours and 1,460km earlier. (This time I wasn’t chased by a cop.)
Close-up of an Apple Watch on a wrist, showing the time is 12 noon and the temperature is 25ºC.
I can’t yet articulate everything I feel about this experience, but it’s been nothing but positive. Relative to my own undemanding standards, I feel a sense of achievement. And pride that I’ve completed something considered by many Taiwanese to be a rite of passage or step towards enlightenment. ‘Huandao’ (環島)—literally ‘around the island’—is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Screenshot of the iPhone Camera app, with the message ‘iPhone needs to cool down’ on the screen.
I’ll publish a more reflective post—with a map!—some other time. For now, like my phone, I need to cool down.


Day 11 soundtrack

  1. M83 – Saturdays = Youth (Apple Music) (Spotify)
  2. R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi (Apple Music) (Spotify)

Dashcam timelapse

Update: April 18, 2024

I’ve finally published my reflections on huandao (with a map).