What’s Chinese for ‘Sore Ass’?

You never forget how to ride a bike. But, you may forget that, after a long bike-riding hiatus, a whole day of riding is going to take its toll on your ass.

My sore butt is the result of a day of cycling around the town of Ershui here in Taiwan. Thought I’m not, by any means, in capable of sitting down, I’m currently considering skipping a second day of cycling in the nearby town of Jiji. Getting back on a bike seat, makes my bum unhappy. I’m not sure what I might do as an alternative, but I was scheduled to go back to Taipei later in the day, so I might head that way a little earlier than planned.

Despite a sore behind, the day was a good one. Without any problems, I made my way to Ershui from Changhua. As I exited the station, I had the good fortune to cross paths with the owner of a bike rental shop recommended by the good folks at Lonely Planet. They suggested that the place may not be open and they were correct, but as I was checking out the store, she walked past and said hello. At which point, I jumped on the chance to ask about renting a bike somewhere in town. She said she was the owner of the shop and could rent me one even though they were closed.

And with that, I peddled off and reveled in the joy of once again peddling through rural Asia. I had so many good days of wandering on two wheels through the countryside surrounding Ichinoseki in Japan that I was thrilled to be gliding along similar roads. A pagoda here, a temple there and I was having a great time. The most obvious difference between these roads near Ershui and the Iwate landscape is the vegetation. Tawiwan is much more lush than that northern Japanese prefecture and I’m pretty sure the palm trees here wouldn’t last a single winter in Ichinoseki.

I managed to get myself lost more than once and often found myself trying to ascend hills that my wee bike and my out-of-shape legs couldn’t quite handle. That just meant more for me to explore.

I stopped for a quick bite of roadside noodles and when I insisted that I didn’t want any meat with my meal, the woman serving me looked at me like I was insane. At least she understood. In Japan, she might have just thrown some pork on top of my meal anyway. Here, no pig products went to waste and I devoured my first real meal of the day midway through the afternoon.

After my lunch, I headed up to visit a monkey preservation area. Signs warned not to feed the monkeys, but there was one man in particular who had come to the area explicitly for the purpose of feeding them. He had driven his scooter up into the forest and endlessly pulled fruits and vegetables out from the scooter’s hold to feed the greedy primates. They were veritable pets to this old man and they vocally jockeyed for prime fruit picking position.

After watching the macaques frolic, fight and f… um, copulate, I headed back into town to return my bike. I then boarded the Jiji Small Rail line and headed over to Shuili to spend the night. The hotels here were cheaper than at Jiji, so I’ve decided to stay here even though Jiji is the location of another bike path that may be calling my name. But, like I’ve said, my butt may not be up for the challenge. So, who knows what tomorrow will bring.

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