Monday, December 3, 2012

Xiao Liu Qiu

We had a nontraditional Thanksgiving this year. It was a nice change from the years past. You can click here if you want to read about why decided not to have turkey, pumpkin pie, sweet potato souffle and all the other Thanksgiving traditions.

We traveled to Xiao Liu Qiu which is located off the southwestern coast of Taiwan. The island's name means "Little Okinawa". As most of you know we work for Taiwan Sunshine, who puts on "I Am a Hero Games" for children with special needs. Morrison Academy Kaohsiung hosted a game right before Thanksgiving. So we decided to just go on a mini-vacation since we were already in the area.

For those of you interested in going...
Getting There:
Dong Gang is the harbor city that you will take a ferry from. There is a long-stay car park right next to the ferry entrance. We did this, though we were a bit hesitant at first. Just know that you will leave your keys with the attendants and they will drive your car to a different location. We had no problems - though who would really want to steal our van?
The ferry was only a 25 minute ride that was fairly calm both trips. For prices and a timetable click here.
Where to stay:
There are a few small hotels around the island. We stayed in one called 好喝 (Hao He). It was simple, but very clean. The best way to contact them is by phone 08-814148
There was also other places to stay. Here is a listing from the Xiao Liu Qiu website.
How to get around:
Scooter is really the best way. You can rent scooters all over. There are quite a few rental places right by the ferry. I was impressed that they also had electric scooter rentals as well. There are four battery charging places located around the island, mainly located by local attractions. A scooter license is not needed for the regular scooters, but one is needed for the electric kind.
Another option is to bike. I didn't see any bike rentals, but that doesn't mean they didn't have them. I did see people biking, but I believe they brought their own over on the ferry. Just note that the island is not flat.
What to do:
Lots to do for families with older children. It is doable with younger children, but just note that you may not be able to do everything. To give you an idea, though here is:
Our Top 10 Things to do:
10. "Old Banyan Tree" - it was large, but if you've seen one then you probably have seen them all. Just sayin.

9. Lighthouse - This was pretty, but nothing exciting. It was right next to the "Old Banyan Tree".

8. Beauty Cave/Flower Vase Rock - Along the road near Beauty Cave there were signs that read, "Slow down. Crab Crossing". We had hoped to see crabs along this trail, but we didn't. Had we'd seen any crabs, this would have moved up a notch or two on our list.
Flower Vase Rock had crabs scurrying around. It was interesting to see this huge corral rock, but other than watch the crabs and pick up corral there wasn't a lot to do.

7. Pagoda - It wasn't extraordinary or anything like that. I guess living in Asia, if you've seen one pagoda, then you've pretty much seen them all. Or maybe that is my take on it...but what made this one nice is the location. We could watch turtles swimming in the cove a hundred feet below us. The blue water made it easy for us to spot the black dots swimming from one corral to another.

6. Scooter rides - It takes about thirty minutes or less to make a complete loop around the island. The kids enjoyed riding with us, especially Jie Jie. We saw a 6-foot long snake on one of our rides...didn't stick around long enough to see what kind, but the kids thought it was cool.

5. Beautiful Sunset - It was breathtaking even with clouds in the sky. Kids could care less, but Uwe and I enjoyed it and our vote out-weighs theirs.

 4. Food. We ate at a little restaurant near Flower Vase Rock that had the BEST Chinese food we've had since moving to Taiwan. I'm not joking. I can't remember the name, but they next to a karaoke stand and the second eating place on the right walking away from the Vase. There were a few restaurants that had western food, but think Asian western and then it is okay. Our friends told us about a place with great milkshakes, but either the restaurant changed owners or we didn't find the right place.

3. Wild Boar Ditch - an eco-friendly hike that was beautiful.

2. Snorkeling - Such beautiful fish and sea creatures in crystal clear water. You could see 10-20 feet deep - very nice.

1. Swimming with Sea Turtles! Yes, we did. It was unbelievable. One turtle that I personally saw was around 100kg - that was according to the local diver that was with me.

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