- Starting Location: HengChun Airport, HengChun (恆春航空站,恆春).
- Length: 110km. Highest elevation: 312 m.
- Hill profile: 4 gentle hills. Can be difficult under southern Taiwan’s hotter temperature.
- Generally very few traffic.
- Rougher rural roads.
- Strong wind near the shore.
- More traffic at the last 2 km on Route #26.
- Good for: Base training.
- Route Highlights:
- Great ocean scenery.
- Aboriginal towns.
Most Taiwan’s bicycle rides focus on mountain climbing, and few focus on enjoying the ocean. Intuitively this is weird, because Taiwan being an island is surrounded by the ocean at any side.
Doing a little research on Google Maps, one realizes that almost all Taiwan’s western shores are not cycling-friendly. These shores have been occupied by industrial and aquacultural infrastructure. The major highway that goes along the entire western shore is for cars and trucks only.
So where can cyclists ride besides the ocean? One of them is Taiwan’s south most parts, protected by Kenting National Park. This event that I joined started from the HengChun Airport, the smallest airport in Taiwan that only has one flight route: HengChun to Taipei.
Airport at dawn.
Originally I want to ride the 130km route passing through the region’s highest road point 壽卡. Nevertheless due to road damages by typhoon the route was switched to the 110km one.
We first headed south, passing through HengChun’s town center.
The welcome sign of HengChun at the round about.
Hotel at dawn.
The road that goes all the way to Kenting is Route #26, hence the restaurant sign here.
Abandoned ghost house, double the scare.
“831 paintball field.”
Lame-looking national park sign…
HengChun is within the tropical weather area, thus there’s lots of coconut trees.
Guess what’s behind these fences? It’s actually a nuclear power plant.
After passing through HengChun we entered Kenting. Unlike United States’ national parks Kenting national park is relatively young (founded in 1984). Thus it already has quite a bit human development within the park, with houses and stuff.
Of course, over-development is still an issue even in a national park, especially in the name of economic growth.
And the ocean appears!
The terrain in Kenting is relatively flat without trees (probably due to strong winds). Along a long road sections you can see the highest point of bare rock: the big pointy hill (大尖山).
Big Pointy Mountain with Chinese cemetery. How cute.
Big Pointy Mountain with entrance to Kenting National Forest Recreational Area.
Kenting Main Street (墾丁大街), a tasteless shopping area. Thankfully there is now discussions of how to make visitors come repeatedly rather than one-off.
The building behind scooters and street vendor booths is the Kenting Elementary School. It just shows that in Taiwan, making money is more important than everything, including respect and safety for children.
Kenting preserves some beautiful shore ecology and structure. One of the famous sites is the Sailor Rock (帆船石)
There is a famous lighthouse at the southern tip of Taiwan. Since I couldn’t get a good shot from the road I’ll just replace it with a wall painting : )
Crossing the southern tip there was a slight ascend through windbreaks, with a radar station at far sight.
After reaching the top lies the true beauty of Kenting: left is the big grass field, right the clear blue ocean, and far end the great Taiwan mountains.
From here the route starts going north and along Taiwan’s eastern shore.
“Wind Blowing the Sand” (風吹沙). Here the sand moves with the seasonal strong wind and forms many special structure.
Further north the road entered Manzhou Township (滿洲鄉). The houses here look particularly clean, probably because of the constant wind blowing away the dust.
Near a bay lies the first rest stop. The parking lot has a sign detailing out the radioactive radius in case the third nuclear power plant exploded. It pretty much covers all the Kenting National Park.
Where you gonna go if nuclear disaster happened? Can’t go nowhere.
Swag surf shop. Good taste.
Town built bridge. Bad taste. Oh did I mention the entrance was actually sealed with “danger, do not enter” yellow tape. Lol.
Be aware of crab crossing. This might look funny, but what really happens is the town government destroyed local shore ecology and built a 5 meter wide concrete road “for visitors to enjoy the scenery”. Well guess what happens to the visitors? They’re all gone because no scenery is left.
After the rest stop we took a detour into the mountain area. What I like about this area is it reminded me of United State’s hills in western Washington. The hills are lower and wider, and have the brownish color due to smaller trees.
Random eagle theme rest spot.
The big tree in the town.
As we passed through a local town, you can really feel that this area’s economy is not great. There are lots of abandoned buildings. On the other hand you can see a big resort not far away from the dying town.
That power pole looks like to fall at any second…
Want some cowboys?
It said “Authentic Big Foot”.
After some climbs the route goes back to eastern shore, at a place called “港仔”. Here the road continued follow the shore again.
Here the road passed through a small harbor.
Along this road lies a lot of (former?) military structure.
After crossing a bridge the route entered Mudan Township, a town with a huge aboriginal population.
Township welcome sign.
Old military camp?
The two generous fellas passed out water to cyclists.
Soon the route left the shore and headed west.
The 旭海 grassfield memorial. Doesn’t look like a grassfield to me…
Being an aboriginal town, Mudan has a lot of aboriginal themed decoration. If you looks closely this portrait has a political meaning of harmony between aboriginal people and the Han people.
Bay view from the hill.
There was a second rest stop here at Mudan elementary school, a beautiful school in the mountain.
I can’t help myself to compare these aboriginal themed structure to that at the Sun Moon Lake, and you can clearly see the taste difference. One (the Sun Moon Lake) is clearly made for taste-less tourists, and the other are made for honoring the local residents themselves. One is glamorous but hollow, and the other look humble but with content.
Around the center of the mountain area lies the Mudan reservoir and a small village.
Closer look of the reservoir.
Real arts don’t look happy. They show what the artists are proud of in their lives.
Not far away from the village also lies the location of Mudan Incident, the first Japanese invasion to Taiwan during Qing dynasty.
Monument for one of the Mudan Incident battlefield. The previous photos show this is a narrow pass, hence a strategic battle point.
After passing the battlefield monument, the lands here are back again more owned by the Han people. Taste-less buildings popuped again.
One example of the taste-less hotel building.
Temple parade event guys. Riding at pickup truck’s back without seat belts are normal in Taiwan.
Eventually the road exited the mountain and went through flat fields.
The route turned left onto Route #26 again. Now is close to 11am and there were lots of traffic.
Back to the airport.
And we’ve got a hot meal to eat: Braised pork rice with Taiwanese style non spicy Kimchi!