Backpacking in Taiwan: A Night Out In Kaohsiung

Backpacking in Taiwan: A Night Out In Kaohsiung

We caught a bus back to Kaohsiung from Kenting after an eventful day in Kenting and Eluanbi. We watched an awesome sun go down on Kenting beach on the south tip of Taiwan and then it was time to catch the sleepy bus to Kaohsiung. That’s where Natalja and I met Eva at Kaohsiung main train station. We had hoped to catch a late train or bus to Taidong (often written in English, wrongly as Taitung) or Hualien. But there were no more buses or trains after 11pm. The earliest train would be after 6 am, the earliest bus at exactly 5 am. That night in Kaohsuing, we stayed up all night. We had no real choice, wasnt much point in paying for a hostel for 5 hours, and by this time they’d be shut and full. Taiwan isnt exactly renowned for hostels. They are few and far between. We were aware of one in Kaohsiung, through my Lonely Planet Guide, the same hostel Neil had actually stayed in before. It was down by Love River. But we decided instead to stay up, go to the night market, then a few bars, then get a snack breakfast and then wait for the 5 am bus to Taidong. We would be on a bus/train/mystery tour up the East Coast on our route to Tailuga.

So it started at Kaohsiung Night Market. It was my third night market in Taiwan (I done Shinying and Tainan the previous week). This one was prettty much the same as the others. The stalls range from Hot Food to Tea to Clothing to Milkshake to Jewellery. They are totally random, a genuinely exciting part of Taiwanese culture and it is a total shame that places in the UK don’t have similar night markets. Everybody eats at home, everybody there goes to Tesco to do shopping. What a boring, predictable non-descript life. Here I was, one of only two foreigners in Kaohsiung market, loving the range of stalls, and eating my favourite new fruit again: DRAGON FRUIT. I LOVE IT!

I made some videos of the night market experiences over the last few weeks. They are a totally different way of life. Nobody twitches an eyelid at the gentleman squeezing his octopus to a pulp on one side of the street. While on the other a 13 year old boy coming zooming down on a scooter, stops to buy eggs rotted in tea and shoots off again. Duck face and chicken feet are a common feature of such night markets. I resisted to try either, but have indulged into pig skin, duck, chicken heart, chicken arse, goat and deer. Amongst other Taiwanese specialities which I’ve tried recently. I cannot praise the night markets and the food enough.

Next up, a walk by Love River (again) and we were searching for a bar called “New York”, Eva’s mate had told her about the bar, but we simply couldn’t find it. Which meant trying another few random bars for an early morning drink. It was gone 1 am and we had over 3 hours left to kill, in Kaohsiung. We found a bar called “Montana”, not the “New York” one we seeked, but another US style bar. In here however we experienced what Eva describes as “CRAZY MAN.” On entering a guy came over to us, shaking my hand and introducing himself. He was a local Taiwanese guy, probably around the age of 45 (but I’ll never know). He introduced himself as “Aw”, very random and weird for a start. He looked a bit pissed and had definitely had too many. He bought us all a drink, which was nice, and even gave me some sweet bread. He was crazy.

After a while he invited us all back to his place, wanted Eva to be his girlfriend and was basically a short term lunatic in our lives. I was enjoying the free beer though and was in no state to leave, despite the annoyance of “CRAZY MAN” who wouldn’t go away. Natalja and Eva got frustrated so in the end we had to leave. The memories of “CRAZY MAN” and the Montana Bar are locked in a time machine in October 2009 in Kaohsiung…Only Eva, Natalja and I experienced what is now “CRAZY MAN ONE” (Yes, readers there is a “CRAZY MAN TWO” coming up later, and he is also Taiwanese…) So a swift exit from that bar and we found the seemingly more normal “Bloody Mary” pub just up a few blocks. On entering we ordered 3 drinks. Mine in there was a San Miguel Beer. The girls didn’t like this pub either, though so we had to leave. The pub was pretty good. Live jenga, talkative staff and they let me charge my camera battery which was very low. Still in an instant we were gone. We ended up at Central Park for a few hours. Eva and I chatted. Natalja slept. Then we were off on our East Coast adventure. At 5 am we boarded our first bus of the day from Terminal 3 at Kaohsiung Bus Depot. The route – Kaohsiung to Taidong on the exact opposite side of the island. The dawn was breaking, we’d been up all night, so sleep was on the agenda for this leg of the journey…

Who went – Jonny Blair, Natalja Tsumakova, Eva Jun

Bars Visited – Montana, Bloody Mary





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