I initially went to Kaohsiung planning to check the city for half a day then spending most of the two full days I will be there seeing Kenting and Little Ryukyu. However, I ended up doing this in reality: spending two full days in Kaohsiung and seeing neither Kenting nor Little Ryukyu.
It’s all because of Usagi’s fault, that super typhoon shiznit. I hate you with a semi-passion.
On the bright side, I was immensely surprised with Kaohsiung in a way that I did not expect nor think about. I was very much surprised with how different the Taiwanese in Kaohsiung are compared to the locals here in Taipei. It was an experience I wish I could have captured in photos but I cannot. Or maybe I can but it just seemed too weird to have photos taken of all these awesome random people I met. Or maybe again I was just being too self-conscious.
I bet they’d like it.
|Kaohsiung locals are very friendly. They do not discriminate, as you can obviously see.|
Before I went ahead with this trip, I didn’t know that a super typhoon was also planning to visit the southern tip of Taiwan during the moon festival break. Good thing that Usagi was a latecomer so I had time to enjoy Kaohsiung before she spoils the fun. The sudden change of plans challenged my time management skills. I had to hustle and bustle around the city in a span of 36 hours. It was all good though but next time, I’m going to make sure no typhoon’s going to be a party pooper.
Going to Kaohsiung
When you say southern Taiwan, perhaps Kaohsiung is probably the first city that locals would have in mind. Kaohsiung is the only other city aside from Taipei that has its own MRT system here in Taiwan which is why I decided to start my Tour Out of Taipei in this municipality.
I took the HSR from Taipei Main Station to Zuoying Station. The ride cost me 1,430 NTD one-way and took only two hours. It was the second fastest way of getting to Kaohsiung from Taipei, with the fastest being a plane ride. You can also go to Kaohsiung via the regular train or a bus but those trips can last from around four to eight hours.
|This is why booking advanced tickets is highly recommended especially if your HSR trip falls on a holiday.|
|Check out your train’s platform number on this LED screen, right in front of the ticket gates.|
|Make sure you enter the right HSR car, as indicated on your HSR ticket.|
Before riding the HSR, I suggest you grab those lunch boxes over at 7-eleven or a nearby lunch box store. Because the day of my trip coincided with the first day of the long moon festival holiday, other passengers probably beat me to the lunch boxes that are conveniently sold right beside the HSR gates.
|The traditional Taiwanese lunch box or “bian dang” consists of pork chop, an assortment of vegetables, and white rice.|
Bringing food and drinks are allowed inside the HSR. I would suggest you bring in your own baon, though the HSR also has its own menu where you can order food from. But the prices are a bit more expensive.
|Don’t forget to also check the seat number on your ticket
and please don’t be a wuss, taking other people’s seat.
The ride was a breeze, with a couple of other stops at Banqiao (also in Taipei) and Taichung before finally reaching Zuoying. By the way, Zuoying is another district inside Kaohsiung.
|Inside the Zuoying HSR station.|
From the Zuoying HSR station, the nearest MRT station is just a few minutes walk away. You can easily find it because the Zuoying HSR station has English signs all over the place and arrows that you can just follow.
|Kaohsiung: The Rising Power of Asia|
When I got to Zuoying MRT station, I decided to get the 3-day pass instead of the usual MRT card. The reason being that the pass allowed me to have unlimited ride access to MRT, buses, and the ferry from Gushan to Cijin for 3 days, counting from the day you bought it. It costs around 300 NTD but there’s also a day pass which costs around half of that. You can also choose to get the usual MRT card but like with the Taipei EasyCard, there’s a 100 NTD deposit on top of the actual 100 you can use whenever you ride the MRT and you’ve got to reload it as often as needed depending on the current amount and distance you need to cover.
Getting Around Kaohsiung
Before I started with the trip, I printed out maps and maps and blog posts I got about the places I wanted to visit. I suggest you do the same. While Kaohsiung is tourist-friendly with its English signs, public transport, and the people themselves, it’s still best if you have a map on hand to help you navigate on your own. Just ask for one from the Information Counter or Ticket Booths inside any KMRT station.
|If you’ve already been through Taipei’s MRT, then the KMRT will be easy-peasy for you.|
Kaohsiung has these available modes of transportation: MRT, bus, taxi, and ferry. Surprisingly, just outside of Zuoying MRT there are shops and shops of scooter rentals which you can also try but you need a license to be able to rent one. According to my Taiwanese colleague, you also need to get a permit from Taipei to be able to use your driver’s license here in Taiwan. But I think it’s pretty easy and would be accomplished in half a day.
