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Japan May 2010
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A full lap of Taiwan in March 2017 - Page 4

Day 10 - Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Rocky start

Before anything else, today I caused a breakfast incident. My hotel includes breakfast, they generally do in Taiwan, and since it seemed to be a really nice hotel restaurant, I thought I would try my free breakfast.
So I go in and they greet me and show me a table etc. and point me to the buffet. Over I go and make myself a platter of fruits, vegetables, breads and happily consume that, then out comes my breakfast. Wait, I didnt ask for that, or know it was coming.
Very proudly, the chef and the manager of the restaurant area wheeled over a trolley with enough food on it for 5 people, and exclaimed with great pride 'western breakfat!'. On the trolley was everything you could possibly fry, scrambled eggs, french toast, bacon, two kinds of sausage, hash browns, baked beans. I felt ill looking at how orange it all was.
Since I had already eaten too much, this was quite the dilemma, I declined the western breakfast as politely as I could, but they looked dejected, I apologised some more and left. Fast forward to later today and I return to the hotel and a different manager questioned me about my breakfast preferences, am I vegetarian, gluten intolerant, this manager spoke great English, I feel as though she was tasked to wait all day for me to return.
I think I was able to explain to her that I thought the buffet was the breakfast, and all that fried stuff was too much food, and all too orange.

Anyway, time for the next challenge, following the breakfast incident, time to try and work out the bus drama. The internet says the bus service is useless. And I fully agree.
I got a map from their official site, theres 2 routes, a loop around the main part of the city that is easy enough to walk, and another line that goes from the train station to the airport, transferring to the loop line at a random point in the middle of nowhere.
According to the timetable, these 2 services do not match up for transfers. According to the internet, these timetables are completely meaningless. I will note however that all buses stop for 2 hours at lunch, just like in Hualien. Weird.
Anyway, I was studying this map and headed out on foot to the random transfer point so I could get the bus that either went to the airport or the train station. Then things got really confusing.
The map printed on the sign is a mirror image of the one on the website. So the direction of travel on the web was clockwise, but anticlockwise on the sign, but they had flipped the stops, so they still both went from a to b to c to d.
Then to top it off, the times printed on the website are wrong, and they have stuck another set of times over the sign, which are now almost invisible due to being rained on. My only hope was to stand at the spot until a bus came.
43 minutes later, a bus comes, the sign on the bus says train station - this is something you have to check cause theres only a stop on one side of the road and all the buses approach it up the same street from the same direction.
There is no one on this bus. I dont think anyone ever goes on the bus. I think the bus exists just so they can say the city of Taitung proudly offers a bus service. I get on and ask the driver, in Chinese, if hes going to the train station, no he is not, he then changes his sign LED control whilst I am standing there looking amazed. Instead hes going to the fishing village, not a stop on the sign at all. I decided just to go to the fishing village.

That was long and confusing.

On my way to the bus I passed the Obama cake shop, due to be closed down and remodelled.

I also passed numerous temples, more on temple activities later.

After getting off at the fishing village, I walked away from it to a beach area with famous rock formations and camping ground, see below. Heres the gift shop area.

And as I promised, some rocks!

The rocks didnt hold my attention for long, so I went and checked out this awesome truck.

Then I spotted a huge ship in a field, I think someone lives on it, they climb up those ropes to get inside. Then 2 fighter jets took off inches above my head, I was standing right at the end of a runway.
I have discovered that the air force bases do not appear on google maps. There are a lot of air force bases.

I headed back to the fishing village, its where the ferries to green island depart. This color of blue paint is very cheap in Taiwan.

No ferries today! None. I think you can go by plane. It is definitely off season for Green Island.

Since I couldnt go on a boat ride I climbed back up a hill to take a look at all the ferries berthed in the harbour.

Apparently this tree is very special. The leaves grow directly out of the trunk. I had never seen anything like it before.

