Our second day in Kenting offers great promise, but is eventually foiled by Mr. Hot.
My friend Paul and I had so much fun with our scooters on day 1 that we decided to wake up near sunrise to go for one last ride before we had to return the bikes. After getting lost in the old part of town for a good 45 minutes, we finally started our way around the perimeter road around the park and surrounding lands. This was our fault really, since we were following a cartoon map we found at the hotel which could have passed for a children’s place mat. The ride was euphoric. The sun was high, our engines were revved and we retraced our ride from the previous day, past the abandoned beach and into the highland farms. We rode past vast fields of rice paddies and narrow highways cutting through jungles and creeks. At final stretch of highway back to the hotel, there was a flurry of dragonflies (or a similar such insect) that flew across the road. Note for future rides: have the helmet visor down. I was going 90 kph and one hit me right by the mouth. Needless to say matters could have been worse and I could have had bug for breakfast.
After our buffet breakfast, we hopped on our hotel arranged day of water sports! We paid about $35CAD to go snorkeling, banana boat and some other water activities. I think the moral of the story is, you get what you paid for. The overall experience was pretty meh. My biggest gripe was the mandatory life jackets for snorkeling. How was I suppose to swim with the fish with a life jacket?! I guess the rules in Taiwan are not lax enough for the do-whatever-you-want kind of travel. The weather took a turn for the worse anyways and storm clouds were moving in fast by the time we were in the water.
That night we went out to the night market to see what kind of grub we could find. I found this shellfish snack that I had when I was a kid. The conical shells are about a centimeter long and they’re sauteed with chilis and other spices. You pretty much suck out the meat. Not too shabby at all. I don’t know what conspired me to have a corndog but I was really craving it. I came across a Mr. Hot stand selling nothing but corndogs and devoured one. The rest of the gang got one from another Mr. Hot stand down the line. I’m not sure why we didn’t indulge in more local fare.
Pubs along the “strip” are quite eclectic to say the least. Some are abandoned, creepy looking or gave a sex club sort of vibe. We walked into one where an MC was singing Superbass with a heavy Chinese accent and women were pulling patches of carefully placed tin foil off a naked white dude standing on a pedestal. Not too impressive. However, we ended up at a stretch of beach that was almost completely dark. The moon was high and you could see its reflection on the water. The sand was cool and very comfortable to sit on. This was the Monday after the Lunar festival and I guess this is when the service staff were celebrating. A lady, who apparently worked at the hotel, came by and gave us a bunch of beer. They were having a staff party further along the beach and had too much beer so started sharing! Beer, beach, full moon. What more could you ask for?
The fun didn’t stop there though. In the middle of the night, Paul starts puking and diarrhea-ing like crazy. It was like an upside down volcano! Lesson learned: when in a foreign country, eat what the locals eat. Who knows how fresh those corn dogs were. In the following days, Fiona and Tessa both got sick as well. I escaped unscathed for now. Our Taiwan leg of the trip was a blast! It was awesome seeing family and sampling all the great food. It was just a little ironic that a corndog, a quintessentially North American food was what made us so sick haha.
Travel Notes for Kenting
- Even with an international driver’s license (Available to BC residents for a $25 fee), some rental companies might be weary about renting their scooters to you. Keep asking up and down the strip and you might get lucky, but even at $20/day from the hotel isn’t too shabby.
- If you want to scooter for a good afternoon, bring a good map and lots of water. A ride around the perimeter can take over an hour.
- Swimming in pools in Taiwan requires a swim cap, at least at our hotel. If you don’t have one you can borrow one from the pool deck
- The water excursions aren’t really worth it in my opinion. If you want good snorkeling just go to SE Asia or something. Stick to beaches and sites
- I would pass on any shellfish that is raw or partially cooked. Just in case.
- When buying street food, look for busy stands with high turnover
- In Taiwan, you can’t buy over-the-counter meds for colds, upset stomach or diarrhea etc. I ran to a 7-11 at night looking for some Pepto but all I got was a confused look. All meds need to be purchased from a pharmacy so either pack your own pills or look for the closest pharmacy. Refer to my post on Staying Safe for the pills that I bring along when I travel now.