Kenting: Glorious Gorges, Bountiful Butterflies and a Giant Frog
Days 881 – 882
Kenting National Park is so varied: white-sand beaches and rugged fossilised coral coastline, forests, mountains, glorious gorges and wildlife, We went off and explored some of its delights this weekend.
Before we set off exploring, we popped into our local vegetarian restaurant for an early lunch. It's one of our favourite places. A great budget meal as we pay per weight of our plates adorned with a wide array of delicious dishes. The restaurant walls are covered with painting and we were thrilled, at last, to meet the artist. I asked him to pose in front of my favourite painting of his, which reminds me of a Monet.
Fed and watered, with our trusty Easy Card (which we can use on the majority of transport systems throughout Taiwan), we caught the bus to Kenting. After wandering around the bustling small town spotting various unique sites, we came to the entrance of The Kenting Youth Activity Centre. From looking at the map, this was the only place that had decent walks along the coastline here.
The Activity Centre looked run down, if I hadn’t researched it, I would have thought it had closed, but apparently, it is still taking bookings for its 100 bedroom facility.
Tim led the way and found a tree-lined deserted path which took us around the back of a massive rock over 60m tall and then realised it was Cingwashih, otherwise known as Frog Rock as it resembles a frog jumping into the sea. Signs and barriers now stop people from climbing it for safety reasons.
We reached the coastline, no golden sand here or people. Instead, we meandered through coral reefs and spending an enormous amount of time trying to capture photos of butterflies and a few birds.
It was fascinating noticing the weird shapes and imprints of the fossilised coral, shells and other marine life, suddenly spotting wiggly patterns in the rock and the numerous holes made from thousands, if not millions of years of sea and wind erosion.
At the end of the walk, we came to a small bay with families enjoying the aquamarine water, what a shame we didn’t bring our beach gear.
Still on the sea theme, in the evening, Tim found a local fish restaurant with great reviews on Google maps. He pointed to a photo on his phone of a Combo meal, and we were pleasantly surprised with the price. With soup, two side dishes, a seaweed cone with salad and fish eggs, fresh prawns, skewered bbq squid balls and a board full of sushi, we were stuffed by the end of the meal. The place must be good as they sold blowfish; a Japanese delicacy called Gugu, which is more poisonous than cyanide. The smallest mistake preparing it could be fatal. I’m glad that wasn’t included in the combo!
Day 882 – the next day, we got to the bus station for the 8248 bus, the only one to the Kenting National Forest Recreation Area which runs just three times a day. Before climbing aboard, our temperature was taken. Everyone now has to wear a mask on all public transport; otherwise, they will be fined up to NT$15,000 (£400).
For the whole journey, we were the only passengers – our own private coach! We reached our destination and realised that we had to pay to enter the Park. The price was extra for the weekend, at NT$150 each (£4). Being canny travellers, I remembered reading that Sheding National Park a short walk away was free. Change of plans and we were not disappointed.
As we were entering the Park, we saw a lady struggling to get her kite to lift in the air despite a gusty wind. We signalled to her to loosen the string, as she’d only unravelled it by one metre. Together with her friends, we roared with laughter when the kite plummeted to the ground.
As we studied the map of the National Park, a young couple, who were just leaving, suggested we avoid a particular route as they had just seen a very long snake! Needless to say, I walked in with trepidation and Tim walked in with glee.
We didn’t find any snake; I was quite disappointed – always good for the blog! However, we did climb through some glorious deep, dark, narrow gorges. Not a place I’d want to meet Sid the Snake.
These gorges were probably created three million years ago when the Eurasian and Philippine plates crashed together and pushed the coral reefs high in the sky.
Along the many pathways, we again saw bountiful amounts of butterflies of different colours and sizes. They are tricky to catch on film, but today we had our compact camera which worked better than our mobile phones.
After our picnic lunch, we made our way down to Chuanfanshi village by the sea. In the bay there is a huge stone known as The Sail; a few people have named it Nixon after the former US President. What do you think it looks like?
In the evening, we met Mike at Zeph and Cathy’s place and sat chatting for ages about language, culture as well as playing with their adorable son, Zion. We said farewell and hope that we would see this lovely family again before we finally leave Taiwan and walked with Mike to the New Cut Warehouse Bar, which we found a week ago.
We thoroughly enjoy our chats with Mike; his enthusiasm for being in Taiwan is infectious. He said that he had heard about “people like you” travelling around the world, and with his fascination of our way of life, it was an excellent reminder for us of how fortunate we are.