It was an overcast and rather cool, but not altogether unrideable morning. So after a quick breakfast we headed out for a short ride. We took Highway 9, first west then south, out of Taitung. With the idea of going down to 知本 Zhī běn (used to be written as “Chihpen”) then back up Highway 11 to the city.
The ride starts out rather flat and straight and as you go along the roadside stalls start to give way orchards of custard apples, aka buddha head fruit (釋迦 shì jiā). Reaching the Lijia River (利嘉溪 lì jiā xī) we decide to take a little detour up to the Rukai aboriginal village of Taromak, 東興 Dōngxìng on the map. It is a small village and other than a summer festival it is usually empty of tourists. We just rode through to admire the quiet beauty of the place. And annoy the local dogs.
After a quick loop around the village we were back at the highway. We crossed the Lijia river and headed south. When we reached the 7-11 we head up towards the hot springs (溫泉 wēn quán). Before long we were being pestered by a person from one of the hot spring hotels, the ones who that try to convince you to go to their hotel. This time as we were all descending a hill, us on bikes and her on a scooter. She finally gave up and sped away, leaving us to climb the next bump in peace.
It is a really nice ride up the valley especially if you go all the way to the forest park, but we were not going that far up the valley on this trip. So we just swung by and had a look at the flowers at the butterfly park. We noticed a deer and dog both tied up in the same yard, the dog barked, the deer didn’t. Then we rode up around the hot springs to look how things have changed. They have put in a fancy new bridge and there had been a bit of road construction. Partially rebuilding and partially new development in the wake of typhoon Morakot that devastated the area in 2009.
I always find it strange that when they cut through a house to make a new road they just leave the remaining portion standing. With the old furnishings still mouldering away inside. It is a little surreal.
After our little trek up the valley we turned around and decided to cut across to Highway 11 and find something to eat down on that side of town. There is not a great number of places and they are all pretty standard. So we just stopped by one that looked decent.
I have to admit I was a little impressed with their braised pork rice (肉燥飯 ròu zào fàn also called 滷肉飯 lǔ ròu fàn). Usually one gets some braised ground pork on rice, but here we got some thickly diced pork belly. It was quite good. Being a little chilly I thought the 肉羹湯 (ròu gēng tāng) or “thick pork soup” sounded good. Gēng tāng is a little like hot and sour soup in in consistency since they are both thickened with starch. It was perfect for a chilly ride.
Feeling rejuvenated we headed back towards Taitung on Highway 11. The headwind was a bit of a nuisance, bare rice fields do little to block it. That said we made it back fine and with plenty of time to decide where to get dinner.
I had been really looking forward to getting a 筒仔米糕 (tǒng zǐ mǐ gāo), a steamed savory glutenous rice cake, since about the time the plane landed at Taoyuan and Taitung has my favorite place to get one. So feeling the pull, we made a bee line to 王子麵店 (Wáng zǐ miàn diàn) at #131 Heping St (和平街131號). It is an old, and sort of old fashioned, place that makes a mean 筒仔米糕 (tǒng zǐ mǐ gāo). To make one of these rice cakes one basically puts braised ground meat and part of a braised egg are put into mold, then cooked glutenous rice is put on top of that. The whole thing is steamed together, after which it is turned out and served with some chili sauce.
We also had a side order of some pig’s small intestines. And I swear the lady was wandering around a bit and checked another table before she realized that, yes in fact, we ordered those….and no not by mistake.
And with that I leave you with your daily God(s).