September 02, 2014

Find your way to Kenting

How to get to Kenting

or A Post on Logistics

Travelling in Taiwan is relatively easy. If you stick to the west coast and if you go from city to city that is.

There are several coach services and buses, and the vehicles are all comfortable and air conditioned. It's also very inexpensive. Since the country is so small, you get very far very quickly, there is a good network of motorways.

There are also trains that takes you between the cities.

And most cities are connected by trains.

Most. Not Kenting.

Kenting, 墾丁, which I wrote about before, can therefore be a bit challenging to get to, but the most common way is to get to Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest city, and catch a local bus from there. If you are coming from the east coast however, there are some other alternatives – but they always includes a bus at the end, if you want to use public transportation. It TAKES quite a while, you don't go to Kenting over the day – and that's why it is also important to reserve somewhere to stay before getting there. Kenting in in the backyard of Taiwan but as many backyards, stunningly beautiful and well worth the hours you spend getting here.

From the east coast, your best bet is most likely to go to Fangliao, 枋寮 ,a small town in the south where there are plenty of buses to Kenting Town.

Leaving Kenting there are regular buses taking you to Kaohsiung, from where you can take the train to wherever you want to go. You are likely to, as a lone traveller, be approached by taxi drivers offering to take you. Don't take a normal taxi, but you can take one of the little minibuses. Just remember to negotiate the price before! The price offered is offered an unofficial "fixed price" but there are times when you may be able to negotiate. And although I have been lucky, this IS a touristy spot, and just like in any other country where there are tourist spots, there is a risk that people will take advantage of that – just make sure you have the calm discussion before you board and all will be OK.

More about the trains:

You have plenty of train connections to chose from, both the Gaotie, 高鐵, "The Big Steel horse" – the high-speed train, build and delivered from Japan, the Taiwanese version of the train that in Japan is called Shikansen – and the normal trains. Gaotie runs on a separate network from Taipei in the north to Kaohsiung in the south, via the bigger cities, while the normal train runs on other tracks, both on the east coast and the west coast, on the west coast following the Mountain line – running closer to the middle of Taiwan, where the mountain range starts – and the coastal line.

And when it comes to the trains that aren't high-speed:
Even when it comes to the normal trains there are different versions, if on the same tracks; The local line that stops at every little stop, and hence is slower, a middle version, and one that only stops at a few stops. Find out more and also the time tables on the Taiwanese Railway website – but notice that the high-speed trains have a separate website as they are run by a separate company.

And by all means; Remember to write down the name of the station you are going to also in Chinese, with Chinese characters – it is the only consistent spelling you can be sure of, the "normal" characters, what we use in English, French and German, may vary along the way depending on where you are, in many places Taiwan uses their own romanisation, in other cases they are trying to implement the Chinese pinyin, but it switches, and the only reliable writing is the Chinese. With a mobile camera you don't even need to write, you can just photograph the name. But do remember to do it, I have myself at several occasions missed stops because I was looking for the pinyin, took time to get used to just reading the Chinese characters, considering my mandarin is still weak.

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