What the heck was that?

Posted by on 27, Feb 2020 in 2020 - Winter in Taiwan, Taiwan, Tilly the Tandem

What the heck was that?

Our old foe the wind had plans for trying to ruin our departure cycle from Tainan so we outfoxed it got up at 5:45 to get on the road by sunrise.

It’s actually not a bad plan for cities to leave them that early as the traffic is always much less, especially on a Sunday and we got to see the sun come up.I know, anyone who knows us won’t believe that bit, but the thought of another day slogging into the wind can work wonders on your desire to get out of bed early.

We left Tainan quickly and stuck to the tiny back roads, winding our way through fields of rice and corn with hardly a breeze. It was so pleasant that we stopped in a park for our elevenses and watched the world go by for a while. Bad mistake. Really bad mistake.

You see our friend the wind has some mates and these mates are so small you cant see them. But when they pay you a visit you are left looking like a pin cushion and itching like mad for days after.We didn’t see a fly whilst we sat there, but after leaving I started itching and when we stopped to have a look I had so many bites on my legs and ankles that I looked like a dot to dot that you wouldn’t know where to start. Apparently these are sandflies, but we call them NoSeeUms and the little buggers had got me 83 times. Thats going to itch for days!

Distracting us from this was the wonderful Lotus Pond Lake on the outskirts of Kaohsiung City or K City as we called it as we couldn’t figure out how to say this one.

The lake has a cycle path all the way round and has various temples and pagodas on its shores. It’s regarded as a highlight of the country and in the gorgeous sunshine that day it certainly lived up to its reputation.

K City on the other hand is a massive port (Think Fleixstowe and Rotterdam combined) and an industrial powerhouse of a city. Our guide book painted a pretty bleak picture of it so when we left the lake we had low expectations.

The cycle in was all on cycle paths and mainly down Love River which was really nice. It felt more like a European city then a Taiwanese one with loads of new tower blocks and quite a few really interesting designs. Loads of bars and restaurants and trendy hotels.

We stopped at one and booked in for a couple of nights and wandered off for tea at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant that specialised in American food! Linda had the hot dog and I had spicy chicken Nuggets and they were really really good! Then across the road to the US sports bar and we really could have been in New York rather than Taiwan. Basketball on the TV, Bud on tap and steaks on the menu.

Our hotel however wasn’t quite up to scratch. We had a superior room, which when we got back started really smelling of sewage. We turned the aircon off and the smell went and we went to sleep, to be woken when the room had reached the high 20’s. These tower blocks need aircon to keep cool. So we changed rooms to the Chlorine chemical store, or what the hotel referred to as an economy double. The bleach smell wasnt too bad and as it was 1am we went to sleep.

By the morning the sewage smell had tracked us down and we packed up and decided to change hotels. Naturally this was my birthday!The hotel wouldn’t refund us as they said Booking.com had to do that so we left and headed to the ex-British Consulate area of town. When booking.com replied they said the hotel had to refund us and the hotel had refused. Anyway, after much wrangling Booking.com did one of those Corporate Bullshit “Goodwill Gesture” payments which just about covered the Cost of the night so we were happy. Why they call it a goodwill gesture I don’t know. They only give it to you after you complain and complain and send half a dozen emails and there’s no goodwill involved from them at all! It should be called a “Now Shut up and go away Gesture”

Anyway, we picked a hotel with a balcony overlooking the harbour for two nights which was lovely. The hotel staff again took care of Tilly in the Foyer for us and we were able to walk around this very arty area that used to be docks. It’s been transformed over the years and is still not finished but the old warehouses are now crafts shops, museums, exhibitions Cafes and bars.

The old railway marshalling yards have been grassed over leaving the tracks, signals and points in place to form a park where hundred of people flew kites, walked and picnicked. We loved it.

We really enjoyed K City and for our second day there we had a short pootle around town on Tilly viewing some of the new skyscrapers that wouldn’t look out of place in London.

Departing K City we took the short ferry over to a spit of land that runs down the coast. The ferries reminded us of Amsterdam except here they are jam packed with mopeds not cyclists. The spit of land is now very touristy with some sandy beaches, but the sand is grey and the ocean is full of ships waiting to go into the harbour.

It’s a pleasant cycle down the coast to the ferry about half way down to get us back to the mainland and the difference between the top and bottom of the spit is amazing. While the top is full of tourists the bottom is the port, on both sides of the water with hundreds of vessels of all shapes, ages and sizes moored from small fishing vessels to enormous container ships and the traffic reflects this.

Fortunately the cycle route out follows an old railway line, which just like the park leaves the signals and rails in place and just slaps a cycle path down next to it. It’s really nicely done and I get to pretend I’m a train like I’m five again!!

So goodbye to our last big city until we get nearly all the way up the east coast, we’re now heading off into the less populated and more mountainous area.