Taiwan is a territory that traditionally has far fewer people traveling it than should. Sitting off the east coast of China, there are few spots hotter, geopolitically, than Taiwan. But what’s there from a tourism perspective? Are the people similar to those from mainland China? What’s the terrain like? Is it safe to travel? Friendly for visitors? Food tasty and accessible? Well, you can say ‘yes’ to all of those things but today we’re not only going to touch on Taiwan as a travel destination for the second time on this show, but also focus on cycling Taiwan’s east coast. So, pour yourself a cup of Oolong tea, steam some dumplings, and let’s dream of what was once known as Formosa.
Scott discusses his recent visit to Taiwan and then the two hosts give their impressions on the island.
Trevor’s knowledge comes as a student of world affairs: clearly aware of the conflict with China since a boy; otherwise he’s had friends from Taiwan or have lived in Taiwan. He knows they are very proud about their food in particular. Some of Trevor’s friends studied martial arts there and their experiences sounded both very archetypal and stereotypical.
Scott: We will likely do an episode about my trip to Taiwan, how I planned it, reality vs impressions, etc, but today we’re going to chat with someone who has 20 years experience leading cycling tours and focus on cycling Taiwan’s east coast.
PATREON – thanks to Lisa. She and other Patrons get neat stuff and recently we shared a video of exploring Taroko Gorge in Taiwan that Scott shot while on a trip in April 2023. Ensure you get this content by becoming a Patron too! recently watched a video of Trevor’s Cambodian New Year Celebrations in Siem Reap and of Scott visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya north of Bangkok.
Every other week, we have a special Patron-only episode or video. Donate as little as $1/month to enjoy our bonus content. Your donation helps us cover the costs of keeping the show alive. Thanks, Wiley for your support. He and other Patrons heard this week’s patron-only video of Scott cycling Bangkok’s back lanes and top sites!
Today’s guest: Simon Foster
Simon Foster was born in London and grew up in rural Yorkshire. Family holidays first ignited his wanderlust, and he started work as a tour leader in the Middle East in 1997. Subsequently he was posted to India and then China, and he now lives in Chenggong, in Taiwan’s beautiful Taitung County with his wife, Tot, and their two daughters, a dog and a cat. He has combined his love of travel with his passion for writing, and has contributed to over 20 guidebooks and countless magazines and online publications, including the Rough Guides to Australia, China, Egypt, Europe, India, Philippines, Spain, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, Frommer’s China, Frommer’s Taipei and Hunter Adventure Guide to China which Simon authored solo. Simon and Tot also run their own travel company, Bamboo Trails, and provide bike tours with/for Grasshopper Adventures in Taiwan. They have led all kinds of weird and wonderful adventures including 70+ people self-driving auto rickshaws across Rajasthan, hosting a film crew sampling street food in Taipei, and riding local gearless bikes through the jungles and rice paddies of Cambodia. During Covid they opened Bamboo Bakery, an authentic English cake and bread shop, and Simon started editing a local magazine, Hello Taitung … The journey continues!
Listen to this week’s episode: Cycling Taiwan’s East Coast with Simon Foster to hear Simon’s answers to the following questions:
- Where are you originally from and what did you do in that previous life?
- When did you first come to Asia and why?
- Where did you live and work in those early years in Asia?
- When did you first settle down in Taiwan and what caused you to do so?
- Give listeners a broad-strokes overview of Taiwan as a country?
- Regions: east vs west, north vs south; what are the geographical differences and why choose one over the other?
- We’re going to focus on traveling the east coast today, with an eye to cycling, but we will also talk about how this area is good for hiking, family travel, etc,
- In a nutshell, what makes Taiwan’s east coast unique and worth visiting?
- So what activities and styles of travel is the east coast suited to?
- How does one get from end to end: rent an SUV
- How long does one need to properly experience and cover the east coast?
- What are the key towns/sites along the east coast?
- Thinking about cycling, can you walk us through an ideal dream trip on the east coast?
- What are the roads like on this type of trip?
- How about food – what can visitors on the east coast expect?
- I’ve heard there are indigenous communities along the east coast, can you tell us a bit about them.
- Overall, what are Taiwanese people like?
- We’ve focused mainly on cycling: If people aren’t into that, what other type of trip and activities should they consider and where along the east coast?
- The elephant in the room – as someone living there – do you fear the looming threat of China?
- Is this a safe place to visit?
- How can people learn more about you, your various ventures, and traveling Taiwan’s east coast?
- www.RoughGuides.com – Taiwan
- Hello Taitung magazine
- Grasshopper Adventures Taiwan
- #119 – Taiwan Travel Tips from Joshua Samuel Brown