Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Day 1 & 2: Exploring Kenting, Taiwan, 2014

It's been more than a month since I returned from the fabulous 10-day trip from 11 Jul - 21 Jul 2014 in Taiwan and I will be writing all about it!

Given that is isn't the first time to Taiwan, we boldly decided to travel to 5 different destinations (Kenting, Kaoshiung, Cingjing, Sun Moon Lake & Taipei) in these 10 days and though it was a little hectic, I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it.

First thing first,
let's talk about KENTING!

We had initially wanted to plan a trip to a beach resort somewhere nearer to Singapore as our Anniversary destination. But somehow, "Kenting" kept popping up in my head - maybe the flight to Taiwan was longer and further than the usual Phuket, Bali etc. and so the beach in Kenting seems more appealing?

Having googled online for information on Kenting, it seems to be a choiced destination for Summer Vacation in Taiwan (which happens from 1 Jul - 31 Aug, a total of 2 months!) with a generally good weather all year round - there wasn't much natural landscape or scenery being highlighted when I did my research, but I guess that was what made it more interesting because it would mean the beach was less commercial. Hence, Kenting was it!

Travelling to Kenting

Kenting is located in the Southern part of Taiwan, right at the bottom tip, even further down than Tainan, so to get there is going to take quite a bit of travelling.

Our Route:

Flight to Taoyuan Airport -

Short Shuttle Transfer to Taoyuan HSR station (15-20 mins)

HSR Ride to  Zuoying HSR station (which is the HSR station located in Kaoshiung, 75-105 mins, depending on the type of train you book - express trains with almost no stops will save you some time!)

Van-transfer to the accomodation in Keting (3 hrs), in fact, there is a Kenting Express Bus to bring you from the bus stop outside the HSR to Kenting as well, but the cost comparisons weren't significant, hence, we opted for the van-transfer instead

In summary, this meant a total of about 5 hrs of travelling time upon arrival at Taoyuan Airport. Imagine arriving in Singapore Changi Airport and taking a bus/car-transfer to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?


Shuttle bus to Taoyuan HSR; 30NT,
just follow the directions upon exit from the Airport Arrival Hall and you will get to the counter to buy the tickets and take the bus.

HSR tickets (Taoyuan - Zuoying);  700NT per ticket,
this is a little tricky because the timing for the HSR train departures are fixed and if you happen to miss one, or if that trip is full, you have to wait for the next one which may involve alot of waiting time (at least 35-45 mins before next train arrives).
You can check on the HSR travel schedule or book the tickets in advance via this link to ensure you get your seats, but we couldn't do that as we were also semi-prepared for our flight to be delayed, and stood for the full 1 over hour on-board the HSR. -_-

Van-Transfer to Kenting; 350NT per person,
point to note is, the van-transfer is a shared one, so there will be other travellers in the same van as you. The seats are not squeezy, but don't expect a VIP / private car service.

The contact was provided by my accomodation (Bethlehem B&B)
+886 958 501 111
(remove the +886 and replace with 0 if you are already in Taiwan, making a call from a local line) 

According to my research, Kenting Express Bus cost about 300-364 NT per person.
This bus departs from the bus stop at the exit of the station and is really big, so you won't miss it. But since we didn't know where the bus stop was, where we should alight etc, we just opted for the easiest - the above-mentioned van-transfer.

On hindsight, I found this bus schedule that you may find helpful if you are planning to take the bus provided you know which bus stop you need to alight.

Now that I have been there and back, ours was 船帆石Chuanfanshi (the nearest to our accommodation)

Time to recollect the bitter and sweet memories from the trip!

We took Scoot and was scheduled to depart at 0045 hrs on 12 Jul, Sat morning, but it was delayed till something after 2am, so there was plenty of time to idle in Singapore Changi Airport - the best airport in the world! And I really mean it - but was too tired from a hard day's work to be snapping photos of my own airport and promoting them here.

The flight on Scoot was fine - in fact, I spent most of the time sleeping until they announced its descend where I got up and put on my make-up.

First thing we did upon touch down was to get a local data plan. The counters are so big, you probably wouldn't miss it.

Somehow, we seem to be too slow in getting our bags and when we arrived at the counter, the Qs were already there -_-.... Funny thing is, I decided to Q at the one with the most people, without even comparing the charges from the different vendors.

