Located on the southern tip of Taiwan, Kaohsiung is often overlooked by travelers visiting Taiwan since most people stick with the capital city of Taipei and the surrounding area. In the past, Kaohsiung had a dreary, industrial reputation, but today it’s a vibrant city. With fewer tourists than Taipei, it feels more off the beaten path but still has all the amenities of a large metropolis. I stayed in Kaohsiung for a month the summer after my freshman year of college; it was first time to Taiwan without my parents. On this trip I was excited to be back and introduce Nate to the city. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much time to visit.
Going to Kaohsiung marked the second half of our trip where we explored Taiwan’s major cities. This time we traveled with my parents, sister, and boyfriend, which provided us a little more freedom to choose what we wanted to do. We left my mom’s hometown Tuku mid-morning. There’s a shuttle once an hour a block from my grandmother’s house that takes you to the Yunlin High Speed Rail station in Huwei. From there, we took a bullet train to Kaohsiung (bullet trains are officially my favorite mode of transportation. I wish we had them in the US). My dad’s cousin arranged a driver/guide to pick us up from the train station and shuttle us around the city.
As soon as we arrived in Kaohsiung we ate lunch. I finally got to eat my favorite Taiwanese dish, beef noodle soup.
National Sun Yat-Sen University
After lunch, our guide dropped us off at the National Sun Yat-Sen University. Our goal was to find the beach located on campus, but after wandering around for about thirty minutes, we gave up on our quest. The campus itself was pretty with mountains surrounding three sides and open water along the forth.
British Consulate at Takao
After our unsuccessful beach search, we headed back to our van. Our guide dropped us off at the old British Consulate at Takao which is right next to the university. Located on a peak overlooking Sizihwan Bay and Port of Kaohsiung, getting to the former consulate required climbing a lot of stairs — not stroller friendly at all. Built in a British architectural style, it is one of the oldest Western-style buildings still standing in Taiwan.
I can’t remember why, but we opted not to enter the building, which required a (cheap) ticket. Instead we checked out the small temple next door, which is the only temple in Taiwan (out of the 15,000 official ones) to deify the Dutch naval commanders that arrived in the 17th century.
We took a short ferry and spent the rest of the afternoon on Cijin Island. Hiking and biking are the two most popular ways to explore the island, but weren’t good options for Baby T. Plus our guide didn’t come with us, and my parent’s didn’t have much of an itinerary planned out. We spent some time on Cijin’s Old Street, a popular stop for day trippers. Even though Cijin’s best known for their fresh seafood, we ate shaved ice, a popular Taiwanese dessert, for a snack to cool off.
We walked towards Windmill Park, which had a beach that overlooked the Taiwan Strait, right before sunset. After spending most of his day in a carrier and car seat, Baby T relished the opportunity to stretch his legs.
Family Reunion at Sundays Off
Right before dinner, we checked into the Garden Villa Hotel, located in the Zouying District.There, we met up with my relatives from my dad’s side who have traveled from New York. My dad’s cousin and her kids and grandkids trip to Taiwan happen to overlap with ours, so we decided to all get dinner in Kaohsiung, where my great uncle lives. We ate at Sundays Off, where my second cousin is the owner/chef. Now when discussing plans for our trip to Taiwan months ago, my mom mentioned that my cousin recently opened an Italian restaurant so I suggested we all eat there. It may be a stretch to call the food Italian cuisine (to the Americans in the group), but the food was delicious. Italian-Taiwanese fusion may be a better description.
I had a great time meeting my some of New York cousins. I’m sure I’ve met them at some point, but the last family function we went to in NYC was for their grandfather’s funeral twenty years ago.
That night, my parents, sister and Adam went to Love River, a popular place for locals (and a popular proposal spot). I had been many times on a previous trip and Baby T needed his sleep. Originally called the unimaginative Kaohsiung River, the newer name came about when a pair of lovers committed suicide drowning in the river. Once a heavily polluted, today Love River is surrounded by a riverfront park with cafes, night market and venues for cultural events.
The next morning, my sister and Adam went to Lotus Pond, known for its temples surrounding the water. The day before, I asked my dad if we can stop by, since it’s one place in Kaohsiung I’ve wanted to visit but haven’t had a chance. He kept telling me Lotus Lake’s on the opposite side of town and it wouldn’t make sense logistically to go there. Turns out, Lotus Lake was across the street from our hotel. In fact, my sister and her boyfriend walked there before breakfast.
After breakfast with my New York relatives, our driver drove us to Tainan, my dad’s hometown.
Previous posts about our trip to Taiwan:
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