Friday, October 22, 2010

I’m in China: some new links

Here are the public links to my Facebook photo albums for mainland China Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.  You don’t need to log into Facebook or have an account to view these albums.  The same photos can be found on my China photo set on Flickr.

Here is a map with my mainland China photos sorted geographically.

Also, here are my Hong Kong Facebook and Macau Facebook photo albums. Here are my Hong Kong Flickr and Macau Flickr photo albums.

Map with my Hong Kong photos sorted geographically. Map with my Macau photos sorted geographically.

GPS paths on Google Maps covering every spot I’ve been to in China (including Taiwan).  Walking routes within cities, train rides between cities, etc.  Google Earth file

My planned route in Mainland China on Google Maps. Actual route.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Second Taiwan Facebook photo album and some other links

My first Facebook album for Taiwan has hit its maximum number of photos, so I have made a second Taiwan Facebook album.  All of these photos can also be found on my Taiwan photo set on Flickr.

Map with all of my photos sorted geographically.

This is a Google Maps link with paths covering every spot I’ve been to in Taiwan.  Walking routes within cities, train rides between cities, etc.

This page animates my route for every GPS log I’ve made in Taiwan.  I will not update it often, but I will complete the Taiwan logs once I arrive in mainland China.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Kaohsiung, the east coast and beyond

10/3/2010:  This blog tends to be redundant with the comments I make on my Facebook photo album, so I will stop the daily updates.  Here is the link to my Taiwan photos along with commentary on Facebook.  This is a public link, so you don’t need to have a Facebook account or be logged in to see it.  When I leave Taiwan and start my trip in mainland China, I will start a new album and add a link to it on this blog.  My flight from Taipei to Shenzhen (near Hong Kong) is on October 20th.  Before then, I will travel down the coast to Kaohsiung and Kenting, then up the east coast of Taiwan to Taitung and Hualien.

More Tainan

10/1/2010: 

IMG_8512IMG_8513IMG_8514Statue of Koxinga at Fort Anping.

IMG_8519Crossing a bridge in the coastal area.

IMG_8520IMG_8521IMG_8523IMG_8524IMG_8527A ship in the Taiwan Strait.IMG_8529IMG_8530IMG_8531Eternal Golden FortressIMG_8536IMG_8538A candidate from the Democratic Progressive Party

IMG_8543Chikan Towers.  A statue of the Dutch surrendering Taiwan to Koxinga’s forces.

10/2/2010:  After an exhausting day yesterday, I took it very easy today, not leaving the hostel until 4 PM.  I went to a large night market about 20 minutes from the hostel, where I ate a large serving of chicken for only 50 Taiwan dollars.

Alishan and Tainan

9/30/2010:  I woke up at 4 AM sharp and was ready to go well before the 5 AM train to the sunrise viewing point.

 IMG_8467Before sunriseIMG_8472A guide giving a passionate talk

There was a small crowd at the lookout point, so just a few minutes before sunrise, I walked a bit further up the mountain road and found a secluded spot for myself.

IMG_8475IMG_8477Sunrise at 6:08 AMIMG_8482Misty mountains

The train left at 6:50 AM to go back to the hotel area, and from there I walked around the giant cedar pathway.

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IMG_8489The end of a rail line.IMG_8493IMG_8497IMG_8499IMG_8500The locomotive without cars.IMG_8501At around 10:30 AM, clouds began to come in.  By 11 AM, there was no mountain in sight.  I heard this happens almost every day.

I caught a 11 AM bus back to Chiayi, where we had a stop in Fanlu.  This place reminded me of southeastern Kentucky.

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I arrived in Tainan at about 1 PM, and bought a ticket for a 3:25 train to Tainan.  After a 40 minute train ride, I arrived at Tainan Station.

IMG_8505Tainan StationIMG_8509Zhongshan Park, Tainan

Taichung to Alishan, via Chiayi

9/29/2010: I checked out of the hostel in Taichung and caught a 9:15 bus to Chiayi.  The ride was pretty slow and took about two hours.  In Chiayi, I found that the next bus to Alishan was not for over an hour.  So I bought a ticket for Taiwan dollars and walked around the city until 11:45. 

 IMG_8454Chiayi

On the bus to Alishan, I met a woman with her husband who work in Dallas, and she translated for me a couple of times, like when it was time to buy tickets when we drove through the gate to Alishan.  Once there, a woman brought me to a hotel that had a reasonable price for the area, so I stayed there.  At 700 Taiwan dollars (a little over 22 USD), it may be the most expensive lodging for this entre trip, but it had a private shower and a large LCD TV, so I can’t complain!

IMG_8455Alishan

Not long after arriving at Alishan, it started to rain.  This area of Taiwan gets rain almost evening.  Mornings are usually clear and sunny, clouds start to come in midday, and the rain comes in the afternoon.  The hotel provided me with an umbrella, but after walking around for a while, my shoes and socks were soaked (due to having old shoes that are falling apart), so I called it a day and prepared to go to bed early.

IMG_8456AlishanIMG_8458Alishan

I fell asleep at 10 PM, later than I had hoped, since I was to wake up at 4 AM the next morning to take a train to the spot where we watch the sun rise.

More Taichung

9/27/2010:  I walked to the northwest corner of Taichung, then at night found the FengJia night market.

