October 14 – 17: Kenting, Tawain (Written on October 17)
On Friday morning, we took the HSR (high-speed rail) from Taipei to the very last stop in the Southern direction, Zouying. It’s fairly inexpensive (by American standards) and is very fast. From the Zouying stop, we took an express shuttle bus to the Howard Beach Resort, where we’re staying in Kenting. It was about a two/two-and-a-half hour bus ride.
When we booked our trip to Taiwan, I spent time researching Taiwan beaches. Since Taiwan is an island, I figured there would be lots of beaches. However, there seemed to be only one area of the island that is famous for its beaches, and that is Kenting. Kenting is on the exact opposite end of the island from Taipei. Before our trip, I also spent a lot of time doing online research about how to get to Kenting and where to stay. I scoured websites and blogs and struggled to find information. At the bottom of this post, I’ll include information about how to get to Kenting and where to stay for all Americans/Westerners wanting to travel there from Taipei.
Sadly, there was a typhoon here a week ago, so the resort’s access to the beach was blocked off by lots of downed trees, and the scenic tour of the Botanical Gardens/Kenting National Park was not offered due to the typhoon damage. Those were the two things I really wanted to do down here in Kenting, so I was pretty bummed at first. I don’t think we’ll ever get back here again, so it felt like a major bummer.
John and I made good use of the pool and the indoor water park. The pool overlooks the ocean. So even though we couldn’t access the beach, we still had a beautiful view. Kenting is technically in the tropics and the ocean is so, so blue. The view of the ocean is such a tease since we haven’t found a way to get down there! The indoor water park is much smaller than American water parks, but it was still fun. There weren’t a lot of people at the water park, so we were able to go down the slides multiple times with no line whatsoever. The lazy river wasn’t as “lazy” as American lazy rivers. The current is much, much slower and requires you to paddle a bit. Another interesting thing is that the hot tubs here are luke warm.
Connected to the resort is a restaurant called “Rabbit Rabbit.” It’s a western style restaurant and it’s delicious and super cheap! We’ve eaten there four times haha. Saturday night we tried a Tex-Mex restaurant connected to the resort called “Smokey Joe’s.” It was interesting to try Taiwan’s version of Tex-Mex… it’s not exactly the same as in America. The smells of the food here in Taiwan (both in Kenting and Taipei) have been really hard for me. A lot of the smells make me feel fairly nauseous.
I’ve definitely felt pretty homesick while here in Taiwan. I miss being able to speak the same language as everyone else. In Taipei, there are a lot more English speakers than here in Kenting. John’s uncle isn’t here with us in Kenting, so John and I have to rely on ourselves to communicate with others. We feel pretty alone and isolated. I will be happy to be back in Taipei this afternoon.
Some fun things I want to remember:
- Swim caps: Here in Taiwan, it’s customary to wear swim caps in the water. Everyone wears swim caps. If you’re not wearing one, you’re not allowed in the water. Whenever we’ve gone to the outdoor pool, the lifeguards have given us caps to wear. However, when we went to the indoor waterpark, we had to buy swim caps. So now John and I own our very own Taiwanese swim caps!
- Please “alight” the train: All the train announcements have been in English. Instead of saying please “exit” the train, the announcement is please “alight” the train. We learned form John’s uncle that this is a British saying.
- “Selfies” in front of the pool: A lot of resort guests don’t get in the pool, but they come and take “selfies” at the pool. They’ll stick their feet in the pool and take a picture, or they’ll sit on a lounge chair and take a picture. Then they leave. It’s fun to watch. From what David has told us, water recreation isn’t a huge thing in Taiwan like it is in the U.S. Perhaps that’s why even though Taiwan is an island, there aren’t a lot of touristy beaches.
- “Typhoon broke the beach”: We asked one of the lifeguards how to get down to the beach. He didn’t speak English, but I think he got the gist of what we were saying. He typed something in his phone, and then his phone translated what he typed into English. The English translation was: “Typhoon broke the beach.” English translations make me smile 🙂
The view from our hotel room is beautiful! We’re on the top floor, and our view overlooks the National Forest and a picturesque green mountain. It’s beautiful down here in Kenting. I am grateful we’re able to spend a few days outside of Taipei. It’s fun to see the beach and countryside. I also very much enjoyed the HSR trip. In just a couple of hours, we were able to see hundreds of miles of Taiwan. If you come to Taiwan, I highly recommend traveling the entire length of the island. Kenting is so, so different than Taipei.
Click here to view part 1 of our Taiwan trip.
Where to stay in Kenting: We stayed at the Howard Beach Resort. As a heads up, the hotel’s mobile website isn’t in English. If you use a computer, you can access their website in English. If you call the resort, ask to speak to someone who speaks English. They’ll transfer you to someone who speaks English. There will always be someone at the front desk/concierge desk who speaks English. However, the individuals who work at the resort’s pools generally do not speak English, but they are very friendly and we’ve been able to communicate somewhat. The Howard Beach Resort offers private beach access, a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, an indoor water park (small by American standards), an arcade, a bowling alley, and the resort offers five different tour options of the surrounding area. Kenting is a national park so there is a lot to see. The resort is pretty old. From what I read online the top floor is the nicest, and that’s where we stayed. There are definitely many parts of the resort that seem old and worn down.
How to get to Kenting from Taipei: Take the HSR (high speed rail) from Taipei to Zouying. It’s about a two-hour train ride. Then take the Kenting Express Shuttle Bus from Zouying to Kenting. The Howard Beach Resort is actually the very last stop on the Kenting Express Shuttle. It’s about a two/two-and-a-half hour bus ride. The drivers don’t speak English, so just make sure to stay on the bus all the way to the very end of the line. The Kenting Express Shuttle leaves every 30 minutes from Zouying. To buy your ticket, just walk out the bus exit from the Zouying HSR station and the Kenting Express Shuttle ticket counter is just outside that exit. It’s so nice that the last stop is the Howard Beach Resort. The buses back to Zouying HSR station leave every 30 minutes from the resort.