More Trips

Korkong April 19


Japan8 October 18


China4 April 18


Japan7 October 17


Taiwan4 March 17


Japan6 October 16


Europe May 16


Japan5 November 15


Korea2 March 15

Even More Trips

HongJapWan March 2014
Sichuan March 2013
Tokyo3 October 2012
China2 August 2012
Japwan March 2012
China November 2011
Korea September 2011
Taiwan March 2011
London3 June 2010
Japan May 2010
London2 February 2010
London September 2009
SE Asia December 2005

News and general updates - Page 1

5 February 2019

Let met explain - forwards or backwards?

For the sake of fake self-importance, I am going to write this as if someone actually reads anything that appears on this website.

If you are really good at hunting around, you might find some content here from 1999, at the time of writing, about 20 years ago.
Back then, slashdot.org was still new, and the term 'blog' may not have existed, there are differing opinions on that.
The term 'weblog' or 'e-log' existed, but generally, people still wrote their internet content like a book. Chapter 1 would appear first, then chapter 2 which might make reference to things that happened in chapter 1. The reader was generally expected to read chapter 1 before chapter 2.

Fast forward a few years, and attention spans started to shrink. Sites like slashdot.org became the norm. Content creators successfully altered the mindset of consumers to ensure they read their website every day, in reverse order, until they hit content they had already seen previously.
This basically eliminates the possibility of making reference to the previous 'post'. The concept of a previous post was actually a new concept also.

The most extreme way of explaining how the internet works today with the modern blog format is as follows. Lets assume as unlikely that it may be that you were busy at work all day and had no time to scroll through the internet every few minutes, you might check the news at the end of the day and see something like -

• Amazing rescue operation frees all hostages!
• GUNSHOTS HEARD FROM SHOPPING CENTRE!
• Smoke is billowing from an open window.
• Negotiations are continuing.
• Police have the building surrounded.
• Up to 20 hostages believed to be trapped inside.
• Witnesses say there are at least 3 gunmen.
• Reports of multiple gunshots and explosions - follow live.
• Reports of incident unfolding at Seaview Mall Shopping Centre - more to come.

Obviously an extreme example, but its like reading the punchline before you have heard the joke.

In the latest content first blog format that most people now consider to be 'the internet', if you dont read every post every day before another is posted, you will either be -

• Reading out of order, or
• Scrolling past newer posts, and scrolling past the post you want to read until you get to the post you have already read, so you can scroll back up to the first post you have not read yet.

I do not like this.
So what does all this nonsensical ranting mean?

I am now proud to offer both forward and backwards formats. I call these areas of the site Full Trip Reports and All Posts. At the time of writing there are about 820 posts available, and 21 trips. Unless you are reading this site 10 times a day checking for new content I would prefer you read the full trip report and bookmarked the page you were up to.
If you just want a taste of the content, I have a Featured Posts section, which generally has some nicer photos.
If you want to find something specific, go to the tag cloud located in the Search section....tags are an even newer concept than blogs!

News and general updates - This simple to follow map explains how best to navigate this state of the art website / weblog.

This simple to follow map explains how best to navigate this state of the art website / weblog.


10 February 2019

Upcoming trip - Korkong

From the 30th of March I will be spending 4 weeks in South Korea, Hong Kong and Southern China.
Specifically, 4 nights in Seoul, 4 nights in Daejeon, another 3 nights in Seoul, 4 nights in Hong Kong, 6 nights in Guangzhou and then another 4 nights in Hong Kong. Of those cities, there are 2 new ones, Daejeon and Guangzhou.

News and general updates - For the Geographically challenged, here is a map I hacked together by taking screenshots of possibly copyrighted content.

For the Geographically challenged, here is a map I hacked together by taking screenshots of possibly copyrighted content.


Upcoming trip - Japan9

From the 26th of October I will be spending 4 weeks in Japan, again, in what has become an annual pilgrimage around November. This time I will be taking a clockwise loop north of Tokyo, but sticking to the main island of Honshu. Specifically, 6 nights in Tokyo, 3 Nights in Takasaki, 4 nights in Niigata, 3 nights in Yamagata, 3 nights in Koriyama and another 6 nights in Tokyo.
All of these are new cities apart from Tokoyo, which is like my second home these days. As usual my focus will be hiking, I may even see some early snow on the mountains.

News and general updates - I am getting pretty good at making these maps.

I am getting pretty good at making these maps.


