Catching the scooter ferry to Cijin Island
Today I walked in a different direction to yesterday, and ended up drinking gin & tonic at the beach…
The beach on Cijin Island, a five-minute ferry ride from the mainland. Photo: Zhen-Kang.
This past weekend I’d completed an apartment rental application form, so today I had time to spare while waiting to hear from the real estate agent. Here are some phone pics from my meandering journey to Cijin:
This is the site of the Original Craftsman Market I saw yesterday—much quieter on Monday morning. The air was hazier today. Walking around the edge of the Pier 2 Arts Center, I came across a grumpy guy with a broom… …Who was facing off against this. (Don’t look between its legs.) Further along, the Kaohsiung Rainbow Crossing and some shipping containers. I liked walking on this shaded path, watched over by a giant robot. I came across a keyboard warrior. Note the very small railway track in the background… …It leads to Platform 8²/₅. Trains are a theme at this end of town. This is the edge of the Kaohsiung Railway Cultural Park—a vast sculpture park on the site of a former railway yard. Here’s the historic locomotive seen in the background of the previous shot. A giant suitcase resting on the tracks, and a giant horn to the right. A giant spinning top… …And a giant armchair and sidetable, complete with lamp. (See railway tracks for scale.) A detail I really like is that the actual commuter trams pass between the historic locomotives. Nearby, I passed this CPC petrol station and noticed 95 fuel is NT$30.60 per liter (NZ$1.55), roughly half what it costs in New Zealand. I recalled reading about a good vegan cafe in this part of the city, and looked it up on the map. It was less than 1km away so I started walking in the general direction. I passed this line-up of colorful scooters. Happy New Year! There were more scooters parked in the alleyways. Note how clean the ground is: a few times I saw elderly people sweeping the alleyway outside their homes. Some appeared to have reserved parking (at left). After being distracted by the alleyways, eventually I found Mottainai Cafe—but it was closed. However, a few blocks away I stumbled across Yi Gou Liang Gou cafe… …Which turned out to be dog-friendly. This is the owner’s dog next to the counter. There was one other dog present, but it was sitting immediately under a customer’s skirt so I wasn’t about to photograph it. I had a quality vegetable pasta and strawberry juice. Looking at the map, I saw I was a few hundred metres from the Cijin Island ferry terminal. I decided to take the five-minute ride to the Island. This is looking back towards Kaohsiung from outside the terminal. Note the naval vessel on the right. I sat inside the ferry to have a break from the sun. It’s literally a ride-on ride-off ferry. Here you can see scooter riders disembarking at Cijin Island. Riders stay on their bikes during the five-minute journey, holding on to hand straps that hang from the ceiling. When boarding, they tap on with their Easycard transit cards, just like walk-on passengers. This temple was just around the corner from the ferry terminal. This seemed to be the main shopping street. The site of the original Kaohsiung settlement, Cijin Island is around 8km long and 400m wide, and has 27,000 residents. Note the enormous church in the background… …Here it is from the other side. It’s something like 10 stories tall. I found this locksmith on the main street, which was handy because locksmiths create personal seals (also known as name stamps or name chops). In Taiwan, personal seals are used instead of signatures on official paperwork like bank documents and rental agreements. I’m looking for an apartment to rent, so a personal seal is essential rather than optional at this stage. The locksmith said I was his first foreign customer in three years. The blue logo indicates that personal seals are made here. The locksmith talked me through the various options. He recommended a larger size (because I have fat hands!), and to have one made of ox horn rather than wood. He said wooden seals degrade over time so aren’t suitable for business applications, where they have to be used regularly. I was given a choice of fonts, and picked a calligraphic style he said worked well with the characters in my Chinese name. He told me it would take 30–40 minutes to carve, so while waiting I continued my walk down the main street. At the end of the street, this sign marked the entrance to Cijin beach. The beach was expansive, stretching as far as I could see in the distance. It was around 25°C with a very gentle breeze, and people were resting under umbrellas made of coconut leaves. I wandered along the boardwalk and came across Cijin Sunset Bar, were I sat under palm trees drinking gin & tonic. In this moment, life could not have been better. I was offered another drink (of course), but had to leave to collect my personal seal. Here it is, in its black storage case with integrated inkpad. I’m delighted with it, and have been told I must guard it with my life. This is because it’s apparently difficult to register a new one if it gets lost or stolen. (And because if someone steals it, they can use it to commit identity theft.) For obvious security reasons I won’t share my personal seal here, but it looks similar to this example, with given name on the left and surname on the right. I wandered back to the ferry terminal, where scooter riders were already boarding. This time I sat outside to enjoy the view. After arriving back on the mainland, I walked the few hundred metres to the nearest station and rode the tram back to my hotel. Soon after, the real estate agent called to request my LINE details so he could send me links to suitable apartments. Tomorrow the search begins.