Back on schedule, we made for our second stop in Taiwan – Kaohsiung. Entering the harbour, we passed an impressive selection of modern buildings, businesses, seafaring traffic. We would be docking near the older section of the city, in easy walking distance to several notable temples, neighborhoods and markets.
Outside, I noticed the swelter. It wasn’t enough that the air was thick with moisture, there was also no breeze and the sun’s intense glare promised the day would be hotter than any day should be. Greeting our ship were four dancers wearing eight-foot tall costumes that, while bright and cheerful-looking, must have weighed a great deal. I pitied the dancers, and worried that they would sweat themselves into an ambulance. Then I pitied myself. I was going to wade into the heaviness of that heat in the middle of day to try to see as much as I could of this city. I filled my pack with water bottles and begged from Stanley one of his practical moisture-wicking shirts.
Temples, birds in cages, TinPan Alley, a garment district, old re-purposed warehouses now art galleries, cartoon-like sculptures, a fisherman’s wharf with no fish or men: these are what I saw. Sometimes, the weather removes opportunity from a place, and the visitor simply can’t see a new location with a favorable eye.
On this day, I learned that no 61-year old woman should be walking about in the heat, trying to fit in two weeks of experiences into a half-day jaunt. The local women who I judged to be roughly my age were wisely sitting on up-turned crates in the shade of an alleyway. Whatever cross-breeze was available came to them and never reached me struggling on the sidewalk. I was sure they would stay put until the relative cool of the evening, but I didn’t have that luxury.
I had the luxury of air conditioning on the ship, and went back gratefully to use it.