Kaohsiung is a successful tiny port city in Taiwan that is raking in millions of dollars annually. There are many factors that have led to its success and one of them is Cijin District, a slender island off the Kaohsiung harbor that serves as a natural breakwater. All port operators, harbor dwellers and seafarers know the importance of a breakwater. Harbor cities and city ports, in fact create artificial breakwaters for protection, but Kaohsiung has been blest with a naturally occurring breakwater.
Other than for its geological position, the district is an important part of Kaohsiung for many other reasons, one of which is tourism. Kaohsiung is very popular but more for the business activities of its port than its tourism. Yet, the district is doing something about it, and it has been very successful to date since thousands of international visitors have been observed coming to the island very year. The district offers a wide array of seafood restaurants selling live freshly caught fishes, shells, and crustaceans, which will be cooked fresh after a customer’s picking. Other than its crowd-drawing food joints, the district is also known for three major tourist attractions: the TianHou Temple, ChiHou Fort and ChiHou Lighthouse.
Located on the Miao-Chen Road, TianHou Temple was constructed 300 years ago in honor of Matsu, the patron saint of fishermen folk and goddess of the sea. It is considered the oldest temple in Kaohsiung. Needless to say, the goddess of the sea holds a place in the hearts of fishermen and locals of this island whose main source of living is fishing. This is why Matsu’s temple is honored and respected in the area. It is adorned with attractive, authentic folk art pieces. The Birthday of Goddess Matsu is celebrated as a national holiday and is observed annually in March all over Taiwan.
Nearby is the ChiHou Fort on Chi-Xia Lane. Built and designed by English engineers, the fort served as a military base after the Qing Government took over Taiwan. It was then occupied by the Japanese when Taiwan (then called Formosa) was handed over to the Japanese Empire in 1895. After World War II, the Japanese left, China won back Taiwan and the fort was left abandoned for decades. It was only in 1988, when the Kaohsiung city government ‘remembered’ the fort and initiated its restoration, which was finally completed in 1992. Today, ChiHou Fort steadily attracts a number of awe-stricken visitors for free.
The third Cijin attraction is the ChiHou Lighthouse also found on Chi-Xia Lane. It was built by the British in 1883, and has guided ships and boats to safety until today.
To reach Cijin, visitors may take one of the many ferries going to the island for a fare of NT$15 per passenger. Travelers may bring their bikes or scooters along for an additional NT$15. Right at the port, Cijin welcomes it visitors with seafood restaurants, snack stands, a plaza, fountain, beach, and lovely promenade. The island receives tons of visitors – families, locals and tourists – during weekends. Kaohsiung and Cijin are connected by a series of underground tunnels