Cycling with Tom – Wanpi Zoo and the 100km – 15th Dec.

It’s been three weeks since I blogged about starting to cycle and it’s fair to say I’ve really been enjoying it. It has opened up the ability to visit parts of Tainan that I wouldn’t usually be able to. Sods law would have it though, that in the midst of 10 days off having overdone things last week.

In between my Qigu, Madou ride on 1st December and 15th, things didn’t go well. I did a few night rides between 5th and 12th and struggled, they were nothing crazy (25km-50km) but it felt like my fitness wasn’t improving at all. A dip in temperatures and not feeling well may well have had something to do with it though. It may seem odd then that on 14th December I decided to push things and do Wanpi Zoo the next day, an 80km ride.

My plan from 1st Dec onwards had been to do a few more km each Sunday, 70-75km on 8th, 75-80km on 15th so I was trying to get back on track. Wanpi almost didn’t happen, I went to bed at a ridiculous 5am but, at 8 I almost leaped out of bed with great enthusiasm.

Wanpi Zoo is somewhere my students had told me about, located in Tainan’s Xuejia District (學甲區) just off Provincial Highway 19. I have a somewhat ethical objection to zoos but I read a few reviews and thought “Ok, let’s do it”. Unlike most rides then, there was something to aim for rather than just cycling to see new towns and villages.

I set off up Tainan’s Jhonghua Road (the city ring road) and then took a right onto Highway 19, and over the first of two rivers that brought me into Annan District. I stopped off for water and carried on north in a headwind through Anding, then over the huge Zengwen River into Xigang.

From Xigang the road smoothed out, I crossed into Jiali then Xuejia. I had a little break as I bypassed the town thinking I’d got 5-6km to do at most. I didn’t…

I crossed over a huge bridge north of Expressway 84 and the views were spectacular but by now, I’d been riding for 1 hour 45 and wanted to just reach the zoo.

I had to take a left onto a small somewhat rutted country road and despite cramp, I felt excellent being so far out the city. It was getting more rural and after a final right, reached Wanpi after 2 hours 1 minute on the bike.

The zoo cost NT$480 to enter which I knew in advance but felt excessive. Thankfully with it being mid winter it wasn’t particularly busy.

I started to make an anti clockwise loop around fully intending to make the most of my day with no worries about time.

The first two animals were the flamingos and capybara’s neither of which I recall seeing, at least in the previous 20 years!

Next up was the petting zoo area, rabbits, goats, mini horses but also… Sheep-Pigs?

Unfortunately I wasn’t happy with the conditions that were kept in and I moved on swiftly towards the porcupines and llamas.

From the llamas there were lots of sheep like looking animals with horns, donkeys, camels and some sad looking ostriches which I absolutely hate.

The next thing of interest looked like mini kangaroos…

It was inside to the rodents, hedgehogs, guinea pigs, hamsters etc before moving down the left side of the zoo. Unfortunately the giraffes were far away from the fence and the zebras were close to it, but the view was poor.

Despite this, it was good to get close to the Komodo Dragons which I don’t think I’d ever seen previously…

My time at Wanpi was wrapped up with a trip inside to the reptile house. Snakes, turtles, tortoises nothing too exciting except some huge pythons…

And of course one of my favourites… MEERKATS!

I began one last little walk but came away exactly how I felt beforehand. A good selection of animals to see, some new ones but from an ethical point of view, a lot of animals could have been kept better. It was obvious, some animals were unhappy. 3 hours used up and it was time to make my way south back to Tainan.

These were excellent wide, lightly traffic cycling roads and the views were pleasant. I diverted into Xuejia town on the way back with it’s impressive temple and I always find it fascinating to see these towns like Jiali, Xuejia, Madou. From an administrative point of view here in Taiwan, things are different but for all intents and purposes, we still have towns and villages even if they are organised differently.

Back on Highway 19 and it was a fast, fast road heading south with the tailwind as I reached up to 42kmh and cruised around 36km. There was another nice little temple in Jialixiang which was worth a look at…

From Jialixiang I pushed on back into Tainan, choosing to divert in Annan onto Beian Road and got a little lost at one point. I’d done over 70km and was cramming and sore. It turned out it was a good decision to divert as I ended up on the west side of the city centre.

I popped into Tu Xiao Yueh for some Dan Zai Mian and contemplated what to do next… I’d done 78km and ultimately made the decision to push for 100 but how?

Anping. I rode down in some discomfort to the beach for a couple of photos but still had 16km to do. I got on Google Maps and tried to create that with only 12km back home. I usually a couple of route extensions via the air force base and set off back…

There was painful moments but incredibly despite thinking I’d planned for 100, got 500m from home and still had over 1km to do. I pushed the route a bit more and to a 7 Eleven home near home. Finally got gone 5:30pm with 32 days to spare I had my 100km day!

A good solid 9 hour day out and Wanpi Zoo, well, make your own mind up on it. From a public transport perspective it’s train to Xinying and a rare bus to Wanpi Zoo or bus to Jiali, Xuejia and then Wanpi. It’s quicker and easier to cycle it!

Stay tuned for more posts like this one.



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