Taiwan 2009 – Part 7

2nd last day of the trip. We decided to go to Kenting Hi World, which was a submarine ride with glass panels at the bottom so you can view the bottom of the sea. On this day, a group of Singaporeans arrived at the hotel and was going to the same place as us. We actually saw them at MacDonald’s in the morning and heard them (the Singaporean accent is recognizable anywhere!) but didn’t know they are staying at the same hotel as us. So we chatted on the way to Hi World and recommended a few places for them to visit in Kaohsiung (since they went straight to Kenting first, and will only move upwards to Kaohsiung later). Of course, I told them and showed them pictures of Dome of Light and Liouhe night market! Unfortunately, a group of Chinese tourists were taking the same tour time as us, and even the Taiwanese staff asked us to hurry up onto one of the 2 submarines to get a good seat (Chinese tourists are notoriously noisy, rowdy and rude)

HI!!!

The yellow submarine...

Unfortunately, the waters were not calm (impending storm??) and it was a little difficult to see/capture the marine life properly.

Finally a clear shot

Don't know what kind of coral this is, but it looks interesting with neon tips!

We couldn't wait to get back on shore and away from the Chinese tourists

After going back to the hotel, I was lazy and wanted to just watch TV and snack on tidbits from the convenience store but Dad was persistent that we maximise our time in Kenting and said that there’s an interesting tourist spot called 冒烟的乔 which sounded similar to Smoking Bridge (it’s a different Chinese character for bridge though). So I was like “ok… let’s go”. It was walking distance from our hotel, about 15 minutes walk. When we got there, I don’t know what to make of it…

Tourist spot??

We walked all the way (I was still wearing slippers, despite it being winter!) so we decided to stroll along and wait for sunset. I took a few more pictures to remember the place.

We also walked along the stretch of hotels facing the beach and made notes which hotels we should stay at the next time we’re there.

And the next day, Day 8, it was home sweet home! I actually rushed to the wedding reception from the airport (took the MRT there…) with luggage in hand! LOL Everyone was shocked but he’s my brother, so that’s the least I can do for him… happy anniversary today!

Taiwan 2009 – Part 6

Woke up bright and early (the sun rises and sets very early in Taiwan) for a day trip that we signed up for. The front desk of the hotel we stayed in was friendly and helped us arrange a day tour. We opted for 2 separate tours (AM & PM) as it was cheaper (the day long option included lunch which we wanted to settle on our own… and we ended up having bowl noodles which was fantastic! I love Taiwan bowl noodles!)

In the morning, we went to Hengchun 恒春, Chu-huo 出火and Gang-Kou 港口.

Hengchun somehow reminded me of Malacca, being a tourist spot (due to the movie Cape No.7) but yet retaining its rustic charm. We merely passed by the town though and didn’t stop as we were rushing to our next location, Chuhuo.

Hmm... how special can this place be?

Natural campfire anyone?

Next, we were brought to a bridge that is called 吊桥 (or Hanging Bridge), if I remember correctly. It is located in Bitan (碧潭), and is 200m long. I was hesistant to go onto the bridge as I have a fear of bridges collapsing but I went onto it eventually… and walked really slow.

I can't see the end!

Nice view... glad I went onto the bridge!

Next, we went to a spot called 风吹沙, the direct translation would be “wind blow sand”.

The winds here are so strong that they blew the sand from the beach to the road and created a small sand dune!

Then it was Longpan Park, which technically isn’t a park, because it had cliffs which you can go onto (be careful!) and strong winds that could either blow you into safety, or into the sea!!! It’s my favourite spot (out of the places we went to during this trip cos I love the cold air!)

Longpan Park

The vast ocean... breathtaking view

Mom running for "safety"

Look at the grass!

Somehow, I always seemed to be visiting lighthouses on such sightseeing trip (think Augusta in Perth), so Eluanbi Light was on the itinerary too. I am obviously not impressed by the view or place as I have no pictures of that location! We next went to a coral beach, but er… looks like any other beach to me. We were not allowed to go down there, as it is a protected area.

What's the difference?!

Before we ended the AM trip, there was one last place to visit. 船帆石

Rock formation that is supposedly very famous.

The guide came back to the hotel to pick us up after lunch, and it was more interesting than AM trip! We went to the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium and saw lots of interesting marine life. In fact, I think we spent close to 2 hours there!

Hello fishy!

No highrise buildings here!

After the aquarium (I almost didn’t want to leave), we were running a little late, and quickly rushed to our next location, Maobitou (猫鼻头). Again, another rock formation.

