In Kaohsiung: Monkey Mountain - A Month in Taiwan - CycleBlaze

January 10, 2019

In Kaohsiung: Monkey Mountain

Back in those optimistic hours when we still planned to leave off our bikes at the train station last night, we made plans for how to spend our last day in Kaohsiung without bikes.  They would begin with an early morning walk to Monkey Mountain, a bit of coastal highland just north of the city.  Allegedly  the area is teeming with macaques, and they’re common enough that you can often just see them from the road, especially around dawn or dusk.  This sounded like a perfect way to start our last day.

But, of course, that’s not happening.  We still have our bikes, with the plan now being to carry them onto the train with us in our new bike bags.  The first order of the day is to find bike bags, so a morning monkey walk is out.  Rachael does her internet research well and has located a bike store that opens at 9, which is unusual - most bike stores here don’t open here until about noon, and remain open late into the evening. 

The bike store is about two and a half miles away.  We don’t know that they carry bike bags, but based on the gallery of photos on their website we’re hopeful.  There’s a second one a mile further on that we’ll try if the first one is unsuccessful.  I draw out a GPS route, Rachael curses that this is definitely the last one she’s loading, and we set off.

They have bags.  They’re pretty cool, really. They fold up into a breadbox shaped smaller bag that you can strap to your rear rack, so they’re easy to transport.  It’s a bit of extra weight, but they would work OK if you just took them along with you on a shorter tour.  We unfold one, eyeball it against our bikes to guesstimate whether they’ll fit, and decide they’ll do.  They’d better work, since they’re the only bag in stock.  They’re also reasonably priced - at 1000 TW$ apiece, it would only take two train rides like this for them to pay for themselves by avoiding the shipping fee.  We’ll take them back to Portland with us, toss them in storage, and maybe find some other time when they’re the right tool for the job.

I give up. What’s this? A back to the future vehicle?
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New bike bags, professionally installed!
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So far, so good.  We head back to the hotel, drop off the bags, and set off for a short ride to see some of the city highlights.  Our plan now is to take this ride, stop for lunch, and then head up to Monkey Mountain later in the afternoon.

Our bike ride through Kaohsiung is just OK.  We decide to follow a short loop along the waterfront I had mapped out a few days ago that follows the Love River down to its mouth, and then takes the ferry out to Cijan Island and back.  We haven’t really done any research on this, and don’t even know how often ferries run.  It’s a very narrow channel though, so I imagine it might be one of those that more or less continuously crosses back and forth.  We’ll just go and find out.

It’s an easy ride there, mostly on a bikeway that follows the MRT line.  There are parks, a dramatic new exhibition hall and views of the sea on the right, and some impressive hypermodern architecture on the other.  The city skyline is quite striking, and the city as a whole feels like it is redefining itself at warp speed.  The huge waterfront exhibition hall just opened four years ago, and the sprawling, elegant main train station that we biked to last night just opened in November.  

In many ways Kaohsiung is very attractive now, and much more so than it was described as when we were planning our first tour here and read of it as a large, dirty industrial expanse better avoided.  We skirted it completely last time by biking east into the foothills.  If we ever come back to Taiwan, I think we would come here and spend more time.  The only downside that I can see is the smog.  It’s quite bad today once you get away from the water, as it has been ever since we entered the coastal plain.

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A@

Separated again! The MRT comes between us briefly. Not nearly as scary this time though, and we’re soon reunited.
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Some of the newer buildings in the city have very dramatic, visually interesting structures.
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See through skyscraper
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Mommy, can I get down from this chambered nautilus now?
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Quit complaining, or I’ll toss you into that big blowfish next.
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The huge Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (KEC), opened in 2014, bills itself as the only multifunctional waterfront exhibition and convention center in Taiwan.
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Bright Future, the whale sculpture in front of the Kaohsiung Exhbition Center, represents the city’s jump onto the international stage as it transforms itself from its industrial past.
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The area around the ferry pier is very industrial, dirty, busy, not really bike friendly.  We have some difficulty finding the ferry, and first bike down a pair of gritty lanes that on our map look like they go to the waterfront but end at guarded industrial gates with watchmen shaking their heads at us and gesturing for us to turn around.

On our third try we succeed.  The ferry is in port, the deck open, unattended.  It’s a bit of an odd scene.  There is a schedule posted beside it though, with departure and return times and fees.  It looks like the next departure isn’t for another half hour, which is too long for us.   Also, the fee board indicates that we need change for the fare, and we don’t have any change with us.

So, we just turn back and head off to find lunch at a Starbucks near our hotel.  As we leave, a scooter pulls up, rides onto the ferry, drops some coins into a hopper, and parks.  A self-serve ferry!  

In case you’re thinking of going out to Cijan Island yourself, here’s the schedule.
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I love little ferries like this. I’m sorry it didn’t work out to take this one, but we have to leave enough day to see the monkeys.
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Monkey Island was everything we hoped it would be.  We thought we would bike up there, but when we mapped out the distance to the trailhead we were surprised to see that it was less than a mile and a half from our hotel near the Love River- an easy walk.  Much better than taking our bikes, finding a secure place to lock them up, and worrying about biking back in the early evening.

There are a number of footpaths that climb steeply up into the hills, but we just walked up paved the access road, hoping to get lucky.  We brought along mosquito repellant this time, in case we were to find skeeters around - Kaohsiung has the largest incidence of Denge Fever cases on the island.  Happily though, none were present this time.

Instead, we found monkeys (macaques, actually).  I was a bit skeptical of seeing any, and was just saying so when Rachael responded “Oh yeah?  Look in the road up ahead!”  A large guy sat squat in the road about fifty yards ahead of us.  We walked forward cautiously, and then soon were surrounded by monkeys and monkey watchers.  Dozens of monkeys of all sizes, swinging from trees, crashing though the brush, climbing on cars and into phone booths, cavorting with each other, cozying up to folks.  An amazing scene, and an unmissable sight.  The best way to wrap up our tour of the island that we could have imagined.  Don’t fail to watch the video!

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Shawn Anderson"Hey human... I'll adjust the focus if you can press the button so I can take a selfie!"
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5 months ago
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This man befriended us, asked how old we were, and congratulated us on our good health. At 75, he’s doing quite well himself. He said we have to come and visit his beautiful home city of Cape Town some day.
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On the way back to the hotel, we pass a steady stream of young folks walking up toward the mountain.  It has a reputation as the best place to watch the sunset, so that’s presumably where they’re headed.  We could have stayed for that ourselves, but we’ve seen our fill for the day already.  Returning to the room, cleaning up, and walking back to Belfort Bistro sounds more compelling than hanging around hoping for the perfect sunset.

Toy trucks and scooters
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Today's ride: 19 miles (31 km)
Total: 729 miles (1,173 km)

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Ron GrumbyThose macaques are amazingly agile.
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5 months ago
Jen GrumbyCool video! Made me wonder how old I was the last time I climbed a tree. 10 or 11, maybe?

Now I wish I could be a macaque for a day.

Great way to end the day in Kaohsiung!

Look forward to photos of the bikes inside their new bags.
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5 months ago