Thursday, May 13, 2010

tourists in Taiwan, part 3: Kaohsiung

From Tainan we drove about an hour south to Kaohsiung.

Kaohsiung is the second-largest city and the largest port in Taiwan. In 2009, it hosted the World Games, which consists primarily of sports which are not in the Olympics. Almost 6,000 athletes from over 100 countries attended the Kaohsiung games.

A brand-new, entirely solar-powered stadium (with 8,844 solar panels) was built to accommodate the games; it's said to resemble a dragon:

Unfortunately, it was a bit drizzly when we went to go take a look, so I didn't get a good photo of it.

I forget the name of the hill that we drove up, but eventually we did get a pretty good view of the harbor itself.

Nearby was another hill called 柴山 ("Chai" Mountain). There is a major university located there, and so there are a TON of motorbikes parked all along the road leading up to the top. Apparently Chai Shan is famous for its monkeys! We saw a quite a few; these guys were hanging out on a parked car.

We also took a ferry to 鼓山 ("Gu" Mountain), an older area of town. There was a temple there and some street vendors selling various types of seafood, but we just spent most of our time watching the gigantic container ships coming in and out of Kaohsiung Harbor.

We had a buffet dinner at the Harbor Buffet, up on the 43rd floor of the Grand Hi-Lai hotel, and then went to visit some relatives at their home. These photos were taken from the roof of their building, facing the harbor.

The next day, the same relatives invited us to visit their old house, which is over a hundred years old. I was most interested in the (still functional) WWII-era bomb shelter and water well in the backyard.

Finally, we visited one of the nicest stations in Kaohsiung's newly opened subway system. Strangely enough, there were very few people actually riding the subway, but that made it easier for me to take photos.

We wound up our visit with lunch at a delicious seafood restaurant called 海天下 (literally "Sea Under Sky") which I'm told is one of the best restaurants in Kaohsiung. Their fried squid and basil clam dishes were both amazingly fresh and tasty with very little seasoning. D also liked another dish which was some kind of internal organ of a fish. Unfortunately, no one could translate for us; the closest we came was "something like a gizzard" except of course fish don't have gizzards. Oh well.

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