My first post on Taiwan focused on Taipei, and was filled with sightseeing, big buildings and quirky experiences (think the toilet-themed cafe and indoor shrimp fishing). While Kaohsiung and Taitung, 2 cities located down South may lack the big tourist drawcards of bustling Taipei, they are known for some unique sightseeing and a weird and wonderful range of food. And I will travel anywhere for food.
Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second largest city after Taipei, located on the south west tip of the island. It’s famous for the Love River, which is flanked by walking paths and cafes on both sides as well as the Liuhe and Ruifeng night markets.
The easiest way to get there from Taipei is by the High Speed Rail (HSR). It costs around AUD$60 one way and will take between 1.5 and 2 hours.
Kaohsiung is hot and humid when I arrive. I escaped the scooter-clogged roads for a walk along the Love River, and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
I picked up a bubble tea on my walk from one of the many shops dotted around Kaohsiung. This was my favourite bubble tea of the whole trip, from Winnie Drinker, and was iced green tea with passionfruit. Delicious and refreshing!
And of course I love any city filled with cake shops! Each place featured rows and rows of the most intricately decorated treats.
I really wanted to try this noodle shop called “No Fool Vermicelli” (possibly a failed English translation) but they were so popular they had already sold out of all their soups! Next time ;)
Liuhe Night Market
One of the things I was most looking forward to in Kaohsiung is the Liuhe Night Market. I was ready to eat!
Liuhe is famous for its fresh and delicious seafood, and there were numerous stalls dotted around the market selling every type of sea creature you could imagine.
There was battered and deep fried crab and squid (above), or grilled squid, prawns and the largest oysters I’ve ever seen (the hand is for size reference).
Every so often I got smacked in the face with the foulest smell. What was it? Stinky tofu! It’s a popular snack sold at night markets across Taiwan consisting of tofu fermented in a brine with a strong odour and then deep fried. Once you get past the smell it’s actually quite delicious!
There were also dumplings, sugarcane juice and fruits for sale. I ate my bodyweight in Xiao long bao (soup dumplings).
And my final snack for the evening was ice cream, the perfect end to a hot and muggy day.
Fo Guang Shan Monastery
When I heard we were off to a monastery I was picturing crumbling buildings, historical relics and maybe a few monks. But the first thing I saw when I arrived at Fo Guang Shan was a Starbucks and a 7/11 convenience store. Clearly they are a very progressive movement.
This is the headquarters of Fo Guang Shan, a new international Chinese Buddhist movement based in Taiwan. They are also one of the largest charity organisations in Taiwan.
Once I got past the Starbucks confusion, the giant Buddha and stone carvings were really quite beautiful.
Next we are off to Taitung, the third largest county in Taiwan and 2.5 hours away from Kaohsiung by train (alas just a normal train this time, there is no HSR servicing this part of the country).
There is a LOT of Hello Kitty love in Taiwan, from the Hello Kitty Cafe in Taipei, to this motorbike and toilet I saw. My kind of country!
This was one of my favourite snacks in Taiwan. First the lady sliced off peanut brittle shavings from a large candy block. Then she added coriander (strange in a dessert, right?) and 2 scoops of taro and sweet apple ice cream.
She then rolled it up in a spring roll wrapper and I had my delicious on-the-go snack. Kind of like an Asian.. dessert… burrito? I’m clutching at straws here. But it was amazing!
I also enjoyed a freshly made sugarcane juice. It was incredibly sweet but exactly what we were craving after another hot day.
Ten Drum Prayer Hall
Inside the Ten Drum prayer hall, locals beat 3 times on a drum and then write and hang their name on a piece of wood to make it come true.
This drum was for good luck with exams and was by far the most popular!
Don’t forget to check out my Taipei travel guide here and stay tuned for my Hualien and Taroko Gorge post coming soon!
What’s the weirdest snack you’ve ever tried overseas?
Love Swah travelled, ate & stayed courtesy of Tourism Taiwan