The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Kaohsiung Sights Day 1: Love River and Takao Railway Museum

It's been rather dreary and wet in Hong Kong for the past week, and I'm missing the warm, sunny weather that we enjoyed during our three days in Kaohsiung. There were many things in Kaohsiung that reminded us a lot of Japan - for example, the pachinko parlours that seem to exist on every street, karaoke bars that are equally as prolific, and the lack of public rubbish bins yet no litter on the ground. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, quite a stark contrast to the big city we live in. We arrived in Kaohsiung late morning, but we still managed to cover much ground. Here are some snapshots of what we got up to on our first day.

A very small part of the Dome of Light at Formosa Boulevard Station:

The Dome of Light is the largest glasswork in the world designed by an Italian artist. It tells the story of human life in four themes: Water - The Womb of Life; Earth - Prosperity and Growth; Light - The Creative Spirit; and Fire - Destruction and Rebirth. I must say that it was rather abstract and I couldn't make much sense of what I was seeing, but it was beautiful nonetheless:

After a quick local lunch, we hopped on a couple of bikes provided by the hotel (Legend Hotel, which I recommend for its location, services and good value) and started exploring the city on two wheels:

First stop was to the Kaohsiung Milk King, which is reputed to serve the best Papaya Milk in Kaohsiung. The Peanut Milk was also quite tasty:

The famous Love River, in downtown Kaohsiung on the east bank. It's hard to believe this river was once heavily polluted, but the water quality is much better these days, thanks to recent government efforts on 'greening' up the city:

We came across a brilliantly coloured small temple on the way to the Takao Railway Museum. It's somewhere near Sizihwan Station, and I have no idea what it is called:

Some art exhibits on open space, which is part of the Pier 2 Art District (the Pier 2 Warehouse is nearby, but we did not visit). This large area is an exhibit for modern art, and there are quirky and interesting designs to see. There are good cycling routes through the art district, and you can see old disused railway tracks running through the area:

Huge lizard-shaped hedges just opposite the Railway Museum:

The old Takao Station served during the Japanese colonial era, and it was the first train station in south Taiwan, vital to South Taiwan's business trade for a hundred years. There were a couple of old-style steam engines on display, much to our 4.5-year-old's delight:

That's our happy kid next to the train with wheels bigger than him! He's a big Thomas fan (he's wearing his favourite Thomas shirt in the photo), and was absolutely thrilled to see a real steam engine:

On our way back to the hotel, we rode up the western bank of the Love River for a short distance. We rode our bikes up further on both sides a couple of days later, and found that the eastern path is much better for cycling:

We then went to Liuhe Night Market for our dinner, but that deserves another blog post on its own.

Kaohsiung Milk King (高雄牛乳大王)
65-5 Zhonghua 3rd Road
Qianjin District
Kaohsiung, Taiwan 801
Tel. +886 7 282 3636

Takao Railway Museum
32 Gushan 1st Road
Gushan District
Kaohsiung, Taiwan 804
Tel. +886 7 531 6209

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