Monkey Watching and Ferrying to Cijin Island

On Monday, January 29th, we spent the day exploring Shoushan National Nature Park
(壽山國家自然公園) located to the west of the city. There are trails, small beaches, scenic lookouts, temples, and historic landmarks. It’s also a natural habitat for monkeys, poisonous snakes, squirrels, and stray dogs.

This is a small beach on the west side of the university, called Sizihwan Scenic Area 西子灣風景區. Unfortunately, you cannot swim here and there is a guard patrolling the beach to enforce it.
Along the breakwaters of the harbour located south of the beach, you’ll find locals fishing even though its prohibited.  There is a gate you need to climb in order to reach this area, but nobody seems to be enforcing this.

From the beach, we walked towards the Liberal Arts campus and found a trail that runs behind the university. Along this trail, you’ll most definitely spot a few rock monkeys which are native to the area and are known to be aggressive if they suspect you have food. If they hear the sound of plastic bags, they are not shy to take the whole bag from you.

 

We followed the trail south towards the Kaohsiung Martyrs’ Shrine where there is a scenic lookout of the city and harbour. It was a foggy day with light showers though I’m sure some of the haze is from the smog.

Just south of the Martyr’s Shrine, you’ll find yourself in the Hamasen area (哈瑪星), part of the Gushan District. The name, Hamasen, is Japanese for ‘beach railway line’ and it reflects the period of Japanese occupation in Taiwan from 1895 to 1945. The Japanese had built this location to be the intersecting point of the city’s harbour and railway line. It was used to export commodities from all over Taiwan back to Japan. Tropical fruits such as bananas and mangos were kept in the nearby warehouses waiting to be loaded on ships. You  can pick up an English map here to explore the area.

We walked towards the Gushan Ferry Point to take a short 10 minute ferry ride to Cijin IslandMany families like to take a day trip to Cijin Island on the weekends so if you don’t like crowds, try to go on the weekdays.
Located a block away from the ferry terminal is this famous shaved ice shop called 渡船頭海之冰. They are famous for their kitchen sink sized bowl of shaved ice that you can order which will feed more than 10.
This is a typical taiwanese shaved ice dessert which consists of a mountain of shaved ice (finer than a snow cone), a brown sugar syrup, and homemade toppings such as red beans, green beans, soft peanuts, taro root, tapioca, and herbal jellies. One of my favourite things to eat when I visit. The ones you find outside the country just won’t be the same as it will usually be made with canned ingredients.

Arriving on Cijin Island

Along the northwest side of Cijin Island is a long stretch of beach with a small section of surfable waves. You can see all the surfers crowded together on this tiny stretch of ocean. We talked to one of the surfers who rents his boards from this shop (look for the one with a bar) in the north end of the island at a rate of $300 NT per half day ($10.20 USD). I think we’ll try and go back on a warmer day.
This is a view on the north end of the island right where the breakwater begins.
There is a lighthouse with a great view for watching cargo ships enter the Kaohsiung harbour.
Once you step off the ferry, continue walking on Miao Qian Road (廟前) and you will find yourself in the Cijin Old Street (旗津老街) which is filled with food and souvenir vendors.
This is the most bazaar taiwanese snack, a savoury peanut ice cream burrito (花生卷冰淇淋). It starts with a thin wheat crepe, shaved salty peanut brittle (large block pictured top), cilantro (why?), taro ice cream, more peanut brittle, and rolled into a burrito. I was not hungry or adventurous enough that day to try it. Saving it for another occasion.
Here is a family run street vendor selling fried fish cake with a slice of boiled egg inside. Fish cakes of all shapes, types (of fish), and preparations are common in Taiwanese cuisine because fish is abundant.
Tomato is eaten like a fruit after a meal or in the afternoon. This vendor serves it with a thick, sweetened soy sauce, ginger puree, and dried plum powder.
Here’s a grandma selling a popular snack of chewy malt sugar (maltose) sandwiched between ritz crackers.

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