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Thread: Taiwan?

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Taiwan?

    Is anyone here living in Taiwan?
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    yes...?

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherrypure
    yes...?
    Just curious. This coming January it will be 3 years for me; the first year and a hlaf in Tainan and the rest in Taichung.

    At the bottom, it says Ritchey BreakAway. I bought it specifically so I could take my bike with me while in Taiwan 2 or 3 months at a time and back in the US for 2 weeks.

    So, where are you and do you ride your bike in Taiwan?

    Feel free to PM me if you like.
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    sorry for my late response~
    And It's nice to meet you

    I live and work in Taipei, and begin to ride bikes for entertainment about three years ago
    My boyfriend assembled a mountain cycle for me, and recently, I just bought a road bike frame

    Actually, I'm still a beginner... So I don't have much experience of traveling around Taiwan
    But here are indeed many beautiful places for a biker to look round
    such as Hualien, Taitung, and any countryside of any county

    Hope you have fun and enjoy the life here~

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    It's interesting that in spite of Giant being the largest manufacturer in the world, recreational riding here isn't that popular. It's a shame, really.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the time that I have spent in Taiwan. When I finally do go back home for good, it will be a sad time. How can anyone not like a place where you can ride all year round, typhoons excluded?

    Good move to get a road bike. Mountain bikes, particularly most of the ones here, are much heavier and you definitely can't go as fast. I assume the thought process is that road bikes are much more fragile. I get asked all the time if I get flats. So far in a about 18 months with the BreakAway, I've had one flat and that was at home in the US. The trick is to keep them pumped up. Mine are rated for 110psi and I try to keep them at that.

    When I was in Tainan I rode with a group from the only medium and high end bike shop in the city. I also did a couple of time trails with another group there. Recently I have gotten linked up with a group from my plant. We did a loop around Sun Moon Lake a few weeks ago. There is a high end shop about 3 blocks away from where I live. I rode with them for the first time this past Saturday. Out of 16 or 17 people, only the shop owner, me and a guy on a mountain bike were the only ones NOT running a carbon bike. Fully half of the group was on Colnagos. Amazing.

    Anyway, good to hear from you and Keep Pedalling!!
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    taipei

    there is a decent scene here in taipei, look at http://taipeiycc.blogspot.com/ for a gropup of expats based in tien mu who ride around YangMingShan, our local hill. rides from 50-150km, often 1000 metres climbing or more if you are keen. unfortunately for me the weekday training rides start about 5:30 or 6 which is just stupid really, i work late nights mostly...

    racing many weekends: look at cycling.org.tw and bikemen.net (if you read chinese!)

    a bit of mountain biking as well, but not usually our group's preferred ride.


    if you want to cycle at an easier pace, there are many km of flat riverside trails, go to Bali or to Danshuei for a sunny sunday, eat some great seafood, and have a few beers in the sun... great.

  7. #7
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    peregrina

    I too am in Taiwan, but someone stole my Fuji so I cannot ride in proper Taiwanese style. right now I'm having trouble adjusting to the time change, but maybe we could ride this weekend if you like to see Taichung?

    pwuff

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    Senior Member rousseau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatlander_48
    Just curious. This coming January it will be 3 years for me; the first year and a hlaf in Tainan and the rest in Taichung.

    At the bottom, it says Ritchey BreakAway. I bought it specifically so I could take my bike with me while in Taiwan 2 or 3 months at a time and back in the US for 2 weeks.

    So, where are you and do you ride your bike in Taiwan?
    I used to live in Taiwan, and rode for a year. How do you find the pollution? I'm quite sure I did semi-permanent damage to my lungs, though the clean Canadian air is helping to revive them.

    How would you compare Tainan and Taichung? I quite like both cities, though somehow I always found Tainan a bit more appealing (not speaking specifically of cycling). But Taichung is a lot closer to the mountains, isn't it?

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau
    I used to live in Taiwan, and rode for a year. How do you find the pollution? I'm quite sure I did semi-permanent damage to my lungs, though the clean Canadian air is helping to revive them.

    How would you compare Tainan and Taichung? I quite like both cities, though somehow I always found Tainan a bit more appealing (not speaking specifically of cycling). But Taichung is a lot closer to the mountains, isn't it?
    The pollution is what it is. I think how my rides are timed helps, though. I live about 5.5 miles from where I work. The mornings (8am +/- 30 min.) are not too bad as the bad air from the previous day has dissipated. This works because about 30% of the ride is uphill. As long as I stay away from big trucks, cranes, concrete pumps, etc. it is not too bad. Coming home in the evenings is also not too bad as there is the downhill part. If I ride to dinner, it usually less than 15 minutes. I do longer rides on the weekends, but they are usually in the morning and I'm done by noon. I do prefer to ride directly from the apartment rather than put the bike in the car and take it someplace.

