On Tuesday, I was invited to talk about my adventures in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. I was overwhelmed by the positive reaction by the audience and also by the fact that all the tickets were completely sold out. Most people announced that they got inspired to visit Taiwan and try cycling.
It’s been two years now that I decided to go for a crazy idea: I wanted to cycle along the East coast of Taiwan and eventually climb from sea level up to 3275 meters on Hehuan Wuling. However, I didn’t prepare for this in advance and so I had to improvise with the luggage that I brought from traveling South East Asia before. It worked out fine eventually. In fact, I learned that I don’t mind at all traveling with a 20 liters daypack only for 3 consecutive weeks! (#minimalism)
Taiwan is a wonderful place for bike tours because to the right of the street (given that you cycle anti-clockwise), you can gaze at the dark blue ocean, the sandy beach and the high palm trees, while to the left you see how mountains covered in dark green rise to altitudes of over 3000 metres.
What you may consider when you’re packing
Three key points were very important to me on my bike tour:
- Travel with light weight.
- Don’t buy new items (for the environment and for my budget).
- Be prepared for some break-downs.
① Since I had to transport everything up and down the mountains with my own muscle power (planned to climb to 3275 meters eventually), I packed as few clothes as possible, this meant: one biking outfit for the day and two off-bike-outfits that I could use to sleep in as well. And even that might still be much. We had a couchsurfer back in Germany once who only brought a bike-outfit for the day, an evening outfit and a toothbrush. He slept in his shorts and all his clothes were out of linen, so lightweight and everything fitted inside a toilet bag.
② Whatever I would buy, I would need to carry it around afterward or just buy it for one-time use. (I went to India and Iran subsequently.) That’s why I made it a point to buy only the absolutely necessary and to fall back on what I had with me anyways. The only things I bought new were cycling shorts, a repair kit, thin leggings (for colder temperatures in the early mornings when my cycling shorts were not enough) and a tubular BUFF (to use it as a scarf or mouth protection against the wind). All of these things I bought at RT-Mart in Taitung (the cheapest option). The helmet I borrowed from my friend in Taipei.
③ Make sure you have an inner tube as well as tire levers and patches with you for an emergency. (You can get them from the Giant store or alternatively in department stores such as the previously mentioned RT-Mart.)
My packing list
- Black Cycling shorts with cushion and a black leggings
- Regular t-shirt, mine was made of merino wool which is good for hot and cool weather
- Fleece pullover
- tubular BUFF
- Trekking sandals
- Sport socks
- Sports bra
- Raincoat (needed 2 raincoats eventually)
- Long trouser
- Dress (that can be worn as a nightgown as well as during the day)
- Sneakers (I only had Converse with me)
- Bikini (the sea is tempting!)
- Underwear for 5 days
- Water bottle
- Tried fruits (I loved tried mango!)
- Dextrose (you can find it in the form of a gel at 7 Eleven, I bought it every day)
- Soap (space-saving and plastic-free in contrast to shower gel)
- Deodorant cream
- Ultra-light travel towel
- Sun blocker
- Insect repellent
- Vaseline for your bum (I used silk powder)
- two inner tubes for emergency
- tire levers and patches
Other important items to have
- Cell Phone
- Adapter for sockets
- Water-proof bag
- Dry bag (or plastic bags in case of rain or wet clothes)
I oriented myself to the packing list of Andrew Kerslake.
Water is a common good. Therefore you can refill your water bottle almost everywhere for free. Just ask at 7Eleven or in restaurants, where they will refill your bottle with boiled/filtered water.
With 7Eleven every few kilometers, there is no need to haul along many supplies.
7Eleven-shops are open from early till morning late evening (if not 24 hours in big cities) and are the all-round-markets to do most of your business: buy some snacks, go to the toilet, use wifi, … If I remember correctly they even offer a microwave. For a more nutritious lunch, I recommend the small restaurants along the way which sell cheaper (and fresher) meals.
Food is very cheap in Taiwan.
If you have more luggage with you than you want to carry…
By the way: If you don’t want to carry around all of your luggage but you would need some more stuff at your final destination, then 7Eleven can even ship your belongings from one 7-11 to another 7-11 at your destination via the forwarding service.