It’s been a while since I updated the blog. It was mostly because our daughter was born this year, and we had a tough few months with COVID in Taiwan. There are many places that I want to travel with my daughter when she gets older, and I’m hoping to write down some past trips in 2020-2021 while I still remember.
In January 2020, we did a long weekend trip to Kaohsiung. Other than hiking with monkeys in Shoushan, we also explored some sights for the first time and walked around in the harbor art district. Of course, we also had to fill the rest of our itinerary with tasty food from breakfast to snacks at the night market.
The Pier 2 Art Center (駁二特區)
The harbor area used to be warehouses for sugar and fish powder storage, and was converted to a lively creative district since the 2000s. We’ve come here before, and always enjoyed walking around and handicraft shopping. This time, we got to ride the light rail (launched in 2017) from the Dream Mall. On weekends, there are vendors at the art market and it’s my favorite part browsing various crafts. We also relaxed at Eslite bookstore, checking out stationary and books.
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (龍虎塔)
I first learned about this sight from my parents’ honeymoon photos in the 80s. The lotus pond had a much longer history from the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century, and several temples surround the pond including a Confusious temple (孔廟). The dragon and tiger pagodas were built more recently in 1974, and the auspicious route is to enter the dragon and exit the tiger mouth. (In Mandarin, entering a tiger mouth means getting into danger.) There are old drawings inside the pagodas, and there is a view of the lotus pond on the higher floors.
Guomao Community (果貿社區)
From the early days of the government takeover in 1949-1960, there were lots of villages built for military families and veterans. In the 1980s, a few villages in the area were converted to 2200-unit public housing in a circular design. The community had quite a few traditional stores and restaurants, we ate at a noodle shop 如意館 and enjoyed their potstickers and Zha-Jiang noodles.
Rueifeng Night Market (瑞豐夜市)
Compared to the touristy Liuhe Night Market, we enjoyed the more local Rueifeng Night Market a lot more. I was drawn to many food stands in this market, and we chose to have rice wrapped in chicken wing (翅包飯), green onion pancake, paella (night market version), and egg waffle stars for dessert.
Breakfast at Lao Chiang (老江紅茶牛奶)
Lao Chiang was first founded by three Chiang brothers in 1953, and it is still a popular breakfast shop to this day run by the second generation. We got to find a seat as many did takeout, and we had a black milk tea and ham & egg pancake.
Coffee break at Caffaina Coffee Gallery
Caffaina is our favorite coffee shop for laptop work in Taichung, and we were naturally drawn here while we were nearby. The coffee shop actually originated from Kaohsiung, and only had few stores in Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taichung. I liked how spacious their stores were, and some of their pastries were memorable.
Local hot pot at Shantou Pot (汕頭泉成沙茶潮鍋)
Shantou Chuan Cheng hot pot started in 1943 near the Formosa Boulevard Station, and is probably one of the most famous hot pot joints in Kaohsiung. The restaurant was large with quite a few round tables for big groups, and they were quickly filled during prime dinner time. I couldn’t tell how much of the flavor is still from Shantou, Guandong, but I really liked the satay soup base with fresh ingredients.
Beef katsu at Ichigyu (逸之牛)
After our first beef katsu meal in Osaka, we couldn’t wait to have it again. Even though it is still hard to find in Taiwan and the sauce isn’t the same, we enjoyed cooking the meat on the mini stone stove a lot.
Lodging & Getting around
We stayed at Howard Hotel, which is located within walking distance to two metro lines. When we visited, we mostly took the metro and used the old bike share system with limited stations. Now that the city has YouBike 2.0 like other cities, I look forward to riding a bike around town even more.
Kaohsiung is easy to get to, just 90 minutes from Taipei on the fastest high-speed railway trains. With the metro and bike share (now YouBike), it is also easy to get around. We usually visit in the winter to enjoy the sunshine at a comfortable level. There are also a bunch of day trips to go from Kaohsiung like Qijin, which I hope to explore more next time.