I just drove my scooter (125cc) back from Kending. I took the east coast all the way back. Went Kending to Taidong (spent the night in zhiben), Taidong to Hualian and then Hualian to Taipei.
My thoughts on the trip. First, it is much better to have a motorcycle. Scooters are not good on turns, especially when it is wet. If you can avoid bad weather and rain, you should definitely try to do so. I also wouldn’t recommend driving at night. The view is incredible when the weather is nice.
I also wouldn’t recommend this trip unless you are pretty confident on a motorcycle. Don’t take passengers unless you have to. Also, it is not safe to drive too slow or too fast. The most potentially dangerous part is Ilan to Taipei. Make sure you do this part in nice weather during the daytime. I did that part alone on a scooter at night in the cold rain and fog. I have definitely had better driving experiences. The main thing you have to be aware of on these roads is speeding trucks, people passing from the oncoming direction and rough patches of road and/or rocks in the road. Overall, it is a beautiful trip, but it is not easygoing country driving. I would not advise doing it in one go. Two days is okay, but three is more enjoyable.
Don’t forget to stop at the harbor fish markets in Hualian and Su-ao for big seafood dinners. There is nothing like a huge, cheap sashimi-red snapper-lobster dinner to make a three hour scooter ride worthwhile.
The trip took about 10-12 hours of driving 80-85kph for the first two segments and 60kph (raining) for the last segment. That is very fast. I would have prefered to go a little slower, but my partner was listening to the beastie boys and some nu-metal crap on his headphones so I had trouble getting him to slow down.