Since moving to Taiwan we have tried our best to keep busy with our free time. It’s been hard at times as we work 6 days a week but making the most of our time off is one of our main priorities. While we’re lucky enough to live in Asia we want to make it worthwhile and absorb the fascinating culture.
So here are our top three adventures within Taiwan so far:
- Kenting National Park
We have just had a break from work for the Chinese New Year holiday and were unable to leave the island. So we booked a holiday to the South of Taiwan to the beautiful area of Kenting. It’s well known to be the most popular tourist destination of Taiwan due to its clean sandy beaches and preserved National Park. Having grown up on the coast of Wales, Hollie has a personal connection to the seaside and always feels at home when she can see the sea, so we were so excited to be going here. From Taipei it was easy to take a High Speed train to Kaohsiung and then a 2.5 coach ride straight to Kenting Town.
Kenting Street, the main strip, is lined with a famous night market of delicious Asian and Western style food, as well as really cool pop-up cocktail bars. There are also some ‘exotic’ bars with dancers entertaining people for tips (if you know what I mean). These are an amusing experience and something that has to be done if you’re out to enjoy yourself.
Although it’s winter here, the sub-tropical climate means that it is never too cold in the South, especially to us Brits, so it was perfect beach weather. After a few too many cocktails the night before it was lovely to lie in the sun all day on Kenting beach. The next afternoon we went to ‘Little Bay’ beach which is better for swimming, snorkelling and water activities which were really fun and cheap to do.
The next day we visited the official National ‘Park’ which is accessible from Kenting Street. DISCLAIMER – we were unaware that after you enter the big arch labelled ‘Kenting National Park’, it was a 4km trail to the actual park. We thought maybe there would be a shuttle bus or something but there wasn’t, so instead of turning back we began to walk along the road. After about 0.5km we were very lucky that a kind hearted local pulled over and offered us a lift. Now, usually I wouldn’t accept a lift from a stranger but whenever people talk about Taiwanese culture they always mention how honest and kind the people are, and this was being proven before me. So we took the lift, and thank God we did because the trail continued up a winding gradient that would have taken the best part of an hour to walk.
We spent half the day in the park, walking along the trail which featured a lot of boring naturalistic plant related stuff, and some not-so-boring caves, giant tree trunks and a view-point tower that gives you a fantastic view of the whole South coast area of Taiwan.
The next day was unfortunately raining, and when it rains in Taiwan, it RAINS, walk for 5 minutes and you’re soaked kind of rain. We were again feeling sensitive after a few more too many cocktails the night before (we were on holiday after all) but decided that we weren’t going to waste a day. So we rented electric scooters from one of the many dealers, it cost NT$600 for the day, which is about £15 (cheap). We bought ponchos and rode along the coast finding some beautiful beaches, the ‘Sail Rock’, Eluanabi Lighthouse and the most Southern point of Taiwan. All of which were part of the stunning National Park and despite the rain it was a great journey.
Its hard not to get caught up in the typical tourist destinations when you’re travelling but when you’re not familiar with a place these can sometimes still be the most incredible spots to go to.
2. Tea Pot Mountain – Jiufen
Taiwan is covered by mountainous terrain so there are plenty of hiking trails that suit a range of abilities. Don’t get me wrong, we’re no pro hikers or crazy outdoor enthusiast but since living here we have been enjoying the occasional Sunday hike.
This one was the hardest trek we have ever done but was the most rewarding feeling when we reached the top. It took about 3 hours in total and consisted of difficult literal ‘climbing’.
We had an euphoric feeling when we reached the top and actually said to each other how this was one of the most amazing things we had ever done in terms of literal adventures. It was definitely worth the work.
3. Keelung Mountain
About three weeks after climbing Tea Pot we decided to attempt Keelung Mountain which is one of the other peaks near there. It takes about an hour to Jiufen from Taipei by bus. There’s also a really cute area of markets that wind through small streets in Jiufen Old Town at the bottom. This was different kind of trail which was mostly leg burning steps going up three levels of peaks and this day was much colder. But the views from the top were just as amazing, looking right over the North point of Taiwan and the East China sea.
We recently decided that it would be a waste of my life if we didn’t make an effort to explore the beautiful world in which we live. Travelling doesn’t necessarily have to mean island hopping or flying from country to country every couple of months. It means exploring places you have never been before, however near or far, and appreciating the nature and culture that exists there.