[Taiwan Series] Day 2 in Kaohsiung: Cijin Island 旗津島, Dragon and Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔, and Liuhe Night Market 六合观光夜市

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Since we had already hit up many of the tourist spots in Kaohsiung on the first day, I suggested we go to Cijin Island 旗津島 which is just a short 10 minute ferry ride from the Gushan Ferry Pier in Kaohsiung. To get to the ferry termianl, you can take the MRT to Sizihwan MRT Station. Take exit 1 and you will walk around 5 – 8 minutes to arrive at the Gushan Ferry Pier. Line up at the entrance and you just need to pay $15 NTD or tap your EasyCard to get on the ferry. The price is less than a $1 CAD so a great deal! You can also bring your motorbike on the ferry.

 

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This is the ferry we got on. You can sit indoors or stand outside to enjoy the views. The ride is so short that you’ll be there in no time!

 

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Once you get off the ferry, you’ll find an abundance of shops where you can rent motorbikes or bicycles. They also had these 2 or 4 people pedal cars. If you want to really explore Cijin Island, I suggest renting some type of bike. The island itself is quite small, but walking could be quite tiring. The best way to explore is to rent a bike! We ended up getting a 2 pedal car but it is actually an electric bike, so even better!

 

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If you bike straight along Miaoqian Road, there will be shop after shop of food and souvenirs. This is the main street with the most people here. If you are walking, I suggest to check out this area. I liked how we could bike and just stop in front of a stall. However, it makes it difficult for two people to look at the shops since you’ll need to park the bike somewhere and not every place has a pole to lock the bike to.

 

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At the end of the road, there was an open area with lines of stalls selling snacks. It sort of reminded me of a mini night market.

 

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I ended up getting off the bike to purchase some snacks such as grilled squid, cuttlefish balls, and aiyu jelly tea to quench our thirst!

 

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We bought the snacks and decided to bike over to the beach side to enjoy the view. And yes, we somehow ended up with this lovers pedal bike. Pretty funny but was quite comfy with some shade on top. This electric bike was great since we didn’t even need to pedal. You just need to steer and brake!

 

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The Cijin Beach is quite enjoyable. A nice getaway from the busy city.

 

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After enjoying our snacks, we continued on Cijin 3rd Road’s inner bike path and biked along the water. It’s also known as the Oceanview Bike Path.

 

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We finally arrived at the Cijin Rainbow Church 彩虹教堂 and Rainbow Arch! This was actually on the top of my list as I had saw pictures on Instagram of this spot. Turns out, everyone else also knew about this spot, so there was a huge line up in front of us. We probably waited around 30 minutes before it was our turn. Some people ahead of us were doing serious photoshoots!

 

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The Rainbow Church is definitely photo worthy. It faces the water so it gives the perfect effect!

 

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Unfortunately we came at a time where the sun was out at an angle where it would cast a shadow so it was a bit difficult to take our pictures. However, still a pretty awesome view!

 

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To the right is the Rainbow Arch. This is pretty cool too! I noticed that some people come here for their wedding photos as well.

 

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After getting our pictures, we biked a bit further and found this area with two shells. It also made a picture worthy spot. There is also a shell gallery in this area, but we skipped it.

 

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I loved biking along this path as you got a nice breeze from the water even though it was burning hot that day!

 

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Continuing along the path, we found The Big Pearl Shell.

 

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And finally, we reached the Cijin Windmill Park 旗津風車公園. This is a pretty chill area where we found many people flying kites and enjoying the seaside.

 

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There were a few food stalls as well and I decided to get a strawberry ice cream sandwich. With that, our bike rental time was coming close as we are charged by the hour. We didn’t want to pay for an extra hour, so we ended up biking as fast as we could to get back to the store in time! We ended up taking the same route back in case we got lost if we went another way. Our intense biking paid off as we made it back to the stall just in time so we didn’t have to pay for that extra hour! We then took the ferry back to Kaohsiung.