What is Maobitou?

Nice view, but the "closed during typhoons" sign is a spoiler.

The said cat's nose rock, which gave the place its name. The Taiwanese seriously have very good imagination...

Read and see picture above again to see if you agree with the text

Dad was snapping pictures and I decided to do the same pose as a photo taken in Perth.

Same pose? Perth 2007

The sun was setting really quickly, so we had to rush off to our last stop where we were supposed to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day, and we didn’t manage to see a nice sunset.

I put on a Taiwanese thinking cap, and named this picture "UFO arrival"

Taiwan 2009 – Day 5

We were actually already in Kenting (垦丁) on Day 5. We chose to stay at a homestay place as it was a very popular kind of accommodation in Taiwan. Cheap and no-frills. We searched for our place online while in Kaohsiung and booked over the phone. Location and mode of payment were important to us, so we decided on Formost Hotel (We found our place via UUKT) as they accepted credit card booking and payment. The very nice owner also helped us arrange transport from Kaohsiung to Kenting (we traveled through the evening on Day 4, taking a private van. It was about 3 hours drive). The location was superb, right on the main street of Kenting, with many convenience stores located nearby. The hotel was quiet as it was winter and not many people go to Kenting during then.

Balcony overlooking the main street of Kenting

Kenting is a quiet little town, well-known for its beaches and water sports. So we visited the beach…

This cafe belongs to Howard hotel if I'm not wrong

Sun's out and scorching hot

This place reminds me of The O.C. Why ah? But I was glad to visit Starbucks for a caramel macchiato!

The street slowly becoming alive at night (6pm)

Taiwan 2009 – Part 4

Day 4 saw us joining a day tour which brought us to various tourist spots around the city. We were to gather at Formosa Boulevard (“not again?!” you say, but this time there was a guide to tell us the story of the Dome of Light, and it made me appreciate the art piece even more). We will be using the MRT to travel to the various spots. Interesting as it’s not your typical “sit on the bus for 1 hour, then alight for 10 minutes to take a look around, then get back onto the bus and off to the next location” tour.

First stop: Main stadium.
This is the place where the World Games was held and just the weekend before we went there, Mayday had their concert which 10,000 people attended! “Moreover, this stadium is notable for its eco-friendliness: the solar panels on the stadium roof generate 1.14 million kWh of electricity per year, thus reducing 660 tons of annual carbon dioxide output. In addition, all the raw materials used in the main stadium are 100% reusable and made in Taiwan.”

A lot of brain juice went into the design of the stadium

That's Gao Mei on the left, and Syong Ge on the right.

After the stadium, we went to visit temples that featured intricate stone carvings…

Super workmanship... how did they do it?!

PS: I think it’s funny that I’m blogging about Day 4 (which took place on 14 Dec 2009) on 14 Dec 2010. 😛

Taiwan 2009 – Part 3

Day 2 was shopping day for us as I wanted to get some nice clothes for my brother’s wedding (the same day I flew back to SG)… so we went off to Dream Mall. To get to Dream Mall, we took a train to Kaixuan station (凯旋站) R6 on the red line. There will be free shuttle buses to Dream Mall. If you don’t want to wait, you can also take a cab there from the station.

Look! It's a shopping mall in the shape of a whale!

Dream Mall is really huge (the largest in Asia!), and it also features a Sanrio-themed ferris wheel on the rooftop. How cute!

Dad tried to be artistic and snapped this art feature on the ceiling

Dream Mall made up of lego bricks! CUTE

The mall featured a mixture of local and international brands but I felt that the local brands, while price was affordable, didn’t have clothes as nice as the international brands. But the international brands were really pricey! I really liked this emerald green toga dress which I thought would be great for the wedding, but it was close to S$400!! GULP. I went over to MNG but there wasn’t anything that caught my eye… though the dress I tried on grew on me only after I came back to SG and it was already sold out here.

We became kids and paid NT150 each to take a ride on the ferris wheel on the roof.

I liked the cushion so much!!

Dad tried to imitate BadBadMaru... er... BAD imitation!

I wish I was in this cabin instead... love Cinnamon Roll and that plush pillow inside!!

Having no luck at shopping at Dream Mall, we decided to head off to Liouhe night market (六合夜市), which is situated at Formosa Boulevard station (the station with the breathtaking and largest glass artwork in the world). There are several exits so follow the signs closely!

Yet another artwork along the walkway of the MRT station

This way to yummy and cheap eats

Gateway to food heaven

While there, we ate dinner which was basically street food. We drank the famous papaya milk at the Zheng Lao Pai Fruit Juice stall near the entrance of the night market.

