Traveling Taiwan by Motorcycle: Tainan to Baolai Hot Springs

Load and Go

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.

On the road

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.

Holding My Own
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.

River Flowers

Picturesque Jiashan

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.

Water and Stone

Temple Guardian

Temple guardians at the Holy Glory Temple in Tainan County.

Guardian OutLook

Biker and Biker

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.

Shadow Bikers

Baolai Hot Spring Resort

Baolai Hot Springs Resort.

Links to The Motorcycle Diaries

  1. Tainan to Baolai Hot Springs
  2. Yushan National Park and the Kindness of Strangers
  3. A Walk In The Clouds
  4. Ching Jing
  5. Sun Moon Lake
  6. Freakin’ Peacocks At Sun Moon Lake
  7. The Perfect Way To End A Day
  8. Taiwan’s Central Cross Island Highway
  9. I’ve Walked The Central Cross Island Highway
  10. Taroko Gorge National Park

 

16 thoughts on “Traveling Taiwan by Motorcycle: Tainan to Baolai Hot Springs

  1. cfimages

    Ah, I’ve been eagerly waiting for this story. Great weather – I was in Alishan that day and the weather wasn’t so nice. Tainan is a cool city to hang out in, so if you guys ever plan a weekend exploring Tainan, let me know and I’ll meet you there. Some of the back alleys are fantastic.

    Reply
  2. Kim

    The pictures turned out great even with your old(er) camera, I especially like those at the riverbank, they’re beautiful!

    Reply
  3. Jeffrey

    Great photos again!

    Thanks so much for your comments the other day on my other blog The Road Not Taken. I am spending more time here at my wordpress blog updating and just writing whatever comes to mind. Still sorting out everything from my last trip to Laos–editing photos and writing about my trip.

    I will most definitely be stopping by here a few times a week to see what you are up to. Heck, we are practically neighbors, right? You in Taiwan and me here in Korea.

    Later,

    Jeffrey

    Reply
  4. oceanofstupidity

    I’ve never travelled by bike. Many years ago I wanted to have got a driving license to drive by bike. Nowadays I can only drive in a car. I suppose you feel great freedom when you travel this way. It reminds me that a few days ago I felt the same when I drove to school. Suddenly some woman tried to be faster than I and she extorted right of way and stopped her car on my car. After that she escaped. Good feelings went away. šŸ˜ … Nevermind.
    “River Flowers” and “Water and Stone” are my favourites pictures. They’re beautiful. I thought these photos were taken by EOS. So Power Shot still rules šŸ˜‰

    Reply
  5. Pingback: David on Formosa » Links 25 February 2008

  6. Joseph Gray

    Hey Carrie, that is a great trip up and over the Southern Cross Island Highway. I did it several times about 8 years ago by motorcycle and camping out along the way. Baolai area has changed dramatically since then with several new resorts. What about the rest of the trip – did you make it all the over the top to the East Coast? The top of the mountain pass is awesome, but very cold in the afternoon by motorcycle.

    Reply
  7. Ashish

    fantastic photos and post Carrie … I especially liked the one with temple guardian and shadow bikers šŸ™‚ not to forget breathtaking view of Picturesque Jiashan …
    looking fwd to see more of your bike adventure around Taiwan … btw hot springs is where I should be visiting in this cold weather

    Reply
  8. globetrotteri

    Jeffrey,

    You have a WordPress blog too? I’m only aware of The Road Not Taken. Send me a link so I can check it out. I really enjoyed your latest post on how you infuriated two Swiss tourists on the bus in Laos. I’ll be checking in as well. You’ve got great content.

    Reply
  9. globetrotteri

    Hey Stevo,

    The new camera is great but it isn’t getting as used as much as I’d like. My health has been terrible this winter. It seems like I get over one virus and pick up another. I just can’t stay healthy. The weather here has been terrible as well. I’ve resorted to taking indoor shots and I’m heading out this weekend to an event that looks promising. Expect some photos from the new camera in my next post on our motorcycle trip.

    Reply
  10. globetrotteri

    Hi K,

    I love love love traveling by motorcycle. It’s so much better than being locked in a car or on a train, especially if you’re doing a real outdoorsy kind of trip like this one. There’s nothing like feeling like you’re truly a part of something.

    Yep. The Canon Powershot does rule. It’s really a great little camera. I’ve been experiencing some problems with it lately. I think the flash is gone on it. Every time I take a picture, I hear a snap and see a little wisp of smoke. It’s still under warranty, so we’re taking it back to the store tomorrow to find out what the problem is.

    River Flowers is my favorite too! šŸ™‚

    Reply
  11. globetrotteri

    Hi Joseph,

    I love traveling by bike in Taiwan. I’m sure we have plenty more journeys in us. Traveling over Taiwan’s mountain ranges is always exhilarating! We traveled right along the East Coast for the second year in a row, with a few other special stops along the way. There’s more to follow this post!

    Reply
  12. globetrotteri

    Yes Ashish! Get yourself to a hot spring and have a nice long soak. I guarantee that will clear up your cold. Glad to see you’re back safe and sound in Taiwan. I’m looking forward to reading about more of your tumbles. šŸ˜‰

    Reply

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