With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

The last days in Taiwan

Posted by Heliocentrism on September 8, 2009

September 2-5, 2009

All Pictures

I saw this from the bus back to Zuoying

Do I have to take a taxi?

I spent the time I had left swimming early in the mornings and late in the evenings. The rest of the day I scootered into town or to my guest house and tried to stay cool.

On my last full day in Taiwan Max, the owner of the Ipanema Surf House drove me to the bus station in Hengchun. I got there 10 minutes before the next #88 Kenting Express left for Zuoying. I think they run every 30 minutes, but I’m not completely sure. The last stop, my stop, was the Zuoying High Speed Railway station.

My train to Taoyuan left at 6:36am the next day so when my bus got to Zuoying my first priority was to find lodgings. My Rough Guides guide-book was of absolutely no help in this matter. I walked through the station and found the tourist information desk. I asked the lady there how to get to the nearest hotel. She wrote something in Chinese on a post-it note and handed it to me. “Just show this to a taxi driver.”

“Do I have to take a taxi? Can’t I walk there?”

A busy Taiwanese intersection

I try not to take taxis when traveling alone in new countries. In Seoul I try to never get into a cab. Cabbies in Seoul drive like they are insane. While traveling I feel safer in a bus or just walking. A bus driver is less likely to be able to murder me and dump my body without any witnesses.

Okay, my murder is not actually the reason for my not wanting to get into a taxi by myself. I feel that taxi drivers are more likely to rip off passengers when they think they are helpless and naïve. A bus driver cannot charge extra or take me the long way, but a cab driver can.

Another thing is that a cab driver can drop me off in the middle of nowhere either out of malice or miscommunication. In such a situation it might be hard to find another taxi to get back. If I took the wrong bus, I can just get on the same bus going in the opposite direction to return. I have also found helpful people on buses who have given me directions or advice.

Lotus Lake

The Garden Villa

This time, it seemed, I would have to take a taxi. It would be a 5 minute ride that would cost me 100TWD, but the directions, the lady said, were too complicated and I might get lost. If it weren’t so hot outside I would have put up more of a fight, but the heat melted away all my reservations.

When riding in a taxi by myself in a new country I always pay close attention to where I’m going. I look out for landmarks and try to memorize the directions. I even take photos of things; I am a tourist. We past a really nice hotel and I hoped that I wouldn’t be taken there. It looked too expensive for me.

We pulled up to the hotel. It was the Garden Villa. Before I could protest a door man helped me out of the car and another one carried my bag in for me. Because the Ipanema Surf House was a lot less expensive than what I was planning, I was way under budget for my vacation. I knew exactly how much money I had. I thought, if the rate is less than that amount, minus the cost of 2 meals, I’d stay. Why not?

I walked up to the desk with no plan B. Where was I going to go if the hotel was too expensive? I inquired about the room rate and was told that it was 2300TWD a night. “Ok. I’ll like a room for one night please.”

When I got to the room I noticed a card with all the room rates. The cheapest one was the room I was staying in and it was 4,800TWD. I don’t know how I got a discount.

Lotus Lake

Lotus Lake

The hotel had a view of Lotus Lake. I was so excited by seeing the pretty pagodas that I skipped lunch, forgot about the heat, and walk around the lake. An hour later I was drenched in sweat and had a headache caused by dehydration.

I went up to my room, took a long cooling shower and ordered room service. For such a fancy hotel, the room service menu wasn’t very good.

Kim Chee!

The Taipei Times

I can help you.

The next day I was at the THSR station very early in the morning. I looked at my ticket then at the prompter over head and figured out where I needed to be to catch my train. As I was walking down the platform an older couple came up to me. They spoke in Mandarin and were asking for help. They didn’t know where to go and they knew no English.

I looked at their ticket and then at the prompter. Their train left for Taipei 9 minutes before mine. I told them in English and with a lot of pointing that they needed to be at platform 2, section 5.

I get asked for directions a lot wherever I go. Once I gave a Korean ajumma my subway map and helped her to transfer lines. I do not look Asian, but I must look like I know where I’m going. If they only knew how often I get lost.

I eventually hopped on a plane heading for Incheon. When I got to the airport in Korea I found Mark waiting for me and was glad to be back in the land of the morning calm.

Mark enjoying some goodies from Taiwan

All Pictures


The Republic of China
(Zhōnghuá Mínguó)

How to get there:

Taiwan in an island so you can enter this country by plane or boat.

Americans get a 30-day visa at the port of entry. Check with you local Taiwanese embassy or consulate for exact details on getting a visa.


  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Police 110
    • Ambulance and Fire 119




  • If you ever visit Taiwan, write some address and phone number on your landing card, even if it’s for a Starbucks. Never leave the section for hotel’s address blank.

Lotus Lake

How to get there:

  • 22°41’00.7″N 120°17’49.0″E


  • Take MRT Red Line and get off at Ecological District Station.
  • From Ecological District Station Exit No. 2,
  • then take the Bus Red 51 to Lotus Lake stop.

By Bus:

  • Take the Bus No. 6, 17, 29, 31, 38, or 219 to Zuoying North Stop.
  • Take the Green 38 to Confucius Temple Stop.
  • Take the Bus No. 301 to Lotus Lake Stop.


 No. 1435, Cuihua Rd.
Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City

Phone: +886-7-581-6216

Cost: Free


One Response to “The last days in Taiwan”

  1. […] (RSS) « Taiwan: The Ipanema Surf House Taiwan: The last days […]


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