The Taiwan Tourism Bureau: Cycling Taiwan
The country of Taiwan invited a group of journalists to cycle the island nation and document their journey. Our guide explained that circumnavigating Taiwan on a bicycle is a rite of passage for many on the island, celebrated by a film called Island Etude about a deaf student who does just that prior to graduation. We were lucky to have experienced adventures just like the protagonist of that film while learning about Taiwan's bike culture.
One of my adventures happened in Sun Moon Lake, a spectacular lake located right in the middle of the island. On early morning runs I noticed a group of locals swimming in the lake despite "No Swimming" signs in multiple languages. They swam with flotation devices. One morning I decided to join them and they motioned that they worried that I was entering the calm lake without flotation. Their wives stayed in the shallow and the men ventured away from shore. At this point, the men were speaking quite passionately about how I could possibly swim without safety in mind. 150 meters later they all stopped swimming and just floated, wading in the beautiful water. After a while a couple of guys started to point at little black flags that were on their flotation devices, motioning wildly. I finally realized that the flags were actually their bathing suits and well- when in Rome...
Taiwan is full of surprises, from dense and smoggy Taipei to the majesty of the rice fields in the south. You can taste the difference in rice based on where it was grown. The landscape is ideal for cycling (especially if you don't mind getting wet without warning) and the citizens are incredibly hospitable. There's even a spectacular spa with water slides.
The TTB used some of the images from our trip in publications and ads. And I won a red folding bicycle in a raffle held for all the journalists. I became a celebrity, for exactly 15 minutes.