Urban Nature: Kaohsiung, Lambai and Kenting – 21/11/2019 to 29/11/2019

Kaohsiung has a lot of parks. Which is fantastic. Living in a city, both Emily and I love them and the convenient outdoors green spaces they bring. Lucky for us, Anja and Kevin were able to point us in the direction of many of the best during our stay in the south of Taiwan. Whether wandering around the Lotus Pond or ambling our way around Weiwuying park, we were never too far from nature despite the high rise environment we were based in. With plenty of amazing local delicacies just waiting for us to walk enough to gain an appetite (from savoury beef noodle to peanut butter mochi stuffed waffles) we made sure we got out and about as often as we could!

If you go in through the dragon and out through the tiger you get good luck 🤷

Getting out of the city with Anja and Kevin over the weekend was a must. A mini road trip to Kenting was the perfect opportunity to explore the stunning coastline in the south of Taiwan. On the way we detoured to Lambai Island. A place Emily and I would never have known about if it wasn’t for our hosts, the number one activity when visiting is to snorkel with the Pacific Green Sea Turtles. A truly amazing nature experience, we were lucky enough to be less than 2 feet away from 6 of these majestic marine reptiles. The snorkelling gear provided even came with prescription lenses. A total game changer for me. It honestly ranks with some of the best travel experiences I have had. Exploring the rest of the island is easily done by scooter, taking less than 2 hours to circuit all the viewpoints along the coast. Which is a good thing really – after the turtles I don’t think I could have taken too much else in!

Living our best lives

More food and drinks were called for after such an event – sushi in the local was fish market followed by street food and cocktails at the night market, once we had finished driving for the day and checked into our reservation in Kenting. The following morning we explored the scenic coastline, taking in the views of the windswept cliffs and beating waves before trying our hands (or feet) at skimboarding, guided by Kevin. Emily was considerably better than me!

They really were windswept 😂 

Our time in Kenting was amazing, and it was very clear to us why this National Park area is so special for Kevin and Anja. Like all good things, our time there came to an end as Anja headed back to work. We spent the next few days exploring the rest of Kaohsiung and the surrounding area, starting with Weiwuying Art Village. Like several places in South Korea, this district of the city has become a tourist attraction by exploring street art, murals and the relationship between built environment and city space. A perfect way to spend a few hours wandering the streets and turning back on yourself to see more artwork hiding in corners and angles you couldn’t see before!

Dab city

No trip to Kaohsiung is complete without a hike up Shoushan (Monkey Mountain). A National Nature Park, this small mountain near the city and adjacent to the coast is home to hundreds of Formosan Rock Macaques – a species of monkey found only in Taiwan. It is literally guaranteed that on your hike to the summit you will see dozens of these endemic primates roaming around. It’s possibly the best place on the whole island to see them. When you reach the top you are rewarded to free tea brewed by Buddhist monks for anyone who completes the trail. Emily and I loved this chance to be surrounded by rainforest, hang out with the wildlife and enjoy the views across the city with a cuppa. It’s an absolute must for the region.

The whole family came out to see us

Similarly, a visit to Fo Guang Shan has to be on any Kaohsiung agenda. Easily accessible by bus, the towering golden buddha is impressive by anyones standards and compared to every temple that Emily and I have travelled across during this trip. As much a museum as it is an active site of worship, this complex educates to anyone who wants to learn more about buddhism. It was a great experience that we were very glad of doing; initially our temple fatigue over the course of this trip made us reticent to visit. I’m glad we took advice against our better judgement and checked it out.

Just a small Buddha…

The rest of our time in Kaohsiung was spent exploring the many waterways available to you, both on foot or through the easy rental of a city bike. We strolled around Chengcing, a big lake the east of the city and we cycled the Love River twice. Day and night. The scenery was stunning wherever we went, especially where we visited the Zhongdu Wetlands and had a chance to experience more closely the wildlife taking refuge in this habitat. There are so many green spaces to explore in the city and we were very lucky that both Anja and Kevin told us about as many as we did during our time there; we loved it.

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Cycling along the Love River