I headed back down to the rocks and found the perfect spot. I did not get washed out to sea by a freak wave. Lots of Chinese tourists wanted to stand on the very edge of these rocks.
On average, once a week in Sydney, a rock fisherman generally of Chinese or Korean origin, gets washed off the rocks and dies.

I was getting ready to start the 10km jog back into town, when I saw a bus, so I ran and got on it, it took me to the train station, where I bought my ticket out of here for Thursday.
Then I tried to climb this lookout, but its shut. The same bus was still there after purchasing and lookout failure so I got back on it, the sign on the bus now said airport, ok I will go to the airport!
No it went back to town instead, the other passenger onboard wanted to go to the airport, the guy changed his sign again and left the airport bound passenger on the side of the road to get a taxi.

Back in the city it was time to buy an ice cream from BaBoo Beluga. Too bad, shut.

Not to worry, theres a temple on a hill nearby. Hill climbing time, nice view.

A bit more view, I can see my hotel.

The poor people side of town. Turns out the hill is right in the middle of the city geographically speaking. How do you actually speak geographical? I talk rivers and mountains.

I zoomed in to take this and sharpened a lot, look in the centre of this, and you can see the air force base runway. I was at the far end of this earlier today near the ship that was on land.
It is a very up hill runway!

The paths on this hill were numerous, and the trees were all protected spooky looking large trees of religious significance. Unfortuantely many of them had fallen over, recently by the looks of it.

Back in the main temple area, and its time for an old person karaoke battle! Competing clans of grandmas have p.a. systems going full blast belting out distorted karaoke. Meanwhile dogs are howling. And to top it all off, an army of little old men with leaf blowers are blowing the same leaf around for hours.

I enjoyed the pagoda in amongst the deafening temple ambience.

Finally, I went into Carrefour to get some lunch, which did not include frozen hello kitty fish snacks.

Full of cake

Fast forward towards the end of the evening, and imagine my surprise when my phone rings, my phone with a Taiwanese SIM card in it, I dont even know what the number is, I only use it for data.
So I answered, and the guy on the other end starts yelling really fast, I listened for a while then spoke, explained what I thought was the Chinese words for wrong number, my name, and that I am from Au-Da-Li-Ya.
Oh, HELLO! SORRY! HELLO! why you in Taiwan? I love Audaliya! So me and Zhou, possibly Joe if thats his chosen English name had a 5 minute chat. Joe is from Hsinchu, a city near Taipei. He has never been to Taitung, he hears its boring. Joe insists Hsinchu is the best place in Taiwan, very good fish balls.

For dinner, I actually had somewhere I wanted to go, but its shut on Tuesdays, so maybe tomorrow, instead I just set out in a random direction. I think the direction was chosen by the general flow of scooters at a street crossing.
I think lots of places close Tuesdays, many roller doors were shut, I had choices of lots of pizza places, and lots of pasta places, and surprisingly steak restaurants. Not just the Japanese style hot grill plate cook your own with an egg steak places, but fancy expensive choose your cut of meat places.
The average salary in Taipei is about $25k USD, which isnt too bad actually, I imagine its quite a bit lower in Taitung, but these steak meals were all more than $30 each and the places were full. Too expensive for me.

So instead I had a poor person dinner, and because it was almost free of calories, I could have dessert. Now I am full of cake.

Just for variation, tonight we are starting with the dinner photo rather than ending with it. It is a neighbourhood shabu shabu place. The soup stock is just water, nothing else!
We negotiated on the type of meat I wanted, you get a couple of slivers only, and then a selection of mushrooms. Thats all I thought was going to be in my ingredient pot.

Except underneath the stuff on top there was a selection of strange processed foods, including rabbit ears here. It would have been hilarious if a hello kitty appeared.
There was also a seafood stick, a cube of pigs blood jelly, and some other small sausage shaped processed fish things, as well as a couple of fish balls.
With chilli oil added, it was ok, largely completely flavourless.

On my loop back to the main part of town I passed yet another huge cake shop, I bypassed this one though.

Then I hung out with some wooden natives. None as wooden in their performance as me.
Note my jumper / sweater (american translation). I believe I have been wearing this on trips for the last 5 years. Lets hope it can make it to the next trip!

