Friday, July 4, 2008

Family Trip - Kenting, Southern Taiwan

On Thursday morning I first went to swim near as usual at the pool near our home. I was a little tired and after slightly fewer meters than normal I went to the jacuzzi for five minutes or so, and then back to the pool to slowly warm up for the 100m race. While I still lost the race (by about 0.5 secs), at least I was pleased that I covered the distance in 1m 25s, this being my fastest so far, and showing that the improvements are still coming even if they are microscopic. One of my turns was not much good either, but I managed to gain on my opponent going down the stretch. Shortly afterwards we raced over 50 meters and I just edged him out, finishing in about 40 seconds.
However, the big highlight of the day, and of today also, was the family trip we had to Kenting (墾丁) near the southernmost tip of Taiwan and about a two-hour drive from our home. Our elder son drove and did a very good job of that. We borrowed his friend's car as we still don't have one of our own. With gas prices, I am not sure I even want one.
The first day we arrived down there shortly after lunch and went to Maopitou (鼻頭) (lit. cat-nose-head), where one of the rock formations looked like a cat's nose and head. The sea looked beautiful, and had I been with my Kona swimming friends, I don't think we could have resisted making our way down to the shore and going in. However, had I tried to do anything like that myself, I guess the whole population of this island would have considered me to be nuts and I would probably have been put in prison.
A little later we were driving around where most of the hotels are and it reminded me of Waikiki - just shops and people, and some ocean and mountains out there is the distance. One of the only beaches we passed in that area was one close to the big hotels which was packed with people paddling in a fenced off area about two feet deep, with plenty of lifeguards and whatever else to prevent anyone trying to do anything more adventurous like trying to swim away from the seawater paddling pool.
Fortunately, our hotel was an almost ten-minute drive away from the beach up mauka (墾丁國家公園) and was a lot quieter and had some good views, as well as green grass. It also had a 25 meter outdoor swimming pool, and guess what, it was pretty empty most of the time. Here it seems only small children like to swim and they have a lot of fun, but are clad in inflatable arm bands and little inflatable boats so that they don't actually swim, at least not without artificial support. An adult might accompany them, but usually to make sure they don't stay in the water too long and can get to the next activity on time. So I was able to swim freely, but it was also rather lonely. In the real world I have few swimming friends. I just read about them on the Internet.
My family wanted to go to another swimming pool, which we did, and could because the two hotels were part of the same hotel chain, and so we had the privilege of using the other pool. This other pool was in the crowded part of Kenting (墾丁) and the hotel rates were much higher, way beyond what I could or would be willing to afford. It was like a playground, and there was no way I could ever have done any training there.
We tried to watch the sunset, but we miscalculated and ended up on the other side of the island. However, the views were beautiful. We had a good buffet dinner back at our hotel where we were staying which was part of the room deal, and I surprised even my family by eating probably more than the three of them put together.
The next morning the pool at our hotel opened at 8 am, and so I got in a training session of a little more than an hour and covered 3,050 meters. This wasn't something I had planned, so it was a kind of bonus. However, again I felt like I had just flown in from another planet. After a large breakfast, we eventually packed out things and drove down to the Oluanpi lighthouse (鵝鑾鼻燈塔), where we walked around for about one hour in the middle of the day - ouch! The sun was really strong. After countless photographs, we headed back to the car and drove about 15 minutes to Chaileshuei (佳洛), which is normally a good surfing beach, but the sea was very calm today, and just ideal for a swim. However, we were in a bit of a hurry, so the fact that I even got wet was quite an achievement. This is where I went for training with some foreign triathletes in February, but the sea was very rough then, and I thought it darn right dangerous at that time. One thing that surprised me was the huge contrast between Kenting (墾丁) and Chialeshuei (佳洛). Kenting is packed with tourists and is very noisy and you are not free to do anything as far as some serious swimming is concerned. Chialeshuei (佳洛) is almost empty, except for some avid surfers, there are no stores, and just a few bed and breakfast type places. It is the ideal place to have a good rest.
From Chialeshuei (佳洛), our son drove the car home and we got back in about 1 hr 45 mins. It is about 80 miles, which means one could bike, spend the night at a guest house, swim and then bike back the next day, or at least bike most of the way back and try and take a train for the latter half of the return journey where the areas are somewhat more built up. Fun if you have friends to do it with, and not fun if you do not.
The first stop on our family outing - Kenting is behind us in the distance
The hotel 25m pool - More or less maintained just for me!

At the up market resort pool. Living the high life.
View of Chialeshuei (in the distance) at sunset.
Our hotel doubles as a museum for Chiang Kai-Shek, who liked the area.
Kenting's pointed mountain. We climbed it when the boys were small.
The pool - My first time in an outdoor pool this year.
At Oluanpi - the southernmost tip of Taiwan
Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻)
Jumping in front of the Oluanpi Lighthouse (鵝鑾鼻燈塔)
Special thanks are extended to James and Morrison for their great photography. We had two smallish cameras with us, but both had problems, and the problems got worse over our stay down there. Looks like I need to buy a new camera.


tt said...
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tt said...




LeAnn said...

Wow...those photos of the island are amazing. I thought the last pic of you and your wife was too funny! Glad you had a nice time and you got to swim too!