Last week I went on a four-day trip to Hualien, a city on the east coast about two hours outside of Taipei. Hualien is most noted for its nature and varied geological formations, included a beautiful pebbled beach called Qixingtan.
The beach is along the coast and can be accessed by a beautiful winding bike path. We rented bikes in the city for 150TWD ($5 USD) for the entire day. Then we rode the bikes in search of the bike path that would take us to the beach.
Hualien is a relatively quieter and laid back city, so it is not too difficult to get around by bike, even for an inexperienced rider like myself. The bike path itself is glorious - wide curves, gentle hills, smooth pavement, along an interesting and diverse scenery of fields, agriculture, coast, and industry.
Perhaps November is a low season for tourists in this part of Taiwan, but we found the path devoid of other cyclists, providing us with the freedom and space to go at our own pace through the hills. Eventually, the path leads down to the coastline.
Even on this grey and cloudy day, the water of the Pacific Ocean was breathtakingly clear and turquoise blue. It was such a peaceful scene, with barely any people in sight.
In the distance you can see the mountains, shrouded by layers of clouds.
Closer down by the beach, you'll see that the ground is composed of smooth blue and grey pebbles, rather than sand.
The pale pebbles offered such a nice contrast to the blue waters.
Swimming is not allowed; the waves are really strong and come up unexpectedly strong. This crashing wave nearly caught us unprepared! Thankfully, I jumped back in time to avoid getting too wet.
If you ride the bike trail along the coast, going south towards Hualien, you soon come across some really interesting landscapes, like these old industrial mills. You get to have an unique look at the different parts of the city which are rarely seen in a normal tour. We passed by some old cows grazing at one point.
This row of nice palm trees were ironically neatly placed in front of a large landfill.
The bike path transitions into a concrete and drab cityscape, and then later enters a nice harbor area and a large park with more people.
We probably covered 30 kilometers on the bikes during the first day, well worth the cost of the bikes. It was definitely the longest distance I've ever ridden a bike at one time, and while it was immensely tiring, it made for a memorable experience and it was a fun way to get to know a new city.