A Whale of a time with Love and Happiness
Donny took us out for the afternoon and evening in Kaohsiung where we had a whale of a time with Love and Happiness. Read the blog and then you'll see what I did there!
Let me introduce Donny to you. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I connected with him on a Retired Budget Travellers Facebook group. He retired at the age of 39 over five years ago and now spends his time each year between Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Europe, mainly Poland and Hungary and popping back to Canada to see his family.
You may wonder how a young man has managed this. He has systematically invested in top Canadian stocks (Similar to the FTSE100) over 20 years, now benefiting from living off the dividends each year. Today he offered to show us around one of his favourite cities a bit more.
Before meeting up, we popped down to a local stall for lunch recommended by one of the staff at our accommodation who even wrote down in Chinese a vegetarian meal for us. Each time we visit this small eatery, the chef gives us extras – an egg, some seaweed, and pancake with our simple and delicious meal of noodles, bean sprouts and cabbage in a satay sauce – £4.50 for us both.
We picked up a public hire bike and cycled to meet Donny. First stop was over Happiness Canal, and then at the 300 years old Sanfeng Temple. It had some interesting statutes, contrasting between old and new!
We parked our bikes and walked to Sanmin Market. Most stalls were shut as it opens mainly in the mornings.
Tim did manage to buy a Zongzi, making sure it only had peanuts with the sticky rice wrapped in long bamboo leaves, rather than with customary pork. I had a taste but found it a bit bland.
The stall at the end of the market was more active than the rest put together. People were hopping off their scooters and filling trays with cake. We succumbed and ended up eating a custard tart similar to a Portuguese Nata.
The primary market that Donny wanted to take us to was an undercover Dried Food Market. We love to wander along these, trying to figure out what are some of the provisions. There were sacks of nuts, dried pulses and mushrooms galore, and we ended up buying Chinese Walnuts, Almonds and peanuts in shells at half the price of what we have been paying in supermarkets.
We crossed the canal again and by this time I was feeling hot and thirsty – the humidity is high here in Kaohsiung. I suggested we found a café to stop for a drink; I also wanted to get to know Donny more; it was difficult to talk much while cycling or walking.
We ordered some lemon tea and received a massive glass each. Well, that certainly quenched my thirst and gave us plenty of time to chat.
Donny shared more with us about how he stopped investing in his career, but in stocks instead so that he can have a life of travel. He was very generous in sharing his knowledge with us. And on Sunday he is freely giving a talk about “Stop Trading Your Hours for Dollars” for locals and other travellers – we got the practice version.
As well as investments, he is also interested in psychology and living a healthy life. In the last fortnight, Donny stopped eating meat, so you can imagine we had many things to talk about. It seems that we have read and watched similar books and videos. Mind you, looking at Donny’s list of books on his Facebook Album “2020: How many books will I read?”, this is mighty impressive. I counted 154 titles, including some books about speed reading. This may explain how he has read a book a day!
We discussed deep listening and trying to live an egoless life. We all laughed when I shared the story of when I returned to my corporate job after maternity leave many years ago and insisted I had the word “Manager” in my job title! We can all get caught up in creating and holding onto our identities. I can still get mildly irritated if people say we are on holiday or tourists rather than travellers!
As Wayne Dyer said “The ego is only an illusion, but a very influential one. Letting the ego-illusion become your identity can prevent you from knowing your true self. Ego, the false idea of believing that you are what you have or what you do, is a backwards way of assessing and living life.”
Tim and I both love conversations like this; it enriches us, gets us to reflect and ponder about our lives and how we can improve.
The light was fading fast, so time to move on as Donny wanted to take us to Love River, the main river of Kaohsiung. It plays a similar role as the River Thames with regards to economy and tourism.
Like the Thames, this river was heavily polluted with raw sewage and untreated industrial waste; however, the city government has thankfully managed to improve the water quality significantly.
I wondered how the river got its name of “Love”. According to my google research, people started to rename Kaohsiung River after a typhoon blew the part of the sign of “Love River Cruise” down, leaving it with the first two characters. I have also read that a young couple jumped into this river, killing themselves for love. I prefer the first reason.
As we walked along the Shigang riverside park, we were gifted with wonderful views of the city and the lights changing on Wufu 4th Road bridge, reflecting in the water. As we turned north, there soaring out of the river was a massive Whale!
We read a quote from one of the creators: “Whale in Love is 15 tons of plastic waste made into a 7-story-tall whale to serve as a powerful reminder of the 150 million tons of plastic still swimming in our waters”.
The creation was spectacular; however, does it really increase public awareness of the awful trash situation? It might for the local citizens who collected the plastic waste from Kaohsiung beaches and recycling programs. But for others? Personally, I think people need something that emotionally shocks them for behaviours to change. If they throw rubbish now, would seeing this amazing sculpture encourage them to rethink their actions? What do you think?
We were all getting peckish, so Donny took us to a great local stall where we could choose our vegetables and tofu, and it then gets cooked - fresh and wholesome. Afterwards, a quick jaunt around the touristy Luihe Night Market, but it was pretty quiet – no surprise there!
We certainly had a whale of a time here in Kaohsiung by the Happiness Canal and Love River. Much thanks, Donny.
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