Weekend in Kenting

on Saturday, October 18, 2008







October 17-19, 2008





Day 1

I left school at 12:00 today to head down to Kenting National Park on the far southern end of Taiwan.
The trip did not begin on the happiest note. As I was walking into the bus depot, I watched a guy on a scooter get nailed by a truck, he flew pretty far. I don’t know if he lived, but if he did I’m guessing it will be a long time before he walks again. When I got on the bus, I drifted off to sleep for a minute and had a nightmare that I was that guy on the scooter and I woke up abruptly and flailed my arms, almost smacking the guy sitting next to me in the face.
I arrived in Kenting at about 4:30 pm. It was really easy to find a scooter rental place. When I got off the bus a little old lady was waiting there and said, “You need scoota? you need hotel? I the man for you!” Needless to say, she got my business. Not only was it a perfect sales pitch, but I had no idea where else I was going to find a scooter rental. I got on the back of her scooter and she took me to the main office down the street to fill out the paper work and get my scooter. The paper work was pretty simple, I just wrote my name and how long I was going to take the scooter. I rented the “deluxe scooter,” I didn’t know what that was at the time but it was the premium deal, and I didn’t want to be stuck with some crappy scooter that wouldn’t start or go up hills, plus it was only $800 NT for two days (about $25 USD). I was pretty stoked when they brought it out, it’s a 200 cc scooter and goes about 75- 80 mph, not that I’d go that fast anyway, it’s just nice to know it’s got that capability.
I drove my scooter down the main road to find my hotel. Steve told me to stop when I saw the big rock in the water that looks like Richard Nixon’s head, and the hotel I had reservations at would be right across the street with an address plate that said 600. When I saw the rock I started looking for my hotel and immediately a lady came out to the side of the road and greeted me and took me into a hotel. I told her thank you for waiting out front for me because I would’ve had a hard time finding which was the right hotel, but she didn’t speak English. She took me to a room that looked nothing the one on the website and I started to panic. I asked her about the one I reserved and she just kind of blankly stared at me. Then she went and got her friend next door that speaks English. I asked her friend what this address was and she said 598. The lady that called me into the hotel wasn’t waiting for me, she was just waiting for anyone that needed a room.
I went next door and the man at the counter instantly knew who I was and he took me up to my room. Steve knows this guy very well and got me a deal on a beach view suite for one night and a standard room for the second all for 2500 NT (about 78 USD).
This is a really cool hotel. It’s like a big house with contemporary beach d├ęcor, it’s beautiful, and the view from my room is amazing.

Day 2
I woke up early this morning and drove around to familiarize myself with the area. It’s beautiful here and the temperature is perfect; however, there’s not a whole lot in the way of food (i.e. markets or anything).
I drove to a place called Baisha at lunch today. Baisha has a really pretty beach. When I got there I bought a snorkeling set and did that for much of the afternoon. While snorkeling I met some exchange students from Spain who were snorkeling as well, so we hung out for a bit. One of them showed me some of the sting marks he’d gotten from jellyfish on the eastside of Taiwan.
I just got back from snorkeling with a tour group near the marina, it was freaking amazing. We went around in some fairly shallow water for a bit and then they took us out to where there’s a drop off and that was awesome, there are some massive fish out there. It made me excited to go scuba diving in Thailand. I also saw another scooter wreck, but this one wasn’t nearly as bad.

Day 3
It’s about 7 am right now and in about 4 hours I have to head back up to Kaohsiung. I have to say that even though I have seen an done some way cool stuff while here, I’ll be glad to get back. This has really been an eye opener for me.
On this little trip I’ve realized how lucky I am to have Steve and his family to live with, and also how hard it would be to live here without someone I knew that speaks my language. It makes it a little harder to fully enjoy yourself when you’re stressing out about important things that are getting lost in translation, like road signs or prices for things that are written in Chinese numbers. Even yesterday when I went with the snorkeling tour group, I signed for something that I didn’t know about. I thought we were just going to go snorkeling, but it included water skiing and banana boats and tubing. That would’ve been a great plus if I didn’t hate those things.
Last night I gained a great appreciation for my home country. I went to a restaurant called Smokey Joe’s on the beach. It’s a Tex Mex steakhouse place, very nice, high priced by Taiwanese standards, average for U.S. It also happens to be run by Americans and everyone speaks English, it was like an oasis in my social desert. When I went in I saw white people everywhere. On the TV was ESPEN (in English), and the music playing was Hawaiian style, and all of the conversations were being spoken in English.
Since I had arrived here in Taiwan I had never really noticed how out of place I was until I went to that place where I could remember how it feels to be in an environment where everyone else looks like me, I can understand everything that’s going on, and I knew exactly what I was ordering. It even smelled like an American restaurant.
When it was time to leave, as I was walking down the long plank walkway that led from the restaurant to the road, it was like a decent from a dream to reality. The Hawaiian music began to fade, the smell of Taiwan (which can be very potent at times) gradually began to replace the scent of the restaurant, and by the time I reached my scooter across the street no one was speaking English. It was a pretty somber drive back to my hotel. I feel much better this morning though.
I’m home now. I finally was able to drive around to the eastside of Taiwan this morning, I couldn’t before because it was always to stormy on that side to drive my scooter. It was awesome, way more pretty than the west side, and the west side is pretty beautiful.

Pictures:

  1. Baisha
  2. A car on the road that goes around the southern part of Taiwan
  3. Me in my room
  4. Me in my mirror
  5. me on the east coast

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