27 Nov - 31 Dec 2013 Kaohsiung

East Asia 
Taiwan aka Republic of China
Kaohsiung City
Qianzhen District 
Spacious and clean fully furnished studio apartment with small balcony, kitchenette and bathroom for TWD 8,000.- or US$ 270.- per month (including wifi, plus utilities: TWD 5.00/kWh).
Beer: 500-ml cans of ice-cold Taiwan Beer Classic (4.5 % alc./vol.) for TWD 35.- or US$ 1.20 per large can from the nearby Carrefour supermarket.

Click below for an interactive road map of the rented studio apartment in downtown Kaohsiung City and for directions:
N 22° 36.82' E 120° 18.42'


Matt: Riding the world’s third fastest high-speed elevator at a speed of 600 metres per minute to the 74th-floor viewing deck of the 348-m high 85 Sky Tower (admission: TWD 150.- or US$ 5.- per person, return), enjoying spectacular views over the South China Sea, Cijin Island, the Love River, Shoushan Mountain and the orderly wilderness of the buildings of Kaohsiung City, with my new neighbourhood right below me, and memorising the location of vital landmarks in the vicinity of the KMRT Sanduo Shopping District Station: the 7-Elevens and FamilyMarts for survival, the street cafés and late-nite pubs for entertainment, the temples and spas for R&R.

Matt: Exploring my new neighbourhood on foot and sensing with pleasure the re-activation of this distinctly positive “Taiwan Feeling” within me, the sensation of a mature and agreeable civic society where everything revolves in a well-organised and pragmatic way around the daily needs of the individual: (i) cheap 24/7 convenience stores and clean massage parlours at every turn, (ii) alert security guards and closed-circuit cameras everywhere, (iii) modern school buildings and comfortable social clubs for senior citizens within spitting distance of each other, (iv) pleasant encounters with helpful and respectful people at any given opportunity, and (v) top-quality ISO-9001 certified temples and other places of worship across the whole model country; as if Abraham Maslow himself had been in charge of the blueprint for Taiwan, one of our favourite Asian countries.

Matt: Circumnavigating the nicely restored Lotus Pond in the north of Kaohsiung, a somewhat Disneyesque tourist hot spot with the highest temple density in all of Taiwan, climbing the old Fongshan City Wall and ticking off the rather new-age attractions in this scenic area, thus (i) meditating in the 1976 CE Confucius Temple, the largest Confucius temple in Taiwan and modelled on the famous Song dynasty style temple in Qufu, (ii) entering the Dragon-and-Tiger Tower through the dragon’s mouth and coming out between the tiger’s teeth, in order to be on the safe side and to turn shitty luck into good fortune, (iii) getting enlightened at the Temple of Enlightenment further up the road, (iv) crossing the Nine Turns Bridge between the 1953 CE octagonal Spring and Autumn Pagodas, dedicated to Kuan Kung, my God of War, and overlooking the lake from the top of the pagodas, and (v) gazing without fear into the eyes of the 24-m high Syuan Tian Emperor, the Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven, at the peninsular Yuandi Temple.

Matt: Cheering on the excellent high-pole lion dance troupes from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China and Taiwan during the International Lion Dance Championship (admission: TWD: 600.- or US$ 20.- per person) in the modern Kaohsiung Arena and enjoying tremendously the dynamic and colourful cultural shows (e.g. noisy battle drums, various martial arts, giant god puppets) during the breaks between the dancers’ fascinating contests of precision, speed, courage, fear, and shock.

Matt: Foraging the lively night markets in my immediate neighbourhood (Liouhe Tourist Night Market, Guanghua Night Market, Jhongsing Night Market) for healthy vegetarian dinners, realising the fact that Asian night markets are actually quite often a vegetarian's nightmare, consuming faceless chunks of Taiwan’s infamous but lekker enough fragrant stinky tofu, observing sullenly the tour groups of burping and slurping pork eaters from "mainland" China, and choking on the moral and spiritual question whether or not humans should eat anything with a face on it.

Matt: Taking revenge on the human carnivores and discovering three different outlets of the Jujube Tree, a chain of modern vegetarian restaurants which promotes a “Superior Green Life”: (i) the efficient and cheap, pay-by-weight buffet-style Tsai Shu Parkway restaurant-and-take-out +88673155966, (ii) the spic-and-span and affordable Jujube Tree food buffet +88672154966 in the third basement of the Hanshin Department Store and (iii) the vegan-friendly, a trifle more up-market Jujube Tree “Hong Kong-style” flagship restaurant +88679705966 on the 7th floor of the Dream Mall (with great views over the city) where I ate the most delicious vegetarian dim sum ever and took my time to reflect about the fact that I had started my vegetarianism for health reasons, then it became a moral choice, and now it’s just to annoy fat people: “Please, enjoy the dead animals inside yourself. Bon Appétit”.


