Most friends of mine would probably say that the first quarter of every year is the most boring one. Well, it may be, indeed. Imagine all the Christmas rush and shenanigans will all be gone instantly. It’s like saying “Poof! Back to regular programming!”. Since I work in a technology firm focused on advertising, even work becomes less toxic and we’re back to planning, process building and roadshows (Not that I am complaining. In fact, I love the first two quarters of the year.) Though January might be boring for most, the opposite can be said to my company and all my colleagues. It is due to the fact that our annual Company Trip is held every January. When I say company trip, we’re talking about bringing all the employees in the region to a chosen country. Who wouldn’t be excited?! This year, we spent our four-day and three-night company trip in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Before our company trip, the only place I know in Taiwan is Taipei (*coughs* Meteor Garden *coughs*). All thanks to my poor world geography knowledge, I am to discover Kaohsiung like a regular newbie traveller in Taiwan. Taiwan became the second country that I visited after Malaysia last year (which also happened to be the home country of our company’s headquarter) and as much as I want to compare it to other destinations within and outside Taiwan, I’m afraid my insights wouldn’t be credible enough (lol). So I’d try to introduce you with Kaohsiung based on my short stay in this port city.
Kaohsiung is in the southern part of Taiwan and is almost opposite to Taipei, being the northernmost city. Though based on my friends who went to Taipei, Kaohsiung has almost the same vibe with Taipei, only less busy and colder. It might not be at par with Taiwan’s capital city but I still find this small town down south interesting and worth visiting. Here are my top experiences in Kaohsiung Taiwan:
1. Cold Weather – Though the Philippines has its summer capital, Baguio and of course, a few kilometres away from Metro Manila, there is Tagaytay, I usually don’t frequent those destinations recently. As a frequent traveler in the Philippines, I prefer going to the beach and enjoying the year-round summer sun of our Country. Given that, it is not often that I experience cold winds especially that 90% of the time I’m just in Metro Manila.
When I found out that the weather in Taiwan will be generally cold during our trip, I felt really excited. Packing up my scarf, doning my boots and wearing my winter-ish jacket for the first time, became one of my priorities.
There were several instances of rain all throughout the trip but that even almost didn’t bother at all. My jacket also has a hoodie that I can use any time it rains so it didn’t pose a problem, just a minor inconvenience.
2. Eating Ice Cream in Hinoki Village – You might be wondering why Hinoki sounded Japanese. In fact, it is Japanese and is a name of a tall slow-growing tree native to Japan. So what does a Japanese Village do in Taiwan? Taiwan was Japan’s first overseas colony. It is also not surprising that there are several restaurants that have a touch of Japanese culture in them.
Hinoki Village is one of the remaining evidence of Japanese Empire’s rulership in Taiwan. Hindi Village (literally translated as Cypress Forest Life Village) served as dormitory before. Though it may be a small village, it still gives you the vibe of what a Japanese Village should have.
3. Train Station as a Tourist Spot – Yes, you read that right. In the Philippines (pardon my honesty), MRT Station is the last place to be at, especially in rush hours. In Kaohsiung, a train station is transformed into a tourist attraction. To begin with, their transportation system is already good on its own, but then they decided to add more “umf” to an already efficient transport system.
The attraction is called the Dome of Light and it can be found at the Formosa Boulevard Train Station. The dome consists of 450 glass panels and the imagery shows the story of a human life. It is pretty amazing to see such work of art incorporated in a modern infrastructure and will truly refresh travellers who will drop by.
4. Cijin District – Cijin District or Island is one of the common places to go to in Kaohsiung. It is where you can enjoy authentic Taiwanese street food, shop for some items and buy souvenirs all at the same time. My friends also took the opportunity to ride bicycles and believe me, I wanted to ride one as well. It’s just unfortunate that I couldn’t remember how to ride a bike well anymore. Haha
The items being sold in Cijin Island are relatively cheaper than what you can buy in the main city. Likewise, you can take advantage of the wide selections of souvenir items in the island.
To get there, you just have to ride a ferry. The ferry usually departs every 15 – 20 minutes and it will only take 15 minutes from the pier to the island.
5. Exposure to modern art – We see parks everywhere, but I personally have not seen any parks with modern art seamlessly embedded as it was in Pier 2 Art Centre. It is a must-go if you’d like to appreciate modern art and see pieces of metal artistry beautifully scattered almost everywhere.
Well, it was indeed a short trip to Taiwan and we could’ve done a lot more, had we only have more time. Indeed, it made every first quarter of the year exciting for me and the rest of my colleagues. Next time, I hope to visit Taipei and maybe, only then, I would be able to really cross Taiwan off my travel bucket list.