This is the typical Singaporean Kiasu syndrome because after Q-ing, I came to realise they are all the same price (minimally different!) and for that Q... seriously, I was stupid to waste time at the longest one!

Taking a budget flight means I have not been fed on the flight, so naturally, food was the next stop. The cool thing was, all convenience stores in Taiwan seem to offer an awesome variety of "fast food". These "cha ye dans" (tea eggs) were available in ALL the 7-11s there. And so were those yummy-looking sausages! 

I just had to take a picture of the directional signboards to show how easy it was to locate the bus stations / taxi points etc.

There were in fact many different bus counters where you could purchase tickets to various destinations since Taiwan is really big! So we hurried to the first counter and just asked for directions to the shuttle bus to Taoyuan HSR station.

Upon arrival at the Taoyuan HSR station, I was not quite expecting sucha long Q for the HSR tickets - it could mean we'd have no tickets = need to wait for next train = need to waste 1 hour waiting for that (it's NOT some MRT system where trains arrive/depart every few minutes!)

They also had those train arrival/departure monitor screen that displayed which ride was "selling fast" and which was "sold out" just like how those cinema ticketing booth would display the real-time ticket sales.

From the time we disembarked from the plane to the time we got to this point, everything was a mad rush. It's like rushing to wait and waiting to rush cause we really just wanted to get to Kenting ASAP. period.

By the time it was our turn, the ticketing screen in front of the cashier just went "sold-out" for the train timing we were targeting - but fortunately, when we asked if we could still get seats (seriously just trying our luck), the ticketing lady notified us that we could STILL get seats, but it was non-reserved seating - which meant, we could get on the train, but were confined to a particular carriage (car number) which meant, seats are first-come-first-serve. 

Not fully grasping the concept of that, we just went ahead with positive expectations that we will get a seat as long as we were fast enough. yay! 





Those unreserved cars were completely full (from their previous, previous, previous stations) in fact it was rather packed and we ended up boarding and standing in between the links of 2 cars. 

ALL FULL. full. full. full. just gotta stand for the next (possible) 2 hours. Sigh.

There is just something about being on vacation - I just never seem to get overly moody even if shit happens. 

So, we decided to shoot a MV of ourselves looking emo. Just for fun. After all, we were stuck, there was nothing better to do, other than taking selfies. No?

Obviously, with no proper seats, there was no proper view of the scenery outside. So, that was all I managed to snap - scenery in the car and 1 shot outside.

The end. 

Yes, the rest of the time, I was just putting on the rest of my make-up. 

1st Day in Kenting....

Was all about travelling and going for random walks 

Upon arriving at Zuoying HSR Station, we went to the exit advised by the driver and had to wait for a little longer as the car was a 5-seater (it's wiser for the driver to maximise the seating capacity in order to earn the maximum), so there were 3 other passengers we had to wait for, which was ok, since it was not too long a wait - about 10-15 mins?

Well the other 3 passengers were Taiwanese from some part of Taiwan going to Kenting for a Summer holiday, so that was when I realised,

"Darn, the beach must be crowded - it's summer holidays!"

All I wanted to do then was sleep. Seriously - after 1 night of flying, madly rushing to catch the train and standing for the previous close to 2 hours - there is really nothing more I want but to sleep.

So, that explains just this 1 shot from the back window of the car.

Despite being indoors more than half the time, I must say the weather seem to be super warm and dry! I was expecting it to be cooler than SG, but it was really scorching hot!

I only got the revelation of how far Kenting was in that car ride!

The ride never seem to end!

"The beach better be darn worth the effort..."

those were my thoughts as I drifted into my bumpy nap.

The next time I opened my eyes, I heard the driver talk about the jam along this route he was taking, and how this ride could have been shorter, as well as telling us how he had travelled the "smaller roads" to make the journey smoother.

And when I wind down the blinds in the car, this was the sight I spotted!

It wasn't magnificent view, but it did wash away the blues of not having enough sleep.
And finally, we arrived at our choice accommodation!

Bethlehem B&B 
aka 伯利

Bethlehem B&B is a Greek-inspired concept hotel/hostel and it was because of its Greek-inspired theme that appealed to me (when I was surfing on Agoda).

The charges for staying in this accommodation was not exactly cheap, but I decided to just go ahead with this because the photos looked too irresistible!

