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Japan and Taiwan March 2012 - Tokyo - Osaka - Kyoto - Taipei - Keelung - Page 5

Day 13 - Sunday, 18 March 2012


I planned to go to Danshui, where I have been to before. Its the last stop on the main MRT line and a very popular place with tourists.
Since I was last here, they decided to rename it Tamsui, its not actually a different name, just the more correct pinyin phoneticization of the actual name.
This serves mainly to confuse people because the signage on the train has been updated in some places and not other. Its actually very difficult to find an up to date Taipei MRT map on google image search!
This was the case when I was here a year ago to, so there you go, Google image search doesnt cache even once a year, cause the new lines were in operation over a year ago.

Whilst wandering around in the epic fog I decided I might as well take a ferry to the other side, since there was no way I was going to be able to see across.

My trip this morning was a bit rushed as I wanted to be back at the hotel in time for the Melbourne grand prix. I was super excited that not only could I watch it in my hotel room, but I had figured out how to change the soundtrack from Mandarin to English. My Chinese language skills are not quite good enough yet.

I got off the train and spotted this giant line. I considered joining it to see what it was for. Luckily I didnt as I think its just the tourist bus that saves you about 10 minutes walking.

Hmmmm, last time I was here I could see across to the other side! But its not pollution its actual fog. I could see it rolling in, and it was really quite cold when there was fog, and quite warm when there wasnt.

People enjoy fishing here, and then eating whatever they pull out of the water. It actually looks quite clean.

I didnt actually know where this ferry was going, but I strongly suspected the other side, through the fog.

What happens if a bulk container ship happens to be coming? A couple of times we came to a stop in the middle of the ocean to let something go past. I presume the captain could see lights or had radar or something.

As we approached the far side, the fog cleared, and I had indeed arrived at Bali. Not Bali the drunken explosion island of Indonesia, I think some people I know might actually think Indonesian Bali is a 5 minute ferry ride from Taiwan!

Bali was a fishing village until recently, now its a seaside fun fair town with many bike paths and activities, and a small fishing fleet which in this fog must be useless.

Some people were determined to play on the beach. Black sand here.

Theres many boardwalks and at least 100 bike rental places. They even rent these bikes that look more like a horse drawn carriage, without the horse.

Wait, theres also horses.

Here I am, looking ready to fight off any potential Japanese invasion from the north.

Photo number 300!
Obun for 20 cents, ok.

I had custard this time, it was awesome.

Here I am waiting for the ferry to take me back to (D/T)a(n/m)shui

I decided to have lunch before getting the train back. Big mistake. The most convenient option that wasnt beef noodle was Mr Browns Coffee, which I think is a Hong Kong based cafe chain.
I looked at the menu and chose a nice looking sandwhich thing, and went to order. Sandwhiches are only available for breakfast. Really? I saw other people order them after me!
So I was talked into the mexican chicken. Which turned out to be a schnitzel cooked yesterday and reheated in the microwave, with corn and tofu soup.
It was also expensive at $5, I hardly ate any of it.

American diner

I set out for another night market. It was further to get to than I thought, but I got there eventaully. It was also starting to rain a bit. Surprisingly, some things seemed to be shut on a Sunday night.
After perusing the night market for a while, it got increasingly busy and hard to move, so I headed off with another Chatime, mango green tea with coconut jelly. Best way to navigate is by Taipei 101, which means I often end up there.
I found another good place to eat near it, so you can look forward to more pictures of it in one of my 2 remaining days. Too bad I had already eaten this evening.

Making sure I kept my bearings in relation to a landmark.

Theres thousands of kitten shops in and around this area. Kittens are engaged in an epic death match, but its kind of hard to take a photo of that.

The nightmarket. Not really appreciable in the photos but the strings of lights above have some sort of supercomputer program controlling them to pulsate and move in waves to leave you epileptic.

A sudden (but brief) downpour meant I had to find dinner nearby. I had beef noodle last night, and things on sticks were out as it was raining and I needed a sit down. A nearby 'Authentic San Francisco Diner' got my business. First course a salad, complete with bacon and croutons.

Second course, mushroom burger. It was pretty great! So were the chips with the skin left on.

Dessert was excellent tiramisu. Along with the drink which the girl insisted should be beer, this cost $7.
I had to switch to Mandarin to convince her I didnt want a giant beer (Wo bu tsee wan peggio). All Chinese tutorials teach you how to say I want a beer and I dont like Chilli.
I just flip the two around and I am all set.

A glowing waterfall shaped like a pyramid? Well of course I will take a long exposure.

Ditto for an overpass.

This band had screaming fans. Unfortunately they were not good. It wasnt too bad when it was just the singer and they keyboard player, but once the guitar guy had finished combing his hair he decided to do some improv with they keyboard player.
They never did work out which key they were in.
As far as trainwrecks go, this was closer to Super 8 than The Fugitive.

