After our adventures in Alishan it was time to head South, on to the islands second largest city Kaohsiung. Thanks to the free WiFi at 7/11 and some luck we arranged to stay with another CouchSurfer, Boris a local from Kaohsiung with good (British) English due to studying in the UK for 7 months. Boris was nice enough to meet us at the station and stop by a night market for some more snacks before heading back to his place. I'm pretty sure as soon as my head hit the pillow I was wiped out, it had been a long day. The next morning I was up by 8 and getting ready as I was supposed to meet another CouchSurfer, Vanessa at the Kaohsiung main station. We were planning to spend the morning exploring Lotus lake and it's surroundings
After Grant's convincing I decided to cancel my train Sunday morning and stay in Taipei for another day. I think a major factor was the wine buzz I had going Saturday night, thoughts of catching an 8am train were no where in sight. After realizing he didn't have to work the rest of the week Grant asked if he could tag along for the rest of my trip. Why I agreed is beyond me - after all this is the guy that told me I looked older (that's a first) than 23, due to my wrinkles' although he later determined it's because I'm always smiling/laughing partially redeeming himself. In all seriousness, I was up for having a travel partner and with his help renting a scooter was a much likelier possibility.
After our adventure on Thursday I agreed to tag along with Grant and a hiking group on Saturday - destination Beishi Stream Historical trail which would connect us to Wantan trail and Pingxi/Xiangliao trail. The total time was estimated to be between 7-8 hours of hiking but there was promises of ending at a beach for swimming and seafood so I was sold.
To be honest I didn't plan all that much before leaving for Taiwan - I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do and some of the sights I wanted to see but aside from that my days were up in the air. At some point the trip turned into a cross-country, full island hiking tour and I'm okay with that.
After arriving at Taipei Taoyuan International airport I caught the bus to Taipei and found myself in the apartment of a stranger - Grant, my Couchsurfing host for the next few days. Thankfully first impressions didn't scream "serial killer" and aside from telling me I have a lot of wrinkles he appeared to be a really nice guy. Little did I know he would soon turn into my travel partner for the next week. It was strange, our first meeting was more like a reunion among old friends than a meeting of two strange Americans in Asia.
This country has a smell, I can't describe it and I actually don't know what it is, but as soon as I step out of the airport I know I've arrived. The land of night markets, bubble tea and so, soooo much food, your tastebuds will be tired.