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FYI SOUTH Magazine, March 2007

Welcome to Kaohsiung Harbour: A Maritime Capital

By John Matthews Translated by Annie Liu
Photos by John Matthews

One of the top five container ports in the world, with over 1,500 registered fishing boats,
118 piers, an underground tunnel, ferries, a tiny offshore island and numerous waterfront parks.

Kaohsiung's harbour is an extraordinary focal point if you're in the city for a few days or more. If you enjoy sipping coffee within reach of the port, cruising around in a tour boat, taking a stroll on wooden boardwalks, or simply taking a ferry to nearby CiJin Island, then look no further. This harbour is well on its way to having more to boast about than just its sheer size and handling capacity.

Some say that Kaohsiung City's harbour is a manifestation of industry and commerce. While that may be true, it is the local people and culture that truly contribute in so many ways. There is evidence of this almost anywhere you look, from the inner harbour to its outer reaches. Several different foreign cultures have had an influence on the port's development one way or another, but perhaps none as significant as that coming from the Japanese Empire in earlier days. While the big ships come in and out of the harbour from around the globe to discharge their burdens portside, nearby harbour-side activities abound.

Pick up a F.Y.I. SOUTH or Kaohsiung City tourism map and you will see that the harbour and nearby CiJin Island run almost north to south. There are two entrances to the harbour roughly 12 kilometres apart, while the total water area of the harbour itself is 12.7 square kilometers. Starting from the ferry pier on the corner of BinHai 1st and 2nd roads in old GuShan district, following a circular route counter-clockwise around the harbour is possible-allow yourself a full day.

The ferry runs from 6 in the morning to about midnight every day. It is strictly a pedestrian and motorbike (and wheelchair) accessible ferry; don't expect to be able to drive your car onboard. The price is NT$10 per person and the same for your motorbike. If you have a passenger on your motorbike, expect to pay NT$30 for the lot of you. As the ferry leaves its berth and passes the Cape Cafe (a popular place to enjoy a harbour-side coffee), a good view is offered from the second floor. Onboard is an excellent opportunity to take in the size and beauty of the port as you cross on your way to CiJin Island.

Once on CiJin Island, you can walk, ride or Pedicab (rickshaw) your way to sites such as the Tienhou Temple, Oceanside Park, the Cihou Lighthouse and Fort. Tungshan Lane in front of the Tienhou Temple is the oldest street in Kaohsiung and a reminder of how old this community is. The Temple is a significant historical site, having been there to protect fisherman for more than 300 years. Further along the beach is Oceanside Park, where windmills stand as sentinels to passing ships and provide enough electricity to power the lights in the entire park. A memorial nearby stands to remember the 350 US soldiers killed inside the harbour in January, 1945 onboard one of the Japanese prison "hell"ships.

Before you leave the island by tunnel, try and enjoy some of the freshest seafood in the city. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel opened in May, 1984 and took three years to build. It is 1.5 kilometers in length, the only one of its kind in Taiwan, and sits between Chien Chen Fishery Harbour and Terminal 3. On your way back to the downtown area of the harbour, don't miss the hustle and bustle happening on an average day at the Chien Chen deep-sea fishing port. The busiest one of its kind in Taiwan, this building resembles a large ship. It has six floors, a seafood restaurant and a cafe with harbour views as well.

At the pier off of SinGuang Road is an interesting new park development offering relaxation or a stroll through some unusual art work and a boardwalk that extends around a fountain, grassy areas and bridges. This pier is a surprising futuristic-looking landmark.
The Pier 2 Art District is next and sits not far from harbour side in the Yen Cheng district. Ask any local and they are sure to give directions regarding the whereabouts of this place. The main building was once a warehouse of Taiwan Sugar Company and is now an art space with creative workshops, classrooms, a market and a moonlit theatre.
Not faraway is the new Harbour 12 connected, via a railroad bridge converted to a footbridge, to Harbour 13 (once used strictly for military purposes). The complete renovation and restoration of both harbours are recent projects by the city government and are spaces to be enjoyed thoroughly by all. This is a vital staging area as both are situated at the mouth of the Love River. Don't miss the Lantern Festival and other festivals at Harbour 13.

Harbour 12 is distinguished by a monument built to represent the unity of city and port (two giant sail-like structures). During the summer months watch out for a busy sailing schedule for the tour boats that leave the Harbour 12. Leaving on the hour between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. (not available on Mondays), this is a leisurely tour of sites around the water and can be combined to include a bus tour. Phone the True Love Port at (07) 521-2463 for more details.
If we attribute the emergence of Kaohsiung as a thriving metropolis to its harbour and river, than we can obviously look forward to more future plans of the city government and harbour bureau. The renovation of several waterfront locations and the continued efforts to preserve and beautify old wharfs, parks and green spaces both offer an opportunity for an environmental rebirth and tourist boom. And it is easy to look ahead and forward to greener pastures.

* Please check the Internet for this and any additional information, news, views and maps from the bilingual (Mandarin and English) websites, or call (07) 281-1513.
For the Kaohsiung Harbour Bureau go to www.khb.gov.tw
For the Kaohsiung City Government go to www.kcg.com.tw


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