Friday, June 22, 2012

Southern Taiwan: Kending

This week a typhoon hit Taiwan and so most of the people stopped their normal activities and stayed indoors. Most of the schools and companies in southern Taiwan were cancelled so people took the day off. I still wanted to get down south, however, and since Taiwan’s High Speed Rail wasn’t closed I thought I could rush down to Kending and perhaps miss some of the rain. I was wrong, but it was still fun. 

At Zuoying Station in Kaohsiung there are a number of options for those traveling to Kending. The cheapest is the Kending Express Bus service. It takes a little over 2 hours to get there (on clear roads) and you get to relax in a massive chair inside a large, comfortable coach. If you are in a little bit of a hurry, though, a taxi is also a good option, if a little more expensive.

When I got to Kending it was pouring rain outside, so I ran to the nearest open restaurant—a place called Ocean Blue. They serve Thai-Taiwanese fusion cuisine. Kending is famous in Taiwan for its Thai-inspired Taiwanese dishes. The restaurant cultivates a relaxed atmosphere. In general, the speed of life in Kending seems to slow significantly.

This is a green papaya salad with Chinese spices and shrimp.

After lunch I rented a motor scooter from a local vendor. On sunny days this is the best way to get around the southern tip of Taiwan since there are many small stops along the main road, but no real centralized township or marketplace, and it’s cheap (about 10-12 USD per day). On typhoon days riding one of these is pretty dangerous and at times nearly impossible. I could’ve gotten a car for the day, but I think this is the more representative experience of life in Taiwan.

The company that rented the scooter to me was excellent—they were honest, fair, and went out of their way to help with problems that can come up on rainy days. It is a multi-generational operation with father and son each in charge of different branches throughout the town.

On off-season days (non-summer) it is easy enough to make hotel reservations while in Kending, and I was sure that there would be plenty of vacancies due to the storm. I booked a room at Yoyo Inn for about 47 USD per night. This is fairly standard. You can haggle over a few bucks with your hotel manager; this is an expected part of booking rooms in Kending.

The hotel was a typical beach-style one with plenty of space, a nice view of the ocean, a large shower for cleaning off the sand, and spacious balcony for the warm nights overlooking the water.

It was super wet and soggy all day. This is the best shot I could get of the beach and I had to run out here to snap a couple of quick pictures before the rain started up again. This is a beach called Nanwan. It is pretty good for body surfing and jet skiing. It has decent-sized waves and is pretty clean on sunny days. Today was no good, though.

Back at the hotel.



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