Sunday, December 27, 2009

Islands in the sun

Glassworker, Kaohsiung
Today we went to Little Liuchiu, an island off the coast of Donggang, in the south of Taiwan. Despite still being several hundred miles north of Hong Kong, the air was noticeably wamer. Well, I was in a t-shirt and stil feeling overheated, while the locals were ambling around in padded jackets and hats, against the dire 25 degree cold.

What with taking a train and then a bus and then a ferry, we spent around four hours travelling to the island, and then walked around for an hour and a half before we headed back to the ferry terminal. Liuchiu is hardly the largest of islands, but possibly we should have got up earlier. Then again, we were up at eight after all, so nothing doing there.

There are lots of cats in Liuchiu. All of them are scared of humans. There is also a wooden boardwalk by the beach, although twenty feet of it is missing; there's only the concrete supporting pylons left, which gave me the interesting discovery that I'm scared of heights, even when only six feet above the ground.

On Boxing Day, we had gone up to the 74th floor of the Splendour in Kaohsiung, currently the 13th tallest building in the world and the tallest building in the world if you exclude ones that don't resemble half-transformed robots. We went there at the end of our nighttime walk through Kaohsiung, which had included buying Taiwanese spun sugar, glass animals and a trip on the Love Boat down the Love River.

Love River

All very romantic, on might conclude, although this should be balanced by the pride that the people of Kaohsiung have for their sewage system. At several points along the riverbank, they have illuminated some sorts of sewerage facilities - pumping stations? Filtration units? Who knows...these don't smell as execrable as you might think, but they don't smell that great either. On the other hand, our hotel room at the Big Eye Tuna smells of eggs, so perhaps it's just that they like fouler smells than Westerners do.

Exhausted now. Back to Kaohsiung, to visit South-East Asia's second largest mall tonight.


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