- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Travel to Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Biggest night market in Southeast Asia
Kaisyuan or Jin-Zuan?
It’s been the hottest debate in Kaohsiung since last summer.
The rivalry between Kaisyuan and Jin-Zuan -- two adjacent night markets -- began from the week they opened, only three days apart.
Both claim to be the biggest market in Southeast Asia.
Each has hundreds of night market stalls.
Kaisyuan boasts a 30,000-square-meter space with 300 stalls.
Jin-Zuan stretches 23,000 square meters but is packed with 500 stalls.
Jin-Zuan wins over fans with delicious beer shrimp, handmade, pan-fried noodles and luxury, lounge-like toilet facilities.
Kaisyuan wows night market goers with a mini Phra Phrom (four-faced Buddha) and Bin Bin lemon juice hand-squeezed by muscular vendors.
Both are gigantic -- walking through either takes at least an hour.
Jin-Zuan is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 5 p.m.- 2 a.m.
Kaisyuan is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 5 p.m.- 2 a.m.
Both are located on Kaisyuan 4th Road.
Fresh gourmet food
Gangshan District's lamb hotpot, Moon World's free-range chicken and Shin-Da Harbor and Cijin Island's seafood -- these are just the beginning of a long list of local Kaohsiung foods.
Locals love Meinong for authentic Hakka cuisine, such as sticky rice with pork wrapped in leaves.
Meixing Street (Meinong District's main food street) is dotted with Hakka noodle shops called Ban tiao.
Old New Restaurant serves the best taro sago sweet soup from the Jiasian District. The restaurant changes its menu daily using local specialties such as cuttlefish rice vermicelli, oyster soup and sashimi.
Taro and pork dumplings, aboriginal sausage and rice wine are aboriginal dishes made by various tribes in Kaohsiung.
Religious park where visitors exit from a tiger’s mouth
After the dozens temples you may have visited in Asia, you may not be excited about another Buddhist/Taoist destination.
But Lotus Pond is a real attraction.
Officially opened in 1951 (some temples in the park are more than two centuries old), the Lotus Pond consists a man-made lake with more than a dozens temples, pavilions and pagodas.
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are two seven-story pagodas guarded by crouching tiger and dragon statues.
Visitors enter through the dragon’s mouth into a tunnel (inside the dragon’s body) with walls embellished with carvings. Visitors exit via the mouth of the tiger for good luck.
Restaurant that offers sex education
Diners flock to Funny Sex Restaurant to giggle rather than to eat.
Living up to its name, Funny Sex Restaurant is a humorous and erotic place to hang out -- the chocolate pudding comes in the shape of a penis.
“Our founder spent a long time collecting the erotic objects in the restaurant,” says manager Chen Yu-qi. “It’s not easy to choose, as they have to be decorative and not repulsive.”
Apart from dozens of sexualized miniature figures, the most embarrassing decorations include a custom-ordered two-meter-long wooden penis shrine and soap dispenser shaped like a pair of breasts.
There's also a blow up doll hanging about.
“We’ll let her (the sex doll) join a table to lighten the atmosphere while customers are waiting for food,” says Chen.
“A lot of our guests have heard of these sex toys, but they’ve never really touched them. It’s a good and fun learning experience for them.”
Informative posters list average breast and penis sizes for different nationalities.
Taiwan's prettiest metro station
The Formosa Boulevard Station in Kaohsiung is the most beautiful metro station in Taiwan, if not the world.
The three-story station was designed by Japanese architect Takamatsu Shin. The above-ground glass entrance is designed to resemble a pair of hands clasped in prayer.
But the real treasure is underground -- the 2,180-square-meter Dome of Light, a glass mural built into the ceiling of the station.
The colorful ceiling was created by American-Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata.
It's the largest such glass installation in the world.
Quagliata also built the Dome of Light for Rome's Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs.