On the Kaohsiung Harbor Ferry
To see our Kaohsiung pictures, Click Here.
Last weekend we went down to Kaohsiung in the South of Taiwan for a few days. We had an amazing time. This is the second time in a year we have visited Kaohsiung for a vacation and both times were fantastic. The city has really grown and developed over the years. I remember the first time I went to Kaohsiung way back in 99, I couldn't wait to leave. But the city council has really developed the city and we now think its a wonderful place for a short trip outside of Taipei.
Liu He Night Market and the Love River
Liu He Night Market
We started out by going to the Liu He Night Market on the Friday night. The night market is a regular Taiwanese night market with the usual food and delights. We walked around for a bit and tried some of the food on offer. The best snack we tried was the Beijing Roast Duck. It was absolutely amazing. We also saw the Shakespeare book stoor that was on the Chung Shan Road side of the night market.
Appropriate Name for a Bookstore
Of course no self respecting night market in Taiwan would not have some snake delicacies and this one was no different. There was one vendor offering what I believe was snake soup, but I might be mistaken!
Snake Soup Apparently
After finishing up at the night market we went back to our hotel and walked over to the Love River. We have walked around the river before but this time just decided to enjoy the view. There are some restaurants and pubs next to the river but we never bothered to try. It was late and time to go to bed.
Love River in Kaohsiung
Queenie and the Love River
Chi Jing Dao
Saturday was busy. In the morning we took a taxi to the Guishan Ferry Pier and took the ferry to Chi Ching Island. Of course the ferry allows motorcycles and bicycles to be taken accross the harbor so it was fairly crowded. The pricing structure was also fairly interesting with locals being allowed to travel on the ferry for free.
Ferry to Chi Ching Dao
The island is in the Kaohsiung bay and has been developed as a tourist destination. Right outside the ferry pier are a few bike renting shops. They of course didn't have a bike big enough for me so we rented a two person bike and spent the day cycling around the island.
A Bicycle Made for Two
The funniest/worst incident occured when I tried to go over the edge of the pavement and my seat snapped off. Since it was a two person bike Queenie's handle was attached to my seat and when my seat broke, poor Queenie fell of the bike. She was not too impressed. A bus driver waiting for his tour group came over to help but there wasn't really much he could do. Anyway, the bike shop attendants came over with a new bike for us and we spent the rest of the day being very careful.
On the second bike we rode as far as we could. We got to see the part of the bay where the ships come in and out. For me there were many nostalgic feelings as it felt a little like the bay in my hometown of Durban. The weather was fantastic and riding next to the ocean on a sunny day was a great experience.
Temple on the Road
Queenie on Chi Ching Dao
Coming into port
We went back to the main tourist town on the island. We had been riding (and occassionally falling off) our bike for three or four hours so we were hungry. Of course the only food on offer was seafood. We chose what seemed to be a fairly decent restaurant with a good selection of food and sat down for a well earned break.
From all the available options, we chose pineapple-shrimps, crumbed fish and oysters. All of it was very delicious and probably, for the most part, the only seafood we ever really eat in Taiwan.
As I said earlier, we don't normally eat seafood, but when I do, strange things happen to me....
The joy of seafood
The other side of the island...
After lunch we got back on our bike and headed towards the other side of the island through what can only be described as the "space invader" tunnel. Some kind of audio signal mechansim had been installed in the tunnel and if people clapped their hands loud enough then strange neon lights would glow and strange sounds reminiscent of the old space invader arcade game would start to play. A very odd thing to have indeed. Once through the tunnel however we had some great views of the ocean, the city and ships coming into the harbour.
Dark Sand on the Beach
Coming into port
We then handed our bikes in at the rental shop and found an outdoor teashop in the small tourist town and watched the crowd go by. Actually, as time passed it seemed the town filled up more and more. It seems we were there in the early morning but the most popular time for going there may be late afternoon/early evening.
Back to Kaohsiung...
We decided to head back to Kaohsiung but this time on an unofficial barge. It must be said the seaworthiness of this barge may have been questionable but they filled up pretty quickly with once again people, cyclists and motorcyclists. The trip back to Kaohsiung was uneventful but the views of the city were also pretty amazing.