    Yes, Taichung is much closer to the mountains. I can ride to the foothills in 45 minutes or so. Tainan is much further, but it is on the ocean. I probably couldn't get to the ocean in less than an hour and a half from my apartment.

    The two cities have very different characters. I'm pretty divided. There are things I like about both places. Taichung is more cosmopolitan than Tainan. Tainan and its people are somewhat more hospitable; more old worldish. There are more things to do in Taichung and you are closer to Taipei. Percentage wise, more of the streets in Tainan have english street signs; something that surprised me. The Science Park where I work in Taichung is much closer than where I worked in Tainan (5.5 versus 17 or 18 miles). You usually don't have to ride very far in Tainan before you are out of the more densely populated areas. Like I said, I'm pretty divided. My wife, on the other hand, favors Tainan by quite a margin. Go figure...
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    Senior Member rousseau's Avatar
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    It's true what you say about timing your rides. And very smart, on your part. When I was in Taiwan I was teaching ESL, so the one year I rode a bicycle I was basically sucking tailpipes at various hours of the day in between classes. What I found that was interesting, however, was that the "first sweat" directly following a shower didn't really "count." I would take a quick shower after lunch, hop on my bike and ride for a half hour through the 35-degree heat and humidity to a school, arrive soaking in perspiration, and spend the next ten minutes reposing in air conditioned comfort, drying off, and feeling (and, erm, smelling) as fresh as when I had originally jumped out of the shower. Funny, that. Of course, after classes were finished and I needed to ride a subsequent 1/2 hour to another school, all bets were off with the freshness thing!

    I agree with your characterization of Taichung and Tainan. I felt the same way. I recall meeting a number of expats in each place who favoured their respective locations due to their proximity to Taipei, as in the case of Taichung, and Kenting, if they lived in Tainan.

    I myself lived in Chiayi, which is pretty much right in the middle of everything. I recall an older Swedish guy there, an ESL teacher who was married with kids, who didn't mix much with the expat crowd. He was a devoted and very fit cyclist, which made him something of an eccentric among the drink-sodden Canucks and Ozzies. A group to which I belonged, more or less. Every Chinese New Year this Swedish guy would do round-the-island trips on his road bike with a couple of buddies living in other parts of Taiwan. This amazed me. In fact, one year I did a round-the-island motorcycle trip of my own, and at one point came upon him and a couple other cyclists way up near Hohuanshan! Very impressive.

    My wife (Taiwanese) and I haven't been back to the ROC for a few years, but during our next trip I'm going to try to fit in a 1-day or 2-day ride in the mountains somewhere. Check out this video: In mountains tired - part 1 of 4. It's inspiring. The guy who does these videos is a bit creepy and often annoying, but he rides his motorcycles through traffic and through the mountains like I used to ride, so watching his trips makes me very nostalgic.

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    pollution control

    Rousseau,

    This from the second half of the Ritchie Breakaway, and I ride an Orbea. I wear a mask filter most of the time when I'm on the street, whether walking or riding. I ride as transport as well as sport, when I'm here in Taiwan, which is only in the winter. In desperation during my first winter here I searched the internet and found the IcanBreathe.com site, which sells a mask with carbon filter. I put a drop of essential oil in it every few days, using eucalyptus or lavender, and this mask works wonders. My own lungs are vunerable since a bout of pneumonia 10 years ago, but I find this set up allows me to do anything. I have noticed no carryover when I return to the US. In fact, I sometimes use the mask in the US, which draws stares. Nice to be in Taiwan where half the population uses them, but I haven't seen anything truly effective here like the carbon filters I get from US.

    I go now, practice asian english.

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    Senior Member rousseau's Avatar
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    Funny you mention the pneumonia thing. I spent a couple of years in my mid-twenties in construction, working outside in the winters, and got pneumonia once. That was 15 years ago. I've had bronchitis three or four times since then, as well, though the last bout was almost a decade ago. And last year I rode my bike right into October, but found I would get sore in my one lung, the one that had had the pneumonia, whenever temperatures dropped under 15 degrees. Which is kind of a problem when you cycle and you live in Canada.

    Then I quit smoking.

