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Kaohsiung - City on the Water.

Taiwan 2010

View over Love River.

Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan and one of its major ports. It is on the coast and its main sights include a river, lakes and an island, so it really is a city on the water. We first visited around ten years ago and I think in many ways Kaohsiung has improved since then. It is now easier to get around due to the new metro and some areas of the city have been beautified.

Kaohsiung is not a spectacular city, but it is a city that makes the most of what it has got. For example, its main river the ­ Love River­ which was once majorly polluted has been cleaned up; walkways and cycle tracks line its banks and several pleasant cafes and bars are situated next to it. Kaohsiung's new metro system is brightened up by art work, for example, The Dome of Light at Formosa Boulevard Station, rows of daffodil like windmills and a waterfall at Central Park Station. People in Kaohsiung are friendly and generally try hard to be helpful even when they don't know a lot of English.

Our overall stay was very laid back and relaxing. There were lots of great places to eat and drink and enough to keep us occupied for a few days.

We were very lucky to get to Kaohsiung at all as there was a powerful typhoon, Typhoon Megi, bearing down on Hong Kong up until the day before our departure. It was expected to make a direct hit on Hong Kong and was expected to cause lots of damage. Then it veered away from Hong Kong and more or less burned itself out before hitting mainland China. It did cause large amounts of rainfall in Taiwan which luckily for us ended more or less on our arrival day.

Good points about Kaohsiung are it has quite a few sights. It is a useful base from which to explore southern Taiwan. It has good restaurants and very friendly people.

We stayed in the Ambassador Hotel, Kaohsiung which is located on the Love River. This was a good location as we could walk to Central Park metro in around 10 minutes or City Council Metro in around 7 minutes. We were very handy for the Love River and associated sights. There were several restaurants nearby including the Outback Steakhouse where we had a lovely meal. There was a Family Mart and Seven Eleven close to the hotel. Staff at the Ambassador were very helpful and friendly. Our room had a fantastic view over Love River. The room was very clean and comfortable. We could hear music from the boats on the river, but this did not go on late. Our room was quiet at night. Our room had a safety deposit box and tea/coffee making facilities, though the coffee was of the three in one variety ­ no good for someone like me who drinks black unsweetened coffee.

The hotel had a Sichuan restaurant on the 20th floor and a Sky Lounge up there, too. There was a Cantonese restaurant on the second floor and another restaurant on the first (ground floor). They all looked fine but we did not use them as there were­ too many outside choices of places to eat.
The hotel had a lovely pool. It's open from 7am to 7pm and its season starts on April 1st and continues to October 31st. It is an outdoor pool. We had the pool to ourselves every morning of our stay. The hotel also had a fitness centre and sauna. You have to pay to use the sauna. I'd be very happy to stay in this hotel again. Address: 202 Min Sheng 2nd Road, Kaohsiung, 801, Taiwan.

Pool at the Ambassador Hotel.

The Ambassador Hotel.

As I said above we stayed in the Ambassador Hotel which is located on Love River, so we saw a lot of this river. At one time Love River was very polluted but in recent years it has been cleaned up and has become a beautiful area for the population of Kaohsiung to enjoy. We did not have breakfast included in our hotel deal and bought breakfast each morning from one of Kaohsiung's many convenience stores; we then sat on the banks of Love River to eat ­- a very pleasant and relaxing start to the day.

The river is lined with walkways and cycle tracks. There are many conveniently located seats. Several cafes and restaurants are situated on the river banks. There are several interesting temples overlooking the river. The Film Archives Museum and History Museum are by the river. The Holy Rosary Cathedral is not on but close to the river. At night the river is lit up in many different colours. There are riverboat trips up and down the river. These last for about 20 minutes. Some of the cafes and restaurants by the river have music. It is well worth visiting.

Cleaning up after the typhoon.

The Love River.

The Love River.

Lotus Lake is one of the most famous sights in Kaoshiung. It is a man made lake in the north of Kaohsiung which has several interesting temples. We got to this lake by taking the metro to Zuoying Station. When you arrive at the station, go to exit 2; walk straight ahead until you come to a fairly large road. At this road go right. You will arrive at a park. Cross the park and cross one more road, you will be at the lake at the Confucius Temple end. (Although we did not do this, I believe if you get off at Ecological District Station you can walk to the dragon/tiger temple end of the lake).

The Confucius Temple is a fairly simple but pretty temple. It dates from 1977. Continue walking round the lake and you will come to the temple of the emperor of the dark heaven. There is a walkway lined with statues which leads to an enormous statue of the emperor of the dark heaven. Walk further round the lake and and you will reach the Spring Autumn Pavillion. These are two towers dating from 1953. Between them is a huge dragon and on its back stands Kuan Yin ­ goddess of mercy. You can enter the dragon's mouth, walk through its body and exit its tail. Inside the dragon is lined with various paintings. Behind the Spring Autumn Pavillion a walkway leads to a pavillion in the lake.

Walk further on and you will reach the Dragon Tiger Pavillion. This was built in 1965. Go in through the dragon's mouth and leave through the tiger's mouth. This is supposed to turn bad luck into good luck. There are good views over the lake from the dragon and tiger towers.

Each pavillion in the lake is opposite an ornate temple on the shore. We walked all the way round the lake and back to Zuoying Station. The other side of the lake has a temple with a huge statue on its roof. Other than that it is a fairly pleasant walk past fishermen and the occasional patch of waterlilies from which the lake takes its name.

Lotus Lake.

Lotus Lake.

Lotus Lake.

Lotus Lake.

