In February 2012 I made a crazy, but what turned out to be, awesome decions: quit my job and move to Korea. After two years I wrapped up my life there and moved on to travel the world. That was another two year stint before guess what, returning to Korea! So here I am, back in Kimchiland with lots to say...
After our adventures in Alishan it was time to head South, on to the islands second largest city Kaohsiung. Thanks to the free WiFi at 7/11 and some luck we arranged to stay with another CouchSurfer, Boris a local from Kaohsiung with good (British) English due to studying in the UK for 7 months. Boris was nice enough to meet us at the station and stop by a night market for some more snacks before heading back to his place. I'm pretty sure as soon as my head hit the pillow I was wiped out, it had been a long day.
The next morning I was up by 8 and getting ready as I was supposed to meet another CouchSurfer, Vanessa at the Kaohsiung main station. We were planning to spend the morning exploring Lotus lake and it's surroundings and upon taking another look at the subway map I told Vanessa we should just meet at Zuoying station instead. As it was we had a bit of a late start, Boris's house was farther from the subway then we though, but thankfully Vanessa was flexible about it. We stood around wondering where she was and upon calling her discovered there are two Zuoying stations - one on the train line and the other on the subway, of course we were at different ones. We both caught taxi's and finally found each other at Lotus lake, where we began our exploration. Vanessa brought her friend Ellen along and the two were both really friendly and eager to show us along, although you could tell they were shy when speaking English, kind of reminded me of my students. We did a full lap around the lake taking in all the sights and then decided it was time for lunch.
Taoist god statue
So we walked for a while in search of what Grant was told is "famous duck" but when we arrived we came to find that it was only a take out restaurant. It really didn't look all that exciting, only duck - no sign of side dishes or bread or anything, and plus we were looking for some place to sit down and relax. Debating what to do for the afternoon (money mountain versus the beach) we opted for the later - it was HOT. I also remembered Boris' mom suggesting we go to Cijin island for some really good seafood, which just happened to be the same place as the beach - sold. We caught a cab, then the subway and arrived to many people trying to rent you bikes. I had no idea but Cijin island is a popular place to rent a bike and ride around, the rental was only 90NTD (roughly $3) and it didn't cost much more to take it on the ferry so we'd be fools not to have rented one.
Ferry to Cijin
View of the city and the 85 building
By this time we were all starving so the first thing on our minds was to find something for lunch. The main streets were lined with fresh fish markets and restaurants so we pulled up, picked out some food and awaited anxiously for them to serve us. We went with crab, oysters, some kind of veggies, a white fish, and another mystery fish which they said they would deep fry. All of the food was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, super fresh, delicious and really cheap (we paid about $20 total - including beer!). With full, satisfied bellies we got back to our bikes and began our tour of the island. First we made our way up to the Cihou lighthouse which offered great views of the ocean and city and from there made our way to the coastal road.
It was okay....
After riding for a while we came upon the Seashell museum - kind of random but it was free and offered an escape from the heat so why not. I was surprised at the vast variety of shells from around the world, but not enough so to remember any of their names...my bad. I think my brain was a bit mush from the heat that day, either that or I was in a food coma. I think the pictures we took in the sun after the museum were a bit more exciting.
We rode our bikes back towards Cijin beach where we (mainly Grant) were hoping we could go in for a quick swim. I realized it was getting late and didn't really want to end up soggy and wet for the rest of the afternoon so I settled with just dipping my feet in. However, as Grant approached the water some man quickly started blowing his whistle. Apparently it was too dangerous to go in the water? Hmm looked pretty calm to me. We hung out for a while, relaxing and taking in the beautiful views as the sun began to set. A little while later people were approaching the water and this time it was okay - guess the tide settled down? I thought they day couldn't get much better when I turned around to see a massive rainbow in the sky - seriously probably the best rainbow I've ever see, all but one gap right in the middle. Around 7 the girls left to return home for dinner but Grant and I stayed, deciding that the food at lunch was too good and we'd have to go back for round two.
After dinner we made our way back via ferry to the mainland and explored a little more around the coast before getting the bikes back by the 9pm curfew. Being more than midway into my trip the day began a bit slow, melting in the heat with doubts for the day, but it turned into another one to remember. I'm definitely glad we opted for the bikes and seafood versus hiking with monkeys - although that would've been a good experience too. Once back to Boris's we were toying with the idea of meeting him out at some local bars, but then I had the crazy suggestion of getting some sleep and catching an early train to Hualien (Taroko) the next day. I'm not really sure where that idea came from but Grant jumped at the idea - I told you I can't sit still for long. How on earth am I ever going to pick one place to live!?