The signature square watermelon in front of the stall

I also had the sugar syrup coated sweet potato cubes and smelly tofu (but the one I had in Taipei is still better)! The sweet potato stall is at the opposite end of the night market (towards the end). I also had the pepper meat buns were also yummy! Juicy and meaty and peppery… and the bun skin wasn’t too thick. The stall is diagonally across from the fruit juice stall.

Soft, sweet fluffy sweet potato cubes coated with sugar syrup... sweet potato version of Poppycock!!

Smelly tofu which isn't that smelly... which means not that nice.

OMG... I'm salivating just looking at this picture

I bought 2 pairs of shoes at the night market, which were cheap cos I managed to bargain the price down to S$25/pair! Quality is good as they’re still in good condition and they don’t bite the back of my ankles!

Back at the station, we stopped to take more pictures of Dome of Light. You can say that I really, really, really like it loads!

Taiwan 2009 – Part 2

On our first day there, we went to Cijin Island. To get there, we had to take the MRT to Sizihwan (西子湾) Station on the Orange line. From there, we had to walk approximately 10 minutes to Gushan Pier and take a ferry over to Cijin island. Cijin island is a small island to the southwest of Kaohsiung that offers fresh seafood at affordable prices, and lots of breathtaking scenery.

Sizihwan station

Gushan Ferry Pier

We decided to rent bicycles to travel around the island as it would be crazy to visit the various places on foot and the distances would be too short to take a cab. Once you arrive at the pier on Cijin, there are a number of bicycle rentals to choose from. The rates are all about the same, so it doesn’t matter which one you rent from. The bicycles are pretty well-maintained too.

Cijin pier

The view isn't as picturesque as Perth (a little hazy that day), but the air is as fresh!

We cycled for about 5 hours, up the hill, down the hill, along the coastline, before returning to the main island. It was nice taking a break from the busy city.

Once back in the city, we went to Love River (爱河) at night as I heard that the lights there were beautiful. Unfortunately, I don’t think so…maybe it’s nicer during the day… I don’t know… there isn’t much to do at Love River (couldn’t find the bands that were supposed to be there) so we returned back to the hotel after the boat ride… I think dinner was MOS burger which was super yummy! They had a special pork burger there which was so good!!

Pretty meh? Can you believe this was 6pm when I took the picture? Sun sets very early in Taiwan!

Taiwan 2009 – Part 1

Woah… finally eh? It’s a good 12 months already… it was a good trip with good weather and good company and just pure R&R for that whole 10 days. Having been to Taipei before, I wanted to visit Kaohsiung this time. The show that we were obsessed with prior to leaving for the trip was Black & White 痞子英雄 (80% of the show was filmed in Kaohsiung) so we knew we definitely wanted to visit that place.

We took China Airlines to Kaohsiung as there weren’t any direct flights that matched our schedules.

PS: I tried to find a decent picture of a China Airlines plane and to my horror, there were a lot of CA wrecked planes that came up in page 1 of Google image results. Gulp.

This was the hotel we stayed in for the first half of the trip: King’s Town Hotel Kaohsiung which was a stone’s throw away from the Kaohsiung Railway station. Do note that this is the railway that brings you to other towns in South Taiwan, not MRT that brings you AROUND Kaohsiung. The MRT however, is behind the railway station, and is accessible through a shortcut at the railway station for around S$0.25.

The hotel was clean and room was spacious but the breakfast was bad (I think it’s a Taiwanese thing cos the hotel breakfast at Taipei was sucky too). We only had breakfast there twice and would rather have breakfast/brunch outside. The smell wasn’t evident at night when we arrived at the hotel (we took an evening flight and arrived at the airport around midnight) but there was a strong stench of smelly tofu during the day. Luckily for me, I get used to smells quite fast and I quite like eating smelly tofu so I wasn’t too affected by it.

The Kaohsiung MRT system was a breeze to navigate, with only 2 MRT lines! It has only been a couple of years since Kaohsiung had their own MRT system so everything was still in the works. As you can see, we’re only 1 stop away from the interchange, and the most beautiful/artistic interchange I’ve seen.

Kaohsiung Main Station

As the MRT system is new, there are only 2 lines so far, and super easy to get around!

Red or orange line?

Formosa Boulevard is the station I was mentioning earlier… look!

The chinese name for this station is "Beautiful Island" How apt!

The picture could not fully express the beauty of this artpiece! It's called Dome of Light