Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chinese New Year Vacation in Kaohsiung

On May 18th 2011, I put up a blog post called “You scream, I scream, we all scream for... garbage anyone?”. In that post, I mentioned how happy we were to be changing accommodations because for six mornings out of seven, we woke to the not-so-pleasant sound of jack-hammers being operated not-more-than 20 meters from where we were sleeping. I was pretty bitter by the end of that week. Pretty bitter, pretty jaded, pretty grumpy, pretty soured, and pretty cantankerous... BUT IT WAS ALL FOR A REASON!!! 

Eight months later, Amanda and I decided to return to Kaohsiung for the week of Chinese New Year. We get a week off for CNY and neither Amanda nor I have taken any vacation days since we started in teaching in August, so the break from work is most welcome! 

When searching for accommodation in KH I found a new hostel listing that looked to be just what we were looking for and in an area with which we are familiar. The website seemed to suggest that it was very near to the hostel which we had stayed at in May 2011, but it wasn’t until we got here and saw it with our own eyes that we realized it was in fact the very building that was being constructed right next to us as we slept just a little less than a year ago. 

We are currently staying at Harbor 60 Hostel and it is beautiful. Being abruptly woken by those jack-hammers now seems strangely worthwhile. Eric, the hostel owner is incredibly friendly and helpful. The hostel is clean, new, well furnished, modern. We really can’t say enough good things about it and we have already agreed that when we next return to KH overnight we will plan to stay here again. 

Our first day in KH, we immediately set about trying to find a scooter rental store that we would be able to rent us a scooter. We were able to arrange something through FAST Scooter Rentals, which we located on the website English in Taiwan. 

We also stopped in at some of our favorite haunts for lunch (Muddy Waters - next to Āozǐdǐ Forest Park 凹仔底森林公園) and dinner (Amy’s Taiwanese Cuisine). 

At the end of the night, we met up with our good friend Stanley who showed us around Sanfonzon Street Night Market - a special night market that is open for only five days during Chinese New Years week. 

The night market was absolutely bustling and easily as busy as Fongjia in Taichung or Shilin in Taipei on a Friday or Saturday night. There was a veritable plethora of different sweets, snacks, spices, teas, meats and toys available at Sanfonzon. With so many vendors selling the same traditional items in one place, the many booths had varying degrees of advertising tactics, like free samples and balloon animals. One sweet jelly booth even went so far as to hire two young women to shriek and drag people over to their shop - the girls went absolutely crazy when they saw Stanley with a pair of foreigners! There were also lots of New Years charms and decorations available to purchase, and though we were warned by Stanley that we won’t be rolling in riches this year (because we disrespected the God of Fortune by asking “Who’s that funny little man meant to be?”) we still managed to have a great time.  

After the night market, Stanley took us to a nice quiet café, Donutes, where we enjoyed something to drink, a slice of cake, and some Chinese jokes, very well told to us by Stanley in both Chinese and English.

Amanda at Aozidi Forest Park
Lunch at Muddy Waters
Smoked chicken & gouda on ciabatta with vegetables and a reduced red wine dressing.
Orea Cheesecake
Amanda at Jhongjeng Park
Imperial Spring Rolls
Beef & Vegetables Fried Rice
Sweet & Sour Pork
Kung Pao Chicken
After Dinner, we went for a walk along the Love River
The Water Dragon, Love River & Ambassador Hotel.
Sanfonzon Street New Years Night Market
Apparently people go candy crazy during Chinese New Years!
Assortments of fried cookies, dipped in honey and covered with seeds or nuts.
A little similar to Turkish delight, but much more gelatinous.
Various roots, herbs and spices.
The night market was absolutely bustling.
Our good friend Stanley!

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