3,800 NT (est. SG$ 162) for a Saturday night  
2,800 NT (est. SG$ 119) for a Sunday night for a deluxe double w balcony room (aka "tian kong hao lan")

This is the Summer Vacation period, hence prices are more expensive as compared to other non-peak periods. (I think there is a cheaper room, superior or something)

Location: Chuanfanshi (aka Sail Rock), 船帆石

Name of closest bus stop to this location: Chuanfanshi 船帆石

Bus stop is located within walking distance to the accomodation (3 - 5 mins walk) kinada like next door.

Beach was also closeby (3 - 5 mins walk).  

More information available here:

The entrance was not grand, just a small entrance that looks almost like that of a shop house amidst the many "shop houses" that lined the main road of Kenting - Smaller than I had expected but it's suppose to be a "bed & breakfast" place, so it was acceptable.

Also, if I may comment, the service just barely made it pass the mark - they did their job in checking you in and all that, but it just seems to me that they aren't interested in offering information and were not enthusiastic at all. When I inquired about the places of attractions and what we can do, the reply was a sheepish face with an accompanying hand to pass the tourist brochure to me and that was it. The end. Considered service?

See what I mean by "a row of shop houses"? But it does like inviting even though small.

And this is how the lobby looks upon entering the small door - very pretty sight!

Immediately outside of the lobby was the sea - but this part of the sea was only for scenery and viewing pleasure.

It's not the part where you could dive into the water or hangout at the beach as there was none, just rocks. Very ideal for photo-taking though, because that rock that's sticking out from the water in the middle was the exact tourist attraction that people know as - Sail Rock (aka Chaunfansi 船帆石).

Yup this is what I mean by "all rocks..."

Having said, the beach that was accessible for lazing around and dipping into the water was just about 5 minutes walk away from here and looks like this.

I've discovered that the accommodation here all seem to have a "shop front" which was the main lobby, facing the sea (as you would have seen from the above-picture), all lined in a row - but the actual room units were in fact tucked in the few buildings "hidden" in the alleys and lanes behind its main lobby. So there was no seaview to speak of even if you booked a room with balcony. :(

Nostalgic back alleys we walked through to get to our designated room.

I've learnt not to assume I'd get a sea view just because my accomodation is located in front of the beach. -_-

Nevertheless, this was the lobby to the unit we were staying at - pretty much comprises the same mood and Greek-inspiration from the main lobby.

And here is the awesome room we stayed in for 2 nights!! 
The best we've stayed in throughout the 10 days spent in Taiwan. 

There is s shower curtain that can be drawn - relax!

The not-so-nice part was the view at the balcony because there is a building-in-construction. I reckon another wing of the same kinda apartment units.

Frankly - this is a nonsense view!

Fortunately, there are more pros than cons here - I'd let it go.

Now, what to do in Kenting?

In fact, we only asked ourselves this question when we arrived. After all, all we wanted was really a relaxed itinerary, just to hangout at the beach, play in the water and just chill - though it was hard to "chill" in that scorching summer weather. (Seriously, it felt worse than the weather in Singapore - the sun rays were simple unrelenting!)

Basically, all we did over the 2D1N was really this:



Since we had nothing in mind and it was already 2 plus in the afternoon where the Sun was still rearing its fiery on little Kenting Island, we decided to just wander the streets of Kenting and get some proper food since all we had all morning were random convenience-store food.
As advised from the lobby recep, there is a bus stop just outside of our accommodation that will bring us to the main street of Kenting.

And when we head out, we could not find the darn bus stop because we had the idea of a "bus stop" with it's bus stop shelter and some seats. Unfortunately, the "bus stop" was more like a "bus sign".

It is no wonder that we missed it since it laid well-hidden amidst the clutter!
But there was no other better mode of transportation. Either the bus or a scooter (you can very well rent one, with / without license!).  Despite my love for bikes - no thanks, not under that weather.

Did you just ask about a taxi? 

No. They don't have one. 

Yes. It is true.

So we finally boarded the bus which brought us to the main street in less than 10 mins. Each trip cost about SG $1 per pax. 

With the sun casting its warmth on us, we just jumped into the first decent cafe we saw and this is called - Sharks Bites Toasts. The shop is rather big and bright - being yellow in color. And the food in the menu looks really appetizing! 

It's my favourite TOAST! 

I know right... go to Taiwan and eat Western food - totally no logic in there, but, happy can already, no?

