Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Pleasant Day in Goushung


We went on our weekly Tuesday day trip yesterday. We rode the HSR to Goushung. We took the MRT to the city center station and walked to the Love River where we had lunch at Outback Restaurant. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. The walk along the river is very pretty and peaceful. We ate on the patio at Outback, which overlooks the river. As we waited for our lunch, Don commented, “This is so pleasant.” While we ate, a group of little sailboats went by.  

The sailboats were still on the river when we left Outback, so we walked over to the river side to see what was going on. It was a school class learning how to sail: “running” up river to the bridge, turning around and then “tacking” down river. A few got into trouble by getting too close to the bridge and their sails got caught. A few others got stuck “lufting,” having a hard time catching the wind in their sails. Some of the young sailors did a few unexpected "bumper car" maneuvers. Those of them that were more advanced were able to keep a nice line, one behind the other, and tack back and forth across the river while sailing downstream. The sailing coach stood at the edge of the river calling out instructions to the class. There was a “life guard” in a kayak stationed some distance from them as well. He looked relieved once they all got away from the bridge where they had the most difficulty. They were very fun to watch on a warm lazy afternoon.

We had looked at our map and discovered a route to get to a ferry pier that would take us to an island on the other side of the harbor. We walked to the MRT station and rode the train to the closest stop to the pier. When we came up out of the subway tunnel we were in a very old part of town where the buildings were wall to wall and the streets were narrow like alleys. We would have wondered if we were in the right place except there was a young man stationed there at the exit to direct people to the ferry. “Go straight and turn right,” he said in quite good English. We went straight for several blocks past run-down buildings, parked cars, scooters and bikes and construction workers. We also had to cross a street that was being repaved. The steamroller operator just waved us on, and we gingerly walked over the hot tar!  

As soon as we turned right, we could see the pier and the ferry. It was boarding time, so we bought
tickets for NT$50 (about 60 cents each) and walked up onto the second level of the boat while dozens of scooters drove onto the first deck. Don and I found a bench to sit on outside so we could see the harbor and take pictures. The buildings upriver stood right on the water looking like Venice or Amsterdam. The engine started and off we went to the other side of the harbor to the island of Cijin. 

It was a short ten-minute ride. We had a beautiful view of the big container ships docked at the Goushung harbor. We also saw a ship being guided by a pilot boat into the harbor from the open sea. The skyline of the big city was beautiful to see from the vantage point of the water.  

We knew nothing about this island other than we had located it on the map. When the ferry docked, we disembarked with many other passengers and realized Cijin must be quite a tourist spot. Right outside the ferry entrance were rental bicycles of every variety, scooters, and rickshaws.

There were street vendors selling everything from baseball caps and flip-flops to toys and trinkets. Further down the main street was the food section of vendors. Both sides of the street were lined with fresh seafood shops, some with tables set on the sidewalk for eating “in” and others sold take-home. When I say “fresh” seafood I mean “fresh” as in “still alive.” There were rows of fish tanks filled with a large variety of local catches. There were other displays of fish on ice. These were very pretty…seafood laid out individually in neat rows each surrounded by a mound of ice. The shop owners were very particular but speedy as they put out the latest arrival from the docks.

This main street ended at the ocean, the Taiwan Strait…90 miles to Mainland China. The sun was shining brightly, and it sparkled on the water like diamonds.  

The beach had a boardwalk and a nice park area before the sand. The sand was black volcanic sand. We could see big ships on the horizon. The sun was low in the sky because it was after 4:00. It made for long shadows and a dazzling sea. There was a child (Asian) who was speaking English (!) to his parents. He said, “Oh, I hope we can see the sun set!”  

We walked back to the ferry along the same main street as we had coming in. I’m thinking that in the time we were at the beach, people who live on the island had come home from working in the city. It seemed like more local activity than tourist on the way back. There were people eating their supper at the street vendors, people at the street-side temple and scooter drivers carrying satchels, I assumed from their jobs.

The temperature had cooled down so we rode in the cabin of the ferry on the way back to Goushung.

We decided we had had a very nice day and would go on home to Chia-yi rather than continuing on to Lotus Pond as we had planned. So we followed the same route we had taken from the HSR, to the Redline on the MRT to walking through town on our way to get to the ferry only in reverse. It seemed to go a lot faster going back than it did on the way in. We had walked probably 10 miles total on our little jaunt around Goushung, so we sat quietly on the train ride home being appreciative of the time we’ve had to spend exploring together these past few weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home to one of my most favorite bloggers!! You did an excellent job!! Thank you for keeping us in the loop, and I love the "random" photos :D
    Love hugs and see you soon!