by Silvette Lee
Having checked into our hotel we had one of our more memorable experiences. The young woman at the desk had casually mentioned there was a noodle place around the corner she would recommend so my daughter insisted we go there for dinner. My wife and I are not very adventurous eaters so this was quite the challenge for us. We found the place, but the use of English was limited. We managed to order our bowls of noodles and found a place at a large table where we were later joined by another couple and their older daughter at the other end. Our bowls arrived with the chop sticks, and we were kind of sitting there looking at them not totally sure how to approach it. Suddenly the woman at the end of the table got up and walked over to where my daughter was sitting. She grabbed her chop sticks and then began to use them to mix up my daughter's bowl of noodles. When she finished she hesitated a second and then did the same thing for my wife and finally for me. Then she sat down with her family. She didn't seem to know English so we tried to express our gratitude the best we could, It was such a generous act of hospitality on her part for complete strangers.
In the morning we experienced a Taiwanese breakfast. One of the major elements of a culture is its food. We were happy to see The Legend Hotel offered a breakfast, and what a spread it was. It was probably one of the largest buffet breakfast spread I have seen, but it was definitely not an American breakfast. In fact to us it didn't even seem like breakfast. There were vegetable dishes, and rice dishes with various meats. My wife is not a fan of Asian food so her breakfast plate was rather limited. I managed to find a few more things, but it was definitely a cultural moment.
After breakfast we began our exploration of Kaohsiung. We started with the Pier 2 Art Center which was near our hotel. Unfortunately the area of warehouses which was the actual Center was not very active. There were a few places open, but not many. However, outside there were a number of fun art installations. Most buildings had art painted on them as our hotel had, and it was fun to walk along the tram tracks which led us by so many interesting things. My favorites were the places where ordinary items had become art items showing the practical can be made interesting and beautiful.
The art district flows into the railroad area. In the past this was the place where the railroads ended and there is still a large field with railroad tracks. There is a museum there as well as a miniature train kids and adults can ride on. The area connects with the art district with this amazing installation constructed of railroad containers.
Continuing to walk along the water front there are a few malls along the way to explore or grab a snack. Eventually you will come to the Gushan Ferry which will take you the short distance across to Cijin. The ferry isn't large enough to take any cars across, but it does take scooters which are a major form of transportation in Taiwan. On Cijin Island there are a number of interesting sights. If you walk west from the ferry terminal you will climb a hill, and there you will find Cihou (or Cijin) Lighthouse. It is an old lighthouse built by British engineers in 1883 and later remodeled in 1918 by the Japanese. Unfortunately it is closed to visitors on Mondays, the day we were there, but it looks to be interesting. Nearby is an old fort that gives you some nice vistas of the area. The hike up to the lighthouse involves a good path and many stairs which on the hot day we were there can be a challenge.