This photo exists only because it was so colorful. All the Taiwanese candy tastes like durian.

And because of poor person dinner, heres the cake. Its actually very small, but it was delicious. Inside was fresh mango and mandarin slices between layers of sponge cake and cheesecake. This came from the big 'Donutes' store I photographed last night, as far as I can tell they do not sell donuts.

There are currently 3 comments - click to add
mother on 2017-03-15 said:
I think i would skip the pigs blood dinner and go straight to the dessert - looks like my kind of food. Are there no mountains to climb here?
Did you find out who and why Joe was calling?

jenny on 2017-03-14 said:
Wonder if they will try and provide you with an interesting breakfast tomorrow.

adriana on 2017-03-14 said:
no Green Island - disappointing, but interesting mystery bus journeys nevertheless.

Day 11 - Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Museum run

Because the bus service is so invonvenient, the government of Taitung has decided to build a world class museum nowhere near any bus at all! In fact it is 8.5km from the city, and this time, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere. There is no shop of any kind near the place.
There is however a bike path, that follows the old train line before branching off, this looked interesting on google maps, a long flat car and scooter free path, time to go jogging! I was super excited, way more excited than someone should be at the prospect of jogging to a museum.

Yes I jogged a 17km round trip with a mildly interesting museum in the middle. The path there was almost challenge free, see below, apart from packs of dogs encouraging me to go faster!
Unfortunately, despite truly being an excellent museum, one that would do much much better if you could get to it, their restaurant was shut, and the only food the gift shop sold was icy poles, again see below.
I was able to find a vending machine in the car park and buy water, before my return jog, which was much easier cause it was down hill, the dogs remembered me and were sure to chase me for about a mile.
Occasionally a farmer on a scooter would ride past me and crane his head a full 180 degrees to stare at me, one of them nearly ran himself off the road doing it.

As for an update on the breakfast situation, I went into the breakfast room at 7:30AM, and there was no one there at all! So I got out of my free breakfast obligation by being too early for breakfast.

The start of the running / biking track features the TRUMP STEAKHOUSE. Click to see the bigger photo, its really called that.
Make food great again. The sign looks new. I wonder if they rebranded to Trump steakhouse when he won the election, or, after the recent well done with ketchup incident that was the cause of the second revolutionary war?

I was very happy with the running track.

There were lots of little cafes, bookshops, b&b's, galleries. Incentive to keep running.

House with garden gnomes. Its a trap.

The track was better than advertised, I was having a great time.

However, in Taiwan, all good things must come to a sudden end! I had to double back and around this unexplained chasm.

I considered stopping here, a coral museum. Except the guard told me they dont open until 2:30pm. There were about 20 tour buses so this was confusing, I could see people inside.
I googled, what is advertised as a museum is really a showroom for farmed coral from nearby reefs. The internet suspects they hide some of the stuff before letting certain westerners with cameras in. Glad I didnt pay to go and look at ecological terrorism.


Here is the National Museum of Pre History. Whats that mean exactly? Aboriginal stuff, info on the tectonic plates, and information on Taiwanese wildlife before it got eaten to extinction.

In the hundreds of Chinese sticky thankyou notes, I saw 2 things in English, 'WTF' and 'Jesus loves you'. Shameful.

The musuem was truly impressive. Many of the exhibits were digital projections, including a huge interactive wall which had wild animal animations that reacted to people moving nearby.

I decided to hang out with the rare, Taiwanese giant elephant. Presumably they were delicious, because they became extinct really fast.

BLASPHEMY! I will get the Trump steakhouse onto this immediately,

Even the musem building was impressive. They had a Jade gallery (of course) and so the whole building looks like its made of solid Jade.

No museum is complete without some aboriginal canoes.

There is a nice garden out the back, a hedge maze and a dancing fountain show. I could not figure out how to get out there. Oh well.

