May 10, 2006 - Wednesday
(unknown mountain hotel), TW to Chiayi, TW

Jotted thoughts: Three legged cats and dogs - they are common on the mountain roads - collision victims perhaps?; Things at the roadside: kids playing, dogs sitting or sleeping; Road corner mirrors: sweet things.

I found the Chiayi train station and will see about taking the train to Alishan tomorrow.

McDonald's has HiNet Internet access - but it is not free - I need to purchase a HiNet account - maybe if I was staying longer.

I found the hotel easy enough this time - the first time down the street. I had to match the Chinese characters between the sign and book. There is a 24 hour laundromat about 10 seconds, walking, from the hotel.

While the washing and drying was taking place I went for some walks about the streets. The place is active. I saw my first "hardware" store and also what might be the equivalent to "Harbor Freight".

Traffic laws are mostly for 4-wheeled vehicles. Bikes just seem to do what they want to do. About the only thing that comes close to a universal law would be a four way intersection with a red light. Most bikes will stay stopped until they get the "scooter green". Scooter green is when the cross traffic gets the yellow. So long as the cross traffic is light enough the scooters will be half way across (or more) the intersection before the green light comes on.

One red light that does not apply to bikes (at least in reality) is at a T-intersection. Imagine the bikes being on the "thru" road with a road coming in from the left. There is no road extending in or out of the right side of the intersection. Perhaps 85% of the bikes don't even consider slowing down at one of these red lights - they just skip on through. I stop about 50% of the time - all depending.

Double Yellow roadway - passing can be expected at any time. Anticipate a vehicle in your lane when you enter a blind tight mountain corner (though seeing traffic in the mountain areas is not common). I always try to stay to the right side of my lane in these corners - I recall twice being confronted with two vehicles heading towards me. There's always space for a bike.

Bikes as well get a fair bit of leeway in regard to where they can go. Construction zones - there's usually space to let a bike through - where cars might have to wait up a bit. One-Way streets - those signs are for cars it seems (remember bikes occasionally drive against traffic anyway).

[Mom, you can skip this] Bikes passing vehicles - wherever there's space. If there's three feet - four would be generous - between the vehicle and the gutter - go for it. I hold back and see how the vehicle (bus or truck) driver is driving - does he cut the corner or leave space - maintain a constant distance from the ditch - cross over the center line a lot and leave extra space on the right - with those things evaluated - twist and go. If passing on the left - there's always room for two vehicles and a bike - no matter if it's in that blind right turn twisting on some mountain road with crumbly run-off barriers.

While the mountains here in Taiwan might not hold up against world height standards - they hold their own. Impressive they are. Sea level to 10,800 Feet (3300 meters) MSL, the highest I saw on the GPS here, is quite an elevation differential. They are steep too. Erosion is a continual issue and road construction and repair seems to be playing catch-up.

Fuel mileage on the Yamaha Majesty 125cc, 4-stroke, fuel injected bike: 209 Kilometers (gps) took 5.57 liters. That should be 37 Kilometers / Liter or about 87 Miles / Gallon. Darn good. The service stations here are full service and I've not verified they are filling to the same level each time.

The bike runs great up until about 5000 Feet. From 5K to 7K it has decent power but loosing breath. As the heights jump it really starts to lag. It is always able to get moving - but any acceleration beyond 15 to 25 kph depends upon the hill and the altitude. Often it will get up to 35 or 40 KPH - but at the max altitude of 10.8 K Ft, with some of the steep up-hill sections 25 KPH (15 MPH) was all it could muster. The fuel injection system showed some stumbles above 9K feet - an unusually slow idle and a dead engine after dropping to idle a couple times - not unforgivable.

Throttle movement in the stress altitudes made little difference - WOT or just enough to max the engine's performance. It seemed that even with partial throttle it was only going to get so much air and opening it more couldn't feed more - or perhaps the FI system had some sort of limit built in. A turbo charged motor would have had more even performance - though my 1100 doesn't change too much at high altitudes. This 125 cc thumper performed admirably.

Start in the top right - yet to hit the summit on the Taroko Gorge highway. From there I anticipated an easy trek to Alishan - surprise - more mountain roads. Dropping down from Alishan to Chiayi gave even more squiggles to the map.

Here's a close-up of the lower portion of the days riding. Green is a valley floor. Yellow starts to ascend. Yellow to black s a fuel stop at Alishan. Black is dropping back down - ending in the city of Chiayi.

Sunrise photos - I woke up, snapped some pix and went back to sleep for an hour or so.

One of the hotel cats. This one was missing part of its right rear leg.

One of the owners kids has this - Honda X4. Never heard of it.

Looking down the mountain from the hotel - I came up this road yesterday.

and will continue on up today.
Click for a larger image

The guard rails are colorful

Looking down on the road and some of the trails that extend from it.

This was a somewhat steep section. Construction crews were out and probably wondered why I was going so slow - I had it wide open!

Summit view

More farming.

The western slope is more gradual than the eastern and has more population. While I'm still fairly high in altitude the population is already here.

Sun Moon Lake

Tourist construction.

On the road towards Alishan

River basin - more large construction work - a new highway on the other bank and water control in the river itself.

Waiting for my chance at getting around the smoke belching truck.

You can see the smoke...

Bridge under construction.

Temporary bridge - steel plates

A nice looking valley!

Info sign - no idea what it means.

Note the slide shed on the right - the roadway has been washed away from both ends of it. I'm about to go through the slide shed at the left side of the photo. It had been reinforced with I-beams.

Water pipes - the water supply must be nearby.

Strung to the side of the road and overhead. I wonder how many families to each pipe? One?

Before I know it I left the river valley and started to climb.

A couple levels of slide sheds.

The GPS is showing some good squiggles.

Even with the fog I was able to look up and see a hole to the blue sky.

On my way down - the flat areas to the west are visible.

In Chiayi - a quick turn the camera on photo. Dad driving - oldest in the back (pink), youngest far forward (blue) then next older back one (orange).

Laundromat - from standing on the street. Doors? Note the dryer vent tubes in the lower left corner and the orange soap bucket in the back.

Need soap - grab a ladle full.

Think the air quality is lacking? My guess is that the plastic bags get some static charge when a bag is pulled off. That static charge attracts some of the air born pollution - which then sticks to the walls.

BackNextUpJW Home Navigation