Kaohsiung, Taiwan

February 7 -The passage from Yantian to Taiwan was on flat seas but the wind blew from a direction that allowed some of the ship’s exhaust to seep into my cabin. As a result I slept badly and missed the morning entrance through the breakwater and into Kaohsiung. P1000609

The port employs strange looking conveyances to move containers to and from the many gantry cranes. They are filthy and roar around the container stacks making loud warning beeps. The driver sits at the top in a glass booth and they steer the beasts over the containers, straddling them, and can raise them up three containers in height for stacking.

I again got shore leave and was the only person who chose to leave the ship. This time NSB’s Port Agent helpfully provided directions back to the ship written in Chinese as well as the Chinese language names for certain attractions in Kaohsiung, like the “Dream Mall.” A small van ferried me from the ship to the Port entrance where the gate guard called a taP1000594xi. She asked for a taxi driver who spoke English and the fellow who picked me up did well enough.
This dog’s whole job is to run alongside the van transporting Port workers and passengers to and from the gate. Like the dog in Yantian, he is a racist.

The City is large and flat, with canals running through it at points. The most common personal transporter is the scooter and they are everywhere, some ferrying whole families. I saw a young woman put her two small helmetless kids fore and aft on her Yamaha and blast off.

The mall offered a free wi-fi connection in the food court and I hammered away on my computer for an hour or so, my first Internet access in 20 days or more, hence the flood of recent posts. I noticed that the driver was waiting for me a couple of tables over so I told him I’d pay for his time. There was no meter in the cab but an official government poster on the dash read that there was an additional charge of $50 Taiwanese for an all-day fare, or about $1.72 US. I did mall stuff, yada yada.

I bought a toothbrush, some toothpaste, a flannel for my face
Pajamas, a hairbrush, new shoes and a case
I said to my reflection ‘Lets get out of this place’

I know very little about Taiwan other than the antipathy between it and China proper, despite their common history and current shared interest in capitalism.P1000600 Without Internet access I wasn’t able to read up in advance so we just drove around sort of aimlessly for a bit before heading back to the ship. I did stop in one old section of town on a vague mission to buy myself a watch (I’d left the one friends gave me at home, doh). The area had that “open storm drain” odor, as had the older parts of Yantian. There were no prices on the watches, and the proprietor was busy attending to another customer so I took my case of pre-bargaining jitters and bolted up the street for gawking. I don’t care what Anthony Bourdain says, street food looks risky; there could be duck’s pizzle in there. One older fellow was displaying a shallow pan of material that looked insectoid. Maybe if I had been hungrier. The driver is a music fan and put on a  Chinese singer doing Simon & Garfunkel hits in English on the way to the ship.

Shore leave is no way to see a city as large as Kaohsiung, which explains why none of the crew went to  town. We left after sundown and I again got to watch the process from the bridge. It was a warm night with a bright moon and I stood out on the bridge wings taking in the lights and fireworks over the city as the New Year celebrations continue through February 10.

About Saint Expedite

Retired early, then took a trip across the Pacific from Seattle by container ship. From China I stopped in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Holland, Denmark, England and Ireland before heading home to Puget Sound. This blog is an account of my travels. Write to me at SaintExpedite@frozenheads.net
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2 Responses to Kaohsiung, Taiwan

  1. Mark Bader says:

    Hows your scrimshaw coming along?

  2. Alas, seamen don’t do scrimshaw anymore. On their time off on board ship they watch pirated DVDs instead.

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