I didn’t think I’d be able to enjoy biking in winter because I’d freeze my hands over the handlebars. Thought it doesn’t snow in Taiwan, still, Taipei is probably the second coldest place on the island with winter temperatures averaging to 16 degrees from December ’til February.
But compared to spring and autumn, winter’s sunny days are just so awesomely tempting. Maybe it’s because of the stark contrast between the glaring sun and the cold breeze. It’s like holding a warm cup of chocolate with marshmallows in a rainy day–perfect contrasting combo. I never saw winter as I saw it now, thanks to this beachside bike ride I discovered.
On my first winter bike ride, I decided to try Shalun beach. Actually, I didn’t know how nor plan to go there. My initial plan was to try biking from the northernmost part of Taipei to Taoyuan and do it along the coastline. Taoyuan is already another city on Taiwan, but I forgot to consider the fact that the battered map I keep stashed in my backpack is a tourist map of Taipei.
So how did I get to Shalun beach? I decided to ride the MRT from Zhongshan to Hongshulin. The whole ride took about 30 minutes. Once I got off Hongshulin, I biked all the way to Tamsui which is the last station off the north part of the Taipei MRT’s red line.
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was only too windy at times but the sun was happily warming whatever it can warm despite the obvious drop in temperature. Tamsui park was not yet filled with people so I was still able to enjoy a view of Mt. Datun over the other side of the Tamsui river bank. The mountain’s near Bali, New Taipei City where I lived during my first 8 months here in Taiwan.
As I biked along the river side, I happened on this Golden Riverside bike map. I got interested with it because the map promised a bike path that runs along some body of water.
I also noted that it runs along these famous tourist spots in Tamsui–The Fort San Domingo, Tamsui Old Street, and Fisherman’s Wharf. But since I was on a bike and I was more concerned with seeing the sea or whatever body of water was promised on the map, I ended up simply passing by these spots.
It was kind of tricky following the Golden Riverside map’s bike path because at some point the riverside was nowhere and I had to transfer to the sidewalk. But I pressed on since I’m slightly familiar with the place, visiting it a few times before with friends. Soon, I passed by Fisherman’s Wharf–a cue that I’ve already been far enough. But not far enough to satisfy my curiosity for what lies ahead.
|the sign says “you won’t be killed” in
that happened months before in Bali
Then I happened on some golden sand which resembled the sands I saw at Baishawan. That piqued my interest and a few pedals more I found this opening that seemed to call my name. I didn’t waste anytime trying to explore it and found myself parking my bike on the side of the road, climbing up the crack, and eventually seeing a wonderful seaside that’s clean…or so I thought.
This is Shalun beach. I was surprised that there were no people swimming in the water or doing any water activities save for a father and son who also didn’t frolic in the sea.
I was hesitant at first to go by the ropes because I cannot understand the Chinese sign posted on the fence. But when I saw a few people walk by, I decided it might be safe to get closer and so I did.
That’s when I realized what might be wrong with the area. Granted the shore is clean and there’s no foul smell to catch a whiff of but the waves were a bit too frothy for my liking. I also caught some browny bubbles on the waves that crashed the shore so I figured maybe the sea is a bit polluted.
Later that day, Google supported my instincts and showed me so much more.
After this sea discovery, I decided to venture on and continue my bike tour towards north. Part of me was still hoping to see Taoyuan though it already seemed too much to ask given the time I have before the sun sets. I’m also starting to feel hunger pangs and got worried to bike so far, get lost, and not have enough strength for the trip back…but all these thoughts evaporated when I saw an elderly couple armed with rented bikes.
That got me curious again so I followed as they continued past Shalun beach and eventually ended up on this scenery.
This is still part of Shalun beach, only maybe cleaner because I spotted some people fishing by the shore. I also liked this part of Shalun much better because of the rocks that added a more photo-op friendly appeal to the place.
The downside though is that I spotted some styrofoams and bits and pieces of trash on the rocks which I think were washed ashore by the waves. Still, it was the perfect place for me to finally eat my lunch of two ripe bananas.
I decided to stay for a while and just lose myself in the ocean. The waves always have that relaxing tranquil appeal to me that makes me think clearer and wipe off all unimportant thoughts. I needed that time with myself, as I’ve been stressed about so many things during the week.
So that Saturday, I just stared off into the blue ocean and considered the cool weather an added blessing.
|Though still a part of Shalun beach, the water here is notably clearer.|
After spending some break time on the rocks, I decided to move forth.
There’s still a bike path that stretches to some unknown area so I got interested to see it and also to find that last marker off the Golden Riverside cycle map.
Soon enough I found myself finding the last marker off the Golden Riverside bike path and would have actually considered getting myself a picture here but there’s nobody around but me.
So my bike shall temporarily do the honors of marking my visit.
It didn’t take long to reach the marker. When I finally got into a squared dead-end, I decided to stay for a few minutes before going back to where I biked from.
|Fishing–another favorite Taiwanese past time.|
On my way back, it was surprising to see how so many people have suddenly appeared in Tamsui. At 4PM, the place started to get bustling with locals and tourists alike. I’m lucky to have been given a few spots to check out the pre-sunset view of the Tamsui river minus the crowds.
|The calm before the populous storm of locals and tourists.|
The whole trip only took around 50 minutes from Tamsui to Shalun beach. I think this bike ride can be done by anybody, even tourists, who wanted a coastal view of Taiwan though they are staying in Taipei.
You can easily rent a bike by Tamsui and go try the same path here by following the map.
And because of this winter bike ride, I think I’m going to be back. Next time, I will venture out farther along the coast and try to reach Baishawan.