The fourth day our our stay in Taiwan, we went to the southernmost part, specifically to the Kenting National Park. Kenting is located on the Hengchun Peninsula in the Pingtung county. It is the oldest national park in the country and all the landscape scenery lovers will be thrilled here.
They can enjoy majestic green mountains and pristine sandy beaches with azure sea at the same time. The climate here is tropical monsoon, which works really well for diverse flora and fauna. There are at least 15 species of mammals, 310 species of birds, 59 species of reptiles and amphibians, 21 species of freshwater fish and 216 species of butterflies and insects in the wild nature.
From Taipei to south (Kaohsiung station) we got by the High Speed Rail train. This impressive train operates on a maximum speed of 293 km/h. Taiwan high-speed rail line runs approximately 350 km along the west coast of Taiwan. Construction of the rail was managed by a private company with a total cost of the project US $ 18 billion. The system is based primarily on Japan’s Shinkansen technology.
We took a cab to get to our hostel in Kenting 40 km far from the train station and we shared that cab with nice Malaysian students. They were curious about Czech Republic and asked us various question. They were especially thrilled by the fact that we have a real snow at Christmas and shocked by the fact how badly are junior lawyers underpaid there. To compare the standard of living in both countries, they simply asked us how fast can an average Czech person earn money for one cheeseburger at McDonalds. Sort of simplified version of the Big Mac Index.
This time we were accommodated in a big hostel in the city centre, where we were surprised by a strict sex segregation policy. It was unacceptable for us as a couple to share one room. Despite that fact we had a lot of fun meeting other young travellers, mostly Taiwanese. We spent evenings playing guitar, singing and tasting our national homemade spirit Slivovice. At first they seemed to be shy and hesitant, but they got pretty laid-back later on. Slivovice is the icebreaker among all the cultures and continents.
For about only 14 NZD per day we hired a scooter and drove the south coast on our own. We explored the pristine sandy beaches, subtropical rainforest, the southernmost point of Taiwan and a Natural Fire. The Natural fire is a place, where the earth gas permeates from the depth. The flame burns here just right out of the ground indefinitely. I was totally caught up with the magic. You feel like you stand just right in front of the hell gate.
We followed the recommendation of locals and went to a nearby marina for a dinner. I’ve never seen such a great selection of seafood in my life. There was everything you can even imagine. All the menus were, as usual, written in Chinese only, so the only way to order a meal was to just simply point on someone else’s table and had the same. That was the only reliable way how to get what you want. The regulars were surprised by seeing white tourists around and they took videos of us eating with chopsticks.
The highlight of the night life are without any doubts the earlier mentioned night markets. They look little bit like the gypsy markets back in Europe. The street is lined with stalls with various food and cheap trashy goods. To be honest after few days in Taiwan we couldn’t even look at the food from night markets anymore. I felt nauseous the moment I smelt the soya sauce.