17 February 2019

Lets get overly technical

As the title suggests, this is going to get really technical. I will be discussing Adobe Lightroom, retina screens, css resizing, view portals, ICC color profiles, raw vs jpg files... oh my.
As usual I am going to write this assuming someone cares, chances are, no one does, yet, maybe I will go viral one day due to one of these idiotic psychopathic rants?

For a month or so now I have been trying to 'fix' my pictures, this has posed no end of problems. Allow me to explain.

On each of my boring self indulgent trips, I take a small laptop with me, use Adobe Lightroom as my photo cataloguer / editor, shoot either jpg (in the past) or raw (now) photos, do some minor (in the past) or major (now) edits in Adobe Lightroom, before exporting them to a couple of different sizes and uploading.

The size of files required has increased over my many years of aimless wandering, originally no one had a screen bigger than 1024x768 pixels, and most people had 800x600. I think at that time when I exported the preview images, which is all 99% of people see, at only 300 pixels wide!
Fast forward now to 2019, and we have a much much more complex world, which I shall try and explain, but first....

Many years ago I either had a camera that did not shoot raw, or chose to shoot jpeg because I did not understand why I would bother with raw. In fact at various points I did not use an editor program at all, I exported jpegs straight out of camera (SooC) and used a resizing tool embedded into the windows shell.
Fortunately, I still have nearly all the original higher megapixel jpegs, and I certainly have all the raws from the last few years since I first swapped to a Fujifilm x70 and then more recently a Sony a7ii. Well actually I lost about a dozen which infuriates me because I dont know how it happened but thats a different rant about backups...

So what does that mean? It means I have an opportunity to go back and re edit older trips in lightroom, and export at higher resolution. My current preference is the previews are to be 800 css pixels wide, where as the full size images will be 1600 css pixels wide. More on css pixels later. To hold your interest (who am I kidding? no one read this far!), below are examples of original and re-edited photos from my full lap of Taiwan trip in 2017.

News and general updates - A pre edit shot during the day, very dark, black shadows.

A pre edit shot during the day, very dark, black shadows.


News and general updates - Re-edited version, lots more to see.

Re-edited version, lots more to see.


News and general updates - A pre edit shot of some neon at night, signs blown out, shadows too dark.

A pre edit shot of some neon at night, signs blown out, shadows too dark.


News and general updates - A re-edited version, hopefully it looks better... possibly over-saturated but that's my preference. I LIKE EYE CANCER! The signs should be less blown

A re-edited version, hopefully it looks better... possibly over-saturated but that's my preference. I LIKE EYE CANCER! The signs should be less blown out, the shadows should no longer be black.


OK, now that we have got the re editing out of the way, its time to explain the failing of taking photos using in camera jpeg conversion as opposed to raw.
My old Sony RX100 mk1 served me well for many many years. I still have it, it still works, the optical stabilisation servo buzzes like mad and the strap lug ripped off the side but as far as I can tell it still takes photos as well as it did the day I bought it.

It only has a 1 inch sensor, so its low light performance is really poor compared to say, a full frame Sony a7ii, however to compensate I frequently used the RX100's multiple frame noise reduction. Most people do not understand this feature, it effectively stacks a lot of noisy high ISO images on top of each other, lines them up and removes the noise by averaging the pixels across 5 or so frames. The downside, you have to disable raw capture to use it. So I did.
The impact I can see now is that because I was using MFNR (multi frame noise reduction) I messed with the jpeg engine in my Sony RX100 a lot, to produce SooC (straight out of camera) images that to my eye looked sharp and vivid. These are generally badly over-sharpened, and now there is nothing I can do about that. They look fine from afar, but have a 1:1 peak and you have a water color painting as shown below.

News and general updates - An example of an over-sharpened jpeg from my Sony RX100. Nothing I can do about that now, it is worse where there is lots of green and darker scenes w

An example of an over-sharpened jpeg from my Sony RX100. Nothing I can do about that now, it is worse where there is lots of green and darker scenes which probably used Multi Frame Noise Reduction. The lesson here, always shoot raw in case years later the technology exists or demands that you stare closer at the pixels.


Now for my next failing. Exporting and importing Lightroom catalogues. As mentioned, while travelling I use a small laptop, import my photos, do my edits, export, upload.
When I return from my trips, I reimport my photos from the SD cards, I don't delete the files from the SD cards while travelling, as I consider the tiny fragile easily lost cards to be an extra backup.
Anyway, what I should do after reimporting those files onto my home pc, is export the catalogue from my laptop with all the edits, photos marked for rejection, processing history etc. Until my most recent Japan trip I have never done that. Epic fail. I am repopularizing the term epic fail by the way.

