Apologizes for missing the post last Saturday, forgot all about it on the weekend. Ooops! But here it is, long and picture heavy.
From Taitung, our next stop was the home town of both of us: Kaohsiung. We opted to stay in Kaohsiung for 2 days. Reason being, 1. it was our home town, and we wanted time to reminisce 2. Kaohsiung is a fairly big city, and we suspect it had a lot more to offer.
Kaohsiung is the 2nd biggest city in Taiwan. I’ve always loved the city, it’s not as big as Taipei, but even with the size of the city, you can still feel the warmth of small town friendliness here and there. If I ever return to live in Taiwan, Kaohsiung will be my first choice. Hualien comes a close 2nd, but only if I can actually find a job that would allow me to survive. LOL
We arrived at the Kaohsiung train station, and this was on display. It’s outside a store that apparently sells things made out of recycled boxes. We didn’t go in to take a look (though I am not sure why). We started to head towards our hostel.
Kaohsiung is the 2nd city in Taiwan to get a metro system, and it’s main transfer station is known for the beautiful lobby. This is the station call Formosa (美麗島). It is absolutely stunning. The metro system, unfortunately, does not get utilized as much as it should, and I can understand why. It’s actually not very convenient at all. The major stops are there, but it’s just not planned out that well.
So we got out of the station, and followed the direction given on the website, and for the love of god, we could not find any signs of our hostel. In the end we gave up, and decided to call them. The lady told us they were above a salon, which we were standing outside of. When I told her we couldn’t find any signage, she replied they didn’t have any. Probably an illegally operated place. As we followed the instruction, we found this tiny little plate, no more than 2 by 4 inches, at the door. Finally, we have arrived.
The room was clean enough, though it had a stench of cigarettes, especially obvious in the washroom. Then again, I recall the washroom of my own home in Taiwan smelt like that. Perhaps it’s in the pipping, who knows. The hostel was located on a busy street with, yes you guessed it, night market. My favourite one as a child, in fact. Unfortunately, it was a little early for us to get dinner at the night market.
So we wasted no time, and headed out to visit our childhood memories. First stop, Kaohsiung culture centre. I had many fond memories of this place, while my friend remembered nothing of it. I learned how to ride a bike here, roller skated here, and had afternoon picnics here. Mainly because my dad had a store right across the street. It was my play ground as a kid.
The other place I remember a lot of, is the Datung Department store. Obviously, not because of the shopping, but because of the roof-top amusement park. Unfortunately, the building went under a major reconstruction, and the amusement park was closed. Sad Face.
We also visited my friend’s old elementary school, which also did a huge face lift, and she could no longer recognise it. We even visited the teacher’s office, and had a nice chat with some of the teachers.
Then, it was time for the Love River. I had visited the Love River a few years back, after it was all cleaned up. It’s quite an amazing story. When I was young, this river had no life what so ever, it stunk of garbage, and was polluted to the point that the water was black, I am not joking. Both my friend and I remembered it as a stinky, disgusting river, but it’s come a long way since then. Now it’s a major attraction for tourists, there are boat rides you can take on the river (we didn’t), and it’s just a really nice walk. The building in the picture is the famous 85 building (it has 85 floors), before Taipie 101 this was the tallest building in Taiwan, and was once the tallest building Asia. I’ve always called it the fork building because of it’s shape.
By the Love River, was our old kindergarten. this is actually the church associated with the kindergarten, I have no memories of the school, but remember this church quite well. My friend and I apparently both attended this kindergarten, we are about 6 years apart, so we weren’t classmates or anything. She attended the school under a different name, her school was later absorbed by my school. We found out we attended the same school while searching up where to go in Kaohsiung. Funny how life works.
Later that night, we had our dinner at the famous Liuohe Night Market (六合夜市). Apparently, this night market has been over run by tourists nowadays. I wasn’t told until much later that the locals now go to Ruifeng Night Market (瑞豐夜市). But Liuohe was the night market my parents would often take me to when I was little, so I’ve always had fond memories of it. Though, I must agree, it was indeed over ran with tourists. Especially tourists from China, which didn’t exactly made the experience pleasant. Nevertheless, food was still good.
