June 26, 2007

Episode XXVII: The Path Around


Since I have arrived to Kaohsiung city, my home is Tsoying district. There is where I live, hang around, eat, walk etc. Chongde Road is my street. Carefully filled with busy barbeque stands. Fresh fruit juice stalls and small bars and restaurants that I visit very often. I would say I am kind of friends with some of the owners. That is a great feeling.

This place is so familiar to me at the moment that it is really hard to imagine how it is possible. When I went for a trip to Hong Kong in December for a few days, on my way back to Kaohsiung I genuinely felt like returning home. That was a strange sensation but I will not complain. That means I have found my place in Taiwan.

Before I decided to come here I have never been to Asia before. My longest stay away from home was three months and it was in Scotland, which is not that far from Poland. Taiwan was supposed to be a big new challenge and an adventure. It is all came true unexpectedly easier than I thought.

Kaohsiung city has got many attractive places to visit and I live simply in the neighbourhood of one of them. I am talking about the Lotus Pond. There are a few scenic locations in the city. Takao British Consulate, Chaishan also known as a Monkey Mountain, parts of the Love River and without a doubt the Lotus Pond.

It is a perfect place for a relaxed walk. Far from the city centre its rush and noise. Whenever I am in a mood I take my camera and go there to spend some guaranteed jolly time.

The best spot to start is the place with the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. It is exceptionally beautiful at the nighttime. Its warm and soft lights create an atmosphere that strongly requests to be immortalized with photography.

During the daytime I recommend to go upstairs and take a look at the Pond. Refreshing and cool wind can be helpful on a sunny day. But do not stay there for too long. There is much more to see around.

Next stop is a colourful and huge statue of the God of Justice. It stands tall at the end of the platform stuck in the Pond. During Chinese New Year it is all decorated with yellow lanterns, which produce a magnificent view. Visit the turtle's colony and the tank with the big red fish.

Continuing my walk I usually get to the Confucius Temple. In front of it there is a shapely photogenic bridge, the wall and the gate. Many trees have flowers and splendid thick leafs that attract my senses.

On the other side of the Pond there is a choice of interesting places. Wetlands offer an exotic area full of swamps, insects, trees, bushes, little ponds and walking paths. Usual destination for a quick family wanders. The biggest draw is a watching tower that should not be missed.

To end my walk I choose to go to the Clear Water Temple, which is readily recognizable for a massive Buddha sculpture on its roof. That is a fantastic place for a few reasons. From the top I can observe both the Wetlands and the Pond. With and silent company of a Buddha I count the sails of the boats and stare at the gigantic mirror of the Pond's surface.

Carvings, bas-reliefs and statues of the Clear Water Temple belong to my favourite. Maybe because they are plain stone and have a distinct texture and seriousness. Colourful temple lack that feature.

So I walk around. Absorbing the surroundings and analyzing what I see. Trying to adopt and keep a part of it. This is me and my Kaohsiung.

June 12, 2007

Episode XXVI: Climbing the Monkey


I have been living in Kaohsiung city already for a while but did not experience one of its most famous attractions for several months. I admit my fault. I have been to the Love River, Cijin Island, Takao British Consulate, Lotus Pond and Fine Arts Museum. Some of those places I have visited multiple times. But I missed some other thing.

I am thinking about Chaishan, in foreign community better known as a Monkey Mountain. Actually it is not a real mountain. Rather a huge hill covered with forest. It is located in the western part of the city. In Gushan district.

Funny thing is the radio I am working in is placed very close to it. Isn't it an irony? Being in the neighbourhood of something so often and do not know it well.

With my friend from a football team – Guy, the one I have been cycling in the Pintung County recently, we went to the Mountain during the noon on the weekend. It was pretty hot and humid. I was sweating a lot.

Chaishan is well equipped and very convenient for its visitors. There are boardwalks all over the place. Wooden paths that guide you around. Maps and directions. No chance to get lost.

Though it is always entertaining to see the people who treat themselves very serious while going up there. In fact it is more of a walk than a real climb or even a trek. Nevertheless professional gear is often seen. Full waterproof shoes, sticks, hats, ponchos, big rucksacks etc. It looks like wearing deep sea scuba diving equipment in a swimming pool.

Chaishan is well known for being home to many Taiwanese monkeys. They are quite spoiled by the tourists I have to say because they do not hesitate to harass a person in due to get a free meal. Having a sweet potato, peanuts or a banana I do not recommend going for a walk. It will most probably end up with an eye to eye confrontation with a bunch of hungry monkeys. I put my odds on the cheeky mammals.

One thing is to visit the Mountain during the day, another to go at night. To do that a torch is required because it is pitch black up there after the sunset.

With my experienced friends who love to camp and explore the nature spots of Taiwan I went to the Mountain at night. It was a totally different adventure.

We went to Chaishan to look for wild animals that live there. Definitely it was a great lesson of nature. We have seen some snakes. Small green bamboo viper and the other colourful one. Besides that many crabs, which find homes in snail shells. Spiders and bats. I was said small deer can be found as well. Monkeys are sleeping at the time. Situated high on the rocky shelves.
It is a great thing to have such a mysterious spot right next to the city centre. From now on I will surely visit it more regularly. Have to try to know what it is. I already do know.