Exploring Taiwan – Kaohsiung

My most recent travels took me to the (extremely) sunny shores of Taiwan – nine days traipsing down the west coast, from the southern port of Kaohsiung all the way up north to the capital of Taipei. Even though this was my fourth trip to Taiwan, I’ve never really travelled beyond Taipei before so this trip was definitely one to remember.

Kaohsiung is one of Taiwan’s largest cities and is actually the only other city other than Taipei to have a subway system, albeit only two lines. They’re building one in Taichung now but that will probably take a while. Unlike the capital, it’s a bit more gritty and less polished round the ages since it’s been serving as a busy port for the longest of times, but it was an interesting vibe and change to what I was used to.

Gorgeous stained glass mural at the Formosa Boulevard Station

Our hotel was based in the 85 Sky Tower building, which is the tallest building in Kaohsiung, so the views from the room were absolutely stunning. Also, getting a room there meant not having to pay to go to the viewing deck! We got ourselves an EasyCard (悠游卡) which basically gets you onto public transportation all over the country – and the subway and buses are incredibly value-for-money in Taiwan. One of the attractions of Kaohsiung could be found at a subway station – the beautiful stained glass mural at the Formosa Boulevard Station.

One of my favourite places in Kaohsiung was the Pier 2 Art District, a large area filled with eclectic sculptures and art pieces adorning old, grungy warehouses that have been converted into artsy-fartsy shops selling all sorts of funky wares. Why do art districts always have to be in old, grungy places? Beats me. It’s like dilapidation = inspiration. Instagram lovers were running all over the place and it was quite hilarious laughing at the incredible poses they were attempting under the hot sun just to get that perfect Instagram shot.

Cijing island is one of the go-to places in Kaohsiung, just a short 5 minutes ferry ride away from the city. Unfortunately it wasn’t all that sunny when we went there, hence the dark clouds aplenty. You can rent an electric bike (most awesome mode of transport ever – basically a motorcycle for idiots) to get around the island to view some of the art pieces along the coast, which cost about 200TWD for 2.5 hours. The most famous of which would be the Rainbow Church (not really a church, just a sculpture) pictured above. Just when we were about to return the bike to the shop, it started to pour. And when I say pour I mean storm of the century pour – I would literally have been blown away by the wind. We got a bit worried that the ferries would stop running, but they’re probably used to it so everything was fine and dandy, although we got completely drenched.

Fo Guang Si (佛光寺) was quite a surprise – it’s the most modern Buddhist monastery and temple I’ve ever visited. Seeing an air-conditioned complex with Starbucks at the entrance was something that I had definitely not been expecting, although I treated myself to a peanut ice-blended drink because the weather was scorching. An absolutely massive complex with a massive Buddha statue flanked by pagodas, it took us a good two hours or so to fully explore the place. There was even a special room where they allowed you to trace out lines from the scriptures and take them home! My Dad visited the temple almost thirty years ago and he was quite shocked at how the temple looks nothing like what he remembered OTL Modernisation strikes.

Best beef noodles ever

Taiwan is all about the food and the first thing I hunted down was the famous Gang Yuan Beef Noodles (No. 55號, Dacheng Street, Yancheng District). When you google famous food in Kaohsiung, this is pretty much one of the only things that will pop out – and it was well worth it! The broth was rich and delicious and the beef was utterly tender. I’d recommend choosing the dry option because the broth is slightly richer and tastier than the soup version. Besides that, one other noteworthy thing to look out for in Kaohsiung would be the Dandan Hamburger outlets – a Taiwanese fast food chain that you can only find in the south of Taiwan, so you won’t get it in Taipei! They sell a fusion of western and Taiwanese fast food, so with a meal you can get a burger with meesua (rice noodles). We tried the burgers to see what the rave was all about and it was delicious! The bun was softer than what you would get at Macs or any other fast food chain and the fried chicken patty was juicy and tender – yum 🙂

Leaving y’all with a shot from Kaohsiung’s famous Dragon and Tiger pagodas, where you’re suppose to walk in through the mouth of the dragon and out through the mouth of the tiger for good luck! Don’t know if it’s true but I did it anyway 🙂 xx

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