Getting started in Kaohsiung

Welcome to Taiwan! Are you new to Taiwan? Did you just move to Kaohsiung? (高雄)
Here are my tips on getting started in Kaohsiung.
    1.    Visit 591 for housing.  This site is all in Chinese, however, it is the Number 1 stop if you’re looking for an apartment.  Get your Taiwanese friend to help you navigate.
    2.    Get your phone SIM CARD at the airport.  Trust me, it’s the easiest place to get one without hassle.
    3.    Department of Motor Vehicles will NOT give you a scooter license UNTIL one year after you live here.  Even if you have a valid ARC, they WILL not grant you a license.  You may get one after you possess your ARC more than 1 year.  This means, you’ll have to drive a scooter without a license during your first year!
    4.    Contact Louis for any scooter needs.  He provides fair deals.
    5.    We used to use Yahoo groups to post information, but Facebook changed all that.  Be sure to join FB groups for apartment search, roommate search, substitute teaching jobs, and permeant jobs.
    6.    If you are looking for private students, consider making a profile on MYU.  I found most of my private students on this site.
    7.    Couchsurfing Kaohsiung group.  Find the group on Facebook or the Couchsurfing site and meet some new friends
    8.    Visas – Remember, Canadians and British get a 90 day landing visa, but holders of these passports are allow a visa extension for an extra 90 days.  I’m not Canadian nor British, so please verify this information.
    9.    VISA RUNS – cheapest flights are to Macau or Hong Kong..via Tiger Air, TransAsia, and sometimes Eva Air has flights on sale.   For Taichung residents, there’s HK express
    10.    Get a cheap, used bike.  Copy and paste this address.  高雄市鹽埕富野路33號 Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.  Call them if you’re lost, it’s a little hard to find.  Phone 0932736663
    11.    Learn Chinese at NSYSU or WenZao.  Here is a list of all the Chinese Language Centers in Taiwan.
    12.    Join a Facebook group for job postings
    13.    Take some studio photos.  Print out a dozen of them.  You'll need it for everything.

 

Le Le Gu Hot Springs 樂樂谷溫泉 adventures

Train to 斗六, then find a way to 東埔 (dong pu).  Bus?  Train? Naaa, let’s hitchhike to 東埔.  It was almost dark by the time we reached 斗六, so we must travel away from the train station and head to the main road if we want to hitchhike.  I’ve NEVER hitchhiked in the dark.  Every hitchhiking trip, there’s always a fear before the first ride.  I’m uncertain if it’s a feeling of embarrassment or afraid of failing.  It’s smooth sailing after that.  You meet interesting characters along the trip — some wants you to find a place before it gets dark, dog food saleswoman, papaya truck drivers, etc….  Everyone is nice but also the majority of the Taiwanese thinks that Pin Chun and I are idiots.  They’ll often tell us that it is “impossible” to reach 東埔.  We are determined individuals and someone we know that it is “possible.”  We even soaked in hot springs when we got there!   Here we go.


CAR 1: Father and daughter – They were listening to English radio station.  And of course, the dad wanted her daughter to master the English language while living in Taiwan.
CAR 2: Crazy lady – She picked us up and insists that we need a find a shelter ASAP.  She insists that we should stay at a temple off the main road.  She took a detour and we were actually in front of the temple.  We just refused to go inside.  After a few minutes, she took us back to the main road.  She probably thinks that Pin Chun and I were CRAZY.
CAR 3: Papaya truck to 林內 – One of my favorite ride during this trip.   Once again, blue truck is my friend! Pin Chun would agree with me.  We love sitting at the back of a blue truck! 

 

 BLUE truck PAPAYA truck

BLUE truck PAPAYA truck

CAR 4: 帥哥 and family –  Took us to McDonalds drive thru and treated us to ice cream cone!  He had some sort of coupons.  Awesome. 

CAR 5: Dog food lady – took us to 水里.  She said it’s her first time picking up backpackers off the street.  She was very talkative.  We actually saw another hitchhiker!  That’s her below.