    Ha! I've ridden all fall this year, and indeed right up to now, the end of December, in single digit temps and even below zero, with no discomfort at all. I used to pooh-pooh my wife's constant whining about the smoking, saying that I didn't smoke that much so it wasn't a big deal, but it actually was, and over the past year my lungs have reaped the benefits.

    Living in Taiwan is like smoking two packs of cigarettes per day. Add on the humidity, the lack of hygiene and the crowded conditions, and a simple cold that would call for chicken soup and maybe a day in front of the television on this side of the Pacific can turn into a month of suffering in Asia, if not worse. I certainly understand the desire to use some kind of mask when in Taiwan. I think I'm fortunate to be living in a smaller city in southern Ontario where it takes just five minutes to get to the countryside. Aside from pig and chicken manure, and the odd time that I get caught downwind from a chemical sprayer in a field (which is probably kinda nasty, but I don't want to know about it), the air here is pristine.

    P.S. Were you going to post a photo in your previous post?

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Glad you quite smoking. I did about 18 years ago after having been a smoker for 21 years. Makes a difference, but I also doubt if I could afford it these days!

    Yes, I know where Chiayi is. I've been through it, but not to visit.

    When I first got back into riding about 5 years ago, I did ride in the winter. Occasionally down to just below freezing. However, I know when I go back to the US it will take a while to build up to that. My temperature sensitivity is now somewhere between NYS and Taiwan.

    Picture? Actually there is one that I posted in another thread here recently. You can find it here:

    Sun Moon Lake
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    Senior Member rousseau's Avatar
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    Sun Moon Lake is nice. Great pic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau
    Sun Moon Lake is nice. Great pic.
    Thanks!

    Actually the plant group is going again on Monday, but they don't get back in time for me to make another appiontment. Bummer! When we rode before, we went clockwise around the lake. This is easier than the opposite way. There is only one L-O-N-G climb before you descend into the village.
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    You guys make me homesick (sort of) for Taiwan. I lived there in 84-85, then again in 89, and rode a bike everywhere, except long distance stuff. I lived in Beitou, Neihu, Taipei, Syindyan (Taipei Basin), and a short time in Ilan. I'm a full time secondary social studies and ESL teacher and have thought about going back to Taiwan to work for maybe 2-3 years. But I still have 3 kids in middle and high school. I don't know how they'd fare. What's the job scene like for middle agers like me (age42)?

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    I can't say as I'm an engineer. I came here to help build 2 factories for my company. We are in the LCD glass business.
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    Large Member urodacus's Avatar
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    hey, the air in the cities may suck but it's just that much more incentive to get climbing.

    from my apartment in the very centre of flatland taipei (SOGO), the mountains are no more than half an hour in any direction, and the air is so much cleaner there. if you live in tienmu, like many of the expat cyclists here, you are basically in the mountains already...

    as i remember, the air in chiayi and taichung is normally worse than taipei, though, and you're pretty much stuck in it.

    always treaching work here for qualified teachers, especially with high-school experience. taiwan school system is seeking foreign english teachers (with better pay than normal) for semi-permanent positions. also try some of the expat schools like the american school, european school, or the japanese schools.
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    Kaohsiung has a pretty fascinating cycling scene. Can't read Chinese, but I talk with this guy every so often when I'm in his shop. If you can read it, enjoy.

    F-Serow

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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meteparozzi
    Kaohsiung has a pretty fascinating cycling scene. Can't read Chinese, but I talk with this guy every so often when I'm in his shop. If you can read it, enjoy.

    F-Serow
    Virtually all mountain bikes. There seems to be some sort of odd attraction for them in the country. I believe folks think they are better suited to the riding. I was asked many times about getting flat tires with my road bike. I had my current bike there for a year and a half and had one flat in that time (in the US!). Keep the tires pumped to the manufacturer's specs and avoid pot holes and curbs and it should be OK.

    You can see the folks I rode with in Taichung on:
    Team Mosaic Bike Shop
    My wife and I are in a few of the photos, but I couldn't find them.

    By the way, my Taiwan Saga is temporarily over for now. My last work day there was 1/15. Following a 10 trip to Australia, we're now back in the US. There is a possibility that I may return to Taiwan at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. We'll see. Sure beats NYS winters!!
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  21. #21
    Senior Member cooperwx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatlander_48
    I wear a mask filter most of the time when I'm on the street, whether walking or riding.
    Sorry for dropping in from the SE US, but I noticed this thread and find it very sad that masks are necessary to breathe in Taipei.

    What is the cause of this extreme pollution?

