I recently spent a few days in Kaohsiung (高雄). I have only passed through the city briefly before, so I wanted to take some time to look around the city and explore a little. I also wanted to see Kaohsiung's new MRT system which I will write about in another post.
On the first day I visited the Kaohsiung Museum of History which provides a good introduction to the city. The museum is located in the old city hall building which was built in the 1930s. It starts telling the history of Kaohsiung from the time its original inhabitants, the Makatao people. The name Takao came from the Makatau language and probably means bamboo forest. This was later represented by the Chinese characters 打狗 (dǎgǒu) which mean "hit the dog". The Japanese later changed the characters to 高雄 (gāoxióng) which have a much more elegant meaning and that how is the city became known as Kaohsiung.
The city is built around the harbour and there are many places to experience the waterside feel of the city. The Love River has a wonderful promenade alongside it. The Museum of History and also the Kaohsiung Municipal Film Archive are both located by the river. I saw a group of school children out sailing on the river too.
Qijin Island is reached via a short ferry ride. This is the place where you can see some of Kaohsiung's history preserved be it in the Mazu Temple established in 1673 or the hilltop Qihou Battery and Lighthouse. It is also a place for recreation with bikes for hire and a beach. I even saw some surfers out catching some waves.
Shou Shan (壽山) is the large mountain to the north of the harbor. It is quite a steep hike to the top, but the views are magnificent taking in all of the city and the harbor.
The Dream Mall is an enormous shopping mall in the south of the city topped by a ferris wheel. It contains a vast array of shops and department stores. I am not a fan of shopping malls but for those who are then the mall is probably a must visit.
The 347 metre tall 85 Tower dominates Kaohsiung's skyline. It was Taiwan's tallest building until Taipei 101 was completed. Overall Kaohsiung seemed a very pleasant city and a nice change of pace from Taipei. With the orange line of the MRT set to open soon the city will be even easier to get around and well worth a visit.
*more photos in the Kaohsiung set at flickr.