Saturday, April 11, 2009

Vacation in Kenting

We just got back from a fun little four-day vacation in Kenting (pronounced "kun-ding") at the southern tip of Taiwan.  We went with some friends from Morrison who were nice enough to let us ride with them in their van (we don't have a car here in Taiwan). Kenting is one of the most famous tourist spots on the island; sooner or later everybody goes there to spend a few days at the coast.  Although we enjoyed our stay, I must confess I'm not sure why it's so popular.

A lot of people love the beaches there, and I guess they were okay, but they were too crowded for my tastes (and there was far too much trash on them).  Maybe I'm spoiled after having grown up in Kenya, where the coast at Mombasa is so pretty.  Or after the year I spent in Indonesia, where the remote beaches I visited were literally an unspoiled tropical paradise.  I must admit, however, that these ones are nicer than the beaches in Southern California!

This particular beach was much less crowded than the more popular one above.  This one is on the Pacific coast (to the east), not the Taiwan Strait (to the west).  Unfortunately, it still had a lot of trash (I was careful with the camera angle so as not to show much of that), but I'm told it's trash washed up by the waves, not dropped by tourists.  That's better... I guess.  In any case, it had good waves for boogie boarding and coral tidepools where we saw sea stars, urchins, crabs, and seashells.  And both beaches turned out to be perfect for taking naps on the sand in the warm sunshine.

One thing we did enjoy was walking around town.  There's a touristy area where there are lots of shops and stands selling souvenirs and interesting things to eat.  If you ever go there, though, make sure you notice the mannequins in the clothing stores.  They have a bit more, shall we say, personality than most.  If they came to life and started walking around, it would make for an excellent horror movie.

Floyd and I agree that the best part of our Kenting experience was the aquarium.  If you ever go there, you have to check it out!  Our friends who were with us had elementary-age kids, and they loved it; but really, the two of us enjoyed it just as much as the children.  There's something there for everyone:

touch tanks...

huge tanks containing coral reefs with all the layers, complete with not only coral but fish and a wide variety of other creatures - it was interesting to see the reefs through the glass at eye level, the way only a scuba diver (or a fish!) normally would...

all sorts of sea creatures, (our favorites were the beluga whales, rays, and angry-looking whale shark), clearly visible from a winding glass tunnel people can walk through under the water of a gigantic tank...

...and of course the submarine simulator arcade games!  

They also had separate areas for habitats like antarctic waters, kelp forests, and the deep sea (you know, with the glow-in-the-dark fish). Part of the aquarium was designed to look like the inside of a shipwreck, which added to the fun.  All in all, we spent quite an enjoyable morning there!

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