On the next morning we decided to explore a different part of the city.So we took the metro to the old neighbourhoods of Wanhua and Ximen which has lots of very old temples and a building called the Red House which was built by the Japanese as a market and is now used as a centre for independent artists to exhibit their wares. The neighbourhood had lots of very interesting old buildings,lovely coffee houses and as promised lots of temples too.It was a great place for a Sunday morning walk.
After a bit of wandering around we ended up in a Bird Sanctuary where we met some Taiwanese scouts who were bird watching with a telescope.We chatted to them for a bit and then they packed up and cycled off to see Longshan Temple.They offered for us to come but since we had just seen a bunch of temples we wandered off again,and by complete chance wound up next to the Longshan Temple but didn’t go in.We just took the metro back to Ximen District to check out the area around the Red House,which had been deserted at 11am but which was now packed with street performers,shoppers and restaurants.
Since the next day was raining we decided to spend it at the National Palace Museum which is supposed to be a ” not to be missed” place for first timers in Taiwan.It was indeed a very good museum with a wide range of exhibits,ranging from calligraphy to Ming Pottery and so on.Most was labelled in English too.
The next day we took the fast train down to Kaohsiung.The only hitch was that on arrival at the HSR station it transpired that the tickets we had bought on 28th September for 1st October were in fact for 28th September.We had told the lady at the ticket booth that we wanted advance tickets and not same day tickets and pointed on the calendar date.However since I didn’t check carefully what the ticket date was,our tickets were invalid.Fortunately the nice guy on the gate allowed us to exchange them (at no cost!) for non-reserved seats,meaning we could take any seat in carriages 10-12 and there were plenty of those so we got a seat and enjoyed the scenery flashing by at approx 250 kilometres per hour all the way. We arrived at Kaohsiung actually earlier than we were supposed to,had we got the train we had booked .We crossed the road and found a car rental agency,booked a car for the next day and proceeded to our lovely hotel the Silken,5 minutes walk from the main station.The hotel room was massive and had a huge bathroom and jacuzzi and free buffet breakfast!
After a quick rest we walked down town and went in the direction of the harbour .First we walked along the river bank and then arrived at the harbour,where there was a huge rubber duck floating in the water surrounded by Taiwanese having their pictures taken.Then along the promenade was a night market of foods so we sampled various things and had a rather splendid first day in Kaohsiung.
Next day we duly picked up our rented car and drove down to South Bay on our way to the southern tip of Taiwan.The way down was not as picturesque as we were expecting but the beach where we ended up that night made up for it.We stopped at a restaurant called Bossa Nova and had something to eat.We asked her if she knew of a place for us to sleep and she said she would ask around.After our (amazingly delicious ) meal she said there was a room right next door her in a sort of B and B place and took us over to see.It was perfect,right opposite the sea front and also really cheap.So we put our stuff in the room and went to have a walk on the beach.There were a large quantity of school kids celebrating their end of school there and they all waved and wanted to be photographed.
And that’s enough for today,as we have to go out to meet some friends… to be continued