January 31, 2012
Kaohsiung - It's All in the Water
Kaohsiung - It's All in the Water
Twas the night before Lunar New Year and all through the north, a cold surge was coming, was time to go south...
As always seems to be the way, the forecast for the Lunar New Year in the north of Taiwan was grim; 10-12°C and persistent drizzling rain. To be fair, the forecast was pretty much the same through Taiwan, but a friend in Kaohsiung assured us that it never rains down there, and it would be a good deal cheerier. So we managed to book tickets on the High Speed Rail and a few nights at a hotel and off we went.
I should point out that I used "managed" as it is usually very difficult to get tickets over the Lunar New Year period, and I should also point out that the prices are unlikely to be discounted. I would advise booking way ahead of time if you plan to travel during this time.
Kaohsiung is the second largest City in Taiwan, and has undergone something of a transformation in recent times, helped in part by the Taiwanese TV series "Black and White" which is also now a full-length movie and the World Games in 2009. The brand new stadium along with the development of the subway system, and perhaps most importantly, the cleaning-up of Love River have started to attract an increasing number of visitors.
We stayed in the Cianjin District (map) right on Love River and close to the Harbor. It's a good base to explore and if you enjoy waterways I can highly recommend it.
Kaohsiung is a major port, but you would be hard pressed to tell given the size of the entry to the Harbor. I am no mariner, but it looks awfully narrow!
A great vantage point and interesting place to visit in general is the Former British Consulate Residence at Tagou (or Dagao). Very similar in design to the former consulate residence in Tamshui, the building is very well managed with interesting information displayed in each room.
As it is located on a hill right by the entrance to the Harbor, the ocean views are great from the front, with views of the Harbor from the coffee shop at the back of the building.
This area is called Sizihwan and can be reached by MRT. Once you get peckish, you can take a small ferry across to Qijin District at the other side of the entrance to the Harbor and famed for it's seafood. The queues may look formidable, but there are ferries every three minutes or so at peak times and the seafood is very good. Note though that if you take a taxi back without taking the ferry it will cost a bit as it's a fairly long way round. Something to bear in mind if you are with small children.
Back in the 1960s, bananas were a huge export item, and the majority left Taiwan via Kaohsiung. The commemorate the fact, the Banana Pier stands yellow and proud with some of the tools used back in the day.
It reminded me a bit of Neiwan and the Cinema there, and it's a good place for a rest and banana ice cream.
Just across from Banana Pier is Fisherman's Wharf, from where you can take boat trips around Kaohsiung Harbor. As an aforementioned fan of boat trips this was a must, and as "cruises" along Love River tend to last for less than half an hour, the hour long trip around the Harbor sealed the deal.
As I mentioned, Kaohsiung is a busy port and as such the views are of an industrial nature, but interesting nonetheless.
Taipei has 101, and the Kaohsiung has the 85 Sky Tower containing the Splendor Hotel. At 85 floors it is huge, and it does feel as if you can see it from virtually anywhere in Kaohsiung. Certainly from anywhere on the Harbor anyway.
So it seemed fitting to end the trip with a trip up to the observation deck on the 74th floor. The elevators whisk you up to the deck at a speed of 600 meters per minute, and it is high. Gulp. There is a coffee shop where you can sit facing away from the windows though...
And the weather; while it was indeed cold and wet in Taipei, we enjoyed temperatures in the mid-20s (centigrade) and bright sunshine.
A Happy New Year of the Dragon to you all!
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