Day 2 (afternoon) in Kaohsiung/Kenting: Baishawan

Getting off the bus a little past our guesthouse, we were asked a few times by taxi drivers where we were headed to. We politely declined them, and one was kind enough to ‘advise’ us that the bus we were waiting for would take an hour … luckily we waited on, as it was obviously not the case – the bus arrived within 30 minutes -.-

There were cute panda scooters parked in front of the guesthouse opposite the bus stop where we waited! The bus stops in Kenting were so difficult to locate, because they were just poles with signs on them! Vans and motorcycles would park all around and in front of these poles, making our job all the more harder. We had to keep sticking our head out to look out for the bus. These little hiccups made the bus-taking experience in Kenting less-than-ideal, but really, we expected much worse before coming!

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Thankfully, we were on the bus bringing us to a famous beach in Kenting, Baishawan! This route was a fair bit longer than the route to Eluanbi, but there were more interesting sights as well! For one, it passed by another famous beach, Nanwan, which was known for water sports and activities in the summer, and its colourful umbrellas! For two, it also passed by Houbihu, a harbour that people frequented for its fresh sashimi!

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We actually once planned to make a stop there for lunch, but we figured that if we wanted to reach Kaohsiung not too late, we ought to go straight to Baishawan. Besides, we did not want to keep Mr. Ma waiting at the guesthouse with our luggages! As we progressed further to the west, we saw windmills churning in the distance, and two brownish-grey spherical structures. Without context, they would look alien, but we did a bit of reading up, and knew that they were in fact nuclear power plants (one of the few in Taiwan)! Even later on, we zoomed past a solar panel farm, so that made Kenting a true hub of renewable energy sources!

There was also Maobitou, a rock formation that was supposed to resemble a crouching cat. We didn’t actually see the rock, but we didn’t think stopping just to see a rock was justifiable either! On and on the bus went, sometimes bouncing up and down, and finally the sound system announced Baishawan (in Chinese, Hokkien, Hakka and English, no less).

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According to many, Baishawan would be the best beach in Kenting; the one to visit if one had to visit only one. We could understand why. It was tranquil and quiet, the waters were bright blue and clear, and a few critically-acclaimed movies had chosen it as a filming location. However, it also happened to be the time of the day when the sun was at its strongest, so the sand was scorching hot! We tried to lay down our blue-checkered picnic mat, but it was tiny and the heat may have melted it a little (there was a strange smell in my bag later on)! We may look happy in the photos below, but our poor feet were literally burning!

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Baishawan also had colourful umbrellas for rent, and in the kind of weather we experienced, they were almost a necessity! Visitors could ride ATVs as well! Or just immerse themselves in the cool water, like many others, or at least dip their feet in (like we did)! It was super exhilarating watching the waves come crashing at us and submerging our feet! We then went around in search of a tiger statue, which was supposed to commemorate the filming of The Life of Pi at Baishawan, but to no avail! We found ourselves back on the main road, and walked back to where we alighted from the bus. The bus stop sign told us that we had about 20 minutes to wait, so we got mango juice from a stall nearby!

There was another bus parked in front of the bus stop we were at, which made it difficult for us to see the bus arriving, so we moved ourselves a few metres up the road! Finally it came, and we were headed back to the guesthouse to retrieve our luggages! We were late when we arrived (we told Mr. Ma we would be back at 2pm), so we were locked outside of the guesthouse once again, like what happened on the first day. Peeking inside, we saw the Mr. Ma had put the magnet (a wooden one with the Singapore skyline) and note we passed to him up on the wall!

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Unlike the case on the first day, though, he was indeed outside – arriving by motorcycle, he told us that he was getting his lunch from McDonalds’! He opened the door to let us take our bags, then told us where to wait for the bus back to Kaohsiung. We bade farewell and left!

At the bus stop, we saw that the bus was going to take a while to come, so we went into a 7Eleven shop to get something to eat. We chose Kimchi baos that were steaming in a container, which were alright but didn’t really taste like Kimchi. What happened next was not a particularly pleasant send-off from Kenting. We were approached by one taxi driver at first, who asked us where we were going. When we replied with Kaohsiung airport, he tried to convince us to take his taxi. Then, he asked to see our tickets and remarked that they were non-transferable. So, he left us alone. We thought that would be the end of it! But minutes later, two taxi drivers pulled up – one of them asked us if we wanted to take his taxi to the airport, same old thing. When he saw that our tickets were non-transferable, he told us he would buy it from us, and that we should take his taxi back, which didn’t make sense at all. We firmly rejected, and he stood by his taxi to smoke and speak to the other driver. When they saw our bus arriving, they pulled off their final stunt. Thinking that we had not noticed the other driver (we obviously did), he walked up to us posing as a ticketmaster or something, offering to buy our tickets. He kept talking to us and even shouted after us as we walked away. We tried to ignore him until we were safely on the bus, after which we saw him shaking his head in frustration. It was clearly a plot to relieve us of our tickets, but we stood firm. There was no incentive for us to give them up just to take a taxi! Still, that experience left a scar on our good impression of Kenting, and we would be more hesitant to return, at least until the train line is operational in a few years’ time!

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The trip back to Kaohsiung took more than 3 hours (even longer than the journey to Hengchun), and as usual, we slept for the majority of it! We pulled the curtains to keep out the sun and tilted our seats back for a more comfortable ride!

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