A while ago my colleague mentioned that he would go to Long Dong over the weekend. His description of the place made me interested, and this weekend me and the wife finally had time to go.
For the sake of added adventure I decided we should go by motorbike and while there are fairly fast routes, they largely go through urban areas which is not much fun. So after a bit of playing around in Google maps, i deviced a route that would take us through the mountains out to the north east coast. Here is roughly the route I settled for:
The route, sadly only a picture since the app doesn’t allow for embedding a map link.
It was a long ride and with several stops along the way it took us the better part of seven hours but it was good. Great roads, very little traffic and only few sections through populated areas. We took a few stops to rest along the way – we’re only human after all – and I did snap a few photos but most of the time I was so exhilarated by the ride that I didn’t bother. Here are a few of the photos I did take:
Big cliff with a house on top
I cannot overstate how good some of the roads along this route are, if you like riding a two wheeler of any kind, you should check it out. It might not be super fast but it’s plenty curvy and great fun. Especially the part from Xindian on the outskirts of Taipei city, to Pinglin is great; and I think it would be pretty suitable for a sports car too.
There was one section of the road where we saw a surprising amount of wildlife: a Reeve’ s Muntjac, several Taiwan Blue Magpie, a bunch of monkeys and an eagle. It was like driving through a zoo. If you are interested in birds, this is a great place to go see the Taiwan Magpie as they seem especially abundant in this area (we saw 10 of them and we weren’t even looking).
Taiwan Blue Magpie
Reeve’ s Muntjac
After a long day on the bike we finally arrived at our goal, Jiufen. Long Dong is actually a few kilometers away from Jiufen, but it’s close enough. Jiufen is a bit of a tourist attraction, having been made famous as the inspiration for the backdrop in animated classic Spirited Away. Tones of tourists, especially Japanese, flock to the town to see the tea house and red lanterns that are iconic for the film. We walked around a bit after dinner and it is a charming place when there are not so many people around. We have been here before however, and during peak business hours it’s a bit too crowded for comfort.
Narrow alley lined with red lanterns
That’s it for now, tomorrow it’s off to Long Dong for swimming, snorkeling, and maybe a bit of climbing.
Sunset view from Jiufen