This wasn’t a childhood favourite, but I keep seeing them at night markets, and just had to try. It’s pretty much corn dog that’s battered with more stuff. The one I got was battered with crushed instant noodles. Nothing really amazing about it.
A must eat in Taiwan. Mango shaved ice, and yes those are real mango chunks on top. This big glass was about 60NT ($2 CND)
This is also a new thing. It’s oyster omelet, which is something everyone must try in Taiwan, wrapped in a dough and deep fried. I suppose it’s an easier way to eat the omelet, but I like the original version better. There’s something to be said for classic dishes that are popular though out the ages.
The next day, we took a little hop-on-hop-off bus that toured the city. The first stop was at the old train station. The Chinese name of the train station is literally translated as “hit dog,” but the story behind that was that was what the Japanese called Kaohsiung back in the day. It sounds like the Chinese “hit dog,” and so it became the name of the city, until it was changed later on.
The bus took us not 5 mins away to the Port of Kaohsiung, where we found this store call Banana Port. We later found out that in the old days, bananas were shipped out in the truck loads from the Port of Kaohsiung. It made a lot of banana farmers rich, as the Japanese people found bananas to be a rare commodity and would pay top dollars for them. The story goes, the “Banana King” of Kaohsiung walked into a bank, wearing dirty farmer clothing and was treated so badly that he threatened to take his business somewhere else, until the manager came to right the wrong. Suppose, if he had taken his business else where, the bank would have bankrupted. So back in the days, bananas had a nickname of “gold.”
The next stop was a little artsy area of Kaohsiung: Pier 2. It was a very nice walk down next to the train tracks, with interesting sculptures, murals, and what not along the entire walk way. Definitely a place I could spend more time at.
Our next stop, on a very very hot day, was to the beach, except, the bus didn’t really stop at the beach, it stopped next to the ocean, but the beach was quite a ways away, so we didn’t make it. This beach was also something I remember fondly as a kid. I remember the sand being black, and having so much fun with my cousins. It was too bad I couldn’t get on to the actual beach.
I was a bit full so I opted for the tofu dessert.
Our last stop was actually at the History Museum, which I didn’t take any pictures of, and that was where we learned about the history of bananas in Kaohsiung.
Taiwan malls are amazingly hard to shop in. It’s usually full of expensive brands that would otherwise be cheaper in North America, so we really just went for the fact that it’s the largest mall in Asia Pacific. The mall was pretty decked out, and we couldn’t really find out way around.
For us the major attraction was the amusement park on the roof top. I mentioned that the roof top amusement part was torn down for the Datung department store, this was pretty similar to how I remembered it. We didn’t do the rides, but we did take the ferris wheel, for 150NT. This is the eye of Kaohsiung, which is another way of saying you can see the top of Kaohsiung.
We decided to have dinner at the food court, before we head over to our next destination. Beef noodle nom! Both under 200NT
While waiting for the metro we saw an interesting character, and I couldn’t resist doing a little sneak snap.
The story behind this picture: Taiwan has an almost annoying way of including everyone. Everything must be announced in at least 4 different languages/dialects. Obviously, there’s the normal Mandarin Chinese and tourist must English; and because it’s Taiwan, you must also have Taiwanese, but you can’t forget the Hakka people if you have Taiwanese. Anyways, both Taiwanese and Hakka are spoken languages so they don’t have writing for them, but the signs do show both in Chinese and English. On our metro rides, we would think about what the translations for each station would be. For example, Kaohsiung Arena (高雄巨蛋) is actually literally translated as Kaohsiung “Giant Egg.” We were very much making fun of the translations. We came across this station call 油廠國小, which is literally “Oil Refinery” Elementary. At first we were joking about how it’s going to be Oil Refinery Elementary, thinking they would just take the pin ying of the name, but lo and behold, Oil Refinery Elementary it was. LOL. So again, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of that.
So we ended our day by visiting the Love River once again, but this time for the night view. These pictures don’t do it justice, I ran out of battery on my camera, so had to take these with my phone, and they just didn’t turn out that well.
Well, that was our 2 days spent in Kaohsiung, next stop, Chayi (also kind of my home town).