This was never a big issue until I wanted to go back and re export all the raws from trips many years ago. You see like most people, I take about 50% more photos than I end up using. When I get back to my hotel room each night, I go through the photos from the day, mark some of them as rejected, edit the 'keepers' then export and upload. By not exporting and importing the catalogue I lose all the data about which are keepers, as well as all the edits, including cropping, that I performed while I was on my trip.

So now I have to go through 1500 photos to identify the 1000 keepers (per trip!), and start editing all over again. That is very time consuming!

News and general updates - Here is what Adobe Lightroom looks like in 2019. This is after I have gone through and rejected all the unused photos from my Full Lap of Taiwan trip

Here is what Adobe Lightroom looks like in 2019. This is after I have gone through and rejected all the unused photos from my Full Lap of Taiwan trip and re edited all 933 photos.


If you are still following along, now its time to get even more technical. Who is excited? Oh that's right, no one reads this.
Anyway, its now time to talk about ICC color profiles, color space (also known as color model or color system) and imagemagick.

The reason I have re-edited and uploaded the aforementioned Taiwan trip first is because I made a stupid error in Lightroom that I have only properly resolved by re editing and exporting all those photos.
In 2017 just before going to Taiwan, I reinstalled Lightroom on my travel laptop. This reset everything, it has lots of options. For some reason when I went to export photos, I did not notice that the color space was not sRGB. It was ProPhoto RGB. There is also Adobe RGB. Maybe you have heard of RGB, it means red green blue. Your monitor / screen displays pixels in these colors. There is also CMYK, used more for paper printing, which means Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key. Lets not worry about that for now.
sRGB is the most common, and its the only one that is properly supported by all browsers. It is also the least colorful RGB color space.
You see, when we look at red, green, blue etc on our monitor, we are not seeing something that is as red as it can be, or as blue as it can be. It is impossible to display those reds on a monitor that does not support ProPhoto RGB or Adobe RGB.
The issue is, if you export a file using ProPhoto RGB and attempt to display it on an sRGB monitor, it will appear dull and muted.

I have done my best to illustrate this below by exporting a photo as ProPhoto RGB, taking a screen-capture, saving the screen-capture etc. I think this would therefore display dull and muted even if you are lucky enough to have some kind of super monitor and browser capable of displaying ProPhoto RGB correctly.

Just before I share the horrific comparison, I will describe how I thought I fixed this.
There is a tool, imagemagick, which is fantastic, a command line utility primarily for Linux. This allows you to do about a million things, including changing the color space. For years I thought after I ran a large bash command on my Taiwan4 directory I had fixed this, but alas I had not. You see I had converted to sRGB2016, which is some sort of other half fixed barely documented profile that no one uses.
Hence as you will see, further reason to re-import, re-reject non-keepers, re-edit, re-upload. So much re.

News and general updates - Here is what my Full Lap of Taiwan photos originally looked like, when erroneously exported as ProPhoto RGB. Dull, Muted. As mentioned I kind of sort

Here is what my Full Lap of Taiwan photos originally looked like, when erroneously exported as ProPhoto RGB. Dull, Muted. As mentioned I kind of sort of fixed them with Imagemagick, but they were still sort of wacky. This fix is different to the one above which was simply not editing aggressively. In this image, look at anything that should be red, green or blue, and note how it is not FULLY red, green or blue.


News and general updates - And here is the exact same photo, same edits as above, exported correctly with the narrower gamut sRGB color profile. Much more vibrant. Happy times.

And here is the exact same photo, same edits as above, exported correctly with the narrower gamut sRGB color profile. Much more vibrant. Happy times. Also how often do you get to use the word gamut!


Now we get to the final problem (or is it?), which is also the hardest to explain, the effect of HDPI screens. The acronym alone is confusing since it either means high dots per inch, or high density per inch or high density pixels or high dot density per pixel inch or hotdog pickles. Nobody knows.
Anyway, Apple at least popularised the concept, and to understand it correctly, you need to understand what is meant by CSS width or viewport width and how that differs from pixel width. I am already confused.

Take a deep breath.