Motorcycles on the Barge
Kaohsiung Harbor Ferry
Massages and Walking
We next decided to go for a hair wash. NTD300 for two people for a hair wash and head massage seemed to be a pretty good deal. The massage was relaxing and once finished we were reinvigorated and ready to walk. We headed off through the city, crossed the love river and after about 90-minutes of walking stumbled onto a spa and massage. Queenie had a foot massage, I opted for the full body massage which was absolutely painful. But it is incredible how great I felt after something as painful as that. Anyway, it seemed the massage was good after all the excercise earlier in the day.
After our massage we went for a short walk through the town and then jumped into a taxi and went to (what we think is the newly developed) Fisherman's Wharf. Now Fiherman's Wharf really brought back wonderful memories of a great little bar on the mouth of Durban's harbor called Thirsty's. Well, Thirsty's is long gone and Fisherman's Wharf in Kaohsiung had the same feel. We found a nice little restaurant, sat outside and enjoyed some of the live music at the Lounge Bar next door.
In addition to sitting next to the harbour, the enjoyable food and the chessy lounge bar music, the weather was absolutely fantastic. The temperature outdoors was perfect: not too hot, not too cold.
Kids in Fisherman's Wharf
British Consulate at Tagao
The Name Says it All
On Sunday morning we took a taxi past the Guishan ferry pier to the British Consulate at Tagao. My father would be especially proud of this building as he is an incredibly patriotic Englishman. He would have felt proud to see the Union Jack hanging over a building in Taiwan. The next time he visits I will be sure to bring him here.
The consulate building overlooks the most of Kaohsiung and the restaurant at the back of the consulate has fantasic views of the city. Must be a great place to eat at night with a wonderful night view. We spent some time wondering around the consulate reading some of the historical comments. The one disappoinment on this day was the pollution and smog. It was so bad we couldn't really get a great view of the city. Kaohsiung is notorious for air pollution and one only hopes the local authorities will work to get the air cleaned up. We did take a picture of the city, but sadly the pollution blocked most of the view.
View from the consulate
Cafe on the Edge...
Cafe Business Card
We next took a bus through Chungshan University to the end of the bus route. Once again the views of the ocean and the vegetation were very reminiscent of home. We got to the end of the bus route and walked about half a kilometer down a very steep incline to get to the ocean.
Walking through the trees
At the bottom was a rocky outcrop with a small cafe/restaurant and once again great views of the ocean. We hung around on the rocks for a while watching the fisherman and some folks in the trees behind us doing Taichi (or something similar). What did disappoint here were all the cigarette butts on the ground. It did detract a great deal from the natural beauty of the place. We then went to the cafe for some tea and enjoyed the early afternoon sun.
Taichi on the Sea
Going back was a surprise. We decided we didnt have the energy to walk back up the very steep hill to the bus stop. So we called a taxi to take us back to our hotel. The taxi fee back was only NTD180. We were expecting it to be much higher and it did show us that these remote places were not as inaccessible as we thought.
Our last stop in Kaohsiung was Lotus Lake. We checked out of the hotel. Dumped our stuff at the storage area in the High-Speed Rail MRT station (Zuo Ying) and hopped into a cab to Lotus Lake. The lake is always beautiful and is surrounded by pagoda's and temples. This was one part of the city that did seem to be taken well care of and there was not much pollution to speak of on the ground. Last year when we visited Lotus Lake the confucian temple had a tea house on the lake. Sadly this tea house has been temporarily closed. We were hoping to enjoy a final cup of tea in Kaohsiung on the lake.
Pagoda's on Lotus Lake
Don't eat me...
Girl in Confucian Temple
Sun on the lake
Final Thoughts on Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is a great city for a weekend outside of Taipei. The air pollution was pretty bad, but not much we can do about that. There are a lot of great tourist spots to visit (we didn't visit them all) and a lot of local Taiwanese culture to enjoy. As always in Taiwan, the local food is incredible, the night markets vibrant and the people are friendly. The addition of the MRT (subway) makes commuting in Kaohsiung that much easier, and with two MRT lines, most places in the city are acessible. The downside is that the weekend was a bit pricy, but if you need the break who cares. It is a great little get away and we will certainly go back in the future.
More pictures Here.