Kaohsiung, Taiwan: AtoZ April Challenge

a-zchallengeDuring the semester break (mid-January to mid-February), Dave and I had a chance to travel  with one of my students to Kaohsiung, a city in southern Taiwan. I shared some of our adventures a couple months ago when we went even further south, culminating with Coffee in Paradise. You can look here for additional information about that part of the trip.

Now we go back in time by a day to the things we did before our trip to paradise. We traveled by train approximately 4 hours to get to Kaohsiung, where we met one of my students–Green Tea. She and her father took us to a lovely Hong Kong style barbeque restaurant, where we were treated to an amazing array of entrees. Servers pushed carts with various kinds of dishes past the tables of guests, and the items selected were marked on a tally sheet. I was glad I didn’t have to make any decisions. Our host made selections and had us try many things. It was a great experience.

Afterwards, we returned to the car and headed to the water front. This is the Love River. We were told that if we followed it, we would end up very close to their house. But when I jokingly suggested taking that route, I was told it might take a while. The river winds approximately 7.5 miles through the city. Take a look at the great view from the Pier 2 area.


We walked along a short distance and enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather. The weather in southern Taiwan is quite nice this time of year.









Then we headed over to the Pier-2 Art District to see the Kaohsiung International Container Arts Festival. On the way to the actual pier where the container exhibit was set up, we got to enjoy quite an array of colorful and whimsical art installations.













The actual container exhibit was fascinating. It was held from mid-December – to mid-February. The weather was beautiful the day we were there. Since I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked, here is a short video from Idea Books that shows some of the containers from the exhibit. The video doesn’t give you a good look at things, but you can begin to get an idea of the scope of it.


The information below explains the Container Arts Festival and is taken from the curator’s statement on the Kaohsuing City government website.



Kaohsiung International Container Arts Festival is a biennial event that has been held for six times since 2001. Various artists around the world participating in the past container arts festivals presented diverse but complex conceptions of shipping containers developed throughout human civilization. Using containers as vehicles, these artworks were shown to the audience. Some of them might let the audience put themselves inside the containers to further experience the artists’ concepts through senses other than sight, yet these containers were presented as work of art instead of functional spaces for human daily activities.

Kaohsiung International Container Arts Festival 2013 attempts to re-examine the characteristics of containers and possible trends of human society, suggesting another development direction for container arts—“Inhabitable” container spaces.
“The Inhabitables” project, practicing the concept of “lifestyle design‧container architecture,” invites several domestic and international architects and spatial designers to design inhabitable container spaces and to further produce prototypes of their design. These containers exhibited at Pier-2 Art District during the container arts festival link up the interfaces of creative design and living space.

The pictures below show amazing living spaces. Pictures were not allowed inside the container, but if you can handle the stairways to the various levels, you can have access to a variety of different spaces for all different purposes. It was a delight to imagine the purposes for each of the rooms. The space was light and surprisingly open. I did not feel crowded as I toured it, even though there were several other people in it at the same time. There was occasional congestion at the stairways, but that’s only because more people were touring than there would be actually moving around if it were actually someone’s living space.

There were several containers that had been converted into different spaces. In the multi-story living structure, photos were not allowed inside, but the space was well organized and very bright. Lots of sun. Here are some of the pictures from the outside. If you look carefully, you will see me though the window.  🙂










In the picture on the right you see me in the doorway. Directly above that doorway is a window. You can see me in that window in the next photo. And next to that, I’ll be in window next to that on my way up to a lovely sleeping area.











There was another container that was made into a museum with many types of miniature robots and other human like creatures all made of metal. This unit, was based on a horizontal layout rather than vertical, and featured a porch and an entry area with tables for brochures and decorative items. A very inviting space.

We didn’t tour everything, as our time was somewhat limited, and there were lines at one of the other exhibits. One of the special features of the exhibit was a type of walkway which was a series of containers end to end that led you around the perimeter of the container exhibit. But much of the actual “sides” were removed, so it was a series of archways. At night, the archways are all lit up. It was fun to walk along.

We continued around the rest of the pier to look at the other installations and to head to the rendezvous spot, where Green Tea’s father was to pick us up. On the way we saw this.

Transformers anyone?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is another part of the permanent installation at the Pier 2 Art Area. As you can see, the scale is pretty large. In the picture on the left, I am posing in front of its leg! The picture on the right taken from further back shows how this Transformer dwarfs the building behind it.



Afterwards, we went back to their home where her father prepared tea. It is one of his hobbies, and he takes it very seriously. It was a lovely afternoon. We rested for a bit before he took Dave, me, and Green Tea to the train station where we would head to Pingtung and meet up with Olivia and her family. The following day would be the coffee in paradise day.

We certainly need to make sure we return to southern Taiwan again when we have more time to spend there. So much to see and do. So many people to spend time with. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this brief exploration of the Pier 2 area of Kaohsuing.




Coffee in Paradise

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis might seem redundant to some who know me. I mean, sometimes a good cup of coffee IS paradise. But on our trip this past week, we had an unexpected treat when we went to a very special coffee shop in southern Taiwan, north of Fangshan Township on Highway 1.

Sitting on what could easily pass as the set for Gilligan’s Island, I was able to enjoy a creamy latte, a beautiful breeze, amazing scenery, and the company of three lovely Taiwanese students: two from the university where I teach (Green Tea and Olivia) and Olivia’s cousin, Emily, who goes to a university in southern Taiwan. I also got the pleasure of seeing my husband wander around enjoying the scenery and photographing to his heart’s content, as is evidenced by the photos below, and the ones you will see in other posts from this trip.

When I say “this trip,” I am referring to a 36 hour getaway that Dave and I made the week before the Chinese New Year’s holiday. We took a 4 1/2 hour train ride to the southwestern part of Taiwan, stopping first for a few hours in Kaohsiung before heading to the area near Pingtung, where we spent the night with one of the student’s family. Before retiring for the evening, we were informed that the plan was to take us to a coffee shop on the ocean, and wow, we weren’t disappointed.

The coffee shop, Magic Café, is located on a simple roadside exit off the highway. There were other shops and restaurants there as well. We had lunch at one of them, where sitting at the table was like being on deck of a ship and looking out over the railing at the sea.

But let’s go back to the coffee shop. We spent a couple of hours there, enjoying the coffee, the view, the company, and the gorgeous weather.


This is the view as you get out of your car and head to the coffee shop. Just past that white fence is the “outdoor seating area.” But first, check out the counter of the coffee shop. No doors; it just faces out to the ocean. The barista sees that view all day long. I’m sure there are times when the place is really hopping, but it was quite low-key the day we were there. SO perfect.


Here we are moving chairs and tables to have our day in the sun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe beach was lovely. The waves were lovely. We picked up menus from the coffee shop. After making our selections, we walked down to the shore for a bit. How could I look around at all of this beauty and not be transported to an instant state of relaxation and inner peace. Everything else ceased to exist. We could have spent the day there! Or a lifetime!


When you look at this picture, you see the mountains in the background. They are on the other side of the highway. These are the mountains I mentioned in the post I did about 1:23 pm on 1/23 (Logan’s Birthday).


And of course, all the amazing pictures of the water and the sky. It had been a while since I was able to just bask in the rhythmic dance of the waves. Hypnotic, peaceful, heavenly.

Great coffee, great company, great scenery, great weather. We are already making plans to go back. And at a time where we can stay for sunset. On the other hand, I don’t know how it could get much better than this.


*In the picture above, in order from the left. Green Tea, Olivia, Emily, and Yours Truly.
Also posted for FanFoFeb: http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/fanfofeb-spiders-web/