    -Jason
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    Elmira>Taiwan>Elmira flatlander_48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooperwx
    Sorry for dropping in from the SE US, but I noticed this thread and find it very sad that masks are necessary to breathe in Taipei.

    What is the cause of this extreme pollution?

    -Jason
    My wife posted that message. She may also respond to your question, but I thought I would take a shot at it.

    A lot of people in Taiwan do wear masks of one sort or another, but many do not. I would guess that at least 70% of the people I see outside do not wear masks. The thing that is interesting is that the masks that probably 98% of the people wear really don't do much. The stuff that that masks have a chance at removing you can almost see; it's that big. However, it's the stuff that you can't see that makes a difference. If you are riding along a street with a lot of diesel truck traffic, there will be harmful things in the air. The cheap masks, and even my wife's expensive one for that matter if you wear it too long and don't change, won't remove what's bad about those fumes. Her's is good for about 75% removal of the harmful stuff at the beginning, but degrades after a couple of hours.

    In general, the poor air quality appears to be due to diesel trucks and 2-stroke scooters. As far as I know, there is little (if any) in the way of exhaust gas emissions regulations. The government has been fixin' ta do something about air quality for several years but not much has happened.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooperwx
    Sorry for dropping in from the SE US, but I noticed this thread and find it very sad that masks are necessary to breathe in Taipei.

    What is the cause of this extreme pollution?

    -Jason
    The main kinds of masks you would need to wear would be active carbon filter masks. The ones you see on the street remove particulate matter (such as dust), but a carbon mask is necessary to block gaseous matter (such as exhaust). A carbon mask usually runs in excess of $100 U.S. and, as far as I know, none are available here. So, in essence, the ones they use are useless.

    I have a carbon mask, and even that has a difficult time straining much of the pollution.

    A large part of the cause is 2-stroke scooters and general traffic. However, there are emission regulations, but they are pretty lax, and its nearly impossible to reduce any 2-stroke engine, as the oil is added directly to the engine (think lawnmower). Another massive addition would be oil refineries (which are plentiful due to relaxed industrial emissions laws) and coal-fired power plants. All of these in a small area.

    Finally, if you look at the geography of Taiwan you see why the air remains that way. Much like Mexico City and Los Angeles, a low-lying area surrounding by mountains (or with mountains on the side farthest from the direction of the prevailing wind) tends to trap pollution. What happens is that as the pollution rises from the city, the colder air coming off the top of the mountain traps the air in the lower part of the valley. Then, because the mountains act as a wall, the air cannot be pushed away from the city, so its doubly trapped and builds up.

    This can easily be seen by cresting the mountains, or riding along the east coast. The densely populated west coast has filthy air, but on the east, protected by mountains and underpopulated, the air is clean and fresh.

    When a typhoon or other storm comes through, it brings winds from an easterly direction, pushing the pollution northeast, and clearing the sky. On those days, you can easily see the difference, with blue skies and breathable air. In large part, the length of time since a storm (or change in prevailing wind direction) is directly visible by the quality of the air.

    Hope that explains it for you.

  24. #24
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    Jason,

    Saw that you were from Asheville. Nice to see a fellow Carolinian around in the Asian forums. I grew up in Fayettenam. I'm really missing some good ole barbecue and baked beans. I loved Asheville the couple of times I visited. Beautiful area, though the price of living there seemed a bit steep.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by meteparozzi
    A large part of the cause is 2-stroke scooters and general traffic. However, there are emission regulations, but they are pretty lax, and its nearly impossible to reduce any 2-stroke engine, as the oil is added directly to the engine (think lawnmower). Another massive addition would be oil refineries (which are plentiful due to relaxed industrial emissions laws) and coal-fired power plants. All of these in a small area.
    Yes, it can be very difficult unless you use a catalytic converter like cars have. I worked on a project several years ago (late 90's) for manufacturing small converters suitable for scooters and motorcycles. We did have a workable product, but the company decided to abandon the business before taking it to market. One of the reoccuring problems was the incremental cost for the scooter. In Taiwan (at least) people are very cost conscious. Scooters retail for maybe $25,000NT to $45,000NT (about $780US to $1,400US).Going from memory, a converter would have added maybe $1,600NT (about $50US) to the price of the scooter. They also didn't have a sufficient supply of unleaded gas at that time. Even if the scooter was sold with a converter, it would have been easy enough to saw it out of the exhaust system and replace it with an empty tube. Given how many laws are enforced (helmets are required, but at any time you see maybe 20% of the people without them) in Taiwan, I don't think anyone would notice if your converter had been removed.
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