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Tropicamino in Taiwan

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
For the last week, I’ve been with fellow forum member @TysonQiu on the east coast of Taiwan. It’s not an established “through hike“ but thanks to the exis culture of round-island cycle-touring, many of the elements exist for an excellent, warm-weather hike at this time of year.
- A choice of routes including coastal road or valley between coastal and central mountain ranges
- Communities at frequent intervals along the coastal road or central valley
- Reasonably priced hostels and guest houses (but not all are “official” so you sometimes need to ask around)
- Extremely friendly and welcoming people
- Great, cheap, food with plenty of vegetarian options, thanks to a high percentage of vegetarians in this area
- Terrific scenery and fascinating blend of cultures (Aboriginal, Hakka, Han Chinese, etc)
- Very comfortable temperature range at this time of year (the daily temperatures during the last week have ranged from 17 to 23 ℃). My backpack weighs less than 5Kg and Tyson’s is about half that.
- Foot massages
- Low crime & high personal safety
- Possibilities for short duration or longer duration hikes from a weekend up to a month
- Good public transport infrastructure

Downsides ...
1) Limited English spoken.
2) Much walking on hard surfaces (although Tyson and his collaborators are trying to map routes that will avoid some of the roadside walking.
3) No guidebook. It’s not an established route. Tyson is thinking of creating an English language guide one day.

I’ve been blogging about my experiences in a “most accurate but least factual,“ sort of way:
jonagrams.com

Tyson runs a Facebook page in Chinese:

If you’re interested in this, please let me or Tyson know.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Thank you. Interesting stuff. Last year @davebugg posted about the Matsu pilgrimage which was new to me. So I have thought a bit about Taiwan over the past year. How would you say that your recent journey compares with walking in Japan?
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018, 2019
How would you say that your recent journey compares with walking in Japan?
Apologies for the slow response. Today was my final day on this walk - It ended with an absolutely amazing festival in Taitung, so I’ve been pretty busy. I’ll come back to this question later because it’s a good one. The things that come immediately to mind are:

1. Costs - Once you’re here, Taiwan is very doable on a pilgrim budget I’ve been staying in private rooms for 700 to 1,000 NT$ per night (€21 to 30) but there are many dormitory style places for cyclists at half that price. Sheets, duvet, towel, and use of washing machine is typically included. That’s comparable to the price of dorm accommodation at privately run albergues in Spain. In Japan you might find a cheap hostel in the old day-labourer neighbourhoods of Tokyo and Osaka but not at 20km intervals on a long distance trail.

2. Landscape and routes - Here I feel japan has the upper hand. Taiwan doesn’t yet have a marked thru hike like the Japanese pilgrimage routes on the Kii peninsula or Shikoku. The people who are interested in establishing a thru hike here are keen to find better paths but that’s a work in progress.
Taiwan has a pretty big pollution problem I think - whereas some Japanese routes feel idyllic.

3. Climate - This part of Taiwan (East Coast) is ideal for a winter Camino (any time between November and March. Temperatures this week have been in a narrow range (18 to 24 ℃)

I’ll come back to this - I need some time to think about it myself.
 
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