Arrived in Kaohsiung to a minor problem: I’d dropped my HSR ticket and couldn’t exit without it. On the other side, I saw the guy who was clearly a surfer. The stance, the North Shore T-shirt, the flip-flops. Not a huge leap to assume he was my tour guide. We made eye contact, but I didn’t hold it as I was also negotiating my release with a train agent. Took about 5 minutes, but then I was free.
I introduced myself to Sammy, he teased me about my stupidly heavy luggage — “Got the kitchen sink in here, I see” — and off we went. Took about two hours to get to Nan Wan, just north of Kenting, where Sammy’s Fu Dog surf shop and accommodations are located. He’s an expat from Texas, so we gabbed easily the whole drive.
Settled in — the room looks exactly like it does online, so happy me! — and then Sammy took me across the street to the beach, pointed out a couple landmarks, then left me to my own devices. Without further ado, I kicked off my shoes, pulled off my T-shirt and walked into the water.
The color of the sand is what you would get if you added some coffee to your cream. The color of the sea is what you’d get if you mixed some blue with your white and added a tiny splash of green. The ocean enveloped me in warm water, saltier and more buoyant than at home. I swam, floated, swam some more, felt myself settle into myself in that way that only happens in the ocean. I held on to it, thought about how here I was, swimming in the Pacific so far away from home, in foreign waters, caught up in the beauty of the place. Not to say it’s perfect — more pristine, remote places exist — but for me it was wonderful enough.
Later, dinner plans went awry when the joint down the street turned out to be closed. First we tried the bar on the beach across the street — it’s new, though, and very much geared for tourists, so the prices and the options were American. I paid too much for a watery Mojito and then too much for rum drinks in Kenting, where we went afterwards. Note to self: Get a better sense of Taiwanese to U.S. dollars!
Kenting looks like a California beach town circa 1985. Everything is beach- and surf-oriented. It’s a popular destination among Taiwanese and also visitors from China, some Americans, Australians.
Surfing today — I crashed out hard and woke up too early and am too excited to go back to sleep! Will try soon, though. Of course, I can always take a nap later. I am at the mercy of only the waves and myself!