Lars Alfredson
Sat 13 Feb 2016 14:30

Ni hao and happy Chineese new year, the year of the Monkey.!

After zigzaging between about a houndred ships of various shape and size on the roads of what we later was told to be the biggest port in Taiwan and calling the Port Control without any success we steamed in to the port of Kaohsiung and found the marina just by the entrance.

A few minutes after we arrived a guy from the Coast Guard arrived, lifevest and all. To my question what we could do for him he just pointed at his phone and said something in Mandarin, I assume. Well we waited as we had promised our contact Peter and after a while said Peter arrived, introduced himself and told us he would fetch Immigration which he did.

The men surprised us all by starting with giving us a red envelope containig a lucky coin, a traditional Chineese way of whising Happy New Year. Equipped with our passports and a crew list he went to copy everything and returned after a while and that was it! Peter told us that we could go ashore, as customs and quaranteen would not show because of the holiday so we went ashore.

Our main object was to find an ATM and after a few failed attempts one at a 7-11 eventually accepted foreign cards. Next stop a wifi-eatery, preferably also serving beer. As you can't have all, especially in Mandarin you don't speak, we settled for a hamburger cafe without beer. However I stumbled on an American who spoke said lingo and he said I could go to the 7-11, buy a few beers and drink them with the burgers. Said and done and we had our beer with the burgers.

After lunch we headed towards the city centre and the Kaohsiung tower, an imposing skyscraper that reminded me of Stalin's five Moscow towers though a bit more cubistic and of course all glass. We, that is Lars and I, soon lost Lotta and Jontte, Darryl had gone his own way earlier, and strolled past dozens of different art exhibitions in the old harbour to the tower. After a bit of searching, we passed two about five ton jade Buddhas on the way, we found the elevator and rode up to the 75th floor in less than a minute!
The view over the three million city and especially the port and roads full of ships was impressing.

As the walk had taken a good hour we decided to take a taxi back. I asked a bellboy at the hotel entrance how much a taxi would be and we walked down to one at the corner and showed the man on a map where we wanted to go. The guy said yes and drowevstraight up to the bellboy and after a lot of Mandarin off we went. Eventually we ended up near the ferry terminal just opposite the boat and were happy with that, as well as the fare that was less than perdicted.

Dinner we had at a Korean place after a few dozen local eateries had beeb disqualified for different reasons, no wi-fi being the main. The food was ok and the Kirin beer palatable as well.

The following morning we took a ferry to the island separating the port from the Taiwan strait. As it was the New Years holiday the line was monstrous, but on the other hand the ferries ran at an about five minute interval so we got onboard after a reasonable time. The island, Cijin, used to be the fishing centre and is nowadays a humonguos tourist trap full of stalls selling mainly flattend squid in all forms of preparation, dried fish, hats and you name it. Every ten meters there was also a restaurent with all kinds of fish, lobsters, mussels etc on ice or alive in tanks. Despite my multitude of suggestions we should
have lunch at such a place, it came to nothing. Well you can't have it all and we
The eventually got some beers at the fishmarket and had one in the park listening to a female drummer who, actually was quite good.

After climbing up to the lighthouse, a load of uphill and about 150 steps, we took the ferry back and found a local eatery with very good food and ditto local beer. The rest of the day was spent, by the IT addicts, at Starbucks just by the boat. The surfing lead us at a goose chase for a couple of recommended restaurants, but after a good hour we gave up and went to a Japanese place with very nice food and ditto brew.

The following morning Peter turned up and told us we didn't need any customs or quaranteen so we were free to go, as we hadn't? Peter, whos surname by the way is, believe it or not is Pan, took Lars and me to a supermarket downtown. It turned out to be a Carrefour, the French chain you know, and French it was. It took us about half sn hour just to find the food department, but boy was it worth while. Everything from blue chicken feet to sixtyseven varieties of soda, but just six bottles of tonic (we are very low). Eventually I bought some fresh meat and chicken and some coffee for Lars who hates instant.

We took a taxi back, and this Charlie Chan was some driver fluent in Mandarin, but nothing else. His Roman and Moscow colleagues would have been half a block behind after just the first one. In about six and a half minutes the guy got us to the boat, a distance that took mr. Pan about 25! After some more Starbucking (I'd never been to on before, but have to admit their double expresso is ok, not Italian ok though) we waved good by to Kaohsiung and headed towards Keelung, but that 's another story.

Ps. Darryl, after having Starbucked a few hours on different occasions, suddenly announced he was going to jump ship and left for Taipei and presumably Calgary a few hours befor we shipped out, so now we were only four, but what a foursome!?

Kampai, Kenneth

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