 

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After arriving back in Kaohsiung, I suggested we visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas at the Lotus Pond. Google maps suggested we take the bus so we did as it told. Unfortunately, it seemed like we missed the stop and we ended up going really far. After wandering around for a while trying to figure out the right directions, we gave up and decided to take a taxi instead.

 

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By then, it was already dusk, so the pictures were abit difficult to take. Here is the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas 龍虎塔 at the Lotus Pond though! You are supposed to enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit from the tiger’s mouth. Apparently, this will get rid of your bad luck and give you good luck. Inside the mouths, you’ll find paintings of Buddhist and Taoist stories. To be honest, I found it a bit eerie in there, perhaps because it was getting dark. I think you can normally also climb up the pagoda, but it was closed when we went, probably because it was getting late. I suggest coming here during the daytime to get the best pictures. It’s  just not very well lit at night so it can get a bit scary.

 

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There are actually various other attractions around the pond such as the Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣) and the Confucius Temple (孔廟). However, as it was getting dark, we decided not to visit the other spots.

 

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Instead, we decided to grab an early dinner by checking out the Liuhe Night Market 六合观光夜市. The night market opens daily at around 6pm and is located in central Kaohsiung. Just take the MRT to Formosa Boulevard Station and take exit 11 and you’ll find your way to the market.

 

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We found thsi night market to be a lot less busy than Ruifeng Night Market. In fact, there was tons of space to walk around and it wasn’t crowded at all. Even by the time we left, which was prime dinner time, it wasn’t very busy.

 

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We noticed many fruit stalls selling fruit drinks. There are papayas, bananas, oranges, watermelons, and bitter melon.

 

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I decided to get a Papaya Milk since this is a common drink in Taiwan. Deliciously creamy and refreshing in the heat! I liked how it wasn’t very sweet. Just the sugar from the fruit itself.

 

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We had wandered around the night market for a while to look for food, but to be honest, nothing really spoke to us. Perhaps, the food was very local and was not anything we were familiar with. We ended up with some beef skewers, which were good but didn’t blow our minds. I also got some stinky tofu but again, it was just average.

 

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Overall, we were pretty disappointed with Liuhe Night Market. None of the stalls really had line ups, so it was hard for tourists like us to decide which one was worth trying. And the food in general wasn’t really appealing. I’d suggest going to Ruifeng if you only have time to go to one night market in Kaohsiung.

 

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As we wandered around away from the night market to see if we could find any other snacks, a shop owner attracted me to go inside her shop. It turned out to be called 青草捌 and I can’t figure out what the English name is. The shop had a beautiful flower wall which was part of my attraction. I ended up with a Pineapple Tea which comes in this beautiful cup! The price of the tea was not cheap, but I can see why with all these details in the shop. We didn’t end up getting more food, so called it a night to get some rest!

 

 

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[Taiwan Series] Day 1 in Kaohsiung: Gang Yuan Beef Noodles 港園牛肉麵, Pier-2 Art District 駁二藝術特區, 85 Sky Tower 高雄85大樓, and Ruifeng Night Market 瑞丰夜市

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Our flight from Singapore was to Taipei, so after getting off the plane, we immediately had to go catch the Taiwan High Speed Rail. We had actually purchased our tickets to Kaohsiung online beforehand because we wanted to take advantage of the early bird discounts for our longest ride. However, you can purchase at the vending machine or desk on the day of as well. Since we purchased it online, we downloaded the app and just scanned the QR code at the gate. From the Taoyuan airport, you need to first take the shuttle bus to THSR Taoyuan Station which only takes around 25 minutes. We then took the train from Taoyuan station to Zuoying station which is the closest station to Kaohsiung. It took just under 2 hours on the train and the seats were quite comfy and clean. Tickets were $1,330 NTD which is just under $60 CAD for this one way ticket, so not exactly cheap. However, it was the most convenient way to travel instead of getting on another plane. From Zuoying station, we switched to the MRT red line to Kaohsiung station where our hotel was just a minute away.

