There was a buzz at breakfast this morning. Sitting at the stern of the ship at a table with friends in my favourite outdoor location, several of them had seen the same submarine as my hero and I had seen from our balcony earlier.
Actually, there were lots of ships around – I counted 45 not including our own as we set sail this evening) because Kaohsiung is the home of the Republic of China’s Naval service (that’s the ROC not the PRC, ok?)
Stepping out onto the balcony as we approached the port we saw pleasant suburbs where people were enjoying the early morning air as much as we were ourselves.
But these pleasant suburbs soon gave way to the port proper, where cranes and containers rule.
And where ships lie at anchor for who knows how long whilst we manoeuvre past them and make our way to the Kaohsiung Cruise Terminal.
With a little help, of course.
We headed through a quiet ship to the theatre to collect tickets for today’s tour. Where was everyone?
Passing quickly through the immigration halls, I snapped this picture quickly, having no idea who any of those three people are. But isn’t that a lovely smile?
From our tour bus, we caught a little look into life in Kaohsiung.
But pulled up shortly afterwards at a kind of lakeside park where the concrete, artificially created landmark overshadowed the real, genuine Kaohsiung.
The dried up “lake” (reservoir) was neither attractive nor interesting, and yet that was where our hosts wanted to take us, to show us “places of interest” when actually, several of us would have far rather been in some grotty street or other that had real life in it.
Which is probably why we loved to see the men playing cards. Simple, real, genuine. We exchanged greetings – we said Ne Hau to them, they said Hi to us!
We loved the water lilies too – I think they are water lilies and not lotus blossoms, anyway?
In the meantime, the heat was building and some were getting tetchy.
Now, our guide was not of the most professional we’ve come across, but he was doing his best and he could speak way better English that I could speak Chinese, that’s for sure.
Had I been working, doing an observation, I might have commented on his command and control, maybe referring to the pace he set and failed to maintain.
But I was doing none of that, I was merely getting irritated by the others in the group who began to dissent; to pay scant attention to his advice and instruction and to start to rebel and question him.
A visit to a temple (real) redressed some of the issues although this particular place was soulless and lacking in any atmosphere.
I contented myself with taking photos of the joss papers and other offerings, bundled up for sale.
We were all relieved when the call to move on came, though some muttered when we walked back the way we’d come. Nevertheless, different men playing different games…come on!
Back to the concrete monstrosities, then and a few more “fairy tales” about them.
Except that, whilst some were mooching around a concrete dragon or something, others had spotted a real temple, with so much more of interest there.
More colour, pattern and detail – guess who couldn’t wait to get a closer look?
It was actually the next stop on our schedule and a few of us were champing at the bit, dying to get over to that side of the road and get a closer look.
When we did, we were richly rewarded.
The more so inside, where colour and pattern had been used with abandon
A couple of us threw the segment shaped stones and had the results interpreted. I should beware a family member who smiles openly but who secretly has a knife inside waiting for me.
This all took time of course.
But it was surely more interesting than mooching around a concrete dragon?
Eventually we left the temple and made our way back to the bus when the first signs of mutiny crept in.
Yes, it was hot. No, the areas we were driving through were not the most photogenic nor were they of special interest. Yes, some were starting to get hungry. But hey, we were in a new city, we had a guide who was doing his best in spite of “noises off” and we knew the programme before we signed up for it.
So when we arrived at the fish market, we dug our heels in and overrode those who wanted to return straight to the ship. After all, why did we come here?
The goods on sale were the same on every stall – mostly dried fish, some of which looked surprisingly like liquorice allsorts.
Dried sharks fin, salt salmon – it was all there and having naiively accepted the offer of a free sample of what looked like preserved ginger, I’m ashamed to say I didn’t swallow it when I discovered it was actually fish cartilage which came from shellfish, holding flesh to shell, so to speak. Chewy? Yes! Could I be bothered? No!
We returned to our bus and noticed a ticket attached to the wiper blade. Was it a parking ticket?
Well, yes, it was. It showed how much we’d paid and for how long we could stay in that particular place. We hadn’t broken the law…
As we sat waiting for the stragglers to arrive, we noticed the strange phenomenon with the sun I mentioned in my last post. Tomorrow, we are at sea and I think there are more than a few cranky old folks who could use a rest.