Kaohsiung is a massive port city with over 2.7mm people and home of the Lotus Pond and Tiger and Dragon Pagodas. Perhaps because of the international port and industrial and commercial nature of Kaohsiung, some of the people here actually speak English like at my hotel, Wang’s Noodle Shop (which is where I learned why the Asians slurp their food…you sorta have too!), the security guards at the train station, shop owners, among others. Kaohsiung also appears to be a way calmer city than your typical big city. Yes, there is some traffic but it’s limited comparatively speaking; the train stations are actually quiet even Formosa and Kaohsiung Main, the former being next to my hotel – La Hotel Lieneyeshe which is at the heart of this city and where the famous night market Liohue is and the latter which is the main station so it’s very surprising for sure.
Also, there is a system here. For example, they only take reservations at the salons rather than hundreds of people doing “walk ins”. The restaurants close by 9 or 10 at night except at the night markets. And unlike any other country on earth, you can go anywhere at anytime and you are completely safe. And if you lose something (like an iPhone left on a train for instance…whoops!), you are going to get it back. The downside – if there is one – is the MTR underground subway takes a lot longer here. I feel so far like all I’ve done since I got here was waited for the train. Ha!
Here (today and tmrw only) my goal is to do some much needed maintenance. Unlike Central America, there are mirrors here and I can’t help but notice how bad things have gotten. While I’ve tried to shed my vanity on my tour around the world, it is still alive and strong. So I’m off to find a hair salon and nail salon. Lucky me, I made friends with Stanley at Wang’s Noodle Shop who speaks perfect English. He hooked me up with Benson who colors and cuts the hair of his American girlfriends and they swear by him. Plus, it’s probably important that you and your hairdresser speak the same language! Unless you are into perms, bobs and the like 😉
Since I have a few hours I thought I would head to the pagodas today. Interestingly, not many even knew what I was saying when I said Lotus Pond which I found odd given its revered as a top tourist attraction here. It’s tough too because I have limited time today and the information I get from Google maps, the locals, the bus driver, the visitor center is all different and mostly wrong. I lost over an hour going back and forth on the subway and making the longest loop by bus you can imagine when I could have walked there in 10 mins. I kept seeing the lake and asking the driver to stop but apparently he can’t. Ugh! And I had to get to Qianjin district by 5:00.
Worth the hassle? Yes. Picture perfect Lotus Pond with the incredibly colorful Tiger and Dragon Pagodas! What fascinated me the most however was the namesake. True to its word the worldwide web said there would be lotus and lily pads and the lake was covered in them. It was beautiful. You can also have a family day here at the wake boarding park or on the blow up slides in the middle of the lake. Definitely some good ole fashion family fun but for me it was the pagodas and the lily pads!
I will say that I haven’t felt stress in a while which made me realize that time is the reason for stress. If you don’t have to be anywhere by a certain time or do anything by a certain time then there is no stress. But me, I had a 5:00 p.m. hair appointment and later an 8:00 pm conference call with America.
Surprisingly, however, I made it!
Again, no English with taxi driver but $410NTS later I made it to Maison to meet Benson for cut and color. And oh what a color it is! Think Purple Rain. And it’s appropriate that I marked this off the bucket list here (purple streaks in my hair) as during the winter you can go to Maolin National Park and see the Purple Butterfly Valley where millions of purple Euploeini butterflies migrate during the winter! They aren’t really purple but the tips of their wings take on a purple hue. This is only one of two places in the world that is an overwintering site for butterflies. The other is in Mexico and it’s where Monarch butterflies overwinter. Now, my only problem is how to get back to Kaohsiung in 6 weeks for my next cut and color by Benson at Maison!
On the way we crossed the Love River. What a cool name! It was named such because it is a lovely place for lovers to go on a date as there is cycling paths, food vendors, live music and the aroma of coffee and tea throughout and at night the city’s lights reflect off the calm waters. The daytime picture below was taken by Henry Trotter. Anyway, if here, go to the Love River and allow the leisurely stroll to renew your heart, body and soul.
For me, I had the Liohe Night Market and Dome of Light on my list of things to do before heading back to the hotel for work so I headed straight there. What should I eat I thought? Squid? Corn on the cob? Cheese and potato stuffed bread? Fish balls? Ice cream? Snake? Caterpillars? Shrimp? Noodles? Fruit? Sugar cane? Chicken? Stinky tofu (Yes! It stinks something awful!) Octopus? You try and decide!!!! I couldn’t so I tried a little of everything! Or almost everything 😉
You can shop a little there too but I preferred the market on Nanhua for shopping…more vendors, more variety.
That’s all for now feeling fat as a hog from Kaohsiung.