We all get up early on account of jet lag and a decently early bedtime. Get ready for the day (shorts! Yesss!) and bust out onto the streets of Kaohsiung. We find a great, open air breakfast joint and order up some congee, dumplings, and danbing. Danbing is this great breakfast dish that uses a soft thin pastry shell to wrap eggs with bacon or whatever meat you want inside. There’s usually a sweet, tangy sauce with it. It’s delicious. I think I’ll eat it every day I’m here.
We grab a taxi and ask him to take us to the Dragon Tiger Towers. He starts taking us there and then offers to take us on a more scenic route with a good view of the city if we’d like for only 10NTD more. Sure! He winds us up past the river and above the city to a veterans memorial that was built by the Japanese. He says he’ll wait if we want to go check it out so we do.
We walk up a set of steep white steps and then the place opens up on a terrace underneath a large stone gate.
We walk up to what looks like a temple but the walls are lined with pictures showing scenes from prominent battles fought for/against the Chinese and the Japanese. Both have occupied Taiwan in the past, but this place seems to be more about commemorating the Taiwanese veterans of all of the wars and battles and not about Japan or China per se. It’s interesting to read the info at the memorial, I admit to knowing very little about Taiwan history.
Also on the grounds is a platform that overlooks the city. It’s a great view of Kaohsiung with a giant block letters sign that says LOVE (I think they call the river here Love River?). We get some snappys and head back down to the cabby.
We pass by the zoo and some temples along that same winding road above the city before dropping back down into the area with the Dragon Tiger Pagodas. These are two towers at the end of a long zig zagging pier with lily pads surrounding them. At the base of one tower is a large dragon and at the base of the other is a large tiger. You enter through the dragon’s mouth. Inside the dragon are murals and sculptures along the walls depicting various religious scenes from heaven, hell, and in between.
The dragon tower is 6 or 7 stories, a dual spiral staircase, and murals on the inside walls depicting different Masters riding various animals, having different types of weapons, and having mastery over some aspect of nature or human life. Maybe they were an assortment of Gods. Or maybe they were Taiwan’s equivalent of Marvel superheroes. As we went up the tower Queenie was reading the descriptions of the Masters and what they were master over. They were pretty cool, I took pics of a few.
Back down the tower and cross into the Tiger tower. This one is exactly the same structure but has murals of real people and the deeds they’d done in their lives. Then enter through the tiger’s ass, go through another hallway of creepy murals/sculptures along the tiger walls, and exit through the tiger’s mouth. Pretty fun stop!
We walked down the street a bit and there were more crazy, elaborate things to look at. Each pier had a temple or sculpture or something massive at the end of it. All religiously themed. We walked up to one with… I’ll just show a pic…
… and there was a giant fish thing with a coin slot. I wasn’t really paying attention to what Jamie and Queenie were doing. They had found a lizard or something “Oh! Sooo cute!”. I put a 10NTD coin in the slot and the fish makes this whirring sound, mechanical parts are moving inside it, and then out drops this small cylinder. Right on top of the little lizard they were just looking at. Jamie busts out laughing. Queenie says, “Oh Beester! You killed him”. I grab the little cylinder and give the little guy a nudge and he starts moving. “He’s fine. He’s fine”.
The cylinder has fish food in it. I use it to incite a fish riot in the waters by the walkway. There is a pooling area in the middle of this walkway and there are more turtles than I’ve ever seen in my life inside of it. Some of them are stacked up on top of each other like you could play a game of turtle jenga with them. At the end of the pier is a temple.
Across the street is a massive temple so we check that out too. At the back is a room ornately adorned in gold, reminding Jamie and I of the crazy lavish and meticulously crafted churches we’d seen in Quito last year.
We come out of the temple and grab some refreshing drinks at a juice/tea shop next door. It’s hot. It’s humid. We’re sweating and need something re3freshing. This place called Shiny Tea hits the spot. I get a fresh jade lemon tea and it’s exactly what I needed. We chill for a second in the shade before venturing on.
Next up is another long wharf, this one with a giant dude at the end with a sword. Lining the wharf are what look like the same style of masters-type guys we saw in the Dragon temple.
Inside the Sword dude is another temple.