If you have an HDPI or Retina screen, and you are browsing the internet, you might have a screen that is 2880 pixels wide (common size of current Macbook pro.... I think).
However despite having 2880 pixels of width, the browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Edge etc) automatically zooms all HTML content apart from images to 200%, e.g. 1440 pixels wide. I think this is done at the operating system level. Without this, a full screen web page on a macbook pro would have text too tiny to read.

Now things get a little more tricky. Note this also occurs with phones and ipads, all of which have many more physical pixels than viewport or css pixels. It is however seemingly a lot less of an issue on a phone because the image is postage stamp sized and the pixels are much much tinier. Anyway I digress....

To show off their new OMG RETINA!!!! screens, apple didnt just zoom everything including the images on existing web pages. Well they did, but then your web page looks like geocities gif art. Instead the operating system knows that the image MIGHT be resized (squished) on non retina, and that there are more pixels available for retina. How convoluted is this??? Time for bullet points.

Lets say we want to display a picture that's 800 pixels wide, this is quite a common size, it suits 1920px and older 1200px and even 1024px wide monitors well. I am going to struggle to explain this. An 800 x 533 image has 426,400 pixels, that will be important later. TO THE BULLET POINTS!

• 1920 physical pixels (modern desktop LCD) - 800px jpg will occupy 41.66% of the screen width. 1 x jpg pixel = 1 x screen width pixel.
• 1920 physical pixels (modern desktop LCD) - 800px html table will occupy 41.66% of the screen. 1 x html pixel = 1 x screen pixel.
• 2440 physical pixels (retina screen) - 800px jpg without any css max width or % property will occupy 65.57% of the screen, but will be blown up to be 1600 physical pixels wide, and look terrible. 1 x jpg piexl = 2 x screen width pixels.
• 2440 physical pixels (retina screen) - 1600px jpg with css to resize it to half its pixel width to make it 800 pixels instead of 1600 pixels will occupy 65.57% of the screen, and will have 1 jpeg pixel for every screen pixel, but only use 800 css or viewport pixels! But it will look sharp and crisp.
• 2440 physical pixels (retina screen) - 800px html table will occupy 65.57% of the screen. 1 x html/css/viewport pixel = 2 x screen pixels. Because non img content is generally solid color vectors or whatever you want to call it, it looks sharp despite being blown up

So now we have a choice to make. Both require messing with CSS to accommodate the other. Either export 800px wide images and let retina screens blow them up to 2x their pixel width on retina screens and look terrible, or export 1600px wide images and use css to set them to max-width 800px which will halve the number of pixels used on non retina screens but use all 1600 on retina screens despite you setting max-width to 800 pixels because the operating system overrides that and displays 1600 pixels on a retina screen.....EXCEPT.....

I really thought 1600px and css max-width 800px was the answer. Sure it looks right, the correct amount of screen is filled with images and on retina screens you get sharp images that are double the css pixel width. Logic would suggest that blowing up an image to be physically larger than the number of pixels will look terrible as it has to invent data, where as shrinking a 1600px wide image to 800px wide should look great. Generally when I export from Lightroom I am shrinking an image from 5472 pixels to 800 pixels wide and it looks great, but then we have to deal with Google Chrome (and numerous other browsers).

You see, Chrome cant render css resized images in anything close to resembling acceptable quality. There is terrible moire, terrible aliasing, and to make matters worse its inconsistent and may or may not hand off the resizing to your graphics processing unit depending on how its feeling. Heres a couple of examples as to JUST HOW BAD THAT CAN BE. Sorry retina users but I cant really demonstrate this using high res images for you guys, but I think you can still see what I am talking about...in lower res than you would like.

News and general updates - Screen capture of 800px image rendered at 800px in Chrome, looks fine, its a crappy picture, but chrome has not contributed to that.

Screen capture of 800px image rendered at 800px in Chrome, looks fine, its a crappy picture, but chrome has not contributed to that.


News and general updates - Screen capture of 1600px image rendered at 800px in Chrome, terrible moire, look at the pattern in the tiles. If I exported all images for retina and

Screen capture of 1600px image rendered at 800px in Chrome, terrible moire, look at the pattern in the tiles. If I exported all images for retina and shrunk for Chrome, they would all suffer this fate for non retina users.


News and general updates - Screen capture of an image exported from Lightroom at 800px, rendered at 800px in Chrome, with the ANA jet blown up into the bottom left to highlight

Screen capture of an image exported from Lightroom at 800px, rendered at 800px in Chrome, with the ANA jet blown up into the bottom left to highlight the issue. LOOKS FINE.


