Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

As you may or may not know, last week the world games were held here in Taiwan in the southern city of Kaohsiung 高雄. Nick and I figured we couldn't pass up an opportunity like this, so last Saturday we headed down to check things out.

I was really surprised by how easy and how cheap it was to get tickets! We went to two events, wake boarding and rugby, and spent less than $5 US per ticket! If I had taken some initiative and checked it out earlier, we definitely would have gone down for the opening ceremony... but due to my laziness, we missed out on the show! 不好!

Recently we've been a bit tight on cash, so instead of taking the high speed rail for $600 NT each (one way), we took the bus which was only $400 each round trip... unfortunately this took three-times as long. We were under the impression that a drive from Taichung to Kaohsiung only takes 2 - 2 1/2 hours, but it definitely takes 3!

Eventually though, we did arrive in Kaohsiung and headed straight for the train station to make our way to Lotus Pond for the wake boarding events.

We found the train stations immaculately clean and easy to navigate. They even had a bunch of cool photo-ops set up for tourists coming to see the games:

Lotus Pond is a pretty big pond (maybe even qualifying as a small lake?) and is surrounded by a beautiful park with some really cool temples built around it. I definitely want to return one day when we have some more time to check it out.

It made for a pretty cool a pretty cool place to watch wake boarding!

(here's a front view of that guy, he's pretty awesome!)

I've never seen a wake boarding competition before, but it's a pretty cool thing to watch. I was actually surprised by how many times they fell, but some of the tricks were sick. These guys can get some serious air!

One thing that Nick and I have noticed at public events (like sporting events) here in Taiwan is that it seems people don't fully capitalize on the fact that these events provide captive audiences who will eventually get hungry and thirsty. Thankfully this means they don't really have the problem with price gouging, however food choices are limited and it's usually not easy to find something we want to eat.

The wake boarding competition was no exception. We arrived starving at 1:30 to find that there were virtually no food vendors on the premise or, it seemed, in the ENTIRE park surrounding the lake! The only thing we could find to eat was chocolate covered popcorn - which we devoured in a matter of minutes!

Due to our late start (we didn't leave Taichung until 10 am) we were only able to stay at wake boarding for an hour before it was off to see Rugby. So, I figured we could eat once we got there.

Actually, I'm not a particularly big fan of rugby, but we had some friends there and Nick wanted to go, so we decided to check it out.

The recently renovated stadium was beautiful, but to our extreme disappointment, there were absolutely no food vendors inside. All of the food was outside and you had to bring it in. Nick and I were in a hurry to catch the last hour of the competition and made the mistake of planning to buy our food once we were inside the stadium... thus our starvation continued!

I guess because they didn't sell food inside, they figured there wouldn't be any garbage, because it was not easy to find a garbage can on the inside either. But they were letting people bring pretty much anything in... including cases of beer! (Seriously). Incidentally, at the end of the day, the stadium was filled with refuse! (Not unlike any American stadium after an event).

Just as the last game ended (Fiji won the Gold) a streaker jumped over the railings and ran across the field. To our - and the streaker's surprise, no one chased him! They just waited for him to run out of steam, at which time a loan security guard caught up with him at the field's exit.

As a side note - due to the extreme whiteness of his rear end, I would say without a shadow of a doubt that this streaker was a foreigner!

The humidity hovered between 80 - 90% all day and JUST as the streaker exited the field lightening struck and the heavens opened. It was pouring buckets! Luckily we managed to stay dry under the stadium's over-hang until it calmed down, and the medal ceremony could continue... at which point we exited and immediately went on a hunt for food.

So, it was a weekend of firsts for me: my first attendance at a world sporting event, the first time I saw a streaker, and on Sunday, my first earthquake! By any measure, this was a successful weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Taiwan: a streaker-friendly nation?! They should put that in the guidebooks.