This year Peter and I spent the 4-day holiday of Tomb Sweeping and Children’s Day by venturing to the most southern city we’ve been to so far: Kaohsiung.

The $55 USD /person Taiwan High Speed Rail tickets are the most expensive tickets we’ve bought for in-country traveling. It’s totally worth it. The ride is only 2 hours, compared to 5 or 6 hours on the TRA. Plus, we get a reserved, spacious seat that has cup holders, a fold-able table, and decent bathrooms!

Much to Peter’s chargin, I brought two cameras: Canon EOS Rebel T6 and Pentax K1000. I braced myself to take hundreds of photos a day and I looked forward to the hours spent editing an entire memory card’s worth of images. That was not the case. Walking through the city I felt uninspired and barely lifted the viewfinder to my eye. When I did manage to take photos, I found (and still find) them to be hideous. That’s why I’m not uploading any digital photos, and only a handful of film.

I believe the lack of photos reflects my experience in Kaohsiung, which was, and I really I hate to say this, dull. Long walks through cityscapes and parks usually inspire me to either draw or photograph. These familiar urges never came. Everything this city had to offer fell flat. For example, Pier2 Art Center is this adorable shopping and arts area overlooking the bay that transformed former military bases into trendy shops. At first the stores looked appealing and lured me in. On a closer look, I realized these same stores fill shops in Taipei’s 1914 Huashan Creative Park. I was expecting more uniquely Kaohsiung experiences, and I didn’t get that.

Perhaps the novelty of living in a new country is wearing off, or a cynical lens has cemented as a result from teaching burn out. Either way, I didn’t resonate with this city compared to Taipei, Hualian, Taichung, or Tainan.

I’m not saying I hated every moment. Some definite highlights were the beach day on a small island spent staring at the setting sun and painting. Following that, ordering fancy cocktails in an upscale bar. The best part, I must admit, was the obscenely comfortable AirBnb bed and watching “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” before falling asleep way too early. This was the first time I left a city in Taiwan without that incessant voice screaming to me “You have to come back!”

Photos: Pentax K1000, Lomography 800.

Photos: Samsung Galaxy S8.