Kenting – a summer paradise for beach-goers and sun-lovers at the southern tip of Taiwan. It has been almost ten years since I last set my eyes on its bustling main street, its numerous inns and shops, and its small beaches. The sun just feels different there, different from the sun in Taipei. More radiant, it shines down from a blue sky flanked by towering white clouds that floats like cotton candy instead of the dark, foreboding rain clouds that seem hang over Taipei perpetually. Perhaps that is just my imagination, fueled by a desire to get out of the trappings that I have come to associate with Taipei.
What makes a place attractive is not what characterizes it. It is just how much we prepared ourselves to find the place attractive (kind of works with people too…hahaha). For me, someone who loves being outdoors in the sun, Kenting is vastly more attractive than Taipei. For others, those who show up on a trip to the beach with brand-name bags, make-up, and high heels, the city is much more attractive.
But you don’t want to expect too much from your experiences either. We went to a pretty well regarded restaurant for dinner there on the first night, and to be honest, we all left wondering what the hype was about. The food wasn’t bad, but I would say to all those tourists and foodies lined up outside, you could do better than this – at least for all the wait you have to endure before being seated. Well, maybe the hype of the good food came from all of the tourists and foodies who got hungrier and hungrier by the minute. It is all about perception.
Traveling is a joy, whether it’s going to a place you have never been or have been before. Kenting is no different. This is my first trip since coming back to Taiwan to fulfill my obligatory military service. This is my first trip to Kenting, a place I loved as a kid, without my parents. It is something else travelling with friends instead of family. You end up doing things you never would do, like water activities my parents were always too hesitant to pay for, or a crazy show with pole dancers and cross dressers in a loud bar with cheap alcohol.
Kenting is small, but its beaches and sights would still be best seen if you rent a car or a bike. There is still quite a bit of distance between places, and the aquarium is a far away off if you wanted to visit. There are numerous accommodations, but if you wanted to go during the summer, you better call a month or two in advance for a reservation. The people there are all genuinely friendly and ready to strike up a conversation, but you could never tell if there’s an agenda – like most tourist destinations, there’s money to be made. At night, the main street is choke full of people and there’s always music coming out of some restaurant or bar and there’s always the noise of people buying and selling, price haggling…but I say, the main attraction is the night market food. Travelling in Taiwan always seems to end up being about food. Live and die by the tummy.
All in all, it was a short weekend getaway. For someone like me, always yearning to be places and to be out in the sun, it can work wonders for one’s psyche. What kind of a trip makes you tick?