Matt: Making temporarily peace with the human carnivores and celebrating with my favourite Taiwanese firewater, the 58-proof Fu-Feng kaoliang from Kinmen Island, the unexpected discovery of more vegetarian eateries in downtown Kaohsiung: (i) the friendly and creative Sushan Yuan vegetarian neighbourhood restaurant +88673386733, a family run, pay-by-weight buffet restaurant-and-take-out offering a better-than-average selection of vegetarian dishes with a particularly good selection of marinated tofu dishes (“mock meat”), vegan-friendly since egg dishes seem easy to spot, with a choice of white or brown rice, (ii) the Kwan Miau vegetarian restaurant and take-out, a reliable no-nonsense cheapie, situated right behind the train station, which offers 20 - 30 cooked meals, featuring about ten different green vegetables, along with delicious dishes of sprouts, seaweed, roots, gourds, beans, tofu and mushrooms, and, nearby, (iii) a well-organised, impeccably clean and McDonald-like Loving Hut (“Be Vegan, Make Peace”) +88672856895, part of the international chain of vegan fast-food restaurants inspired by the successful business woman, merchandising mystic and self-appointed “supreme master” Ching Hai, a controversial advocate (part Buddha, part Madonna) for green living whom I would like to down-size a tiny wee bit: “Be Vegan, Eat Healthy, Respect Life”.

Matt: Burning excess calories and exploring Kaohsiung’s bustling harbour area, the largest harbour in the country and one of the top ten great ports in the world: (i) the green river-side parks, shady bank-side promenades and modern museums along the clean “lower” Love River shared by sailing schools for juniors and solar-powered pleasure boats for seniors, (ii) the recently opened Pier 12 aka Love Pier, (iii) the busy Gushan Ferry Pier, (iv) the atmospheric Fisherman’s Wharf and Banana Pier with pubs and outdoor shops, and last, but certainly not least, (v) the Pier-2 Art District where abandoned warehouses were renovated into art studios, live-music venues and posh restaurants.

Matt: Visiting Cijin Island, a slender island off Kaohsiung which serves as a natural breakwater for the harbour, thus taking the ferry from the Gushan Ferry Pier to the Cijin Ferry Terminal (single fare: TWD 8.- per senior citizen), burning incense sticks and tossing moon blocks aka bwah bwey for good luck in the fishing community’s 1673 CE Matsu Temple, climbing up to the 1883 CE Cihou Lighthouse, light characteristics: Fl.(4)W30s58m25M, and watching both (i) many giant container ships sail through the tiny mouth of the harbour and (ii) a remote-controlled SUAV camera drone hover over the harbour basin in order to gather intel for the harbour master, and taking quite a few cerebral snapshots of the stunning sunsets with their fire-like afterglow in the burning skies over the South China Sea (…which looked as if a small nuke had gone off beyond the western horizon).

Matt: Purchasing a 59-day single-entry tourist visa for the Philippines (requirements: two pass photos and TWD 1,200.- or US$ 40.50 per applicant) from the efficient and friendly Manila Economic & Cultural Office Kaohsiung +88673985935 (address: 802台灣高雄市三民區民族一路80 , 9樓之2, Grand 50 Tower) which issued my visa on the very same day.

Matt: Joining the crowds for the excellent live show of the New Year’s Eve Countdown Concert at Dream Mall, celebrating the start of the New Year 2014 CE under a fantastic fireworks display and surprising my family and our friends, who still live in the past of the year 2013 CE, with mind-boggling Skype calls from the future: “Don’t worry about the world ending today, it’s already tomorrow in Taiwan!” 

Deciding about the upcoming changes in the format of our travel blog: (i) from location-based to event-based, which will allow us to deliver more quality, (ii) from activity-centred to contemplation-centred, which will allow us to tap into 120 years of shared life experience, and (iii) from Seffrican to German, which will hopefully help our bilingual grandchildren to improve their Germanic language skills.
“Ich wär ein schlechter Kapitän
die Meridiane sind mein Handwerk nicht.
Und trommelte auch der Regen in den Tropen
Neuguineas die Mangoblätter wund,
es heißt, am Ende aller Reisen weiß man doch
wiederum die Erde rund.
Und Abendstern und Kleiner Bär
sind Feuer in der schwarzen Wiese über meinem Haus.
Die wahren Abenteuer sind im Kopf,
und sind sie nicht im Kopf, dann sind sie nirgendwo.
Die wahren Abenteuer sind im Kopf, in Deinem Kopf,
und sind sie nicht in Deinem Kopf, dann suche sie.
Die wahren Abenteuer sind im Kopf, in Euren Köpfen,
und sind sie nicht in Euren Köpfen, dann suchet sie...”
(André Heller)

 Click below for more blog posts about game changers
05 May - 10 May 2013 Phuket
02 Jun - 01 Jul 2012 Toronto
14 Sep - 24 Oct 2008 Phuket
01 Jan - 25 Aug 2006 Ashkelon
15 Mar - 04 Aug 2001 Sibari

Click below for a summary of this year's travels 

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United States:
For Amazon schnaeppchens from Germany, please click here
For Amazon bargains from Canada, please click here
For Amazon bargains from the United Kingdom, please click here

From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life: 
It’s bad to cherish knowledge;
It’s good to distinguish
(i) right from wrong,
(ii) beautiful from ugly,
and (iii) good from bad. 
Keep your bearings!