The day was Christmas and some to note that Taiwanese do not treat this day as public holiday. Not that it matters to us anyway.

We deposited some of our luggage at the Kaoshiong train station. We decided that it will not be wise to bring everything along for this side trip. Breakfast after this and was a quick bite at the 三商巧福 nearby.

The side trip planned for would be to go to the famous 海生館, followed by a detour to 恆春 to see the old streets, finally touching down to 墾丁 where our hotel was. We had, back then in Singapore, arranged for this local driver to drive us around all day and he came promptly to pick us up.

The first place he dropped us, after like 1.5 hours of ride, was the 福安宮, which is the largest 土地公 temple in the world (土地公 is the god who looked after the land).

The temple was impressive. Usually the 土地公 temples we see are those snall little ones under a big tree or something. This one is totally out of the scale.

The driver took us to this small shop, like 5 minutes ride away, where its famous for its cold bean soup, or 冰豆蒜.

I have never had this dish cold before. Back home, this was always served hot, with pieces of fried long dough or 油條 to go along. Having this cold really cooled me down, especially on a sunny day. Something simple and yet so special.

And next, it was the main highlight of the day, the 海生館. The full name is 國立海洋生物博物館, National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium. This was how much the tickets cost…

For someone like you and me without concession, the full price will be NT$450, which is like SGD$20. To me, this twenty bucks was way much more worth than the Underwater World in Sentosa. Read on and I am quite sure you will agree with me.

The entrance…

Past the entrance and I was surprised by how big the whole place is…

Walking towards the main building and we saw this pool with some life-like models of humpback  and sperm whales.

This is the main building…

Inside the main hall…

From this main hall, there are several doorways which lead to different sections, like coral reefs section, deep sea section etc…

One of the many deep pools…

The tunnel through the deep sea section.

Lovely belugas scratching their backs on the floor…

This was the tropical section…

There was this area where we are allowed to come into contact with some the sea dwellers like starfish, sea slugs.

We went into one of the live exhibit areas where there was to be a scheduled feeding show.

I was so excited to see a whale shark in the tank! I had thought that only one aquarium in Japan had a captive whale shark, so to see one here was totally unexpected and a sight to remember!

The guide giving an introductory on the fishes found behind her.

The feeding diver was immediately swarmed by the fishes when he got in.

After finishing the show, its our turn to get fed!

There was one restaurant there, but the prices was quite steep and the place  too crowded to get seats. We went to one of the stalls outside the main hall to grab something instead.

Not the best stuffs I have had in Taiwan, but they will suffice for now.

We only managed to cover like half of the main hall so far, but we decided to go to another building. It will probably take a full day to finish the whole place.

This is the largest fresh water fish, the arapaima.

I really liked how a deep tank like this one showed us the diversity of living things at different levels.

We got to the penguin gallery…

A Yellow-fin tuna! Everytime I see tuna is either dead on the fish market floor or already sliced up beyong recognition.

We were quite exhausted by this time and had already spent like four hours here. Its time to leave since we still got other places to cover and the driver was waiting for us.

He was there outside the park, he had took a nap while waiting for us and he was awake and fresh to bring us to our next location, 恆春.

The 南門 or South gate. 恆春 was a old town and fortress, with walls surrounding it and only way to get in or out is through the four gates. Among the four gates, only the South and West were well preserved. Being over a hundred years old, and an earthquake in 2006 destroyed much of the walls.

From the South Gate, we went further into the town, and came to this location where 海角七號 was filmed. The main protagonist’s house.

Nearby, just a stone’s throw away is the Post Office where some of the shots were taken.

We reached the 西門 or West Gate.

Don’t know why got this tank here…

This was what was left of the East Gate.

The structure nearby…

was used for their annual celebration event. The vertical beams will be coated with oil and young men will be struggling to climb up to the top to get the coveted prize.

As the town was small, we finished sight-seeing rather quickly and the driver brought us to another attraction which is at the outskirt of the town.

出火, or Ground Fire, is an natural phenomenon where methane from underground escaped through the holes in the ground and got ignited by the locals.

There are locals here selling fireworks, DIY popcorn and many other toys which you can play using the fire.

With this, we left the town and the driver got us to our hotel in 墾丁.

By the time we reached, it was already sunset and dark.

This was our room. We managed to book the highest floor, which comes with a bathtub facing the sea.

View from the balcony.

We had made a special dinner arrangement. Back in Singapore, we came to know of this unique German restaurant. You can’t just have a meal there without prior reservation, and there is no menu, you simply tell the owner what you can’t take and he will settle the rest for you.

We rented a mini scooter and rode like thirty minutes to the main town.

With much difficulty, we found the place…

A small and cosy place…

Other guests, which included a small family of three (I suspected Singaporeans too) at the corner, a group of young Taiwanese and another from Hong Kong.

Appetizer.

Soup.

The main. Turkey and pork ribs.

This is the owner cum chef (doesn’t he look like Colonel Sanders of KFC?). After the main dish was served, he came out of the kitchen and started pouring drinks for everyone. I couldn’t tell what it was, except it was something very strong.

Everyone cheering off for a merry christmas.

The dessert.

While we were all eating, some Hong Kong guy asked the chef how did he end up in this part of the world, so far from his homeland and doing this?

So actually he married a Taiwanese woman and decided to settle with her here. Unfortunately, she met with an accident several years ago and passed away, leaving him and this house which he converted to a small restaurant. He could have left and gone back to Germany, but the civil case on his wife’s accident was not closed yet.

We can’t help feeling sad for him. Who would have guessed that behind his unique little restaurant lies a sad life story?

What a sad way to end our Christmas in Taiwan.