So, just kidding from last post, I do have some nice photos of scenic and cooling off stuff like beaches, coral, and snorkeling! (Disclaimer: no photos were taken during snorkeling, all the coral is from the aquarium.) So at the end of May, some Fulbright friends and I took a brief trip to the southern tip of Taiwan, Kenting National Park, where our friend and colleague Craig Voligny had his Fulbright-culmination art show– it was a show of coral-related paintings entitled Meridians and Parallels, to reference both wave and water patterns as well as energy patterns in the human body expressed by traditional Chinese medicine.
We also got to take a spin around the aquarium, where his art exhibit was held, and of course, go to the beach and go snorkeling!!
Final impressions of Kenting:
Beaches- above average, with beautiful views, but a bit crowded. Not particularly incredible.
Aquarium- cool, well-organized, expansive.
Hotels/hostels/staying in and around Kenting- kind of a rip-off, tourist trap, way too commercial to be fun.
Not having our own transport in the form of a scooter or bicycle- major rip off, as buses are infrequent and taxis are exorbitantly priced.
Food- surprisingly good.
Beach-front bar- actually quite nice, fun, and not too kitschy.
Coral beaches and outcroppings of ancient coral on land, above ground, from the shore- impressive, intriguing.
Views of coral from snorkeling, out in the middle of the water at Nanwan beach- amazing, colorful, mind-blowing beauty. I thought these kinds of underwater ecosystems only existed on the Discovery Channel, for Jacques Cousteau, and maybe in Finding Nemo. I didn’t ever imagine that I would ever see firsthand such varied and vibrant coral, plants, fish, and whole underwater worlds that boggle the mind. It was all worth it for the coral.
So my advice to future Kenting travelers: get the cheapest place you can find (because they’re all kind of rip-offs), rent a scooter, ignore the overly-touristy stuff, and get busy snorkeling! I’ve heard the rest of the national park is also nice– so nature definitely wins over man-made attractions in this case.
Also: always snorkel with a buddy! You will have to go quite far out into the middle of the water in order to see the best stuff, so you should be a strong swimmer. Or bring flippers. Or both. Happy swimming!