Friday, November 26, 2010
Seasonal Variations in Taiwan
Back in Taiwan, I once again set about looking for a kayak to paddle. I had very kindly been given a list of Taiwanese kayak venders by Nigel Foster before leaving so I presumed this hunt would be an easy one. Looking over his list, it soon became obvious that the southern end of the island would be my best bet. I took the hi-speed train to Tainan in the southwest.
Once there I encountered my first problem. I don't speak Chinese! Fortunately, my son does. However as all my contact information was written in English, we discovered it wasn't easy to convert addresses and so on into the local version of Chinese spoken by most people in Tainan. Calling around also proven disappointing as venders seemed reluctant to rent out boats given they felt it was "winter" and their stock had already been put away! Finally an adventure-touring company in the city also declined to rent out boats as their season was over... I guess that's why so many folks we saw as we walked around in the chilly (?) 25°C weather were wearing their down-filled parkas and fur-rimmed hoods!
Driving back to the hotel from a bird-watching outing - rare black-faced spoonbills - the guide casually mentioned we really should be out in kayaks to see the birds. What, we asked? Yes, he had two boats at home we could borrow. Sadly we'd already booked our train for the journey back north and the flight home...
Not to be thwarted quite so easily, on our last day, we headed to Fulong on the east coast. As the train pulled into the station we could see a kayak sign! Finally, with one day to go, I'd paddle, but it wasn't to be. This place too had closed for the season.
So from a paddling point of view, the trip was disappointing, but I would go again, in season next time. I think I'd also make it a point to travel to places where kayaking outfitters are well set up and expecting people like me, anxious to rent. Certainly these places exist. I just chose not to visit those areas as this particular trip was more family oriented. The SE Asian coastline is definitely made for paddlers with every variety of skill level you could ever wish for. I wouldn't discourage anyone from going. Just do a little homework first if paddling is your primary goal.