 

 DOG food saleswoman dropped us off at 水里

DOG food saleswoman dropped us off at 水里

CAR 6: Just a normal van that dropped us off at 7-11 on highway 21.

CAR 7: Another blue truck whom took us to the 東埔 intersection.

CAR 8: A very nice aboriginal who took us to the 東埔 church.
We spend the night sleeping in the conference room


TOTAL trip:  Around 6 hours and 8 different cars!

April 19, Saturday.  The hike to rainbow waterfall 彩虹瀑布 was nice but the waterfall is probably one of the ugliest in Taiwan.  Countless water pipes scattered along the trail all the way to the fall, where the “source” is located.  Apparently in a small town there are no regulations on how the pipes are placed.

 

 so sad.  So many pipes in the nature

so sad.  So many pipes in the nature

Luckily, we’ve waited for Serene and Rexy.  The entrance to 樂樂谷 is confusing, complicated, and there is probably no way to contact them if we did enter inside separately.

 樂樂谷 Let's go!

樂樂谷 Let's go!

There was a sign to the hot spring last time I strolled by, but the sign was taken down this time.  In addition, the sign states that there is no hot spring at the “split” and the trial is not passable.  I thought about it for a minute, I figured that I don’t believe that the path is not passable since I sees a clean path of the right, I decide to lead the group and go forward.  It’s the risk that I’m willing to take.  The path is slippery and steep, due to the fact that leaves are scattered along the trail.  Serene and Pin Chun slipped multiple times and I don’t even know how Rexy did this whole trail by flip flops.  The leader has to navigate and it definitely stresses me out and took a lot of energy from me.  It seems that the destination is unreachable.  There seems to be no end in sight.  When we reached the river, we have to cross it 7x to reach the destination.

 How can I go across?

How can I go across?

LOOK!  there’s steam!

It’s 6pm, it’s getting dark, it’s time to set up camp even if we can’t find it.  As I was crossing the river to check out a potential spring, Pin Chun hiked upstream..  She said “steam!”  We quickly grab our bags and head up, set up camp right across the hot spring.

Here’s what we saw after we were done with dinner — fireflies were prevalent, countless stars, and we even heard a deer(s) strolling around our tent.  The moon was extremely bright when I went out to pee in the middle of the night.

Was this trip worth it?  Most definitely.  Was it hard to get to?  For sure.  For the next 24 hours, I kept on telling people.  “You won’t believe where I just went to.”

What to see in Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge Bus:

Bus to Taroko Gorge cost $250NT round trip (hop on, hop off).  2 day pass cost $400NT round trip.  The schedule changes often due to construction, therefore, ask for the schedule at the bus station.  Best way to get there – Scooter.

If you want to rent a scooter, some shops will rent it to foreigners.  It depends.  They will hold your passport as a deposit and it cost around 500NT

I’m not going to post photos, go see it yourself!

1.  *Baiyang Trail – 5 km round trip, bring a flashlight, do not miss the Water Curtain Cave.  Easy

2.  Lu Shui Trail – 2 km one way, fairly easy hike

 

3.  Wen Shan wild natural hot spring (文山溫泉).  A bit difficult to climb down. 

4.  Swallow Grotto.  Lots of tourist visit this spot.  

5.  *Shakadang Trail – 4.3km one way.  Easy. Crystal clear water perfect for a dip.  Technically, you’re not suppose to swim in the water , but…. go on your own risk.

6.  *Wen Shan Lu Shui Trail – 5.5km one way.  Moderate difficulty.

*Zhuilu Old trail is a 10.3km, 6 hour one way hike (full length).  I’ve been in Taiwan for 5 years and the full length only opened once!  Most of the time, the trail is only open from the suspension bridge. (partly open)  Permit is required and you need to apply in advance.  Taroko National Park only permit 96 hikers per day on this trail.

 *There is a FREE campsite inside the Gorge.  It’s located in Lushui near TianXiang.  Water is available at the campsite.  If you’re considering this option, get a cheap tent at Carrefour!

*highly recommended