Autour du Lotus Pond et Rueifeng Marché de Nuit
Dragons, Tigers, Giant Gods and French men were the focus of today. We visited the Lotus Lake, surrounded by glorious Pagodas and Pavilions and then met our buddy Donny for a stroll around Rueifeng Night Market.
It is very easy to get around Kaohsiung; the metros are regular, cheap and immaculately clean. However, for today's trip, the metro station was a hot and humid 25-minute walk away from one of the main tourist destinations – The Lotus Pond.
We reached the 1.4km artificial pond feeling hot and sweaty and wished we'd brought our swimwear. There on the Lake was a Wakeboard Park. With various draglines, these took boarders around the water without the need of a boat. What a great idea – snowboarding on water. Would I have had a go if I had my bikini? I think so, however reading a young lady's review of the place, her arms ached for three days afterwards. At least it would have been refreshing in the water.
We stood watching young people whizzing past us – they made it look so easy. One guy saw us and immediately showed off, exaggerating his athletic moves.
The Lake is renowned for its many Lotus Flowers – no surprise there, and we had come just at the end of the flower season. A few weeks earlier, we can imagine that the view would have been amazing. As we walked around the Northwest side of the Lake, we could see vibrant pagodas and statues dotted along the waters' edge.
First was the Dragon and Tiger Pavilions; no subtlety here! In front of the Pagodas and the massive dragon and tiger statues was an empty zig-zag bridge, which, probably just six months ago would have been full of people queuing. We crossed it and entered the dragon's mouth, reading a sign that said: "Entering a dragon's throat and coming out a tiger's mouth symbolises turning bad luck to good fortune". Let's hope that we have good fortune and don't have our 3rd flight cancelled on 1st July back to the UK!
The illustrations on the walls of filial piety were quite disturbing with people being tortured; however, the Tiger tower had much nicer paintings of the 12 Magi.
We climbed the seven stories of the Dragon Pagoda to a fabulous view of the Lake and surrounding area. Also, being up close to the decorations adorning the tower, similar to those on many Temples, was fascinating. It seemed that a little bird was also enjoying the scenery.
Just a short walk along the shore was the Spring and Autumn Royal Pavilion. The Goddess of Mercy was standing on a colourful dragon with two other statues, whoever they were.
We spent ages watching a bale of turtles (yes, I did have to look this up) in the half-moon pond at the front. There was one with, what looked like, a stone inserted in its shell and another one that took ages to climb up onto a platform, and we both cheered when it finally achieved it!
We entered another dragon's mouth and over a bridge to a Pagoda for a well-earned rest in the shade.
The next place, Pei Chi Pavilion was my favourite. At the end of a long tiled bridge was an enormous 72m statue of the Taoist deity Xuan Wu "God-Emperor of the North Pole" which claims to be the highest water statue in South East Asia. What a beard! And the colours were so vibrant.
Our last stop was the Confucius Temple, which, I found it a bit mundane after the flamboyancy of what we had already seen. The place was closing so we just had a quick look in the main Dachend Hall. The architecture is based on the Hall of Supreme Harmony of Beijing's Forbidden City.
Time was ticking on; we were meeting Donny later, so walked to the nearby metro station, another 20-minute walk. We just reached it as the heavens decided to open. Donny was taking us to his favourite Night Market, Rueifeng, the largest in Kaohsiung.
After a drink, while waiting for the rain to stop, we entered the market with sweet and savoury smells coming from the many stalls creating narrow pathways, quickly zooming past the stinky tofu stalls. The more I smell these, the worse it gets.
Donny explained what some of the foods were made from, and we tasted a glutinous sweet concocted from rice flour, I chose the chocolate flavour, and Tim had a peanut one. It was pleasant but not something we would eat again.
Suddenly a stallholder called out to Donny, and they greeted each other warmly in French. We stood chatting for a bit, even with me practising my French! This friendly chap, Nico was from Paris, and he met his Taiwanese partner, Cheng Pei while travelling in Australia. They have lived in Taiwan for a few years, baking and selling Chocolate brownies and French crepes, including rainbow crepe cake, layers of different coloured crepes piled on top of one another. It looked amazing.
We did return to their stall later for a treat with Tim enjoying a pancake, and I had an orange brownie, which was delicious but more like dark chocolate fudge. Surprisingly, after all that chocolate, I had a good night's sleep!
Later a guy called out to us – another French guy from Marseille, who recognised us while we were walking to the Lotus Pond. We remembered him, well, more so his dog, who had quite a comical face. Later, we met his boss, another French guy. What's with all the french here?
Our conversation started to get political, and the boss was getting rather animated. I was too tired for this, so after changing the subject, we quickly carried on our tour of the market. C'est la vie!
Tim and Donny were getting hungry and found a stall where they could choose their ingredients to be cooked on a massive hot plate. I was hanging out for my chocolate brownie!
It was the first time Donny had been to the market as a non-meat eater, and he was pleased that he could find quite a few meals to eat here in the future.
It was getting late; it had been a long day – time to say au revoir et à demain.
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