As a member of the Taiwan Railways Administration Junior Engineers Club, I am entitled to a stationmaster hat. Unfortunately none are big enough for my enormous head.

My only food before the journey back.

But once I got back I decided on some street noodles and dumplings. Quite tasty, alarmingly cheap, $2 for everything here.

Lost in the swamp at night

This afternoon I was back a bit earlier than normal from my Museum run, so I decided to head out earlier for dinner, via a tour of the swamp near the beach.
This turned into a bit of an adventure, there was a bike path running through it, but there were no lights, and it got really dark really quickly. I decided all I could do was push on, it had to end back at civilization at some point, about 45 minutes later in darkness via a long unlit tunnel.
There were also bugs in the air, so I may have malaria now, time will tell. It was very spooky, but the spookiest part was when a guy came past on a bicycle at high speed, with no lights of any kind. I dont know how he could see where he was going.

To combat the possible malaria infection from night swamp, once I found the way out I headed to where I wanted to go to last night, the best beef noodle restaurant in Taitung, and it was awesome! Dungdong is its name in case you ever find yourself in Taitung, more on that below.

Tomorrow I go to KaohSiung, a real city! I have actually been there before, the first time I came to Taiwan. You may remember it from a recent gas main explosion that destroyed an entire city block! Its doubful anyone remembers that at all, just me, I am talking to myself, as always.

I have noticed in Taiwan that the beach is rarely prime real estate. The city never really extends to the beach. Perhaps its the inevitable typhoon damage.
This is what beachside housing generally looks like, people hoarding rubbish.

The beach itself here is quite nice. Black sand again, but clean enough, I cant see any rubbish, no fishing nets, minimal scooters parked on the beach.

This is a very strange rusted lookout that exists for no reason.

This is a more interesting rusted lookout, but its fenced off, no entry. Rusted through I guess.

Now I entered the swamp region, looks cool.

I went deep into the swamp and it got dark and I decided surely I must be closer to the exit than the entrance I came in from. I was wrong, very wrong. It was properly dark by the time I emerged.

Getting out was a bit tricky too. PROMOTE FOR WALK.

I took a photo of this same temple in the day time. Its better at night. One guy was walking laps backwards, in a furious manner, as if he was being punished. Chinese people love to walk backwards.

And here it is. Easily the best meal of my trip so far. Delicious beef noodle soup, probably Taiwans national dish, although less popular in the areas I have been in.
I added enough chilli to cause the waitress to gasp, then proceeded to cry into my own soup from happiness.
I think you pay a price for the popularity of this place, as the soup cost about $5, but well worth it.

Nearby is a very flash looking sushi place. If I was here tomorrow night, I might have given it a try, oh well.

For dessert, hot ovaltine, in a can. They heat the cans up in the convenience store just like in Japan. You need both hands to drink this, its too hot to hold in one hand for long. I enjoyed its malty deliciousness.

There are currently 5 comments - click to add
David on 2017-03-16 said:
@MoShengRen - thanks! Glad you are still reading.

MoShengRen on 2017-03-15 said:
The thank-you note to the right of "Jesus Loves You" says "Really boring. I will not come again."

David on 2017-03-15 said:
It is too hard to get to any kind of mountain here, and there is not a lot of info available about there being any trails once you get there

Jenny on 2017-03-15 said:
spectacular purple swamp photo. Hope the mozzies didn't get you. Why no mountain climbing here?

mother on 2017-03-15 said:
nice bike path - i would have rode it. Have you run out of razor blades or are you growing a beard? I can see the Trump catch phrase becoming popular in all sorts of industries. Next he'll be suiing for plagiarism.

Day 12 - Thursday, 16 March 2017

Animal kingdom

Now I am in Kaohsiung, better spelt as GaoXiong. To get here I took a train across and mainly under many mountains, however my train did not depart until after lunch.
Because of the late train, I had time for another Jog around Taitung, focusing on the swamp, in the daylight! Sounds boring, but I encountered a dog, horse, monkey and later a cow.
The dog ran with me for about a kilometre, then knew when to stop, I was confused as to why he stopped, then I turned a corner, and I was in mystery horse territory, whilst a monkey watched me from a tree.
Then a bit later on after horse, monkey, puppy and myself went for post jog coffee, we met mr cow, just hanging out near the station.

