The Love River is as historically important to Kaohsiung, Southern Taiwan, as the River Thames is for London. Formerly called Kaohsiung River, the 12-kilometer river passes through 7 prosperous urban districts and ends in Kaohsiung Harbor, and has undergone several renovations to become a beloved part of the city’s tourism.
For a long time, Love River stank from wastewater and other pollutants being dumped in. Recent activities such as riverbed dredging and construction of underground sewage and drainage pipes have cleaned up the river, to the point where marine life has begun to grow back. Coffee shops and restaurants have sprouted along the banks, while walkways allow couples to stroll dreamily along the water flow.
Visitors commonly take the Love Boat near the Zhongzheng Bridge for a 20-minute cruise, or the 100-minute harbor cruise from Jhenai Pier. The river cruise takes passengers to Singuang Pier, where the view of the city skyline is dominated by Kaohsiung 85 Building. It passes by such heritage sites like the Holy Rosary Cathedral, Kaohsiung Bridge and Kaohsiung District Court. The pier easily accommodates 150,000 people and serves as a venue for outdoor concerts. The Kaohsiung Toot-Toot Train also makes stops at Singuang Pier, a three-car joyride that covers 27 kilometers and an unobstructed view of Love River.
Love River is also the place where major celebrations like the Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and sports competitions are held, attracting more than 200,000 attendees at a time. There is also a Love River Park which runs along the riverbank in downtown Kaohsiung City, which hosts a night market and 3 outdoor cafes. Visitors can sample local delicacies in the night market, such as Ma La Guo, a spicy hot pot that is popular during the winter season, pineapple cake, very popular square cakes stuffed with golden-colored jams, and bubble tea.
Kaohsiung itself is the 2nd largest city in Taiwan and the most densely populated. An industrial center, the country’s largest seaport is also located here. One of the places to visit in Kaohsiung is the Old British Consulate, located on a hill overlooking the harbor. The stylish red-brick structure is perfect for sea views as well as sunset-watching. Gushan Ferry Pier is another vibrant location, especially during weekends when thousands pass through. Lotus Pond is the center of the temples and pagodas in the city, such as the Dragon-Tiger Pavilion, Spring Autumn Pavilion and Confucius Temple. Finally, Taiwanâ€™s tallest Buddha statue is found in Foguangshan, the countryâ€™s most beautiful Buddhist monastery. This immense complex is also the wealthiest meditation center in the island, and serves as the home to vast shrines, art galleries, libraries and enormous meditation halls. The Main Shrine itself houses 3 7.8-meter tall Buddha statues and 14,000 smaller Buddha images displayed in niches on all 4 walls of the room.
Kaohsiung can be reached by flying from Taipei International Airport via Mandarin Airlines. To get to Love river, take the Orange Line to City Council Station, then leave via Exit 1 and walk for 20 minutes. Touring the riverbank via bicycle is highly recommended, as visitors can get to see local community lifestyles, starting from the south side besides the river and ending at Lotus Pond on the north side. The best time to visit is during the Dragon Boat Festival, which is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month; attendees get to eat tzung tzu, balls of sweet rice, pork, peanuts, salted eggs and other fillings which are wrapped in bamboo leaves.
Photo courtesy of beejayge