Riding A Bike To Tamsui (淡水腳踏車之旅)

Friday, 24 March 2017

After our one day trip to Shifen (十分) and Jiufen (九份), we planned for a more relaxing day to tour Taipei city: on a two wheels! Bike riding is so encouraged in Taipei that the government even launched a huge bicycle sharing and rental system known as YouBike in 2009, offering over 6,000 bikes for use across 220 stations. And because of this service, it has since boosted the popularity of bike riding to conveniently allow tourists and locals alike to travel around in an environmentally friendly way. Although I didn't actually see that many bikes on busy roads (it's simply too dangerous with the amount of mopeds and cars around), we did see quite a number of people making use of the designated bike paths for the public.

Starting our day at around 11:00am, we bought some breakfast first before taking the subway to where we will be starting our bike path. The sandwich on the left is our second sandwich in Taiwan and will my last one ever in the country. The sandwich above looks like a normal sandwich—with tomato, lettuce and with what I thought was cheese but turned out to be slices of apple. Yes, apple. I know Taiwan is big with on the sweet and savoury taste in food, but apples in my sandwiches is a big no-no. Therefore, we opted for some Taiwanese rice balls (飯糰) from a street vendor near Taipei Main Station (台北車站). One rice ball is about the size of a small burrito. Pair it with a cup of warm soy milk and you'll have a pretty filling and healthy(ish) breakfast.

In Taipei alone, there are many bike trails you can take depending on the level of difficulty and where you want to go and see. We decided to take the Tamsui Golden Shore Bike Path (金色水岸自行車道), a pretty chill and relaxing 15km bike path starting from Guandu Station (關渡站) in New Taipei City and ending at Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf (淡水漁人碼頭). Some of the main attractions of the route:
  1. Guandu Bridge (關渡橋)
  2. Zhuwei Wharf (竹圍碼頭)
  3. Kelly Bay Mangrove Ecology Pocket (紅樹林生態保護區)
  4. Tamsui MRT Park (淡水捷運站公園)
  5. Tamsui Golden Shore (淡水金色水岸)
  6. Tamsui Old Street (淡水老街)
  7. Tamsui Ferry Pier (淡水渡船)
  8. Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf (淡水漁人碼頭)
However, we decide to start at Zhuwei Station (竹圍站) as shown in the map above—cutting about 5km off the course. But note that the map is only a rough outline of the bike path. When you're on the actual bike path, there will be signs to direct you where to go.

We rented our bikes in front of the 7-Eleven located across the main road outside the station. ★Tip: Ensure that you have an EasyCard (悠遊卡) and a Taiwan mobile number before renting a bike (unless you have a friend with those items) because if it's your first time renting a YouBike (like us), you'll need to pair up the two and register your card under the bicycle rental system on the machine—located on the far right hand side of the bikes. Once you've completed the registration process, simply choose your bike, tap your EasyCard on the dock and the bike you chose will automatically be unlocked for use. If you want more information, please check out the YouBike website here.

After we got our bikes, we headed towards the direction of Tamsui River (淡水河), which the Tamsui Golden Shore Bike Path runs along. We were quite happy with the nice weather we got that day, since it was raining and super cloudy for days before. In fact, it started to get really hot around midday. (I'm so glad that I was wearing a t-shirt underneath my sweater!)

I actually think the design of the Youbike is great—particularly the placement of a basket in front to put your belongings in and the back fender which covers the top part of the back wheel and functions as a dress guard. (If it wasn't for the back fender, I wouldn't have wrapped my sweater around my waist.) The bikes have 3 speeds available and you can even adjust the height of your seat.

I don't know why we didn't bring any bottles of water that day but on our way to Tamsui, we got to the point where we were so thirsty we had to take detour off the path to buy some water to dehydrate ourselves. #rookiemistake We eventually got Tasmui at around 2:00pm, but we weren't particularly hungry so we just grabbed a pearl milk tea to go.

We didn't stay near Tamsui Old Street (淡水老街) for long because the number of people there just made it too inconvenient for us to wander around with our bikes. Therefore, we decided to keep going until we reached Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf, home of the Tamsui Lover's Bridge. We got there at 3:00pm and it was only then did we settle down and went to buy something to eat. Unlike Tamsui Old Street, it wasn't busy at all and had much more places to sit.

I think our meal in Tamsui was probably the most unhealthiest meal we've ever had: fried everything. But in the moment, it was great sitting by the sea and eating fried squid (whole and balls), mushroom and sweet potato. I highly recommend fried squid balls (花枝丸). #yolo

It was starting to get dark so we eventually made our way back to Tamsui Station to return our bikes. (You can return your bikes at any Youbike location.) The parking station at Tamsui is much bigger than the one at Zhuwei Station, so if you have any issues with renting or returning your bike, there will be staff around to help you.

Riding a bike through a city foreign itself is a wonderful opportunity to experience local culture—with the wind in your face, it's inexplicably thrilling and exciting all at the same time. I can't remember the last time I rode a bike, but travelling to Tamsui on two wheels turned out to be a very nostalgic yet fun and active way to explore a really lively part of Taipei city. Plus, it's not difficult to rent a YouBike at all, so if you do get the chance, it's an activity that is totally worth doing if you're in the country.

1 comment

  1. christania’s “cargo bike rental” bikes are rolling across the city. The system, less than a year old, is funded by christania’s municipal government. It is currently only in one of christania’s 22 administrative districts. Although a 2nd generation system, there are 12 “Houses” in this district, each with around 40 bikes. The yearly subscription cost is the equivalent of $2 US, and allows the use of a bike for up to four hours at a time. In less than a year, there have been 6,000 subscriptions sold. There are larger 3rd generation systems in the world, which do not have a subscription to bike ratio as big as that.


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