News and general updates - Screen capture of the same image, exported from Lightroom at 1600px, rendered at 800px in Chrome, note the terrible aliasing on the blue paint of the

Screen capture of the same image, exported from Lightroom at 1600px, rendered at 800px in Chrome, note the terrible aliasing on the blue paint of the ANA jet and also the wing.


The above is an extreme example, the impact is more pronounced when there are straight lines that are not vertical or horizontal, but assuming I have made my sample jpegs correctly, hopefully you can see and agree that this looks absolutely horrifically additional adjectives here... terrible.

So what is the answer? I tried and tried to find a way to do this in css, there are options for webkit and non webkit browsers to do something with higher contrast or sharper edges, but the impact of them was basically nothing in my testing, or sometimes it made it worse. On top of that is the possibility that sometimes Chrome hands off the job to your GPU, and then its anyones guess.
Therefore, I finally relented, and decided that I need 3 images for every 2......

• For normal screens, thumbnails are 800px, displayed at 800 css px, full size are 1600px, displayed at 1600 css px.
• For retina screens, thumbnails are 1600px, displayed at 800 css px but 1600 retina px, full size are 3200px, displayed at 1600 css px but 3200 retina px.

This works, fine, but you need to get your head around srcset which lets the browser choose which 2 out of 3 pics to use for each user based on their 'media' width, which is css code for physical pixels, as opposed to css pixels.

OK then, the last piece of the puzzle is compression. To understand why additional compression is needed, lets go back to the very start of this diatribic rant (I made up the word diatribic just now).
• An 800 x 533 image has 426,400 pixels.
• A 1600 x 1067 image has 1,707,200 pixels.
• A 3200 x 2133 image has 6,825,600 pixels!!!!!!

Exporting them all as quality 80 from Lightroom, as I used to do, would result in every webpage rendered using srcset for retina users transferring roughly an exabyte of data.
In examining the above chrome rendering issues I found numerous people discussing the 'cost' of supporting retina. I wish I had an actual cost issue where bandwidth was costing me, but I get only 5 readers a day so its not actually a cost issue, just one of convenience. Anyway, the collective wisdom has changed.
It used to be that you must export no less than 80 quality or suffer the wrath of the masses. It is now common practice to export at 30 quality whenever exporting for retina.

My LONG experiments in Lightroom export quality have led me to the following-
• 800 wide 60 quality.
• 1600 wide 30 quality.
• 3200 wide 30 quality.

This is significantly less than I previously thought would be acceptable. I reserve the right to again decide this is unacceptable as soon as banding in sky gradients starts to bother me, but that's a rant for another day!

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22 February 2019

Full Lap of Taiwan - Revisited

This will be the first of a few retrospective introspective reflections on past trips I have taken which have been triggered by my need to re edit, re upload and re re re every photo from most of my previous trips.
You can read about that saga by Clicking this link here which kind of appears to be a different color to let you know its a link.
It really is quite the long winded saga, but alas, onto the Taiwan trip retrospective.

In March 2017 I did a full clockwise lap of Taiwan, staying in the following cities -

• Taipei
• Hualien
• Taitung
• Kaohsiung
• Tainan
• Puli
• Taipei

I had only previously stayed in Taipei and Kaohsiung, so it was quite the adventure, taking the slow train down the East coast and the Bullet train up the West coast. I like trains.
While re-editing the photos, I realised that basically the entire trip was grey, and at least half of it was raining. While I was there I didn't really notice or complain about that, but compared to my recent Japan trip, which had 1/2 a day of rain total in 28 days, Taiwan was epically rainy.

Highlights were setting my all time steps records, as well as the two main tourist destinations of Taroko Gorge and Sun Moon Lake, although it was raining when I visited both of them!
Best hike was the Teapot mountain near Jiufen.
Also, Taipei is still one of my favourite cities, with excellent day trips to go hiking, and great food....as you shall see.

Oh and heres one last reminder, to read the full full lap of taiwan trip report, CLICK HERE.

News and general updates - The first hike of the trip was to Shihding. It is also where I bought my rain coat. A grey rainy day. I liked the colorful villages and the view of Ta

The first hike of the trip was to Shihding. It is also where I bought my rain coat. A grey rainy day.
I liked the colorful villages and the view of Taipei 101 from afar.


