German Cyclist - cycling around Taiwan

German cyclists praise Taiwan's scenery, welcoming people

A group of 14 German tourists that cycled around Taiwan praised the island for its spectacular scenery and friendly people on Wednesday.

The journey -- started on Nov. 3 -- was far better than expected, as both the landscape and the locals were one-of-a-kind, Jan Reisch, leader of the group, told CNA by telephone.

"We first chose to visit Taiwan because we thought it would be a novel experience to ride in subtropical surroundings, but then we found people were so nice to cyclists, as well as to foreigners.

This added much more joy to the journey," he said, adding that he worked closely with the Tourism Bureau to make the trip possible.

Reisch said that what touched him most was the fact that whenever he made eye contact with locals they smiled without exception and were willing to help if need be.

Reisch and his fellow cyclists, who have an average age of 45, are the first European tourists to come to Taiwan with the intention of cycling around the island, according to the Tourism Bureau, which has been promoting Taiwan as a cycling destination.

Eckart Tardeck, the oldest member of the German group, said he felt energetic and refreshed, despite having cycled more than 700 kilometers over the past seven days. "I feel I could do another 70 kilometers today," said the 73-year-old.

Tardeck added that the country's cycling facilities, such as the design of the routes and the maintenance of the roads and rest stops, are much more rider-friendly than Germany.

Reisch said he planned to launch similar tours in the future because even though the cost of the trip -- NT$160,000 (US$5,300) -- was not cheap, the experience was overwhelmingly positive.

"Everybody in the group enjoyed the environment and cultural differences," he said.

The cultural experience seemed to have not only impressed the Germans but also Taiwanese people, according to local tour guide Hsu Chung-hsiang.

"These guys love beer," Hsu said. "Instead of drinking tea while sitting in a boat on Sun Moon Lake, they drank tons of Taiwan Beer."

(Source: Nov 2011)

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