Kenting National Park.

Apart from visiting the beach and the National Park there is nothing else to do in Kenting.

 

 

Kaohsiung.

Kaohsiung region is the second most populous in Taiwan, having morphed from a tiny trading centre into a major business hub in the south of the country.

Unlike Taipei, Kaohsiung is a planned city with wide streets and slightly less traffic congestion than the capital.

During the day the road is used by car traffic, while at night it’s used by human traffic.

For a long time, Kaohsiung was renowned for being Taiwan’s largest port city. In fact it’s one of the largest ports in the world. But with a road so long and wide that it fits 1,000 food stalls, Kaohsiung can also lay claim to having Taiwan’s largest night market.

View on the market entrance from the roof.
View on the market entrance from the roof.
Girls checking out phone accessories.

The wide streets mean that the stalls can be positioned close to the pavements with space for dining tables to spill into the middle of the street so people can sit down to eat. Most other night markets in Taiwan only have standing room.

A girl is asking her boyfriend to win some more fluffy toys, as she is still very young and needs more.

When I went to Lanyu island I noticed that people chew something that looks like a nut wrapped in a leaf. Similar to chewing tobacco; you chew and you spit. Also like tobacco, it’s a stimulant, but in other ways it’s very different.

The betel nuts are sold from stalls with green flashing light-saber-lights, a common sight here. These nuts give people a feeling of euphoria and an adrenalin rush – a buzz equivalent to a few cans of Red Bull. They’re also used for medicinal purposes, to combat the effects of schizophrenia and impotence. Whatever the reason people chew it, some gave me this answer “They chew and I chew, it gives me a kick.”

The habit of chewing betel nut goes back some 2,000 years. Today it’s primarily used by working class people like farmers and fisherman. The ugly, and perhaps unknown, reality for many of those people is that chewing betel nut can cause cancer – usually mouth cancer, which is hard to hide. Another reason perhaps to wear a face mask.

Betel nut stall.
Betel nut stall.
Main hall of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery and hand carved buddha at the entrance.
Monk in sunglasses and shoes.
Monk washing his hands in the toilets.

The Buddha statue was closed off for cleaning. Instead, I had the pleasure of admiring rows and rows of smaller buddhas covering the whole monastery, as well as enjoying the view.

Enter the dragon’s mouth for good fortune,
Exit the tiger’s to banish bad luck.
I did this vice-versa as I am a goon,
Because I don’t really give a fuck.

The dragon and tiger pagodas are two seven-storey pagodas guarded by crouching tiger and dragon statues. Visitors enter through the dragon’s mouth into a tunnel with walls embellished with carvings. They exit via the mouth of the tiger for good luck.
Modern and old skyscrapers.
Modern and old skyscrapers.
Colourful dragon decoration on pagoda’s rooftop.
Mother and child on the bridge to the jade emperor statue.

The more I travel the more kind and friendly people I encounter, for example the owner of a vegan restaurant who will feed you to death, in a good way. A restaurant that charges only for the main dish, with starters, side dishes, dessert and drinks for free? I fear she will soon bankrupt herself.

Super friendly and happy owner of a vegan restaurant.

Today Kaohsiung is positioned as an easygoing and arty port city. Maybe it is, or maybe the city has just started to shift from being a commercial hub to a touristic centre. For me, Kaohsiung is a big, boring, tasteless city. The only vaguely arty thing that I felt truly represented this city was an inflatable rubber duck. But even the duck was removed eventually.

Tourists on the “Love” monument.