News and general updates - Here is a photo of Taipei, in the rain. The theme of this trip was rain. I remember some bemused locals looking at me like I was a lunatic for standin

Here is a photo of Taipei, in the rain. The theme of this trip was rain. I remember some bemused locals looking at me like I was a lunatic for standing up on this overpass in the rain balancing my camera to take a long exposure. More than once on this trip my camera fogged up, internally.


News and general updates - To celebrate the continuing rain, its me, in my rain coat, bought for $2 from 7-eleven. Did you know Taiwan has the highest density of convenience sto

To celebrate the continuing rain, its me, in my rain coat, bought for $2 from 7-eleven. Did you know Taiwan has the highest density of convenience stores of any country in the world? I read that somewhere once.


News and general updates - Every time I go to Taipei I go to YangMingShan. I like it there. Even if it is raining.

Every time I go to Taipei I go to YangMingShan. I like it there. Even if it is raining.


News and general updates - This is Taroko Gorge. Everyone that goes to Taiwan goes there. It took me until my 4th trip to go there. It was worth it, it rained. There was however

This is Taroko Gorge. Everyone that goes to Taiwan goes there. It took me until my 4th trip to go there. It was worth it, it rained. There was however a golden Buddha.


News and general updates - I thought I should include a photo of the actual gorge. It is one of those things where photos do not do the scale justice. Everyone says that so I wi

I thought I should include a photo of the actual gorge. It is one of those things where photos do not do the scale justice. Everyone says that so I will also.


News and general updates - Here is a view of Hualien...in the rain. I got more saturated on this day than any other day except the day I got ultra saturated running a lap of Sun

Here is a view of Hualien...in the rain. I got more saturated on this day than any other day except the day I got ultra saturated running a lap of Sun Moon Lake. So, second most saturated day.


News and general updates - Taitung was the smallest city I visited. Here it is. As seen from a strange temple complex that appears to be built on an artificial coral reef.

Taitung was the smallest city I visited. Here it is. As seen from a strange temple complex that appears to be built on an artificial coral reef.


News and general updates - Like a fool, I decided on the first dry day to go to a museum, which is normally a raniny day activity. The path to the strange Museum of Pre History

Like a fool, I decided on the first dry day to go to a museum, which is normally a raniny day activity. The path to the strange Museum of Pre History followed an old train track, except the high quality walking path disappeared into a ravine at one point, forcing a detour.


News and general updates - Random Horse.

Random Horse.


News and general updates - Random Cow. Taitung delivered all the random animals, there were dogs and monkeys also.

Random Cow. Taitung delivered all the random animals, there were dogs and monkeys also.


News and general updates - Kaohsiung is a city I enjoyed on a previous visit, and I enjoyed it again this time. I stayed in the same hotel and had the same view, here it is.

Kaohsiung is a city I enjoyed on a previous visit, and I enjoyed it again this time. I stayed in the same hotel and had the same view, here it is.


News and general updates - One of the better photos I took on this trip was this man with his walking frame in the busy day market. Day markets are like night markets, except th

One of the better photos I took on this trip was this man with his walking frame in the busy day market. Day markets are like night markets, except they are in the day and sell fresh ingredients rather than prepared meals. Thats the best way I can describe it. Alternatively, day markets are for old people.


News and general updates - An up and coming tourist attraction near Kaohsiung is FoGuangShan Buddha amusement park, complete with Starbucks. It is very spectacular, everything i

An up and coming tourist attraction near Kaohsiung is FoGuangShan Buddha amusement park, complete with Starbucks. It is very spectacular, everything is coated with gold.


News and general updates - Kaohsiung has a city mountain, from where you can see the city. It was a grey polluted day, but squint hard and you can see the city, including the tr

Kaohsiung has a city mountain, from where you can see the city. It was a grey polluted day, but squint hard and you can see the city, including the triforce building.


News and general updates - The subway system in Kaohsiung is new. Actually its over 10 years old. But the most touristy or insta-worthy photo you can take in the city is from th

The subway system in Kaohsiung is new. Actually its over 10 years old. But the most touristy or insta-worthy photo you can take in the city is from this spot, so I did.


News and general updates - Here I have moved on to Tainan, and gone to the main tourist attraction, the old Fort Zeelandia. I found it underwhelming.

Here I have moved on to Tainan, and gone to the main tourist attraction, the old Fort Zeelandia. I found it underwhelming.


News and general updates - The nearby fishermens graveyard was however, more interesting.

The nearby fishermens graveyard was however, more interesting.