The train ride was pretty slow, about 2.5 hours, but arrived right on time in Kaohsiung which is a very large, much more modern city.
The last hour of the trip was a linear city out one side of the train, and palm tree plantations out the other window. What are they farming palms for? Palm oil? I dont know.
I now also realise my next location after this one is not even 50km away, the entire western side of Taiwan is now a linear city, no gaps.

Todays photos are numerous and poor quality, so lets hurry up and get to them! Also due to late departing train and long train ride, its dinner time and I am starving.

The track I am jogging along has many places to rent bikes. Most of the big bike brands are Taiwanese, so rental bikes are great quality from what I have seen.

The beach, still looks pretty good, despite being very grey. Sunshine is forecast for tomorrow in Kaohsiung, and the days after.

Along the swamp path there are numerous places to go bird watching.

I could not see any birds.

I think this is roughly the place I took a spooky photo last night. The entire area seems to have been destroyed by a typhoon.

Here is my dog, he enjoyed jogging with me a lot.

We stopped to appreciate a small lake. Soon after my dog decided to turn back...

...and surprise horse appeared. It really is just an abandoned horse living here. Imagine if I came across the horse in the dark last night?

To my further surprise, there is an ironman triathlon event on in Taitung, this weekend. I missed it by 2 days!

This is the swimming part of the triathlon. I think it would have originally been built for rowing.

If you win the triathlon you get this volkswagen food truck.

One last photo of downtown Taitung, this one came out well, I stood in traffic and used my zoom and aperture and all the other controls.

As is my tradition, here is Taitung train station, in all its glory.

As I was able to miraculously get a bus that took me to the station, I had time to wander around the local area before the train came.
There really isnt much around, except this one building. I dont know what its for either.

Then I came across mr cow. He looks delicious.

The station does have a convenience store for lunch.
The blueberry bagel is a normal bagel with blueberry jam on it, shrink wrapped, with an expiry date 2 years from now. Delicious.

My train today was old and orange, no strange silver arch inside the carriage to inspire confidence either.

After spending what seemed like 2 hours in a tunnel, we arrived on the western side of Taiwan, part one of 2 useless photos from a moving train.

Here is the palm tree forest, they import orang u tans and stick them in these trees.

I was finally off the train, in a big city, hooray.

Heres my view from the hotel. I have stayed in this hotel before.

My room is old fashioned, but enormous.

The bathroom features not only a full size bath, but also a padded chair for me to sit in and do my makeup. Very useful.

Bigger and brighter

I came to Kaohsiung in early 2011, 6 years ago which is quite scary to think about because I thought it was 3 years ago. I just reviewed my photos and text from then to make sure, you can do the same! All my previous trips are available for your viewing pleasure.
Anyway, the city seems to have come a long way since then, it is much more modern and shiny. Thousands of nice cafes have sprung up, the department stores are more numerous and glamorous, and all the parks have 'installations' designed to be selfie pole friendly.
I think I prefer big nice cities to the rural ones I was at previously, theres a lot more to gawk at and be amazed that every corner you go around has still more city.

Some of the highlights tonight incuded -
Seeing a poodle on a scooter wearing a helmet.
Watching a girl make videos of herself trying on shoes.
Observing a police man trying on a pink wig in a street market.

I think there are a lot more young people here too, or a lot less tour groups. I dont think its a place for tourists at all, there are no big ticket tourism items I am aware of. Which means I must research what to do for the next few days.

I might go buy some jogging pants. Then go jogging. In my new pants. That are made for jogging.

I could go enjoy this 5 level mcdonalds.

I probably will enjoy this food mall. Its a mall thats only restaurants, nothing else. Mainland China has similar things...on a much grander scale.

