Rob Hicks, Cycling Weekly’s Health and Fitness writer and What’s On man has been invited by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to visit their island, try their local delicacies and ride their most picturesque routes for a week…
Hello there, I am writing to you from the Hotel Éclat in the Eastern district of Taiwan, on the fifth floor, with the tennis on the TV, and some odd but calming violin music being played out of the stereo.
We (myself and four other journalists, plus our escort Susie) left London Heathrow on Tuesday at 9.45pm. We have just arrived (it’s now 11pm Wednesday!), but oddly, I don’t feel too tired, so have decided to write my first instalment.
I’m not going to bore you with the flight and the airports. Once you’ve seen one airport, you’ve seem them all. One thing I did notice though was the amount of people with facemasks on. I know Swine flu is a bit more serious out here, but I think all these masks may be overdoing it a bit. And I can never quite understand why they have them on. Are they accusing us of having the flu and don’t want to catch it? Or do they themselves have it, protecting us from them? Either way, it’s all a load of nonsense as I’m told the masks do diddly squat in prevention and protection anyway.
Once we got through arrivals, we met our guide for the week called Tracy. She gave us all a goody bag, along with a bowl of local fresh fruit that was quite lovely, and a cup of not so lovely cold, bitter tea. Imagine chewing on a piece of bark, and then you’ll sort of understand how it tasted. However, the others around me seemed to love it, so not to look bad or let the team down, I managed to force it down my throat followed by a shiver and a slight gag.
Whilst the gagging was going on, Tracy talked us through our trip for the week and then gave us our Chinese names.
My name is (I can’t actually remember, but will let you know when I do) what I do know is that it translates to meaning gifted and bright with strength like thunder. A pretty true reflection I think!
The journey from the airport to the hotel wasn’t too long, and before I knew it, I was in the room ready to unwind.
The room itself is amazing and very luxurious but I think maybe too clever for its own good. It took me five minutes to turn the lights on (there all sensor switches), not the easiest thing to find in the dark. The doors are all sensored as well and fly open as if you are on the set of the new Star Trek movie. The bins have, yep you guessed it, sensors on, a gentle brush by the bin will be enough to flip it open at such a speed that blink and you will miss it. Then there is the toilet.
There are, wait for it, 10 different options you can choose from on how you want your toilet to work. Position, pressure, a spray instead of a flush, a light spray, the list is endless – What’s the point?!
One nice option though was the heated seat. However, I foolishly left it on overnight and when I returned to the throne the next morning it felt as if I had sat on hot coals. I think you could hear the screams from the reception!
I’m just about to have a cup of tea to send me off to sleep but instead of relaxing with a bit of milk and two sugars, I am being presented with another bunch of options to choose from.
Tropical Green Tea, Organic African Nectar, Organic Mint Melange, Organic Spring Jasmine, Orchid Oolong and Organic Earl Grey to name a few. What’s wrong with PG tips every now and then, eh? It all seems a bit too poncy for me; however, I’d imagine it would be right up Simon Richardson’s and Ed Pickering’s street!