We also went to Cijin Island. The most likely way you will get to this island is by taking the metro to Sizihwan Station on the orange line, exiting exit one and walking to Gushan Ferry Terminal where you can catch one of the very frequent ferries to Cijin. We did not do this because we discovered that a ferry went to Cijin Island directly from Love Pier on Love River. This ferry only runs at weekends and public holidays and runs every 40 minutes. Going from Love Pier gives you quite a good view of Kaohsiung Harbour on the way. Going from Gushan is fun because when the ferry unloads it is an unbelievable mess of motorbikes, bikes and people all exiting simultaneously from the same exit.

Cijin is a popular day trip for a number of reasons. It has a beautiful Tin Hau Temple dedicated to the goddess of the sea. It has a street with lots of fish restaurants. It has a black sand beach. It is also possible to visit the remains of Cijin Fort and to visit Cijin Lighthouse (this closes at 4 and was closed by the time we got there). You can climb up to the fort then follow the path from the fort to the lighthouse. We spent a lot of time walking from Cijin's main town to the windpower park. It took around 30 minutes and we got rather sunstruck on route. The park has seven wind powered mills and various models of sea creatures. These were not that interesting. More interesting, in my opinion was the sea which was really shooting up massive waves next to this site on the day of our visit, plus the myriads of kites being flown next to the site and finally the very colourful kite/windmill shops at the entrance to the site.

Just before you reach the windpower park you will come to the Cijin Peace Park which remembers Taiwanese soldiers killed overseas and overseas soldiers killed in Taiwan. There was a monument commemorating the American sailors killed on Japanese hellships during World War Two. These ships held prisoners of war in appalling conditions. The walk to the Wind Power Park is long and hot. It is probably better to cycle here or go when it is a bit cooler in the morning or evening. Part of the walk goes through the Cijin forested coastal walk. This has pleasant shady areas with seats and is a good spot for a picnic.

Cijin also had an indoor market selling lots of fish among other things, several beautiful temples and a good atmosphere on a Sunday when crowds flock there from Kaohsiung. On the Sunday we visited we heard live music and watched kids play in the dancing fountains and generally enjoyed the liveliness of the area.

Cijin Island.

Cijin Island.

Cijin Island.

Cijin Island.

Cijin Island.

When we left Cijin we went to Gushan and visited Gushan Harbour and the British Consulate. To get to Gushan Harbour take the metro to Sizihwan Station and exit through exit one. Gushan Harbour is a pretty harbour in its own right and it has several good restaurants. It is also the place to catch the ferry to Cijin Island. From Gushan Harbour you can walk to the former British Consulate Building. Exit Sizihwan metro exit one and walk to Gushan Harbour. Go to the far side of the water and walk towards the sea. You will see a signpost for a landscaped walkway to the consulate building. It is an uphill walk ­ fairly steep. The consulate was not really what I expected. For a start it was full of tour groups. The building was an attractive red brick one with lots of archways. It had a fairly non­descript exhibition about the Beatles inside. The consulate building is now a restaurant. We had a pleasant meal there with lovely views over the harbour.

British Consulate, Gushan Harbour.

View over Kaohsiung Harbour.

We also visited the Martyr's Shrine. This shrine is in the Shoushan area. We got to it by taking the metro to Sizihwan Station, exiting via exit one, walking straight towards the harbour, but then turning right when we saw a sign for the Wude Martial Arts Centre. We walked along the road then climbed some steep steps up to a main road. The Wude Martial Arts Centre was across the road. Facing the Wude martial Arts Centre you will see more steep stairs on the right hand side, climb these. You will reach a pavillion beyond which is a road, cross the road walk through the tori, temple gateway and you will come to the Martyr's Shrine.

There are lovely views over the harbour from here. The shrine was build by the Japanese when they occupied Taiwan during the war. It is in typical Japanese temple style. After the war the shrine became a peace shrine to remember those lost in the conflict. There are photos commemorating historical events from China's past around the walls. The shrine was very quiet and peaceful during our visit.

The Martyrs' Shrine.

We also went to the Dream Mall Shopping Centre. To get here take the metro to Kaisyuan Station; then take the free shuttle to the shopping centre. You can see this shopping centre all over Kaohsiung due to the huge ferris wheel on its roof. The Dream Mall comprises two buildings. One of them is shaped like a giant fish. The other has the ferris wheel. The building with the ferris wheel has a large Japanese department store inside as well as an amusement arcade and a cinema. We had a lovely barbeque meal on Japanese food street. There were many other restaurants, too. We visited on a Tuesday and were surprised at how quiet the shopping mall was ­I guess I've been in Hong Kong too long where every shopping mall is mobbed all the time.

Dream Mall Shopping Centre.

Dream Mall Shopping Centre.

One evening we went to Liouhe Night Market. To get to this night market take the metro to Formosa Boulevard Station and follow the exits for the night market. Don't forget to have a look at the Dome of Light on your way out of the metro. The night market has lots of stalls and several places to buy foods. Several tour groups passed through on our visit. There is a second night market nearby plus a street specializing in wedding cakes and another specializing in wedding dresses nearby. This is quite an interesting area and well worth a look.

Liouhe Night Market.

Kaohsiung's metro is a great way to get around. There are two lines: the orange and the red line. Interchange is at Formosa Boulevard Station. The metro is very user friendly. Just go to a ticket machine, press the name of the station you want to travel to and the number of people going and then feed your money into the slot. Fares start at 20 and go up to 50. Ticket machines accept coins and some accept 100 notes. You can get to the airport on the metro, too. Some stations are beautifully decorated like Formosa Boulevard Station with its dome of light or Central Park Station with its waterfall. We found the metro very safe, clean, easy to use and not too crowded,

Kaoshiung Metro.

Posted by irenevt 23:33 Archived in Taiwan

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