You haven’t visited some of the outskirts of Taipei yet…Sanchung, Hsin-Chuang, Wuku, Panchaio…Etc…Compared to these, Taoyuan is a virtual paradise!
Seriously, get on whatever transportation you have, and head up to the mountains! Within an hour, you’ll be sipping fresh mountain air, and wondering why the hell you didn’t do this sooner…
It’s a cakewalk from Taoyuan city…Just head out Jei-so Rd (Sp?) for about 6km until you cross the 2nd Freeway. About 1km after that, the road will drop to the right down into a valley. At the bottom, stay to the right, and cross over the new bridge (This will bypass Tashi altogether). Go back up the hill, and the road will merge with another 4 lane highway. This is the main road to Shrmen dam. After following this for about 500meters, the road will make a gradual left and a gradual right. At the flashing yellow light, hang a left. You’ll know if you’re on the right one, it’s steep as hell. When you get to the top, turn right. Follow this past Tzuhu, through a long tunnel, onto the village of Sanming, Continuing through Fushing, down a twisty downhill section, do some more twisties, and cross over the big red bridge…Once over the bridge, the road opens up into a 4 laner for about 2km. Once it narrows up again, you’ll see a cop shop and the Holy Grail…The entrance to Highway 7. Depending on how fast you ride/drive, should take around an hour. From there, it’s 35km to San Baling and the campsites mentioned by Chung. If you’re just into riding and checking out the scenery, then continue past Baling to the top of the pass. The scenery there is fantastic and at the top, (1,600meters) you’ll be in alpine forest. Very cool.
I’ll be the first to admit that Taoyuan City is not a garden spot in Taiwan. But before knocking it too much, see what it has to offer first. It’s very centrally located, rent is cheap, and if you are a teacher the payscale is still the highest on the island. If you are looking to save money, and have good access to the mountains, then Taoyuan doesn’t look too bad. I can be sitting/diving on the Northeast coast in less than 2 hours by car. Lastly, you are an hour closer to Kenting than your Taipei counterparts.
Too bad the nightlife sucks though… :s