Sunday, February 1, 2009


Our seat-of-our-pants excursion went off without a hitch in Kaohsiung, because Kaohsiung isn't a nice place. Kenting is a very nice place, and it was on our way there where we ran into problems.

Guidebook said it would take 2.5 hours to get there by bus. It took 4, stop-and-go traffic the whole way. Not only was it Chinese New Year, but once there we learned there was a hip hop festival going on - mostly Chinese rappers, but the headliner was Lil Jon, best known for the time-honored classic, 'til the sweat drops down my balls. Skeet-Skeet!

I tried to be cool about it: There's no point in traveling internationally on a limited budget if you aren't willing to put up with the waiting, the miscommunications and assorted delays along the way.

But just because the journey doesn't drive you nuts, doesn't mean your travel buddy wont either. As we trudged through the back alleys and side streets of Kenting - met only by no vacancy signs and front desk clerks shaking their heads - I started verbally threatening to murder James in his sleep. To which he responded, "But where?! WHERE will we sleep? If you know, then I'll get a head start on you and go there immediately!"

Eventually we took a cab several miles south to Sail Rock, a low-key strip of hotels that turned out to be more our pace (less boozy, no MC HotDog).

The cheapest room we could find was $2,500 NT, three times what Guidebook said we'd have to pay. Still, once we got to the beach it was all worth it: perfect weather, warm sand, a setting sun.

Unfortunately, we had to share the sand with 500 other people and a four-wheeler rental outfit. Watching dozens of four-wheeler newbies (not a helmet among them) roar past was unnerving. When we got up to skip rocks, some began using our towels as a marker to pivot around - proving once and for all you can take the four-wheeler out of America, but you can't take the cracker out of the four-wheeler rider.

Thursday we went back to Kenting, at a loss for what to do: We didn't trust ourselves to rent a scooter (the mode of transportation most use to see the national park nearby). We killed time perusing surf shop trinkets, figuring we couldn't justify margaritas at the local Mexican dive before 11 a.m.

"Let's go to Frog Rock Park" James announced, seeing a sign for it leading down a tree-lined street.

"Do you think there'll be a rock that looks like a frog, or a rock that a bunch of frogs live on?" James asked as we walked.

"Well hopefully it will be both - maybe a magical frog rock that all the frogs worship and do its bidding."

The way to Frog Rock was a rocky coastal path. Frog Rock was a rock that looked like a frog, I guess. Actually, we couldn't figure out which rock it was, but as we walked farther we found a tiny hidden beach - separated by craggy boulders from the big private beach owned by a luxury hotel.

Next order of business was finding a spot hidden from view where we shimmied into our bathing suits.

From Kenting

We spent a couple hours playing at our surprise beach and then beat it back to town for Mexican food and fruity drinks before the whopping ten hours of bus rides back to Nankan.

We got home at 3:30 a.m., exactly four days after we awoke and started our journey. In case it doesn't sound like it: I had a really good time.


TCL said...

Is it the budget? Why didn't you take the high speed rail? Or even the slow train down the east coast thru Hualien and Taitung? Very pretty on the east.

Leslie said...

Chinese New Year. That train was full up on the way down and yeah on the way back up we didn't look into it b/c budget.