It seems like our travel days are difficult and this last one was no exception. We left our Couch Surfing abode in Yokosuka, Japan in time to catch a 6:38AM train to Tokyo station and then made our way successfully through Tokyo Station to catch a bus to Narita International. We arrived almost three hours before takeoff for Kaohsiung, Taiwan. So far so good! Upon landing we were surprised to find out that we did not have a confirmed place to stay. This was the beginning of a comedy of errors. We left the airport to get an internet sim card for my phone only to find out that we didn’t need to as the airport has much better service and rates. The tech that installed the chip, and activated it, only activated texting and not internet. When I finally procured a place to stay the person sent to pick us up from the metro station didn’t speak any English and didn’t text either. Six hours after arrival in Kaohsiung we discover our lodging is on the seventh floor of a slum apartment building where you really don’t want to walk barefoot! Laurie, in her most loving way possible, told me we were going back to the airport, period! We managed to get the phone fixed at the airport, reserved a new place to stay, and raced to the metro to catch the very last train of the night! We arrived at Drum Fang at 1AM. Twenty hours into our journey.
We love where we are staying! Our hostess and her fiancee are interior designers. They took an old five-story building and converted the two lower floors into designer studio show space and the upper three stories into rooms. It is very art deco and very cool. They and their associates are very cool,although only one of them speaks English. This place is a clean and peaceful haven in the midst of crazy. They provide free wi-fi, great snacks, coca-cola in glass bottles, and amazing non-stop espresso!!!
After such a hard journey we decided to take it slow our first day in Kaohsiung. We slept in late, took in our new surroundings, and then had a leisurely light breakfast (double espressos and fresh toast spread with coconut paste ). Finally, it was time to go for a walk in our new neighborhood. We decided to head down to the Gushan Pier and look out over the water. The line to take the short ferry over to Cijon Island was long and the atmosphere was festive. I’ll post more on Cijin Island once we actually make the trip.
Countries in SouthEast Asia have very difficult access issues for the handicapped and Taiwan is no exception. That said, this group was determined to enjoy their day on Cijin Island.
While walking through the area we came across these brightly colored fellows.
After the pier we saw signs for their Fisherman’s Wharf. Along the way we caught some magnificent vistas.
The tall building in the background is the Tuntex Sky Tower. At 82 stories it is the second tallest building in Taiwan.
The commercial part of the wharf has a shopping complex called the Banana Pier. It looked interesting so we thought we would slip on in and take a crack at it! The Banana Pier used to be a warehouse for storing bananas. In the 1960s, a huge amount of bananas were exported from Kaohsiung to Japan. The Banana Warehouse was opened to help stop the bananas from decomposing from the warm weather. The opening of the Warehouse greatly helped the export trade to increase in Taiwan. As Taiwan’s banana trade has since dramatically decreased the Banana Warehouse was no longer needed. The businesses are primarily restaurant and retail now, however there is a store with some of the must exquisite carved amber statuary I have ever seen. Some of the pieces sell for over $250,000 US.
Laurie was tired so we decided to head back to our new place at Drum Fang. We saw the sign for the metro but were distracted by a park full of people and activity. The sign below convinced us that we had to go in and check it out!
Pier 2 is an amazing new art and cultural center. It is the result of the Kaohsiung City government’s plan to rejuventate the old and neglected harbor area of Yan Cheng District. The plan was started in 2000 by an artists group and has slowly grown into a must visit area of Kaohsiung City for locals and visitors. We were captivated by the music, the art, the crowd, the food carts, and the big and little people riding a really cool little train.
While walking through the park we received a FaceTime call from our son, Jared. We had so much fun walking through the park, showing him around, and introducing him to little children who were so excited to talk to a face from America!!!
While at the park we heard blasts of fireworks coming from close by. We asked people walking by and they pointed to a Taoist temple. We started walking in that direction and came upon an amazing site.
As this precession drew to a close we finally headed back to our room. It was a great first day in Kaohsiung.