Apparently, the sun rose at about 5am. I was shocked to hear that!
We went down to the hotel’s basement to have breakfast at the cafe! It was laid out buffet-style. Even the walls of the cafe were painted whimsically. There was quite a good spread of food – western kinds such as bacon, hashbrowns and toast, as well as dishes more specific to Taiwan, like porridge, pork floss and fermented beancurd. Speaking of the toast, there were two kinds of butter we could spread on it, one that was more oily, and the other that was more crumbly. Both were quite nice! I also liked the pork floss; it seemed to go well with everything! But the fermented beancurd was too sour for my taste. Clara’s favourite was the scrambled eggs!
Trying not to waste any time, we hurried to Sizihwan station to take the ferry to Cijin Island! There was quite a bit of walking to reach the Gushan Ferry Pier, past shophouses that were closed. We reached a bend in the road where the pier was and tapped in with our iPass cards. There was a separate lane for motorcycles, and much of the ground deck was taken up by them. We climbed up to the upper deck where there were seats and sat down. But when the ferry started to move off, us, being the tourists we were, decided to venture into the open air for views! And from the ferry we caught sight of the Kaohsiung skyline, which was obscured by fog (memories of Hong Kong)!
It was quite a brief ferry ride. We wished it was a bit longer, so that we could soak in the views more! The motorcycles rushed out in droves onto the roads and sped off in multiple directions, while pedestrians like us strolled slowly off. We walked in the direction we thought would take us to the Cijin Star Tunnel, taking cue from the location of the lighthouse. We found ourselves on Miaoqian Street, where food stalls would be set up. As it was still early in the morning, no one had set up anything yet! There was a museum of sorts for weird creatures, but it was also not open yet. We walked past a flower patch that appeared to spell something out, but we never figured what. And then there was Cijin Beach, with its grey sand. We made good use of the umbrella. The sun was really out in full force that day!
Finally, we reached the entrance to the Star Tunnel! On the other side was the sea (we knew that even before we saw it)! We found drawings and constellations along the walls of the tunnel, and ultraviolet lamps made them glow in the dark! The tunnel, which cut through the side of a mountain, was originally constructed for the Cihou Fort, which sat at the top of the mountain.
The other side, with the rocky cliffs and full view of the Taiwan strait, was nothing short of amazing! There was a short boardwalk that let to a blockade, and there were many cacti growing alongside it! We turned back through the tunnel and climbed up a road leading to Cihou Fort at the top. Along the way, we could see a bird’s-eye-view of Cijin Island through the trees and shrubbery.
From Cihou Fort, we could get an unobstructed view of Cijin Island and Kaohsiung all around! On the other side were the unending sea and the breakwaters. We had a lot of fun jumping, climbing and running around this ancient fort, in spite of the sun. There were also dark nooks and crannies that we could explore and take shelter in. We even scaled a short stone wall just to get to the top (and got hurt), and later realised we could just have walked -.-
The craggy structures and all that running reminded me of Temple Run somehow. We actually did run, from the camera, after activating the timer, to where we stood for the photo! For a while, we even had the whole fort to ourselves!
We left the fort down the mountain road to look for the Cijin Lighthouse, but were not sure where to go. Our skin were already sunburnt terribly (especially mine, which looked like a lobster’s)! We stopped for a water break and to apply more sunblock. Finally, we realised the most direct way to reach the lighthouse would be to walk past the fort on the mountain, so we climbed back up haha. Along the way there, we saw a tunnel that said army troops used it for training, so we wondered if the Singapore Armed Forces made use of it before! Unfortunately, the lighthouse compound was closed that day, but we got ourselves a lemon drink from a vending machine and went down the mountain through another way!
This route was nearer to the sea and led to a boardwalk (there were fishermen catching fish)! We made our way back to Miaoqian Road, where we wanted to try pan-fried quail eggs. We found ourselves some at a stall run by a Vietnamese woman, and bought a cup of lemon ai-yu too. By now, the creepy creatures museum was open, and they put some animals outside to exhibit (including a snake)!
We walked back to the pier to catch a bus to the Cijin Seaside Park!