The Hungry Cyclist in Taiwan – Day 4

As Taiwan’s most important rice growing region, the soil of Taitung is as rich as the areas history. Passing fertile valleys of simple homes, farmers bend over their crops in the organized grid of terraced paddy fields that cover the irrigated plains towards the low-lying mountain ranges of the horizon.

Taitung is the home of the Hakka, a thrifty and hard working people who, over a thousand years ago fled persecution in their homelands in Southern China, to start a new life in Taiwan. Today the Hakka are fully integrated into Taiwanese society and their time-honoured traditions are still celebrated. After riding through this productive landscape a simple rice barn would provide a Hakka rice farmers lunch.

Hakka cuisine is traditionally characterized by the three principles of salt, flavor and fat and served in a wuan gon (large bowl). The original Taiwanese packed lunch, the deep bowl would be filled with rice, and leftovers before being wrapped in traditional Hakka cloth and taken into the paddy fields for a long days work.

After a morning of work on the bike, I was presented with my wuan gon and unwrapping the colorful material discovered steaming dragon whisker greens, cooked with garlic and soy sauce, salty pork sauteed with mushrooms, powerful pickled ginger and a hard boiled egg, all sitting atop a deep mound of steamed local rice. Surrounded by paddy fields this Hakka working lunch, packed with energy, nutrition and salt is the perfect working lunch for rice farmers and perfect too for hungry cyclists.

Where to stay: Luminous Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Simplicity, luxury and secluded escape are the guiding themes in the design of the Luminous Hot Spring Resort & Spa. Each of the rooms has a view over the surrounding hills and paddy fields that can be enjoyed from your own private hot springs bath.