 

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We decided to stay at Airline Inn at Kaohsiung Station because of the convenience of the station. The price is also quite affordable with many rooms around $60 CAD a night. We booked through Booking.com and you can use my referral link if you wish to enjoy $25 CAD off on your booking!

 

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The design of the room is simple but smart because the size is extremely small! If you’re carrying just a small luggage for a short trip, then it’s no problem and probably pretty spacious. But we each had a large luggage, so opening our luggage on the floor was a nightmare. There really isn’t much room to walk after you open your luggage. We also chose a windowless room to save some money but it really wasn’t an issue since we didn’t really chill in the room during the day anyways.

 

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The design is cute with lots of airplane details. In terms of cleanliness and amenities, I don’t think we really had any complaints.

 

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When I say they save space, I really mean it because even the sink is outside. But it’s great because while S showers, I can still brush my teeth etc. Showers were on the opposite side and luckily they have a pretty frosty layer of glass so you can’t really see from the outside. We found this to be an issue with many other hotels in Taiwan where the shower room was quite transparent.

 

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We had arrived at the hotel past midnight so the first night was a write off and we went straight to bed. The next morning, we finally got to check out the surroundings. Our hotel is literally just across the street from the Kaohsiung Station which is their main station so this made it very convenient to catch the MRT. In term of things to do though, we didn’t find ourselves hanging around too much.

 

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First things first in Taiwan is to enjoy a delicious bowl of Taiwanese beef noodles! I had done some research and the restaurant I wanted to visit was in the Yancheng District. This area is pretty cool with old buildings mixed with modern ones. The contrast is pretty interesting to look at.

 

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The restaurant is tucked away in one of the older looking streets.

 

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The famous spot is Gang Yuan Beef Noodles 港園牛肉麵 and I’m told it’s a local favourite. Seems like many tourists come as well since they have English on their menu. The menu is simple with either dry or soup noodles and with beef, pork, or pork knuckles as toppings. Seems like there are some appetizers available for purchase too but they didn’t show it on the English menu so we skipped it for language barriers sake. I wouldn’t say a bowl is cheap as it’s still roughly $5. Seems like cost of living in Taiwan has increased overall though!

 

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The interior is pretty clean and the best part is it’s air conditioned! It was boiling hot outside and eating a hot bowl of soup didn’t really help. There is some communal seating but we just opted to sit against the wall.

 

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Beef Noodles

Since we weren’t big fans of pork knuckles, we both opted for the beef dish. I decided to try the dry Beef Noodles which has a light sauce beneath and you mix it so the noodles don’t clump together. The beef were definitely the star of the show. They were thick chunks but so tender! The noodles were also delicious with a nice bite.

 

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Beef Soup Noodles

S got the Beef Soup Noodles and he enjoyed the bowl as well. However, I found the dry noodle to be more flavourful as the soup was rather light.

 

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On our way to the beef noodles, we actually stopped by Formosa Boulevard Station 捷運美麗島站. We were just transferring stations, so we didn’t even need to exit to get this picture. This station is ranked the second-most beautiful metro station in the world and is known for its “Dome of Light”. It is the largest glass work in the world designed by an Italian artist.

 

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After lunch, I suggested we check out the nearby Pier-2 Art District 駁二藝術特區. Both S and I are not very artsy people, but I heard this is a pretty cool spot. The arts center used to be an abandoned warehouse site but now many workshops and stores are situated here. I love the vintage brick walls on the warehouses. If you enjoy modern art, this is the spot for you.

 

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You will find paintings on the walls of various buildings. I like how you can just walk around aimlessly and you’ll find art everywhere in this area.

 

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In the middle of the field, there are various sculptures just placed on the greenery. Pretty neat!

 

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There’s even a train! I think this may because there is a Railway Museum around the area.

 

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Look at this gigantic art piece!

 

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And even something that looks like a Transformers?