Frankly, please look at this image and say it doesn't look yummy?


We spent quite abit of time in that cafe sorting out the itinerary for that day and the next. 

And strangely (in a positive way) enough, the waitress in this cafe actually offered ALOT more information on what we can do in Kenting as compared to the little ms sheepish who hung out at the front desk. 

She advised us on directions to go to Eluanbi, what to expect there, and also the nearby beaches we could explore i.e Chaunfanshi VS Nanwan and also the relevant tips about water sports. 

I must say I really appreciated all the information she readily offered, and at that, enthusiastically. I hope she finds herself in a customer service line cause she is a gem.
Shopping in the afternoon was no fun cause it was too hot to stay out, so I found a massage place (which was not that cheap!), but went for it anyway and got acquainted with this little cutie. He was lazing in the massage parlor refusing to move regardless of the attention we showered him. HRUMP!


By the time we came out from the massage, the sky was significantly darker and the air was much cooler. 

The streets of Kenting were starting to buzz with shop owners opening their tents and setting up their BBQ food. 

Puts me in a really laid-back mood.

And these old-school games that I have not seen in a long time... with kids excitedly trying to hit the balls spot-on-target in a physical machine rather than a computerised, flat screen one.

Looking at them makes me feel like I am in the old-school times where life was simpler and contentment was within reach just. like. that.

 What is a Taiwanese street without its signature street food?

So, while we hurried down the streets of Kenting, we were scanning for the bus stop so as to catch a bus to Eluanbi.

The more we walked, the more confused we got cause there was no bus stop / bus sign in sight and the sun was setting quickly.

Need to move out fast!

And lo and behold... there you have it, the bus-stop hidden in the clutter, once again.

It was so dilapidated that we didn't spot it. And when we asked this guy (tattoo shop boss) for directions to the bus stop, he went "here it is - behind me..."

Our faces went: -_-

This is the bus stop route, for the record.


We alighted a Eluanbi Park which was less than 10 mins away and spotted the entrance to the park, unaware that we needed to pay for entering the park.

We were there at about 5 or 6 ish... and according to the person at the counter, they close at 7pm, but she also rephrased that the counter closes at 7pm, the park remains open 24 hours so, we can basically leave anytime we like - even the next morning. hmmm

Weird because wouldn't that mean we won't need to pay to enter if we arrived after 7pm? Since the counter is closed but the door remains open? Oh well...

The park is obviously - a park.

And because it was late evening, the weather was a lot more forgiving, with occasional breeze that made the walk in the park somewhat romantic - imagine - palm trees swaying in the wind and the sun setting in the backdrop.

It helps that the park was not at all crowded.

I do find it quite a suitable place for picnics in the open field. It'll be nice lying back-down face-up, sky-gazing.

Of course, we found the "legendary" lighthouse as we walked further into the park.

As it was already well past 6, the light house building was close to guests and we couldn't explore te building, but it seems good enough to capture a few nice shots of the light house. After all, a light house - is a light house. I did not expect to explore a museum.

With the intention to catch the setting sun, we then headed into a dark, narrow and deserted looking path that indicated "Southernmost Point" (somewhere I read a little about when I was researching on Kenting).

The path was a little rocky and the overgrown grass and tress made it really dark in there. If not for the presence of Mr Chan, I would have NOT went in there. The sound of crickets simply got louder and louder and at one point, I thought they were gonna fly into me. OMG!

Indeed - perseverance won the day when we caught an amazing sight of the setting sun - so near, but so far. 

This was the tip of the island and I kinda felt sorry we didn't get to the park earlier, otherwise we would have alot more time hanging out along this "tip".

The sound of the waves crashing into the rocks, the sea breeze that blows its crisp air over us with the backdrop of a golden sun setting behind the horizon makes this spot a romantic hangout.

There was a proper wooden walk-way to lead one further, but strange enough, there were no lamp posts. So once the sun sets, it would be a little dangerous and dark because everything beneath were just rocks that led into the sea.

So, day 1 in Kenting ended with us retiring early for the night because we had almost no sleep since we boarded the airplane the night before.

2nd Day in Kenting....

Was all about beaches and more beaches

So there were 2 key beaches we could hangout at:

The one 5 mins away from our accommodation -Chuanfanshi Beach, a smaller, less commercialised one;

And another one known as Nanwan, bigger; longer beach, but more commercialised (hence, more crowded!)

