John loading the bike in Tainan.
We came back from our annual motorcycle trip around Taiwan just a few short weeks ago. Last year, we spent six days traversing the Central Cross Island Highway. This year, we decided to travel from west to east along the Southern Cross Island Highway.
Our first day dawned bright and early on the 2nd of February with fortuitous beginnings. Our lunar horoscope predicted it was a good day to begin a journey. We found ourselves at the train station in Banciao at 8:30am and were on our way to Tainan by 9:30am. We arrived in Tainan at the HSR station around 10:30 and took advantage of the free shuttle bus to the old train station to find the bike. We had a long, lovely tour of the city as our stop was the last one.
John had timed everything perfectly, and we had everything loaded onto the bike by noon. It started off as a gorgeous day with fluffy white clouds floating in an azure sky. It was a far cry from the bleary white skies we left in Taipei.
We headed straight out of Tainan City because John was anxious to get out on the road. He didn’t want to do anything in the city. He just wanted to feel the wind in his face and the sun on his back and I could hardly blame him. I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get to spend more time in Tainan City, but we both agreed that we would like to go back at a later date. It looks like a lovely little city to spend a few days in, with lots of local attractions to boast of.
Within minutes of leaving the city, we were out cruising through rural countryside. Tall, swaying palm trees dot the countryside and rustic looking homes line the sides of the roads. Azalea, hibiscus, poinsettia and bougainvillea were all in full bloom.
The Southern Cross Island Highway runs from the west coast to the east coast between Tainan and Taitung. It climbs high into the mountains and deep into the heart of rural Taiwan. We traveled directly from Tainan to Baolai Hot Springs for the first leg of our journey, stopping only to rest and admire the view every once in awhile. We weren’t sure how long it would take to reach Baolai and we didn’t want to get caught out on the mountain late in the evening. We learned our lesson last year when we found ourselves on Hehuan Mountain at 3275 meters above sea level on a 150cc motorcycle late on a February evening.
Our longest pit stop was along a beautiful river in Jiashan. We wandered around gushing at the scenery and inhaling the deep mountain air for close to an hour before hopping back on the bike. I’m regretting my decision not to get the new camera out. It was a big decision to bring it along, as we weren’t sure how to pack it and keep it safe. John and I packed it in a padded case with our clothing and strapped it down with bungee cords to keep it from bouncing around. I didn’t have any intention of taking it out until we got to Baolai that evening. Unfortunately, my decision to leave the camera packed was the biggest mistake I made on the trip, as our first day was the only nice day we had for traveling. Oh well. Better safe than sorry. I still managed to get some gorgeous photos. Most of them were taken while I was on the back of the bike.
Temple guardians at the Holy Glory Temple in Tainan County.
The Boalai Hot Springs are considered to be the gateway to Kaohsiung County. The area is undeniably beautiful. The main attraction is, of course, the hot springs. Color Butterfly Valley, Laoning River Rafting, and countless other ecological areas combine to make the area a popular holiday destination at any time of the year.
We arrived in Baolai Village and spent an hour looking around for our hot spring resort before I finally called and told them we couldn’t find it. They were kind enough to send someone out to meet us. There was no way we would have found the place as we completely missed the narrow alley leading to the entrance several times.
The Baolai Hot Spring Resort looks great on the Internet and in its brochure, but the place is really worn down and needs a really good scrubbing. The hot spring area located at the front of the resort overlooks the parking lot and wasn’t anything special. The spring bath looked a lot bigger in the pictures, but isn’t that always the case? The spa in our building is nicer than the one offered here. We didn’t bother with it as it didn’t look that clean. It wasn’t worth the money we paid, but personally I think most accommodations in Taiwan are ridiculously over-priced. We paid almost $100 US to sleep on a mattress on the floor with little geckos running all over the place for bed partners. We didn’t care though. The gorgeous scenery and fresh air was a most welcome change from the concrete jungle we call home.
Baolai Hot Springs Resort.
Links to The Motorcycle Diaries
- Tainan to Baolai Hot Springs
- Yushan National Park and the Kindness of Strangers
- A Walk In The Clouds
- Ching Jing
- Sun Moon Lake
- Freakin’ Peacocks At Sun Moon Lake
- The Perfect Way To End A Day
- Taiwan’s Central Cross Island Highway
- I’ve Walked The Central Cross Island Highway
- Taroko Gorge National Park