If you are going to Kaohsiung, I highly recommend you stay within Zuoying because it’s where the HSR station is and very close to its own MRT station and TRA station too. Coach buses going from Kaohsiung to other cities in Taiwan are also near the Zuoying MRT station. There are plenty of hotels and hostels nearby, among which is where I stayed–the 5-minute walk from the MRT station, Single Inn.
Staying at Single Inn
I found the place I stayed in via Booking.com and Single Inn is one of the recommended hostels for backpackers. The place wasn’t that hard to find and the maps I got are quite accurate, though it still took me almost 2 hours to find the place. Why? Because my location skills are built for getting lost. My internal GPS is nada, zilch, null. That is why you shall never rely on me to find a new place. The chances of me messing up is almost 100%. BUT I kind of like it because getting lost makes me discover lots of things and places and new levels of patience.
|And there in the middle of the traffic lights and post was Single Inn’s sign…HALLELUJAH!|
Single Inn can be found along Linsen Road within a sort-of alley that’s a bit unassuming. It’s like Single Inn almost didn’t belong there or was a highlight along that alley which sort of reminds me of a typical Pinoy subdivision’s street.
The hostel is located at the basement so once you enter the sliding doors, you need to go down the stairs to find the reception area.
|THERE IT IS FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY AFTER 2 HOURS!!!|
True to its name, the Single Inn are strictly for single people…literally. The rooms are created for just one person. The women’s quarters are separate from the men’s. Well, you can also choose to stay here with your partner if you want a bit of excitement that means not seeing each other for the rest of the night and being all Romeo and Juliet by the restaurant or the common area for internet access.
|Before going inside the Women’s Area, you will need to leave your shoes in a locker and change to this pair of slippers. By the way, these are disposable and are thrown after you checkout from Single Inn.|
|You’ll need your room key’s sensor to enter into the sleeping area.|
If you want to see more photos, I suggest you look around their website. How the place looks like in reality is not far from the photos they have posted online. The bathroom and shower areas, though shared, are always kept clean and well-maintained.
|Common shower stalls inside the Women’s bath area. It’s got hot and cold water plus shampoo and body wash in the dispensers. There’s also a holder on the right side for your towel/clothes/personal toiletries.|
Aside from the shower stalls, the Women’s bath area also has a couple of hot spring pools and a sauna room.
If you choose to explore Kaohsiung on your own or with friends but you are on a tight budget, this is a hostel that you can consider.
However, I would personally recommend that you stay in a hotel instead if you can spend a bit more. Why? I didn’t sleep well during my stay here because the walls of my room are made of wood and are not soundproof. Being the light sleeper that I am, I found myself constantly waking up to the sound of footsteps, doors opening/closing, locks clicking, and people chatting.
But whatever it lacks for soundproofing it surely makes up for in amenities. My room was stocked with bottled water, one small and one big bath towel, a headset for the TV, LCD TV with cable, headset, very comfortable fluffy pillows and comforter, nice clean sheets, a pair of sleepwear, tissues, toothbrush with toothpaste, and a shower cap.
|The ones on the left side of my room key and sensor are the breakfast vouchers, redeemable from 7AM until 10AM during the next two days of my stay.|
|You need to plug in the headset on the port of this wall to hear the sounds from the LCD TV.|
Even the common areas are stocked with toiletries such as shampoo, liquid bath soap, tissues, hand soap, hand lotion. The common dressing area also has a couple of blow dryers and a nearby water dispenser with tea bags.
For 800 NTD a night, I think it’s worth it. I mean, soundproofing aside you actually get more than what you paid for. Plus, the 800 NTD/night already includes a breakfast the following day.
|This is the daily breakfast which you can pair with either coffee or tea.|
But another downside too is that you get the same kind of breakfast. Every. Single. Day.
If I stayed there a third day, I don’t think I’ll be using the breakfast voucher anymore. If I do, I might ask a permanent restraining order against ham and cheese, not even a whiff of it within 10 meters, for the rest of my life.
To be continued…