 IMG_8438TaichungIMG_8440Hostel is on the left

9/28/2010:   I walked around the train station area and found some great food stands.  One snack was a bread surrounding something that tasted like peanut butter and jelly, the other was a hotdog bun holding some pork or lamb.  Today was also my first laundry day.

IMG_8448Taken just outside of the hostel door

IMG_8452Around the block from the hostel

Monday, September 27, 2010

Taipei to Taichung

9/26/2010:  I had the best night’s sleep of my trip last night, and woke up feeling great at about 8 AM.  I took off for the 228 Peace Memorial Park and had a fruit pack for breakfast there.IMG_8422

National Taiwan Museum, near the 228 Peace Park

IMG_8423228 Peace Park

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228 Peace Monument, with the Presidential Office Building on the right

I returned to the hostel, showered, checked out, then walked to the Taipei bus station.  I bought a ticket to Taichung for only 210 Taiwan dollars, or about 6.5 USD.  It was a comfortable 2 hour drive, with air conditioning and a showing of Night at the Museum.  The scenery on the way down consisted mainly of hills, factories, and a couple of very wide and stony river beds. There was also a nice Chinese cemetery, consisting of what looked like ether large gravestones or small mausoleums.

I arrived in Taichung and walked about 30 minutes to my hostel, which I surprisingly found with a single wrong turn.  I settled in then walked to a busy section of town.  I managed to walk through an area with hundreds of people out with their dogs, which I guess is the thing to do on Sunday evenings.  There are some very wealthy areas in the city, with high end restaurants and stores, but that wasn’t what I came here for.  I eventually found a roadside stand with a bunch of different items a guy will fry for you.  I chose my foods, paid the guy 90 TWD, and he gave me the fried food in a plastic bag along with a paper plate and a couple pairs of chopsticks.  I was ready to eat, so I started to make my way back to the hostel.  Two hours late, I finally made it!  I was seriously disorientated, without the sun or Taipei 101 to use as a reference.  I also never picked up a decent map of the city, but now I know the area well enough not to get that lost again.

IMG_8431TaichungIMG_8433TaichungIMG_8437Dinner in my room.  I only finished half of it!  It wasn’t that bad, but I couldn’t have finished it unless I went out and bought some more tea.

Taipei, Day 5

9/25/2010:  Today was an unplanned day, so not surprisingly, I did a lot of walking (about 22 miles) and didn’t really stop anywhere.  I wanted to walk south, but I ended up going west to Longshan Temple.  I didn’t go inside last time, so I walked around for awhile and watched people burn incense.  Then I kept going west until I hit the river, so I followed it south until I took a bridge over to Yonghe City.  Having no idea where I was going, I managed to make a 45 minute loop and ended back at the same bridge.  I headed east from there, and eventually made it to another bridge to Taipei.

Here I am about to cross over the bridge from Jhonghe City back into Taipei.

IMG_8414

IMG_8415The river between Jhonghe and Taipei.IMG_8416Almost at the end of the bridge, looking towards Taipei 101.

 IMG_8417I had to walk across this basketball court to get under another bridge.

IMG_8419I ended my walk at Ximending, which was much busier than my last visit.  This was taken from the metro station entrance.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Taipei, Day 4

9/24/2010:  I remember reading this article in the New York Times in May about the Beitou hot springs, so I really wanted to explore this area.  This district of Taipei was my favorite, with its mix of urban and natural environments.  The park goes right up to the metro station, so within minutes of arriving at Beitou, you are walking alongside a green sulfuric stream.  I wore my bathing suit for this trip, for I was to make a stop at the location below.

IMG_8385Beitou Hot spring baths

I paid the lady at the entrance 40 Taiwan dollars and went to the showers to rinse off before going in the bath.  It was pretty hot, but I only went in the lower section.  The upper baths are where the hot water comes in, but I was not that brave today.  So after about 10 minutes in the bath, I rinsed of again in the shower and dried my bathing suit as well I could, then got dressed and make my way upstream.

IMG_8386

Here I am walking upstream.  As you can see, my clothes are still a bit wet.

Further upstream was the “Thermal Valley”.  The water in this area looked incredibly hot and it had a very strong sulfuric odor.

IMG_8390

I have a terrible sense of smell, but the smell of sulfur at location of the above photo was pretty strong.

I walked around the neighborhood after that, up and down and hill, which was mostly filled with hotels.  I also walked around a busier section of Beitou for a while, and stopped by a 7-11 for some lunch.

IMG_8393Beitou

I then took the metro to the end of the line at Danshui, where I walked 3 miles to the Taiwan Strait.

IMG_8397

There were busloads upon busloads of high school kids at the bridge area near the sea, so I grabbed a bite to eat then caught a bus back to Danshui station.

IMG_8406Bridge by the Taiwan Strait

After a very long subway ride down from Danshui, I decided it was too early to go back to the hostel, so I continued south down to Yonghe and Zhonghe cities, just south of Taipei proper.  I went to a great night market, where I had some type of diced green vegetable encloed in bread for dinner.  25 TWD and very delicious.  This was also the first time I recognized the price told to me.  “Er shi wu”.  Often, I think I hear the “shi” without the “h”, which throws me off, but I could be just imagining it.

IMG_8408Night market in Zhonghe