Last weekend I went with two colleagues to Kenting, a town in south of Taiwan. I have heard of this place long time before. The beaches of Kenting are well known far beyond Taiwan, and you can do a lot of fun when you get there тАУ snorkeling, scuba-diving, riding a motorcycle, just to name a few. And still, this place is easily reachable from north of Taiwan, from cities such as Hsinchu and Taipei. This is possible because of the high-speed rail system in Taiwan which trains are running at speeds of 200 km/h.
So I left with Paul and David early Saturday morning on the high-speed train. The price of the ticket is 1200 NT dollars, or 40 USD. After enjoying a fast ride for 1.5 hours (I was reading WIRED magazine), we arrived to Zuoying, a town which belongs to Gaoshung city. The latter is the second-largest city of Taiwan, next only to Taipei. The high-speed train does not go all the way to Kenting, so at Zuoying we had to take a taxi. A 2-hour ride in taxi costs 400 NT dollars, or 15 USD.
We arrived to Kenting at 11AM. In fact, the taxi driver dropped us off at the place where we could rent the scooters. After doing that we rode to a diving center in downtown of Kenting. It is a very nice place тАУ you can sign up for diving lessons on the 1st floor, and there is a hotel on the 2nd floor which room rate is only 15 USD/night.
Initially we planned to go snorkeling, but then I found out that it was possible to sign up for the diving course at the same day, so I became willing to try diving. To me it seemed as such a thrilling experience! Paul and David went to a beach to do snorkeling in the meantime. The diving course consists of two parts: first are some exercises in swimming pool and second is diving in ocean! During the first part the instructor will teach you how to handle equipment тАУ mask, oxygen tube, etc. and what to do if water gets into the mask and stuff like that. Then we went to various levels of depth in the swimming pool тАУ 3m, 5m, and finally 10m. That was the end of lesson 1.
In the evening we went to the night market on the main street of Kenting. There were lots of people. It seems that they all spend their time at beaches which there are plenty of near Kenting and all gather at the main street after sunset. There are many food stands where you can try local delicacies. This night market is a celebration of life тАУ people are walking around in a very happy mood and are just enjoying the life.
On Sunday I had another diving lesson in the swimming pool during which we recalled the exercises we did on Saturday. It was a brief lesson, only to confirm my readiness for a dive in the ocean. So that was scheduled for the afternoon, around 2PM. In the meantime we went with Paul and David for a ride on motorcycles. It is funny that initially we forgot to fill in the tank of once of the motorcycles with gas, but luckily David spotted the problem early on, so we returned to Kenting which was the only place having a gas station.
Anyway, after a while we arrived to the southern-most point of Taiwan. This was a place I definitely needed to take a picture of. Then we went further down the road and had lunch at some restaurant. Interestingly, they are not serving that much seafood in those restaurant, the more common kind of food is beef-noodle, tofu, and some vegetables.
Magnificent views open up while you ride a motorcycle along the road near Kenting. Ocean, and hills, and beaches. The air is so clear and warm! This area creates a feeling of happiness and relaxation, and brings piece to your mind.
Then in the afternoon we went to the ocean for my first real dive! After checking the equipment we walked from the shore straight into the ocean. At some point we put on the fins and there it goes тАУ my first dive! The underwater world is beautiful and much different from you can find above. It is a truly 3-dimensional life where you can move in any direction, hang in the air without touching anything. I guess the experience is close to that of astronauts. The slope of the bottom is not steep, so we arrived to the depth of 10 m rather smoothly. After spending some time watching fish and corals, we went a bit up, and spend some more time at the depth of 5 meters or so. Then after 10 minutes we went up to the surface. I was so happy that everything worked out nicely! By this diving I have developed genuine interest in the under-water world. Earlier I have watched many TV shows dedicated to nature and ocean, but you should try it once rather than watch it many times!
After finishing our diving, we picked up some other divers from other beaches and together went for a dinner. We have celebrated my first dive with some delicious local food. I am really thankful to my diving coaches Ryan and Dan-ker! They pay a lot of attention to their students.
Then we arrived at 6PM back to the diving center. Paul and David were already there. In fact, they went back to the place where we rented the motorcycles to return them. The taxi back to Zuoying was scheduled at 6:30PM. I had to change cloths quickly and grab my stuff. We arrived to Zuoying at 9PM, because we also picked up some people along the ride.
Then we decided to enjoy our dinner which was a mistake, because we missed the last train to Hsinchu. Well, a trip without some unexpected situation is boring. So, we had to take a train going to Taipei, we were able to get off it at one stop before Taipei. It was already midnight! There was obviously no bus to Hsinchu. So we had to take another taxi. Riding during the night on a high way is so enjoyable тАУ the air is chilly, and you can enjoy a beautiful view from the taxiтАЩs window. The only problem is that such a night ride costs some money, obviously more than normal. But thatтАЩs OK, I donтАЩс╣п regret that. After all, we have had lots of fun in Kenting, so it was not a bad idea to stay there a bit longer.
I arrived at my house at 1:30 AM. My skin was burning after being exposed to the southern sun. I took shower and fell asleep instantly.