We’ve got an early start today. The plan is to rent bikes and cycle the 29 kilometre road around the lake before the midday heat becomes too heavy to ride in.
Sun Moon Lake is calm and serene. It’s a manmade body of water smack in the middle of Taiwan, perched at an altitude of about 800 metres. With all kinds of little B&Bs and temples tucked into its nooks and atop its surrounding hills, the region feels like a secret escape. Apparently there’s no swimming allowed in the lake because the boats make it too dangerous, but for one day each year this ban is lifted for a crazy mass plunge event called the Annual Across the Lake Swim.
The lake got its name because if you bisect it, one portion of the lake is shaped like the moon, and the other, the sun. Sun Moon Lake is also home to the Thao aborigines—with roughly 600 members, it’s the smallest tribe in Taiwan.
We hop on our bikes and ride off into the haze. The bike trail encircles the entire lake, and you can also take several quiet roads down into the surrounding villages. The lake is quiet and still, the sunlight is gentle, and the trail is shaded by lush wet trees reaching for each other from opposite sides of the road. Riding this road feels meditative and cleansing, somehow. We stop here and there to take in the gorgeous vistas, and notice white herons hopping along the water’s edge and turtles sunning themselves on a rock.
Text by Sophie Kohn / Photo by David Spadavecchia