Just at the base of Sword dude is a machine that you put a coin into and Queenie says it will give you a good fortune. I put a coin in and watch as a little girl with a tray spins around and follows a track through some doors at the back. She then comes back out of the doors with a rolled up paper fortune in a plastic tube. Jamie and I start joking that it’d be hilarious if she instead brought us a joint. She drops the fortune in the receptacle and I pick it up. Can’t read any of it so I hand it to translator Queenie. She just starts laughing and laughing at me. “Oh Beester, this is terrible. Haha”. So my fortune basically says that everything I try to attempt I will fail at. If I fish I won’t catch anything. I will lose all my money. If I’m married I’ll get divorced. I will fall ill. The works. Basically every little thing they could think of that I could fail at in life they wrote on this piece of paper. I thought it was great. I folded it and put it in my phone case to keep with me forever.
We grab another cab and decide to check out something else before heading out of town to Kenting. We ask the cabby and he suggests the Sky Tower. The second tallest building in Taiwan. Sure, why not? We get dropped off at the front doors of the sky tower. Yep, it’s mighty tall indeed. We go inside. Hmmm where to go? We take a left. There are elevators but they seem to only go to the 12th floor. Ok, maybe we start there. Go up. Look around. Nope. This is it. Hmmmm. Doesn’t seem to be any other elevators up from here. Ok, go back down and try the other wing. Same thing. Only goes to the 12th floor. What the hell? We go back to the front desk of the place totally confused. Desk dude tells us we’re not even in the Sky Tower. We have to go around the corner for that. Ahhhhhhhhhh we’re dumb.
Go around the corner and enter the real Sky Tower. There are multiple elevators and you have to pick one and pay to go up it. Or maybe only members could go up certain ones. I dunno, we were so confused at this point. We get a ticket from the ticket lady and she lets us on the elevator. The thing zips us up at 600meters/minute (which seems like an odd measuring system) to the 75th floor in 43 seconds. The whole elevator goes dark as you get closer to the top and then the ceiling illuminates with stars. All the while a voice describes what you’re witnessing but by the time it gets to English we’ve already witnessed it which was kind of funny.
We step out of the elevator and there’s a sign telling us to go down a floor to the viewing deck. The viewing deck is kind of underwhelming to be honest. There is a great view of the city for sure, but the floor feels like poor construction that you may fall through at any moment, and the displays around the area are fairly lackluster. Which is weird because everything else in Taiwan is crazy over the top presentation all the time. But not this place.
We walk around the square looking out in all directions and then hop on the elevator and head back down. Meh.
We’re getting a little hangry so we start scouting for a good joint for some lunch. We walk around for a bit, Queenie wants me to eat more weird stuff so we’re on the lookout for that when we spot a place that kind of looks like a log cabin from the outside. Duck our heads in and it looks to be like a Korean BBQ style place mixed with hotpot. Sounds good to me!
The server takes us up stairs and as soon as we enter every server in the place yells out a greeting to us in unison. The place is packed with people (which is a good sign) but they find us a spot in the back corner. It’s a flat rate, all you can eat place. You just pick items off a menu that you want to grill on a grate over some coals or cook in the hot pot and the server will bring it. This turned into an amazing feast. We got several variations of beef, pork, chicken, boar, mushrooms, onions, carrots, all sorts of vegetables, and a bunch of stuff I didn’t even know what it was. We ate chicken hearts. And we had braised boiled pork bowel. This was the one thing I did not like. I didn’t like it because when I put it in my mouth I got an overwhelming taste of shit. I almost busted out two fist fulls of frothy goo, but I held it in and finished. But yeah, it literally tasted like shit. Queenie and Jamie didn’t think so. They said it was all in my head. So I tried it again. This time in the hot pot instead of over the coals. Tasted like shit! “Are you guys serious? You can’t taste shit when you eat that pigs anus?” Nope. Just me.
Anyways, aside from that the place was the bees knees. Everything else was amazing and we gorged ourselves way more than necessary for a lunch because it was so good. They kept bringing us meats from the kitchen that we’d never even asked for. I’m not sure if we were getting ‘white guy treatment’ or if they were being super nice Taiwan peeps, or what. But we gobbled it all up and appreciated every morsel. Queenie overheard someone at the next table saying that it’s the most popular BBQ spot in Kaohsiung. What a great thing to stumble upon!
We waddle out of the place in an overwhelming state of lethargy and make our way to the subway. Meat comas are coming in fast. Jamie’s eyes start closing on the subway. He’s pretty much falling asleep standing up. We need to get to Bobo pronto.
Get back ‘home’ and pack things up. Ricky isn’t there, I’d wanted to thank him and say bye, he’s been such a good host. We’re parting ways with Drisdelle for a bit. He’s going to stay back and have dinner with Ed. Get some more Ed time in and meet his family, etc… Queenie and I are gonna keep heading south to Kenting, grab a hostel there, and see what it’s all about.