Day 14 - Monday, 19 March 2012

Yangmingshan national park

Nearby the area of Beitou is a massive national park with a heap of mountains in it.
A couple of the peaks are just over 1000 metres, so nothing massive, but still it took me from 8:30 AM until 3:00 PM to get to the top of one of them and back down to a bus stop.
During this time I was probably not walking for maybe an hour, and most of that was taken up waiting for a phantom bus in the fog which had rolled in leaving me completely disorientated.
Also, theres no water or drinks available on the trail anywhere, so if you go here, bear that in mind.
I took a lot of pictures, I have culled most of them.

I got off the train and it was 20 minutes until the bus came, so I decided to walk to the start of the trail, which took a while!
If I was doing this again I would wait for the bus, but I was too excited.

I think I was heading for that peak in the background on the right.

In case I get lost, which I did, but at which point this proved to be useless anyway.

Once you start on the trail, you head through peoples houses and crops. This seems to happen a lot in Taiwan. Several old people had what I assume is political talk back radio blaring as they planted their soy.

Soon enough the steps start. So many steps. The bamboo was planted only fairly recently, but has taken over. There were a heap of lizards everywhere. Little ones darting about.

Across the valley on top of another hill is the Chinese cultural university. They seem to be blaring announcements from loudspeakers that carry across the greater Taiwan straight.

Some way up you get to a temple. I then got lost, and ended up walking up a road for quite a while. This means I walked a lot further than I had to.
I tried to re find the path around the temple, but kept coming to packs of wild dogs and dead ends. I never saw another person!

Pausing to look back down. The path was great quality the whole way. Its a bit mind boggling that they built it all. It is however very slippery when you go down.

I guess I am about half way up. The forest was very thick and there werent many spots where you could see to take a photo. Which was a bit concerning cause I couldnt tell from which direction I had come.
This would prove to be even more concerning later.

More view

View the other way.

A sign is good, but no map? No bathroom? Not really a problem as I was there alone. No vending machine or water of any kind? You can actually drive up to this point which kind of ruins it for me. But there was as I said no one around.

Someones been here to light the candles and put the fruit in this thing to frighten away evil spirits. Still it had no effect on me.

OK, thanks for the warning.

Shit! I pulled my socks up.

Some way up the summit climb.

At the summit now. I passed one guy coming down in the other direction, he seemed surprised to see me.

Another photo from the summit. I had walked all the way from the train station at the very bottom which I think is on the right edge of this photo.

I decided to continue on. Surely the way down the other side is shorter right? Here is looking back up to the top, now covered in cloud/fog/mist.

Now I am completely lost! Where did the city go?

After at least another hours walk, I go to the flower farm area, and there were other people about, and a bus stop!
I waited for what seemed like forever for a bus that never came. Other people waited periodically too before moving on or taking a taxi which they called.

Now the fog rolled in and I couldnt see across the road. However after descending through the fog I eventually came to a bus stop which had an LED board informing me the bus was coming.
Once I got on it, to get back to where I started from took ages, as it had to drive around the mountains nearer the bottom.

Back near the station, and theres some thermal hot springs. Lots of hotels nearby cater for Japanese tourists, which I find strange as they have plenty of their own hot springs. However I actually saw some Taiwanese people in Kimonos lined up practicing aragato gozeyemus

Just one photo?

Time for a list of excuses.
1. I was tired, see above.
2. I mainly went shopping, which no one wants to see photos of, plus it would ruin the suprise of what gifts I bought everyone!.
3. My battery was going flat anyway.

Still I walked into town and back, because I am a lunatic. Theres a perfectly good train running under the street I walk along.

Tomorrow is my last full day and night in Taipei, I dont know what I am doing yet.
Also I keep leaving the comments thing off, I cant work technology.
Undoubtedly this is my worst update ever, unless I save it with an amusing story!
On TV they telecast a game that looks like mario kart but has none of the mario characters, I dont know what it is but they have superscreens and a crowd. I would like to go see it in person because people get super excited.
Anyways, this one guy, and I mean guy cause he was at leat 25 years old, he seemed to lose fair and square, but then had I think a tantrum about his controller not working. And when the host said no rematch smiling and everyone clapping etc. our angry hero decided to throw his controller at the presenter, and hit him square in the face. He was then restrained and removed from the studio.

Decided on szechuan for dinner after an extended search.
I eat all the chilli. I am not sure if you are supposed to cause at some restaurants when you get it as a hot pot they fish them out for you when they serve it.
I was not however expecting to get the soup, and 2 side dishes with my $3. It was actually delicious!

Day 15 - Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Chiang Kai-shek memorial hall

Chiang was the leader of China when the communists decided to take over. Japan then decided it was a good time to do the same thing. For a period of time Chiang convinced the communists to postpone the civil war until they dealt with the Japanese.
That worked, but once the Japanese left, the civil war started again, and despite Chiang being the worlds greatest ever war hero (based on number of medals), he was sent packing to Taiwan.
From there he declared himself el presidente and generaleissimo and vowed to return to China and take over. He never did that.

