The main reason for arriving at the airport instead of the city centre was so that we could enquire about the KPP Pass, which when used properly, would let us save some money. So we went up to the information counter, but they were unable to help us. What they could do though, was to let us collect a bunch of stamps that they had!
Unfortunately, as for the KPP Pass, we were told that we had to get it online, and three days prior to the intended use date. Hence, there was no point in purchasing it online then. However, the stamps we obtained from the information counter depicted the various famous sights in Kaohsiung, and more than made up for our detour! Unfazed, we made for the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit (KRT) station.
Getting on the train for the first time in Taiwan was a familiar experience. The train was not drastically different from any train in Singapore, Hong Kong or South Korea. We took it to Formosa Boulevard station, or what some would call the most beautiful train station in the world, thanks to an expansive stained glass installation on the ceiling that depicted the four elements, as well as the cycle of life. Deep, and we would have stayed longer, but we were excited to see our hotel room for the remainder of the trip (it was supposed to be cute)! Not to mention our legs were aching, and we really needed to rest.
We were still unclear on how to get to the hotel after consulting Google Maps, but Clara said that we had to pass by a bank, so we walked in the direction of the bank we saw. Kaohsiung was a whole lot more concrete than Kenting, but it wasn’t like Taichung or Taipei. For some reason, it felt really deserted that night, like an isolated city. Part of me wished we were still on Kenting Street. Walking down a few blocks at Zhongzheng 4th Road, we made a right turn at Xinsheng 1st Street. From that point on, it was straight all the way, past an arcade, till we spotted the Legend Hotel sign. Ah, the familiar facade that we saw on booking websites!
When we walked in, the receptionists actually stood up to greet us! We were given the access card to our room without any hiccups. The lift greeted us with a colourful painting! What set Legend Hotel apart from the others, and why we chose it was because of all the beautiful paintings we saw in the hotel rooms and on the hotel walls. So naturally, we were expecting something more cute or breathtaking when we opened the doors to our room. Instead, it was like this:
Disappointingly cute, but we could understand it was a different artistic direction – a goofy light-hearted feel that was probably what the artist, 0.5mm, had in mind! The room was quite spacious anyway (and had a more conventional layout than Dragonfly 100 guesthouse), the toilet was well-equipped, the bed was incredibly wide, there was a nifty rocking chair and complimentary cup noodles, along with canned drinks! We filmed ourselves pouncing and bouncing on the bed to our hearts’ content, then laid on the bed to relax (for quite a lengthy moment)!
It was then about half-past-eight, but upon checking that Ruifeng Night Market was still open, we decided to squeeze in a trip there – which on hindsight, was a bad idea; we should have spent more time there! Since Legend Hotel was actually nearer to City Council station than Formosa Boulevard station, we walked there instead. Ruifeng was at the Kaohsiung Arena station, which meant that we still had to change lines at Formosa Boulevard. Kaohsiung Arena station was of course named after the Kaohsiung Arena stadium, which could be seen from the station’s entrance/exit. Passing by an elementary school, we saw that its front gates had been occupied by Falun Gong adherents. Crossing a junction, we reached the front entrance to the night market! From there, we could already tell it was going to be packed – the quintessential feature of a night market! The close proximity of the stalls and narrow walkways amplified sounds and smells, and made Ruifeng feel like a true night market.
At first, we did a cursory walk, weaving through rows after rows of stalls, trying to find something to eat, but once again, we were spoilt for choice! Ruifeng was fairly compact, but well-organised, and food, items and game stalls were grouped with their own kind. There was even an open area at the back with benches, where people could sit and eat in comfort! We had a list of food that we wanted to try, and the mochi stall was nearby, so we got a box of mochi first! The owner suggested we try the cheese-filled mochi, but we opted for the regular ones with peanuts and chocolate sauce.
Interestingly, the mochi were made in takoyaki pans. We wanted to get a rice-stuffed squid to try, but couldn’t find one. When we saw a stall selling rice-stuffed chicken drumsticks, we sprang for it!
While waiting for the drumstick, we noticed a cat napping at the opposite stall! And there was a peculiar stall owner who kept dancing behind his stall, as well as a ‘mobile stall’, or someone peddling goods on an electric wheelchair. A night market sure has its sights.
On the first row, we found a stall selling giant takoyaki balls. The owner’s use of oil was extremely liberal; it was terrifying to continue watching. Looking at our sunburnt skin, the owner’s wife guessed that we had been to Kenting. She was right! The owner also asked where we were from, and upon hearing our response, remarked that Singapore was a good country. When the takoyaki ball was finally done, he cut it up into pieces with a pair of scissors, and served it in a cup!
We then turned to an old lady beside us who previously asked if we wanted to buy malt candy biscuit sandwiches. Minutes ago, we declined, but she didn’t have a single customer throughout our time waiting at the takoyaki stall, so we decided to let her have some business. We bought two biscuit sandwiches at a such an affordable price that we felt bad about it. Finally, after continuously seeing people carrying drinks in a mini float of sorts, Clara said she wanted the unicorn float, so we went to the stall selling those drinks, and it turned out that they came free with every purchase. Except for the unicorn, that is, which we had to pay more for! But it was still very cheap, and worth it!
We went to the area at the back to savour our newly-bought street food! Would they topple the pan-fried xiao long baos from their throne? It seemed like none of them would. We should have chosen the cheese-filled mochi, because the plain ones were so plain, they were a pain to get through! The rice-stuffed chicken was nice, and it was notable that chicken rice was used, but the one we had near Sun Moon Lake (on our previous trip) was better. Already full, we saved the giant tako ball and biscuit sandwiches for later. We were impressed by a young gentleman’s balloon-tying skills – he took only one second per balloon! I was so busy filming him that I didn’t see his friend giving us the stare haha.
We continued on our way, and stumbled into another part of the market that we didn’t explore. There were even more food stalls there, as well as a makeshift restaurant selling steak! We tried searching for the famed Angel Chicken, but it was nowhere to be found. Only when we were leaving by the side did we see it. We ordered one fried chicken thigh at the medium level of spiciness.
Glad we did, because it was finally true competition to the xiao long baos! We only ate it and the giant tako ball back at our hotel room. It was mighty spicy that we didn’t finish it, but so good! There are two kinds of Taiwanese fried chicken, and this belonged to the second, rarer, but yummier kind!
Having had a huge dinner, we watched some Chibi Maruko-chan cartoon that was showing on television, and rested our tired legs. It was the end of another long and tiring day, but we were lucky to have been able to see and experience so much! It started with the amazing sights along the coast of Kenting, followed by annoyance at the pushy taxi drivers, then disappointment at the KPP Pass, happiness at the hotel room and lastly sweet satisfaction at the street food! The number of things that could happen in a day!