Friday, May 14, 2010

tourists in Taiwan, part 4: Kenting

The last part of our trip took us to the southernmost tip of Taiwan. We left Kaohsiung after lunch and it took almost two hours to get to Kenting, so we didn't have time to do much that day except check-in and eat dinner.

Luckily, the streets of Kenting are filled with restaurants and food stands. After walking up and down the main street a few times (too many Western and Thai restaurants!) we found an authentic Taiwanese place, where we had sticky rice in bamboo, pork over rice, a very interesting vegetable that I hadn't eaten before (local specialty) which tasted a bit like the outsides of sweet peas, and some other goodies.

After dinner, we wandered the streets looking for snacks and desserts. We ended up eating green tea frozen yogurt, fried milk, grilled squid, "sausage wrapped in sausage", and more.

Bright and early the next day, we were off to Kenting National Park (墾丁國家公園). There are lots of beautiful trees, ferns, and other plants inside.

The land that is now Kenting was once underwater, and many of the rock formations in the area are actually comprised of ancient coral reefs. As a result, there are some impressive ravines and such.

Last year at the Taiwanese-American Cultural Festival, I learned that nearly 60% of the world's supply of orchids originate from Taiwan. Inside the park, we found a greenhouse full of orchids and other tropical flowers, which my mom enjoyed very much.

We wound up our visit at the new(-ish) National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium. We've been to really nice aquariums in Dubai (UAE), Valencia (Spain), and near home in Monterey (California), and I was pretty impressed with this one. They have a giant coral reef exhibit that has three separate tubes inside which give visitors great views of all the sea life. They have a whale shark (we watched the feeding, which was fun), two beluga whales, lots of manta rays, and other cool-looking creatures that I couldn't identify. They also have a some Gentoo penguins, which might have impressed me a few years ago, but not after having seen the Magellanic Penguin colony in Argentina and the Little Penguins on Phillips Island.

We left Kenting at around 5:15pm, and were on an express train bound for Taipei by 7:06pm. We arrived exactly ninety-six minutes later (love the high-speed rail), and grabbed a late wonton soup dinner before heading to bed.

Overall, it was an awesome trip, and I look forward to being a tourist in Taiwan again soon. Next time: Hualien, Taroko Gorge, and Sun Moon Lake!

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