We drove past a typhoon-torn fish farm, an oyster-embedded island and a highway lined with betel nut kiosks to reach the southernmost tip of Taiwan, Kenting National Park. By the time our car was skirting the coastline, it was midday and the sun kissed every cantle of the earth.
As the car pressed onwards, my mother reminded my siblings and I that we’d been here once since we’d moved to Hong Kong. As a child, do you remember? My mom asked me. I saw the turtle-rock to my left and the boundless stretch of sea to my right but could neither recall the forest’s wildwood smell nor the salt-tinged breeze of the sea.
Then the car curbed into the gates of the hotel and for a moment only blocks of buildings stood before the ocean and us. Tourists crowded the lobby and luggage, tugged across the floor, made a dim, grumbling sound.
When we reached our rooms and unpacked our bags, my sister suggested we go for a swim. The beach stretched before our eyes, inviting and glinting. We ran towards it, swimsuit-clad. But the sand was hot and electric and the space of water we were allowed to swim in was circumscribed. My brother took a swift glance at the glittering beach and remarked, it’s not much – a harsh jibe considering we’d spent four hours in the car to get here. He retired indoors.
The Kenting beach didn’t strike me as particularly different from other beaches – the sea was a cerulean blue, the tips of its waves scintillating under the sun, but it was not bluer than other waters, nor was the sand softer than the sands of other beaches. We were a couple of hours from my mother’s hometown, we wouldn’t return to Taiwan for maybe another year and this was the ‘family trip of the summer;’ yet nothing about the beach struck us much that afternoon.
Perhaps this would have been my lasting memory of Kenting beach were it not for the next morning.
In the morning, I woke early and walked out to watch the waves wash the sand and slide back into the sea. The leaves of the flowers planted next to the beach were laced with dew from the fresh morning rain and zephyrs skimmed treetops. I made my way up the sand dunes as water lapsed slowly at the shoreline. The beach had transformed overnight; it wasn’t crowded by arm-float wearing children hollering at each other or lifeguards on patrol motorbikes, revving across the beach. The sand was not burning under the beam of the sun but cool and pleasant to tread, the dune almost malleable below my feet. The beach carried a quiet grace, unperturbed by any afternoon clamor. An old lady clutching an umbrella was making her way up the sand dune a couple meters away.
Then I spotted from my peripheral vision – the way one would notice the first rain drop to hit the window – a spot of colour that smudged the horizon ahead. It was a rainbow, not the thick arc one would usually imagine but a dash of colour, a blur that dabbed the horizon like blush on a blue complexion.
It hovered like a mirage, soft and malleable, and it seemed that the entire beach was transformed by its presence. For the first time, I was moved by the Kenting beach and in awe of its morning fragility. Before me was a fleeting, unique spectacle of Kenting National Park; although the park is a popular getaway year-round, none of its postcards can adequately capture the smidgen of colour that brushed the sky that morning.
To have a rare, awe-inspiring moment such as this one – however momentary – in a tourist-crammed vacation spot is truly rewarding for any traveller who seeks a quiet respite.
Taiwan is my hometown, yet there is so much of it I haven’t explored. I had gone to Kenting National Park, hoping to find something amazing, and had not found it the first day; I’m grateful that the rainbow dabbed the sky the next morning so that I could take away with me the memory of that dash of colour in a sky, a gem of my travels.
About the Author: May Huang was born in Taiwan. She currently lives in Hong Kong and writes articles for the Young Post. Her head teeming with crotchet notes and different rhymes, May is determined to balance her passions for playing the violin and writing with her schoolwork. Read her blog here www.may-theforcebewithyou.blogspot.com