We started the day pretty late, by the time we left the room (about 1030am?), there was no more breakfast available, so we happily headed straight for the beach!

This shot pretty much captures the entire length of the beach. Not a big beach to boot, but it's cozy and not overly crowded.

Even though there are lots of water sports and people hanging out at the sandy coast, the water activities took place out of the perimeter where people where taking a dip ad swimming, so the part of the sea where people took a dive was pretty private and you have "personal space".

The one thing I realise about this beach, was how big rocks were sticking out from the water - so aptly described by the name of this beach - Chaunfanshi - sail rocks... So no heavy-duty swimming, just dip and go.

Love combination of colors in this photo - and how natural it is. I didn't even do ANY photo editing (too lazy for that!). 

And this was the quieter spot near the end of the beach. In fact, the lifeguard prohibits any swimming in this corner as the sea bed was too rocky and dangerous for activities.


I must say how refreshing the water was! Absolutely clear and sparkling.

Nothing like the beaches in Singapore, seriously. 

With the horrible feels-like-40-degree weather, I cannot do without renting one of these huge beach brollies which were super over priced at 300 NT (about 12 SGD) for a full day and I rented twice! (Once at Chuanfanshi & once at Nawan... -_-)

Oh, and don't forget to spam the sun block!

Even the dog I found needed to go foe a dive because it was soooo warm!! This is really a Summer Vacation - I dare say it was really hotter and even more scorching than the weather in Singapore over this period.

We finally felt some hunger pangs set in after a couple of hours in Chunfanshi beach and decided we should go indulge in some food. (We haven't had any all morning!) Simply too enthusiastic about going to the beach before it got too warm only to discover it was just as warm!

This was taken at a food place located just outside our accommodation - it wasn't that great, so no photos of the food. -_- Just selfies ok?

There is really just a few places to hang out in/around. And when it comes to cafe / food - where else but back to the main street of Kenting?

Being half hungry and unsatified with our meal, we went in search for food along the main street once more!

OMG - I can still remember the heat from the blazing sun that made walking along the road such a chore! Thank God for sunblocks and umbrellas!

And guess what? 

We ended up at Shark Bites again!

Too hard to resist!

Another one factor for wanting to hangout in Shark Bites was really because of the air-con! We just wanted to chill out and hide from the sun - and we did some planning on Kaoshiung whilst passing time in there.

It was the mid-day's sun by then, and too warm to go to the beach anyways.

Thereafter, we took off and decided to walk around but to find out the shops are all less-happening in the day. They are all open, but the street was significantly empty with not few people walking around.

Guess they are all at the beach?

I was tempted to rent one of these to ride around!

Nobody - just cars!

Next stop was  Nanwan which was 2 stops away from Keting main street. 

This is a much bigger & longer stretch of beach. Alot more commercialised and crowded where they had public toilets, a building that contains food establishments and even a permanent event stage!

As it was a Sunday, there was some promotion with hot show girls hanging out there as well!

Just looking at the tracks created by the water sports vehicals + the width between the sand brollys to the sea is enough to tell the numerous activities and how big this beach was as compared to Chuanfanshi.

People of all ages were found in Nanwan. Big groups of friends, intimate couples in pairs of 2 and families etc.

It seems like a local destination for Taiwanese cause I didn't spot many foreigners. Didn't come across any Singaporeans. I did hear some Hongkongers. But that was about it.

Frankly, I preferred the beach at Chuanfanshi because it was more cosy and secluded (if I were to compare with Nanwan).

And of course I had to try a serving of local-delight - "Chua Bing" - shaven ice!

When you laze at the beach, hear the waves mixed with joyful laughter, 
savour and cup of shaven Mango ice and look up in the sky to see clear blue skies.


Since we missed the street food the previous night, it was the night to pig-out while walking along the main street of Kenting!

Mouth-watering dishes lined the streets as the sun sets and suddenly, it felt as if the entire Kenting population has came alive and gathered here!

See what I mean?

Enough said - indeed, no regrets going the distance to get to Kenting!

As we left, I also grabbed a few brouchers (yup, only when we were about to leave!) which indicated some full / half tour packages, where private cars are hired to take you to different scenic areas in Kenting - quite costly though - I was happy spending my time in Kenting the way I did!

Signing off with a cheers!


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