While it is important for you to know that I love you, it is also important for you to understand that I am lazy and tired. This being said, I’m sorry if my last Taiwan blog post is kind of lame, I am literally just going to copy some of my journal entries for my travel days in Kenting and Kaohsiung, and I am so tired that I can’t promise I will proofread it after. A lot of our trip was spent just relaxing and sightseeing and there weren’t many crazy stories, so I think the Reader’s Digest version will be most enjoyable. Here we go!
Baisha Bay: Day 1 (June 28)
Today I got up at 4:30 with Liz and we caught the first train out of Fengyuan. Tonight and tomorrow night we will be camping in Kenting, and it is SO hot here! Under my phone’s weather app it said that it felt like 108 degrees today, and I believe it. I was seriously pouring sweat while I changed in the tent! It was actually dripping off of my face, and I couldn’t keep my skin dry enough to apply sunblock without sweating it off. Rough! Once we got down by the water, though, we had a great lazy day at the beach. It is like a resort here! We sipped fun drinks, lounged under a giant beach tent, and jus napped next to the ocean all day. Plus, it is beautiful here! We are technically at Baisha Bay where they filmed Life of Pi, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a prettier beach. Well, it’s time for bed and I’m a little concerned that this tent may be a bit too squished for us… but we will be in a hostel soon, and I am looking forward to it! Air conditioning, here I come!!
Kenting National Park: Day 2 (June 29)
A great second day of our trip! We went Taiwanese “hiking” in Kenting National Park and it was beautiful! As always. Taiwan is consistently gorgeous, no matter where I go. Today we got to go through some caves, which were really cool. It was interesting to think that I was under a ton of rocks but my main concern was still that I didn’t want to surprise any snakes. Or worse, have them surprise me! Which happened, by the way!! We had done such a good job of making ourselves stay on the marked walking trails (for the most part) and right at the very end I decided to let my idiot side take over. Ignoring the cautionary “poisonous snakes and wasps” signs that I had seen a million of that day, I wandered a few yards off of the path and was approaching a large rock that looked like it would be the perfect place to stand on and look out over the view below. Apparently it was actually the perfect place to take a nap, because that is exactly what this giant, 4-foot black snake was doing there. I got within about 5 feet of the rock before I saw it, stopped dead in my tracks, and then immediately power-walked in the opposite direction saying “nope, nope, nope!!” as I went. I’m not sure what kind of snake it was, but I am relatively certain that it wasn’t poisonous or particularly aggressive seeing as it pleasantly slithered back into its little hole when we parted ways. I have since discovered, though, that cobras are common here, especially in southern Taiwan, so from now on when I tell this story it will definitely be a massive cobra.
Kaohsiung: Day 3 (June 30)
Ok, I know that I always rave about the beauty of Taiwan, but today I was particularly awestruck! Liz and I decided to take one last scooter ride before leaving Kenting, and I am so glad that we did! We drove down toward Gangkou and the road took us past some incredible green cliffs towering above the rocky shoreling. I can’t explain the serenity that soothed the air up there, but it is absolutely one of my favorite parts of the trip so far. It was almost bizarre, I felt like I had been transported to an Irish movie! After sitting and reflecting for a while we rode down to a nearby town tucked away on the other side of the cliffs where we found this cool bridge! It wasn’t as cool as some that we saw in Taroko Gorge, but I have a love of bridges so I enjoyed it all the same. After that we made our way back to Kaohsiung to check into our hostel (which is astonishingly awesome) and wandered around the city for the rest of the afternoon. We took a boat ride down Ai He (Love River) and the saw the Dome of Lights. That one was a little bit underwhelming to see in person, but the pictures themselves were really cool. Worth the 5 minutes it took to go.
Kaohsiung: Day 4 (July 1)
I can’t believe that was my last day of the trip! After the stress of last week, I left Fengyuan and stopped paying attention to the days. I lost all track of time and now it’s over! Today was a wonderful farewell to Kaohsiung, though. We started out by going to Cijin Island to see the Cihou lighthouse. It was a tiny place, but really fun. I do have to say, though, that I almost enjoyed the ferry ride we took to get there even more than the actual island! Once there, we decided to pay to ride one of those little carriages pulled by a bicyclist (I don’t remember what that’s called) and I felt so guilty the whole time! We were talking to this spry middle-aged man who convinced us to take the tour, and as soon as we agreed he called over this little old lady who clambered onto the bike and seemed to gesture to us like “Get in, we’re burning daylight”. So in we got, and she proceeded to struggle to lug us around for the next 20 minutes! I felt so bad, I just wanted to trade places with her and let her sit in the carriage for a bit while I pedaled! When we got back to the starting point, however, she collected her money and then promptly ignored us as she began a gruff-sounding conversation with some man on the street. I decided that she seemed like a salty old lady and was much tougher than she looked, which soothed my guilt.
The Journey! Day 5 (July 2)
Today was one of the most ridiculous days. I had a ticket to Changhua but our plans to go there changed and so I thought “I’ll just get off at the Taichung stop instead and pay the difference so that I can get home faster.” Well, guess what never happened. We never stopped at the Taichung station! I stayed on the train until the Dajia stop (about an hour away by local train) where I had to wait 2 hours for the next train to Taichung. Even after that I had to wait another 20 minutes for the train to Fengyuan, and by the time it was all said and done I had arrived home nearly 4 hours later than anticipated! It was absolutely ridiculous! But there was this really sweet lady who helped me figure everything out. She didn’t speak any English, so we had to get by with my horrible Chinese and quite a few rounds of charades. She was so nice, she got off the train with me, helped me sort out my ticket, and made sure I knew where and when to get on the train. We parted ways, but then two hours later she came back just to see me off and make sure that I got on the right train! Was that way more help than I actually needed after 6 months here? Yes. But it was so incredibly sweet of her, and it was a great last reminder of the wonderful generosity, patience, and kindness that have become forever linked in my mind with the Taiwanese people.
Well, this is likely my last blog post for quite a while. I feel like every place I go I leave a little chunk of my heart behind, and Taiwan has taken the biggest chunk by far. It is unbelievably hard to make myself leave, but I know that all good things must come to an end. Thank you everyone who has made this experience what it was.
Goodbye Taiwan! Wǒ ài