When we rode Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) to Kaohsiung, on the southwest coast of Taiwan, we wanted to do a little sight seeing. Our friends in Kaohsiung recommended the Gushan Ferry for our Sunday afternoon diversion. That sounded better than hiking the mountain trail with escaped monkeys from the nearby zoo. The Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) has a line that ends just up the road from the ferry dock. Since the HSR and the MRT share the station we had walked from to visit our friends, it was easy to make our way south on the MRT.
The ferry was a popular destination for the Taiwanese, so there was a flow of foot traffic we could merge with. There were also signs in English pointing to the ferry. Still, we tried to make note of a couple of landmarks and read the street signs to make sure we could get back to the MRT. It was possibly a 10 minute walk.
A right turn where the road ended brought us to the loading dock. Exact change of 15 New Taiwanese dollars (NT) was counted by a man as he watched it fall into a long, clear plastic box. Kind of like an automatic machine, only with fewer bells and whistles?
Scooters and their drivers entered via one ramp, and walkers via another. Scooters stayed on the bottom level. Above, there were hard plastic school chairs strapped to the deck in a large cabin area. There was some room to stand outside of the enclosed area, but there were also a lot of windows, so much could be seen while seated.
The ride was short and smooth, hardly taking 5 minutes. At least 4 ferries were in constant operation taking people back and forth. When the ferry landed on Qijin Island, there were about 3 streets to choose from, the island being very narrow. One street seemed to have a carnival atmosphere. We set out to find a seafood dinner.
It didn’t take long to find a restaurant with their menu in bins and tanks in front of the kitchen. A friendly young man was happy to use his 5 English words to help us order. That covered items like shrimp and asparagus. We weren’t sure what barb-b-q meant in Chinese, since we had never run across that term being used in restaurants when we lived there. The fact is, we had no idea what most of the critters were, but Greg chose a couple of huge prawns. I decided on about the only normal looking fish fillets.
We were handed a scrap of stiff paper, apparently recycled from something in the mail, that had a number and a Chinese character drawn on the blank side. Then, they showed us to a cafeteria style round table in the corner, looking out through a plastic window onto the street life. We sat and wondered aloud about what we had actually ordered.
For about $10(US) we ended up with delicious sweet and sour fish, scrumptuous prawns, sticky rice, a tasty asparagus dish, and orange quarters. We couldn’t finish all the generous portions. They seemed quite pleased to have satisfied our American palates.
There was still sometime before dark, which comes pretty close to 6 PM all year long in Taiwan, so we explored further on down the street. We walked quickly past the stinky tofu, laughed at the fried squid on sticks, gave in to deep-fired oreos, and finally made it to a huge black sand beach.
Unlike other beaches we have visited in Taiwan, there were a few people in the water here. A handful were trying to surf on waves that would fit in a bathtub. It looked like pure frustration. No one was laying in the sun, but it wasn’t that warm. The beach was wide and long, and there was an extensive cement area attached to it. Here, there were a couple of musicians and a few people walking their foo-foo dogs.
We didn’t have time to settle in, and were soon on our way back to the ferry. We saw some people riding two and four seater cycles with canopies. If we had had more time, I would have liked to try that.
On the ferry, I enjoyed taking some photos of the cityscapes. I noted that I didn’t get sea sick on either leg of the boat ride.
Now on the main island again, we were a little confused. We thought we had turned down the same street to head back to the MRT, but the street signs were definitely sporting more and different Chinese characters. All of a sudden I had a suspicion and decided to turn around and look at the signs from the “coming” direction. Ha! It was the same signs. I couldn’t figure out why they would be different on one side. They didn’t seem to be saying anything like “welcome” and “come again.” It really just looked like street names, but we were obviously missing something.
Back at the MRT station, we got our first clue that we were in for a Sunday evening rush, but I covered that in the report on the HSR experience. There were no regrets, though. The unexpected journey on the Gushan Ferry was an excellent addition to the day’s adventures.