British man takes on alpine Taiwan dressed for the tropics

Police went to the rescue when a member of the public reported that a foreign man was seen shivering in 7-degree-Celsius temperatures in a carpark on Hehuan Mountain, yesterday, January 30.

As northern and central areas of Taiwan shiver under a cold continental air mass, the British national, named Jack, took advantage of the Lunar New Year holiday to ride his bicycle from Tainan across Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range to Hualien. Tainan’s comparatively balmy weather – temperatures ranged from 17°C to 22°C yesterday – may have influenced Jacks sartorial choices for his journey: a T-shirt, shorts, and a pair of flip flops.

However, temperatures fall quite rapidly according to altitude, with an average lapse rate of 6.5°C per 1,000 meters, and the Xiaofengkou carpark where police found Jack at around 6:00 pm is located at an altitude of 3,002 meters. Most tourists visiting the area at this time of year are snow chasers.

The police officers took Jack back to the Cuifeng Police Station to warm up in front of a heater with a cup of hot ginger tea and some instant noodles. When Jack had recovered his strength, the officers provided him with a pair of trousers and a couple of layers of disposable raincoats, and advised him to find accommodation at a B&B in Puli Township before continuing his cross island highway challenge.

Police from Ren’ai Police Station said that the average temperature in alpine areas is generally lower than 10°C and sometimes below zero. Police urged tourists to wear warm clothes and preferably not travel alone. If you need police assistance call 110, and the police will do their best to provide relevant services, a police spokesperson said.

While coastal Taiwan enjoys a sub-tropical to tropical climate, the island nation has the highest density of high mountains in the world, with 286 summits in excess of 3,000m (9,800ft) above sea level, according to Commonwealth Magazine. The range in altitude and corresponding temperatures is one of the reasons Taiwan is known as “The Kingdom of Fruits,” with the ability to produce every thing from tropical crops such as pineapples and bananas to temperate crops like plums and pears.

Police help man warm up with a pair of pants and some raincoats
Police help man warm up, and provide some clothes for his journey. Picture: Cuifeng Police Station.
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