After our exploits in Taipei our journey continued onwards, in the direction of Kenting, resting at the bottom of the island. We were faced with a dilemma or sorts, should we A: take two buses culminating in a journey of potentially seven hours or more, or B: take the HSR (High Speed Rail) and one bus and make the journey in three and a half maybe four hours? Whilst B was somewhat cheaper, A was fundamentally more comfortable and in almost every way worth paying a little extra for!
So the next day was spent, for the most part, travelling. Initially at 296kmph eating up the distance between us and our final destination. The second half, well speed wise that was a little more modest. I never got a look at the bus’s speedometer, but I’m assuming it wasn’t quite so rapid. And through a little luck, that didn’t initially appear that way, the bus we had bought tickets for and queued for left without us, owing to an issue of capacity. The second bus that arrived to whisk us away turned out to be a lot more comfortable and larger. How do I know this, I saw the seats in the first bus, as eager as I was to get on it, I’m glad we didn’t.
Now, you don’t need a great deal many words to describe Kenting, the area is simply stunning. The weather when we arrived, up until the point we left, and I imagine beyond that point, that was nothing short of tropic. The average temperature was in the 30’s (Celsius), the sun was almost constantly beating down on us. The strong winds meant that the weather could change in a heartbeat, we were caught in the odd sudden downpour, however brief they were. But at times they were in themselves refreshing. The landscape was captivating, beautiful beaches that contrasted spectacularly with the deep blue and shimmering turquoise of the sea. Mountains that punctured the horizon and blissful sunsets that set the evening sky awash with vibrant reds and oranges. Priceless.
We had settled on a hostel named Rainbow Wave, mostly I guessed due to their focus on surfing. The modest café at the front hide the much larger accommodation at the back, with ample room for all of its visitors.
It turned out that the hostel was ideally placed in the centre of Hengchun, next to the main road, the local police station, bus station and Family Mart. Everything you could possibly need, along with some very helpful and attentive hosts. Our days here were very well spent. One the first of these days we arrived in the afternoon and headed straight for the beach at South Bay (Nanwan), just in time to watch the sunset over the island. After such an idyllic start to our tour of southern Taiwan we headed to bed with broad smiles and happy hearts. What was to follow was only going to add to our euphoria!
The next day beckoned us out from the hostel and into it’s glorious embrace. The sun was beaming down on us, the sky was a beautiful strong blue and our plan, well it promised us something special. What was this plan? I hear you cry. I’ll tell you, don’t you worry. It was simple, and in its simplicity lay its genius. We were to hire scooters for the day and cruise the coastal highway until we reached the very southern tip of Taiwan, something we had no idea was on out bucket list until we saw we could do it! Getting the scooters themselves was a little trickier than we had anticipated, but after a little advice from the hostel, we hoped on a bus into Kenting. Here we managed to grab the last three available from one shop, although it seemed they might have been the last three available in the area (probably not, but we all love a little drama). The initial few moments on the scooters were filled with a little hesitation and trepidation, we hadn’t ridden any before. I say that but I did have an unfortunate incident in my youth that left my scarred for life, I feel of an incredibly low powered motorbike during my CBT, but that’s enough about that. Quickly the trepidation subsided and gave way to the more enjoyable feelings of … well …. enjoyment excitement and exhilaration. Beautiful vistas after gorgeous scenery passed us by as we wound our way down south. After all the ocean view we could handle, we made it, we had reached the very bottom of the island.
As we approached, it became apparent we would have to ditch our newly acquired transport and head forth on foot, through great wilderness, facing impossible untold dangers. Up until the point, at least, that we spotted a safer tourist ready pathway, a little like the Yellow Brick Road, only a little less yellow. Upon braving the depths of this labyrinth we laid eyes upon our goal. A sculpture had been erected there to mark that this was indeed the southernmost point of Taiwan, all that laid beyond this point was the vast emptiness of the sea. But all joking a side, it felt pretty special to be standing there, to watch the waves crash against the shore, and to truly appreciate the shear volume of said watery body. After a period of quiet contemplation and admiration, it was time to hit the road again.
Now I won’t bore you with many more details, just know that for the majority of our time here, we were happy, we ate well and we were on very nice beaches. The last trip of note was our foray into Kenting’s night market. This night market was more of what we had hoped for back in Taipei, it was busy, it was exciting and it turned out to be pretty difficult to get back to the hostel from. This situation was remedied by a taxi ride, that was slightly more expense that usual, but at the same time cheaper than it could have been. Having spoken very limited Mandarin to our driver, he eagerly gave us $50 (Taiwanese Dollars) back and some fruit from the boot of his car, not a bad result. Back to the market, which was adorned with various stalls selling meat in sticks, a personal favourite of mine, meat in boxes, seafood and dumplings. We also found one shaved iced stand, which is well worth a try. Its basically flavoured ice, covered with condensed milk that is sat on top of a bed of ice cream, glorious.
Again I will spare you the last remaining boring details, we travelled back north, we travelled a little more and a little more and just a little bit more. We made it back to Shanghai, with out health and our happiness in tow. Taiwan, Taiwan was an awesome adventure. On to the next one!