News and general updates - They call this a fort as well, but I suspect its somewhere that used to be a Dutch fort that got rebuilt. Now its called the Chicken Tower, but has no

They call this a fort as well, but I suspect its somewhere that used to be a Dutch fort that got rebuilt. Now its called the Chicken Tower, but has no chicken or tower.


News and general updates - The most bizzarre thing in Taiwan, is the Palace of Versailles Chimei electric fan company museum. It is on old industrial land quite literally in the

The most bizzarre thing in Taiwan, is the Palace of Versailles Chimei electric fan company museum. It is on old industrial land quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Theres a lot of money to be made making cheap plastic electric fans and light fittings.


News and general updates - Tainan used to be the capital of Taiwan, so they have good temples, this is a Confucius temple. I got chased by a turtle.

Tainan used to be the capital of Taiwan, so they have good temples, this is a Confucius temple. I got chased by a turtle.


News and general updates - On a slightly rainy day I took a side trip up the bullet train to the next town over, Chiayi, and visited their Sun Shooting Tower. I seem to recall t

On a slightly rainy day I took a side trip up the bullet train to the next town over, Chiayi, and visited their Sun Shooting Tower. I seem to recall that soon after I visited they had a sizeable earthquake.


News and general updates - Taiwan is full of night markets. And day markets. But people mainly talk about the night markets. The best one I have visited is here, in Tainan. I ha

Taiwan is full of night markets. And day markets. But people mainly talk about the night markets. The best one I have visited is here, in Tainan. I had a good steak on a hot grill plate here.


News and general updates - My last stop before returning to Taiwan was Puli. A tiny town that appears much larger than its population would suggest. I really liked it here. It i

My last stop before returning to Taiwan was Puli. A tiny town that appears much larger than its population would suggest. I really liked it here. It is a popular spot to stay when visiting Sun Moon Lake which is nearby, as you shall see.


News and general updates - When I arrived in Puli I saw a great sunset and ran up the nearest hill at dusk to peer at the sun. People were hang gliding. It is a great place. The

When I arrived in Puli I saw a great sunset and ran up the nearest hill at dusk to peer at the sun. People were hang gliding. It is a great place. They had a terrible earthquake a few years ago that killed a large percentage of the population!


News and general updates - While in Puli, I managed to get lost on a random mountain...it was far...as you shall see.

While in Puli, I managed to get lost on a random mountain...it was far...as you shall see.


News and general updates - Puli holds the distinction of the city where I set my all time steps walked / ran in a day record. Thats about 50km. The following day I did another 5

Puli holds the distinction of the city where I set my all time steps walked / ran in a day record. Thats about 50km. The following day I did another 50k steps running a lap of the lake in the rain.


News and general updates - It rained all day, but damn it, I ran a full lap of the lake, SUN MOON LAKE, in the pouring rain. I got super saturated. It was great. Coming the day

It rained all day, but damn it, I ran a full lap of the lake, SUN MOON LAKE, in the pouring rain. I got super saturated. It was great. Coming the day after a huge 50km hike up a mountain and back, it was a big effort.


News and general updates - At one point around the lake, I saw the sun, briefly.

At one point around the lake, I saw the sun, briefly.


News and general updates - One last view near the end of my lap of the lake. I shall have to go again one day, when its not raining.

One last view near the end of my lap of the lake. I shall have to go again one day, when its not raining.


News and general updates - Here I am, in a cave, on teapot mountain near Jiufen, after being caught in a force 10 hurricane typhonic gale forced blast. I literally got sand blas

Here I am, in a cave, on teapot mountain near Jiufen, after being caught in a force 10 hurricane typhonic gale forced blast. I literally got sand blasted.


News and general updates - This is the actual teapot mountain. The best hike of my trip. Excellent views of Jiufen.

This is the actual teapot mountain. The best hike of my trip. Excellent views of Jiufen.


News and general updates - Near the top of Teapot mountain is this very strange very green surreal valley, shielded from the terrible wind.

Near the top of Teapot mountain is this very strange very green surreal valley, shielded from the terrible wind.


News and general updates - Another one of my favourite shots of this trip was this night pic of the scooters. Taiwan has billions of scooters (fact).

Another one of my favourite shots of this trip was this night pic of the scooters. Taiwan has billions of scooters (fact).


News and general updates - 2nd to last hike was 3 peaks, up steeeeep stair cases with questionable hand rails. I survived.

2nd to last hike was 3 peaks, up steeeeep stair cases with questionable hand rails. I survived.


