Ten days are not enough (I)

Apologies for the long absence, it has been a month. Two weeks ago, I spent ten days in Taiwan. The next few posts will be a series on my journeys in Kaohsiung, Taichung and Taipei.

minutes away

I had only packed some clothes and my Fujica camera into a backpack. Filled with excitement, I arrived at Taoyuan International Airport and took a coach transfer to Taoyuan High Speed Rail Station to meet my buddy.

Our journey begins with a two and a half hour train ride down south to Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung. Speeding past mountains and ducking into tunnels, we arrived at Kaohsiung Main Station and transited onto the MRT. A few stops and a 10-min walk, we found our hostel. It was simple and clean, there were no other guests and we had the entire 6-men room to ourselves.

on the MRT
walking to the hostel

We had planned to visit a nature reserve, mountainous area with hot springs and waterfalls, inhabited by the local indigenous people. However, we learned that parts of the area were closed due to bad weather and the journey would take more than 3hrs. We decided to spend all 3 days in the city but we wanted to do something besides shopping and visiting the tourist attractions.

Martyr’s Shrine

The hostel provided free rental bicycles for our mini-adventure. Kaohsiung city developed an entire cycling route around the city that brought us to an art exhibit in old warehouses, the Lover’s bridge, Kaohsiung Harbour, the Old British Consulate House and the Martyr’s Shrine. The Martyr’s Shrine was situated at the top of a mountain. We fought the never-ending slope and were rewarded with a majestic and solemn sight. It was nearly empty, except for the old folks who sat there and enjoyed the view. The place was truly serene.

After the Martyr’s Shrine, we cycled to the harbour. Cyclists and motorists waited in queue to board the ferry. A 5-minute boat ride took us to the island of Cijin. It was a little like Sentosa, Cijin housed Kaohsiung’s old forts and a lighthouse. We climbed the steep slope to the lighthouse, only to find it closed for the day. Once again, all we could do was enjoy the breeze and the scenery.

Cijin was really an interesting town. It had a little beach, a street lined with seafood restaurants and little snack stalls. Exploring deeper into the island, it is home to many Taiwanese. There are the usual bubble tea shops, laundry mats, barbers and convenient shops. It is not much different from other cities, except maybe a little more peaceful and quiet.

Through the tunnel
Light at the end
Cijin Island 

Night markets are an integral part of the Taiwan life. The locals recommended Rui Feng Night Market. From outside, it looks like a gathering of neon lights. It was a separate world.¬†The state of organised chaos was an eye opener. Rows upon rows of stalls selling food, clothes, toys and games. The sights and sounds were captivating. Yet being in the crowd, there was hardly any pushing or shoving. Everyone just moved along at a leisurely pace, occasionally stopping at the stalls. It was like our “pasar malam” on a larger scale and a nightly basis.

Fancy a prize? It’s harder than it looks

I would have loved to stay in Kaohsiung, or any of the cities, for a few more days. Perhaps spend an afternoon or two sitting in a cafe, people watching and feeling the rhythm of the city. After 3 days, we left our nice hostel and this city to our next destination.

Chez-Kiki Hostel living area
time to say goodbye

Stay tuned for Part II, Taichung. To see more photos from Kaohsiung, visit my Flickr set.

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