A Must-Experience Cycling Route: Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake Rock Sign
At number 5 on CNN’s list of 10 best “Cycling routes that’ll take your breath away” is Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake, a scenic route encompassing the perimeter of a peaceful expanse of turquoise water. My family and I visited the site late in the summer when the air was heavy and humid from monsoon season, smothering the tiny island in a layer of sweltering stickiness. Dressed aptly for the weather—but rather ineptly for the sport of the day—I mounted my chrome-colored rental bike on a sunny afternoon, wobbling slightly from lack of practice. Using scenic appreciation as an excuse for my slow speed, I lagged behind my relatives for a good quarter of a mile. However, the more I biked, the more relaxed I became as I cruised along the lakeside paths.

It is hard to articulate the sensation of being in the presence of Sun Moon Lake. If I were to equate it to one word, it would be liberation. The brilliant sun beat down on my bare shoulders, but a cool breeze combated the heat, combing tangles into my hair as I glided over cobblestone pathways, asphalt roads, and wooden planks. My favorite part of the route was—still is—the long, straight portion of elevated wooden pathway marked off by a large boulder painted with the vivid crimson characters.” Pausing at the start of the path, I stole a moment for myself to breathe—to absorb the sublimity of something so much greater than myself. From the left, calm blue water rippled until it brushed up against a plateau of stone and earth blanketed by soft, chartreuse grass. Short stone pillars supported the path of wooden planks that stretched down the middle of the land and into lush, rolling hills of forest green that lined the horizon and separated sky from water. I watched each of my family members vanish one by one into the mysterious distance—first my older cousin, then my younger cousin, my uncle, my aunt, my mom, and my sister. It was only a matter of time before it was my turn to disappear as well.


… Or maybe the romanticism of summer had plagued my brain a little too intensely.

By the time the hour had transgressed into late afternoon, thick clouds had rolled in over the horizon, dimming the day into a mellow gray-blue and coloring the water the same shade as the overcast sky. The threat of rain brought with it a misty, translucent layer of fog that obscured the vibrancy of distant hills and mountains. Cycling back to the rental shop, I felt as if I were enshrined in some mystical world of uncertainty. When the rain inevitably began to fall, the downpour brought with it a rush of exhilaration that superseded what I had felt biking in broad daylight. I didn’t mind the cold, nor did I mind the wetness—not in the moment anyway. On the way back home, sitting with wet hair and wet clothes in a car stuffed to full capacity with people was quite uncomfortable, to say the least. But the experience was worth it.

Sun Moon Lake View

I found that upon leaving Sun Moon Lake, I missed it within the first few minutes of driving away. There were so many facets to the lake that I had left unexplored—so many spots at which I wished that I had stopped in order to breathe and appreciate more deeply the refreshing, inspirational scenery. In retrospect, I now realize that one of the most captivating qualities of the Sun Moon Lake biking route—speaking personally, that is—is that despite the many man-made structures that have turned the lake into a tourist attraction, the natural beauty of the landscape still shines more powerfully than the erected buildings, the installed pathways, or the free-floating fishing boats. What man has created does not overwhelm nature’s prowess.

Sun Moon Lake View
And that aspect is what I think constitutes the subliminal quality of Sun Moon Lake. To witness nature, untapped (or much of which is untapped), and to interact with this force that man can never emulate as fully or as powerfully—that is what makes Sun Moon Lake so enchanting.

About the Author:

Also an editorial intern on The Culture-ist, Ama enjoys writing about the world around her. Read more about her travels, lifestyle tidbits, and personal blurbs on her blog: lavenderarchives.blogspot.com

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