Meet Up with Donny in Kaohsiung City
Updated: May 29
Days 923 – 924
We are on the move again and thanks to a Retired Budget Traveller Facebook Group (even though we haven't retired), I connected and we arranged to meet up with Donny in Kaohsiung City.
Ah, typical! The day we leave Penghu, it has glorious sunshine. We popped down to the beach before catching our flight and enjoyed watching a few people swimming, a drone whizzing over us and pleased to see that someone other than Tim had been clearing the beach of rubbish. We only picked up a handful of trash.
On the way back to our hotel, we passed by a building with a kind of windmill; not that it looked like it would produce any energy. It's funny the effort that people make to decorate their buildings.
Our flight was quick, and before we could say "Kaohsiung City" we had arrived. After settling into our little hotel room in the groovy Cianjin District, we walked down to Central Park, wandering around, admiring the oasis of greenery amid the metropolis, with beautiful plants and turtles swimming in the lakes.
We stopped and watched some men playing "Go", a board game played with two people. Another man next to us spoke a little English and explained some of the rules. This game was devised over 3,000 years ago, probably in China. I've since read that a Buddhist Tibetan ruler refused to go into battle; the fate of his country was determined over a game of Go.
Robert Greene, in The 48 Laws of Power explains: “The two board games that best approximate the strategies of war are chess and the Asian game of go. In chess, the board is small. In comparison to go, the attack comes relatively quickly, forcing a decisive battle.... Go is much less formal. It is played on a large grid, with 361 intersections — nearly six times as many positions as in chess.... [A game of go] can last up to three hundred moves. The strategy is more subtle and fluid than chess, developing slowly; the more complex the pattern your stones initially create on the board, the harder it is for your opponent to understand your strategy. Fighting to control a particular area is not worth the trouble: You have to think in larger terms, to be prepared to sacrifice an area in order eventually to dominate the board. What you are after is not an entrenched position but mobility. With mobility you can isolate your opponent in small areas and then encircle them... Chess is linear, position oriented, and aggressive; go is nonlinear and fluid. Aggression is indirect until the end of the game, when the winner can surround the opponents' stones at an accelerated pace.”
The next day, after doing our chores, we met up with Donny, a young Canadian man whose parents originate from Taiwan. I connected with Donny on a Retired Budget Travelers Facebook group, and he kindly offered to take us around this city.
Donny has been travelling for over five years now, and carefully chooses what cities he wants to live in for 1 to 3 months based on specific criteria. One thing he does is research MeetUp language groups and bases himself near them so that he can quickly build up a network of new friends. It's fascinating learning how different people travel.
Donny first took us down into Central Park Station. I wondered why until he asked us to turn around. In the centre of the escalators was a waterfall, and to the sides, rich greenery with artificial sunflowers, all under a huge canopy. What a joyful scene to see as you exit the station. It's great when cities make an effort to create beautiful spaces.
Next, we wandered around a Japanese shop. What's that? A Foot Sap Sheet with a flavour of Horse Fat? We do come across some weird things on our travels!
While walking around, we saw some fantastic bird murals, changing the face of the environment. Aren't they beautiful? Next, Donny took us to a local street market and explained some of the food to us. Duck is very popular, and the stall owners will use every bit of this bird to make some kind of dish, making sure nothing goes to waste.
In the middle of the market was a Temple, which is often the case. Families of three generations will come here to worship and then have dinner together, rarely eating at home. Inside the Temple, we were intrigued by the paper statue of a person riding a swan, both blindfolded. I think this is something to do with the Guanlingshu ritual, where people are blindfolded so they can travel to the spirit world.
Next on the agenda was to walk around a small park. Tim took full advantage and had a quick tree hug! The three of us chatted easily about all manner of subjects. Donny is such an intriguing man and someone who we wanted to sit down with and have a good chat – perhaps another time.
I needed to get back for a keep fit session with my son John via WhatsApp, so Donny suggested that we got a city bike each. For the first 30 minutes, these are free; then you pay incrementally for how long you hire them. I was feeling a bit nervous about cycling around the city and was grateful that Donny took us mainly down quiet streets. I am amazed that I used to cycle around London 30 years ago!
What a great introduction to Kaohsiung. This city has grown from a small fishing village, with Dutch, Japanese and Chinese ruling the area and giving it names such as Wan Nien Chow, Takao and Fengshan County. Now Kaohsiung is a thriving international city.
We said a warm farewell to Donny and hope that we will meet him again, (I sense we will) and look forward to exploring Kaohsiung some more over the next few days.