His history has many unusual aspects, whilst fighting the Japanese in China, he ordered the destruction by fire of many Chinese cities, killing millions, to prevent Japan from taking over.
He also destroyed Chinese cities by blowing up dams, all whilst he was the leader.

The strangest incident I read about, once the Japanese were defeated, he asked them to delay their surrender until he could get organised enough to take over.

The Americans of course loved him, because he was fighting the Japanese, so they gave him their top military honor, as did England.
Strangely, before World War 2, he was the nationalist president, these days we confuse nationalism with communism (I think?), because of this he has all kinds of top military honors from Central and South American countries too.
Its all very confusing!

The memorial hall is impressive, it was built between 1975 and 1980. Its much bigger than I thought.

Flanking the main hall is the recital hall and national theatre.

I walked back out the gate to take this photo. A mainland Chinese business of some description is rewarding their top sales people with a 5 day trip to Taiwan. They were all super excited and holding up banners to have their photo taken.

Getting closer to the hall.

Looking back, it really bothers me that I can never take a straight photo.

Old Chiang himself. Hes much bigger than I thought.

These guys looks pretty small and puny.

Head around the back and theres no one there at all, just me with the great hall to myself.

This car was smuggled into Taiwan by Chinese citizens via the Phillipines. Despite that the sign says he only used it once cause he didnt like it.

A recreation of his office. I would demand the carpet get re laid if I were el presidente!

Nearby is the Taiwanese parliament, an unusual looking building.

At first I took this photo because there were riot police with shields and fire extinguishers. A few minutes later about 10 protestors came past, it was a weak effort on their behalf.
However upon reviewing the photo I noticed the child on the scooter, which is much more interesting.

Taipei is Hunger Games mad. Theres displays like this everywhere, official countdown timers, preview on repeat with loudspeakers etc.
Apparently this movie is the new twilight franchise, only with a sadder looking girl playing the lead role.

I havent seen any pandas, mainly because I went to the Taipei zoo last time I was here (which is excellent). However they have a panda shop and cafe at one of the subway stations.

Heres my lunch, mystery meat dumplings and hot and sour soup. It was excellent. I have no idea what meat was in the dumplings and the soup had more kinds of fungus and tofu than any other version I have had.

Yay, a ferris wheel!

Wherever theres a ferris wheel, theres a good chance I will be there.
Hence I am starting a new website,

Tonight is my last night in Taipei, I think I am going to have to rate it my favourite city in the world.
This is largely to do with food, but also proximity to mountains, happy people, ease of getting around, extreme low costs (less than mainland China) and also the food.

Tomorrow I go home, it will be a relatively long journey as getting to the airport isnt particularly easy, although they are fixing that. Then I have a stopover in Hong Kong for a few hours.
Stay tuned for the same pictures of the same airport lounges that I take on every trip, I might even take a photo of the legroom.

Hmmm, a green ferris wheel.

Theres many escelators between me and my ferris wheel.

First, dinner. I dont think you can have too many dumplings in your life. Tonight I had them with beans fried in pork floss. As usual for Taipei, delicious.

This one is bigger than the one I was on in Osaka last week, but on a lower building.

Here I am, looking absolutely thrilled.

I got a bit of vertigo on this one, because I was being silly and it was rocking a bit and I tried laying down in different positions until I felt weird.

This photo makes it look like Taipei 101 is casting a massive light across the sky.

Looking down from the top. I had to sit down after this and regain my composure.

There is now a page 6, it will be the last page, It wont be very exciting as its mainly planes and airports.
Use the navigation thing below or the index thing at the top left.


Latest Update

Day 1 - Tuesday, 6 March 2012
  Adelaide to Sydney
  Sydney airport
Day 2 - Wednesday, 7 March 2012
  I made it here
  Around Shinjuku
Day 3 - Thursday, 8 March 2012
  Ginza and a garden
  Indian curry in Japan
Day 4 - Friday, 9 March 2012
  Bullet train to Osaka
Day 5 - Saturday, 10 March 2012
Day 6 - Sunday, 11 March 2012
  Den Den Town
Day 7 - Monday, 12 March 2012
  Kaiyukan Aquarium
  Umeda Sky Building
Day 8 - Tuesday, 13 March 2012
  Osaka Castle
  Last night in Japan
Day 9 - Wednesday, 14 March 2012
  Travel day
  Food capital of the world
Day 10 - Thursday, 15 March 2012
  National palace museum
Day 11 - Friday, 16 March 2012
  Climbing the elephants back
  Shilin night market
Day 12 - Saturday, 17 March 2012
Day 13 - Sunday, 18 March 2012
  American diner
Day 14 - Monday, 19 March 2012
  Yangmingshan national park
  Just one photo?
Day 15 - Tuesday, 20 March 2012
  Chiang Kai-shek memorial hall
  Yay, a ferris wheel!
Day 16 - Wednesday, 21 March 2012
  Leaving Taipei
  Hong Kong airport