 

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We walked around for a while and to be honest, we were sweating from the heat. It was extremely hot that day and we were dying to go indoors. Luckily, we wandered to a warehouse with the Taiwan Beer sign.

 

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Apparently there was a Taiwan Beer pop up shop that day! We paid a small price for admission which includes this wristband where you can redeem 3 beer samples and 1 beer dessert!

 

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There were also many interactive games where you could win small prizes.

 

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I believe they were launching one of their new beers, but this Taiwan Beer brand is actually one of my favourites! It’s so pricey back in Vancouver and difficult to find, but so affordable in Taiwan! My favourite is still the mango or pineapple but the peach is also pretty good!

 

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They were also making some beer infused ice cream! But the line up was too long so we ended up skipping out on it. What a lucky day for us to coincidentally be at the Pier 2 Art Centre to enjoy this pop up!

 

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As we wandered away from the Art District, we found ourselves at the Kaohsiung Fisherman’s Wharf 高雄港漁人碼頭. You’ll get a bit of breeze here and you can enjoy this boardwalk with a view of the city.

 

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The view is pretty nice as you walk along the boardwalk. You can also spot the Love River 愛河 close by.

 

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We ended up taking this tram to go to the other city side. You can still use the same electronic card as the MRT. Kaohsiung issues an iPass but since we had an EasyCard when we were in Taipei a few years ago, that card also worked in Kaohsiung. It was a good idea to try the light rail because you get a pretty nice view of the city including the Love River.

 

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The reason we headed back towards the city was to see the 85 Sky Tower 高雄85大樓. This is Kaohsiung’s tallest skyscraper at 347.5 meters high. It used to be the tallest in Taiwan until Taipei 101 was built. The building is used as office and residential space, hotel, and a department store. On the 74th floor is the observation deck which we visited.

 

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I believe it costs around $180 NTD for admission which is decently priced at around $8 CAD. The view was decent, but because there aren’t many skyscrapers in Kaohsiung, the view was a bit flat.

 

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We also visited during night time so it’s usually a bit more difficult to see the buildings. Worth coming if you have some time but I wouldn’t say it’s on the top of my list.

 

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Getting hungry, we decided to look for some dinner. Dinner in Taiwan for us always means heading to the night market! We love roaming around with Taiwanese snacks in hand! One of the most famous night markets in Kaohsiung is called Ruifeng Night Market 瑞丰夜市.

 

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Ruifeng Night Market is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan and definitely one of the busiest! I have never been to such a busy night market! You will be shoulder to shoulder.

 

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Of course S would suggest getting the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken. Can’t remember which stall this was from, but the chicken was juicy and crispy on the outside.

 

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Another favourite of S’s is the gigantic chicken steaks in Taiwan. We decided to try Devil’s Chicken Steak 惡魔雞排. They make it fresh to order so be warned you’ll need to wait a while. They give you a number so you can wander around in the meantime though.

 

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The chicken is as big as my face! It was piping out so it was difficult to pull it out for a picture. They also do not cut the chicken steak here but it’s quite enjoyable to just bite this large chunk of meat. We found the chicken steak to be thicker cut than the ones in Taipei and the batter was very crispy!

 

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To quench our thirst, we headed to 鴛鴦奶茶 as I heard raving reviews about this spot. Not sure what the English name is but look for the orange and white booth! There was a long line up but it moved quick.

 

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I believe we just got a classic Milk Tea but they use fresh milk here. It was so creamy and smooth with a strong tea flavour!

 

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One of the most interesting items we tried was at Sweet Cool Round Powder Packe 甜心涼圓. I saw a few stalls selling these and was very curious what they were. I aimlessly pointed at some flavours and hoped they were good. They turned out to be jelly like substance on the outside with fruit in the middle. My favourite was the melon! These were very refreshing to enjoy after some greasy food.

 

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The market not only has food, but also many clothing stalls. They also had a massive entertainment section with tons of games! Overall, we really enjoyed this night market as there is lots to see and a large variety of food! But be prepared for the crowds as it’s very busy here!