Pingtung 屏東 — Day 8 ...

Drying squid in the sunshine on Cijin Island (旗津區)

At the Cihou Fort (旗後砲臺) on Cijin Island 

Overlooking the non-swimmable beach on Cijin Island

Our ride on the island (NT$400/2 hours)

Pingtung 屏東 — Day 7 ...

At the not so impressive Cigu Salt Mountain (七股鹽山) in Tainan (台南)

The 40 minute drive to Cigu Salt Mountain
My travel partner was still unwell and the weather wasn't great but that didn't stop me from hopping on a train for the hour and a half trip up to Tainan. Once there, I rented a scooter from just outside the train station for NT$500 and took off to Cigu in search of a salt mountain I had been wanting to see for years.

The day was grey, cold and extremely windy. I wasn't dressed appropriately which made for a cold journey. The weather, perhaps, kept visitors away as I had the place to myself?! Or it could be that many already know this isn't an overly exciting tourist attraction ...

Making friends with the locals in Tainan while birdwatching at Taijiang National Park (台江國家公園)

Taijiang National Park as seen on Google Maps
Taijiang National Park is one of the more odd national parks I've been to. It mostly consists of wetlands and is a popular place to see the Black-faced Spoonbills. I was lucky enough to see two though I was hoping to see more. I hung around the area for hours and spoke with the volunteers about the birds and their habits.

The park was huge but after a half hour or so of zooming up and down tiny lanes, I went back to the bird watching site to see if more birds had shown up. Alas, no luck!

Before sundown, I made my way back to the Tainan train station. It was early the next day, at 4AM, that the southern part of Taiwan experienced a 6.4 earthquake causing a building to collapse in Tainan city. It was the first day of the Chinese New Year holiday and not a great way for the nation to start their nine-day holiday.

Pingtung 屏東 — Day 6 ...

Walking along the bridge on a gorgeous warm morning
After passing these bridges a few times by train, they were quickly added onto the list of places to see.

They are located near Pingtung City and an early morning visit grants you serenity!

Information here: Dashu Old Railway Bridge (大樹舊鐵橋)

Typhoon Morakot (2009) took part of this bridge down with heavy flooding

Pingtung 屏東 — Day 5 ...

Little Liuqiu island (小琉球) is a lovely coral island off the coast of Pingtung

The island is set up perfectly for those who wish to tour around for the day (NT$140 entry fee)

Pingtung 屏東 — Day 4 ...

My walking route in blue (same start/end point)
The weather on day four was overcast and my travel partner was sick with the flu. I decided to head out for the day and boy am I glad I did! I took the train from Pingtung into Kaohsiung station. I then hopped on the MRT over to Sizihwan station (西子灣) and grabbed a taxi (NT$100/flat rate) to the trailhead of the Shoushan National Nature Park. (壽山國家自然公園) This was the first of two visits!

Pingtung 屏東 — Day 3 ...

The spectacular Tianliao Moon World (田寮月世界)

These mud volcanoes can be found along the number 28 between Tianliao and Qishan

This bridge ...

Never have I been so thankful to come across a bridge.

This bridge here is located along the number 22 in southern Taiwan, dividing Pingtung County and Kaohsiung City.

My travel partner, Vernon, and I crossed this bridge twice on day two of our trip because it is situated beside the Foguangshan Monastery. Since I was still without my scooter, Vernon and I were doubled up on a 100cc that was provided by our Airbnb host. I used Google Maps on my phone to navigate our way to the monastery.

While wandering around Foguangshan, the scooter place in Kaohsiung called to say that my scooter had arrived and was ready for pickup. After sightseeing, I navigated us back to the train station in Pingtung and caught the train into Kaohsiung to fetch my scooter.

Since I had been using Google Maps for both trips, the battery was showing just over 30%  when I departed Zuoying station, where my bike was. Google Maps showed that the trip back to Pingtung County would be forty minutes and it wasn't until twenty minutes or so into the trip that I realized I had forgotten to change the settings so the route did not include toll roads or highways as these are off limits to scooters.

I realized Google Maps was taking me to the highway. My phone was about 17% at this point and turned onto low battery mode. The road I was following was dark and empty of life. There were a lot of industry businesses that were shut down for the night. I was dressed for a warm day, in flip-flops and without a jacket. I was becoming a little worried about finding my way back before my phone died.

I did not have a charger with me but I did have my backpack with money and a bank card. I thought if I found something open ... anything at all ... I could stop and ask for a charge. What were the chances of someone having an iPhone 5 charger out here in the middle of nowhere?!

Growing more concerned and cold and now in the complete dark, it seemed fitting that my phone died. I forced myself to remain positive and laugh at the situation. This is why I love to travel, isn't it?!

At a stoplight on this deserted road, a scooter rider pulled up beside me. I asked him if I was going in the right direction for Pingtung and he looked at me like I was crazy. He said it was very far. I asked him how far ... like, a half hour far? An hour far? He responded with 沒錯 (mei2 cuo4) which translates to 'not wrong'. He did say that I needed to follow the road for a long time and then cross a bridge. He seemed amused by me being so far from my desired destination.

I had no idea of the time as my phone is also my clock. I tried to enjoy the drive along the road and thought if I came across a hotel I could stop for the night and rethink my plan and find a charger for my phone.

It was around this time that off in the distance I saw a bridge that looked awfully familiar. (pictured here) Could it possibly be the same bridge beside Foguangshan?

I found myself chanting, please be the same bridge ... please be the same bridge ... please be the same bridge! And sure enough, it was.

I giggled the whole way over the bridge. I felt confident in navigating my way home. I made two small mistakes along the way back but realized them as I was making them. I was home in no time and ever so thankful to be there.

I crossed this bridge on more than a few occasions while staying Pingtung and each time I was on it, I couldn't help but smile. The things I get myself into while traveling. It's always an adventure! Everything that followed over the next two weeks came simply and I learned to pack my iPhone charger with me for the remainder of the trip.

Pingtung 屏東 — Day 2 ...

Wandering around the wonderful Foguangshan Monastery (佛光山) in Kaohsiung (高雄)

Pingtung 屏東 — Day 1 and 2 ...

The Xuanhuashan Cultural Center (玄華山文化院) in Kaohsiung (高雄)

One of many dragons out front of the Xuanhuashan Cultural Center

Walking around inside the Xuanhuashan Cultural Center
Day 1 — We were scheduled on a 2:30pm high speed train down to Kaohsiung. Upon arrival, we hopped a local train for the half hour ride over to Pingtung County where I had rented a room in someone's house on Airbnb. The host picked us up from the train station and took us to her home.

The first night we got settled and set out to find something to eat. There were plenty of noodle and dumplings shops in the area, so we decided on one little restaurant and enjoyed the food.

I was waiting for my scooter to arrive from Taipei but when I called the shop in the early evening,  it hadn't shown up yet.

Day 2 — Sunday morning and still no scooter. My travel partner, Vernon, and I headed out for some coffee and breakfast. After, we went back to the house unsure of what to do. The lady we were staying with had a scooter for us to use, so we decided to double up and go somewhere so as not to waste the day.

Our first stop was this temple pictured here. It wasn't on the list of places to see but how could one not stop when its presence was staring you in the face. Gorgeous from both the inside and out, it was a great way to start our vacation!