This is very interesting to me. These are scooter batteries. Its like the Tesla charge stations, but instant. You ride up on your electric scooter, scan your card, change your battery, ride another 100km.

This place was definitely not here last time I was in town.

One of the many many upmarket cafes, this one has a batmobile.

The top level of a department store has a 'funzone', every ride has a sleeping both operator. And although its outside on the roof, they have gone to great lengths to obscure all possibility of a view, unless of course you go on a ride, then you can enjoy the view.
I didnt want to disturb their sleep. There are 12 people sleeping up here in booths, and not one customer.

Inside a new department store. Actually I think it was a new wing to an existing store.

The subway stations here are all works of modern art, they generally feature restaurants and cafes too. In addition to all that, this one features a free area to play board games.
I played the saddest game of solo monopoly ever.

For my dinner, in yet another department stores level 16 food court, I again had Korean food in Taiwan. Because it has vegetables and is delicious. I especially enjoy GOJUCHANG sauce and the pickled vegetable side dishes.

Final pic for tonight is a side street behind my hotel, it is nicely lit up and the centre of the road is full of paper windmills.

There are currently 3 comments - click to add
bobule on 2017-03-24 said:
The battery thing is amazing.

adriana on 2017-03-16 said:
Only one lot of comments from me then. So you prefer big cities - not many mountains in them though. I thought the last place looked pretty interesting, maybe not enough to do for three days though. This place looks like it would have enough to keep me occupied, but are there any mountains nearby?

David on 2017-03-16 said:
I realise I forgot to add the comments thing. Its here now, as you can see.

Now there is a page 5, full of monkeys.


Day 1 - Sunday, 5 March 2017
  Late night early morning flight
  Totally full and uncomfortable
  The boring photos continue
  The unprecendented 4th update
Day 2 - Monday, 6 March 2017
  Raining cats
  There are lots of Koreans in Japanese Taiwan
Day 3 - Tuesday, 7 March 2017
  One down
  Major rain no dampener
Day 4 - Wednesday, 8 March 2017
  Coat day
  Tomorrow is all new
Day 5 - Thursday, 9 March 2017
  Crap photos featuring trains
  Third world footpaths
Day 6 - Friday, 10 March 2017
  Surprise carnival
Day 7 - Saturday, 11 March 2017
  Cement factory rubbish dump beach
  Department store rain shelter
Day 8 - Sunday, 12 March 2017
  Dry trip to station
Day 9 - Monday, 13 March 2017
  Far from station
  Footpath observance
Day 10 - Tuesday, 14 March 2017
  Rocky start
  Full of cake
Day 11 - Wednesday, 15 March 2017
  Museum run
  Lost in the swamp at night
Day 12 - Thursday, 16 March 2017
  Animal kingdom
  Bigger and brighter
Day 13 - Friday, 17 March 2017
  Razor wire defeat
  Accidental dream mall
Day 14 - Saturday, 18 March 2017
  So many gift shops
  Steak night
Day 15 - Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Sweating profusely
  Needed more time
Day 16 - Monday, 20 March 2017
  4 down 3 to go
  The old and the new
Day 17 - Tuesday, 21 March 2017
  Fort washing machine
  Chicken tower
Day 18 - Wednesday, 22 March 2017
  The museum cheap electric fans paid for
  Surprise parade
Day 19 - Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Next town over
  The modern north side
Day 20 - Friday, 24 March 2017
  Mountain village metropolis
  A quick run up a small mountain
Day 21 - Saturday, 25 March 2017
  Huge number of steps
  Ritual sacrafice
Day 22 - Sunday, 26 March 2017
  Lake saturation
  Global mormon offensive
Day 23 - Monday, 27 March 2017
  Final destination
  The best beef noodles in Taipei?
Day 24 - Tuesday, 28 March 2017
  Windy teapot
  Best ramen ever
Day 25 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017
  Three mountain rest day.
  The first repeat
Day 26 - Thursday, 30 March 2017
  Ropes and ladders
  Still time for more beef noodle
Day 27 - Friday, 31 March 2017
  Indeed more beef noodle