Here's an interesting story that happened a few weeks ago. We went to Cijan Island with the Michaels (Tim teaches middle school English at MAK). Cijan Island is a long stretch of land which forms the outside of Kaohsiung Harbour (check it on Google Earth). We were told that you can rent bikes there for cheap and bike the length of the island. We wove our way through Kaohsiung (Kathy is an expert navigator...actually both of them are and have lived here long enough that they have a ton of places to show us) and arrived at the (sorry about the long bracket comment earlier) ferry dock. It's only about a 5 minute ride by ferry but saves a 20 km drive through traffic. Now, I had expected Cijan Island to be this strip of beach with a few hot dog stands on it.....but no. It's just as crowded as any other part of the city but has tons of little narrow alleys and strange doorways (see below). Lined up waiting for the ferry were hundreds of scooters.
When we got to the other side (after great views of the 85 Building (look it up) we found some very cool shops, 7-11 and this amazing little seafood restaurant (amazing in the kinda scummy, pick your seafood live from buckets in front, sit beside a loud bunch of betelnut chewing, beer swilling Chinese men, don't touch the faucets in the bathroom sort of way). We would never have gone there if it hadn't been for the Michaels who are way more adventurous gastronomically. We actually had a pretty good, custom cooked seafood meal (Janice and Makena ate rice and veggies mostly) including a nice Taiwanese beer, for 7 people, for about 15 bucks. Wow.
Forgot to mention that we had picked up bikes. Makena and I got a tandem. $3 per bike for the day. Our bike was kinda rickety but Janice's was really cool. Anyway, there were lots of cool things to see on the island, including a lighthouse where you can see just how narrow a channel the huge ships come in through. One surprising thing was (okay, not so surprising now that I think about it) was how beat up the beach was. Tons of driftwood (we availed ourselves of a few pieces) and sand that had come up over the paths. I think the actual beachfront is usually quite beautiful but it just took a long time to clean up from Marokot.
That was quite a long intro to the title story. We stopped to check out the beach and found 3 United Statesian (don't say American after listening to this, which we sang for the "Americans" at PFO (Listen)) who were the only people actually lying on the beach suntaning (most people don't consider it a swimming beach as it's right along the shipping lane). As I walked up, Tim was talking to two guys and Isaac was talking to the other guy. All of them were holding these 2 litre Heinekens (and it showed). As Makena and I walked up the guy was telling us that they have just arrived from the States (but didn't have jobs) and have come over as English teachers (with a political science degree) and was wondering if Isaac knew where the good clubs were???? (perhaps his second or third Heineken). We started talking about how nice the people were and he agreed, saying that he's heard that the taxi drivers who drive you home from the clubs when you're totally drunk (thanks, I wanted Makena to hear that) will actually take you to your hotel room and put you to bed and only take what they're owed from your wallet. Then he said (and this is the best part) that he'd already learned two words: Ni Hao (which is correct) and "shee shee" (which is totally the wrong way to say thank you. Makena looks up at him and says: "Um, no. It's actually xie xie (prounounced perfectly)." I was so proud of her, first because they are both getting really good at Chinese and second because she actually schooled the Heineken guy (very politely).
The rest of the day was fun and interesting and definitely worth another trip.