At 4 a.m. Monday morning we polished off radish cakes James' grandma gave us the night before, and trundled down to the bus stop.
The bus to Kaohsiung was the coolest bus I've ever been on. There was only one seat on either side of the aisle, and all the seats were reclineable overstuffed armchairs. I slept better on the 4-hour ride than I do on my bed at home, which I'm pretty sure was designed to emulate a slab of concrete.
We woke up in Kaohsiung shortly before 9 a.m. and took a taxi to Love River.
|So this is Love...doo do do doo...|
James carried all our clothes in his fancy ergonomic backpack. So I had to carry the shopping bag full of snacks, which he packed. I don't think James thought there would be any food in Kaohsiung. Carrying that shopping bag around was like hauling a sack of flour. I punished James for his excess by referring to him only as Lunchbox for the entirety of the first day.
Kaohsiung proper is no great shakes, but there are some neat sites closeby. We took a harbor ferry to Cijin Island where there are plenty of temples and a fun market.
Cijin Island temple lanterns
I only saw one other white person on the island. Unfortunately, he saw me too. He was coming out of a temple as I was going in.
"Stinks!" He remarked to me. I assume he was referring to the smell of incense, which I happen to like. I ignored him, though I wish now I would've told him off. Ugh, I mean back home tourists don't waltz into my place of worship, complain about the smell, and leave.
I've run into a few ugly westerners, not too many, but a few. What amazes me is the ignorance or lack of concern that plenty of people in Taiwan speak English, and it's likely as not someone understands what you're saying.
Anyway, the island temples were fun. We had a delicious fish lunch and then some cactus ice cream, which was unremarkable.
|James decided he had to have this dried blowfish. Naturally, we named it Hootie.|
Back on the mainland, we went in search of a hotel. $1,200 NT ($40 U.S.) afforded us a room in Kaohsiung's Little Indonesia that smelled like a convention of chain smokers just vacated the premise. There was a faux painting of a naked lady with big boobs on the wall and the headboard on the bed had a bunch of mysterious buttons that didn't do anything. But there was cable!
We went to the night market for dinner and ate BBQ lamb, giant fried octopus tentacle, hot and sour soup, duck sandwiches, pig feet, sugar cane juice and hot almond milk soup.
|What Chinese people do for fun|
The next day we took the train to Zuoying Lake to see the Tiger Dragon Pagodas.
For some reason - perhaps due to a lifetime of watching movies wherein monkeys appear as mischievous but lovable sidekicks - I forgot that monkeys are foul, diseased, vile creatures. I remembered shortly after arrival at the home of Taiwan's largest tribe of macaque monkeys.
Feeding is "forbidden." But that doesn't mean you can't buy bags of food meant for monkey consumption just outside the park. The monkeys are used to being fed, and thus are not afraid to ask for it. The irony was not lost on me when I saw a sour-faced old man trying to beat one monkey away with a big stick in one hand, as he tossed a piece of fruit with the other hand to another monkey farther away.
When the danger passed (and all witnesses were out of earshot) he turned and said, "It doesn't help if you yell at them, that only provokes them." Thanks DoLittle, information that would've been useful 5 minutes ago.
Somehow I avoided acquiring the rabies, and we left to watch the sunset at the old British consulate, which overlooks Taiwan's largest port. The next day we were up bright and early, bound for Kenting!