Friday, December 4, 2009
Unlike many places in Asia, Taiwan isn't known for it's amazing beaches, except, apparently, for one spot. That spot is Kenting, at the southern tip of Taiwan. I've lived for the past 4 months in disbelief of this legend though. That's because, up until last weekend, our only experience there was at our staff retreat, when the beach was stormy, murky and full of debris. I realized that it had only been a month since the typhoon but was still skeptical that the beach would be a place where you could actually go snorkeling, see lots of fish and play in the waves. How wrong I was.
During the Thanksgiving break, while all the USAers were attending obligatory Thanksgiving dinners, we decided to head down and give Kenting another try. We explored a number of accommodation options, including The Oasis, which is a guest house run by some OMF missionaries and is a place for missionaries to go and retreat. They offer simple rooms and meals if you want them. Some people had discouraged us from going there for various reasons, including the fact that it's not near the beach or town of Kenting (but only less than 10 minutes drive). Well, it turns out it was a great decision. There was only one other couple there so it was relatively quite, but the people running it were great, the food was interesting and the conversation enlightening. I actually even played a game (Stone Age) and enjoyed it. They had a great library, AV room, games room, trampoline and a guest kitchen where you could store your cooler stuff for the next day. They also made us bag lunches (meatloaf sandwiches for Isaac and I) to take to the beach. We would definitely go back.
We left relatively early on Thursday morning (short week of school, yay), stopping for an espresso by the beach on the way down. We got to Kenting around 10:00 and found Baisha (White Sand Beach) which is one that people recommended. It's strange because you drive down one of a number of driveways and park, apparently in someone's yard. The first day we didn't pay, the second day we did. We rented 4 chairs and a big umbrella (for 9 bucks) and headed down to the sand. We were blown away. It was second only to Napili Bay in Maui (not that we have been to that many beaches) and totally deserted. The middle was rougher than the edges, which were clear and good for snorkeling, but was fun for playing in the waves, tossing around the old pigskin. It was just like being back in Hawaii. We spend 3 or 4 hours there (unfortunately I didn't use enough sunscreen and got burnt.
We headed back to Oasis and got our stuff organized and then headed to town to buy a few things. We returned for dinner (meatloaf) and then played our 3 hour game of Stone Age.
The next day, we met the Muirs and the Harrisons at "Secret Cove." It's a hard to get to snorkel spot that is very sheltered but leads out through channels, to deeper and more interesting (yet rougher water). Admittedly, it wasn't Honolua Bay but it was better than most spots we've been to and definitely worth going back to. After a bit, the kids all wanted to go back to Baisha so we did and had another amazing time there. We were sitting on the beach, laughing and playing in the tropical water and wondering how we had missed 4 months of weekends when we could have been coming down. We definitely plan on returning more often. We headed to Oasis for showers and then down to the village for dinner and night market. We were bagged when we got home.
The next day we headed home but not before first, heading down to hike to the southernmost tip of Taiwan (and saw the world's largest green soccerball). We then went to the National Museum of Marine Biology. Wow, amazing fish, walk through underwater tunnels and even a whale shark. It was amazingly put together, and had its own Starbucks.
The trip home was interesting, and a story in and of itself (see next blog).
What a great way to spend a holiday. We came back planning to return often. Even for the day.