News and general updates - The last hike was to WuLiaoJian, and its often said to be the most dangerous hike in Taiwan. Yeah there are ropes and ladders (next pic) but its reall

The last hike was to WuLiaoJian, and its often said to be the most dangerous hike in Taiwan. Yeah there are ropes and ladders (next pic) but its really not that bad. Hard to get to though.


News and general updates - The aforementioned ropes and ladders.

The aforementioned ropes and ladders.


News and general updates - And finally, you cant go to Taiwan without enjoying beef noodle soup. I saved the best bowl of my trip until last, here it is. Actually second to last

And finally, you cant go to Taiwan without enjoying beef noodle soup. I saved the best bowl of my trip until last, here it is. Actually second to last, I managed to sneak in another at the airport!


So that was my 4th trip to Taiwan, my first full lap of Taiwan, and my first fix your damn photos, make them high res, re edit and re export them exercise.
To read the full trip and its 1000 photos rather than the so called highlights shown on this page, CLICK HERE.

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8 March 2019

Japan 2015 - Revisited

As threatened, here is my second retrospective of a previous trip FACILITATED by my need to re-edit, re-export and re-upload all my photos so that they are over-saturated, over-sharpened and over-nonsensical.

If you want to just go ahead and re-read that entire trip rather than read this re-cap prior to your re-read, CLICK HERE.

Now I will talk about some of the highlights (and lowlights) of my 2015 trip. It was either my 5th or 6th trip to Japan depending on how I choose to count.

On this trip I visited quite a few cities I had not been to before, in fact other than Tokyo, every place I went on this trip was new to me.
It was also probably the trip where I really stepped up the mountain hiking newly formed tradition, which is now the primary focus of nearly all my trips. I think the previous KOREA AGAIN trip also had a lot of hiking but JAPAN5 is where I first made it the actual purpose of the trip.

Before we get into it, this trip featured my trusty already old at this point Sony RX100 camera. I foolishly shot only jpeg so I could use the multi frame noise reduction feature at night. If you want to read more about my photography confusions, CLICK HERE.

I started the journey with a terrible terrible cold, that got much much worse during the flight to Japan via Brisbane. I was very very descriptive of all the symptoms and how I probably infected thousands of people. Frequent readers (who am I kidding?) will be screaming HYPOCRITE! by now, because I often go on a rant about how sick people annoy me. So I annoyed myself.

It took a few days to overcome my near death by manflu experience before the real holiday was able to commence. In the meantime, I found a really good crowded indoor activity where I was able to spread my germs to a few million unsuspecting locals.

News and general updates - While suffering a cold, I went to the Tokyo Motor Show and looked at shiny things, and drank an alcohol free beer which tasted like my socks.

While suffering a cold, I went to the Tokyo Motor Show and looked at shiny things, and drank an alcohol free beer which tasted like my socks.


I then finally decided that I was well enough to go on a relaxing all day journey to the mostly closed tourist Mecca of Nikko. It was mostly closed when I was there, and they had a particular liking for the whole NO PHOTO! routine that people like to do. Still I managed to take a few good photos, sneeze on lots of people and spend a very long time on trains to get there and back in a day.
The whole no photo thing would be a feature of this trip, and subsequent trips to Japan. Its almost a challenge now, spot the NO PHOTO opportunity to take a photo. For the Nikko lovers, TOURIST SPOT PHOTOS APLENTY BE HERE.

News and general updates - Here it is! The photo everyone takes! A bridge in Nikko.

Here it is! The photo everyone takes! A bridge in Nikko.


News and general updates - I was here for the peak color of the season. I now return to Japan at the same time every year to roll around in dying leaves.

I was here for the peak color of the season. I now return to Japan at the same time every year to roll around in dying leaves.


After a day wandering suburban shopping centres to see off the last of my terrible cold, it was finally time to climb a mountain. Mount Oyama was the target, it required a bus, it had a really nice temple and a cable car which I of course completely ignored.
After my day in the mountains I went to Akihabara at night, I realise now while reviewing this, that I have taken the same photo in the same spot numerous times, at night. The next day it rained, a lot, so I ate a delicious tomato soup, did my washing and then headed to a new city, Nagoya.

News and general updates - The Shibuya crossing. Here to act as clickbait and hopefully get someone to look at my site.

The Shibuya crossing. Here to act as clickbait and hopefully get someone to look at my site.


News and general updates - A very colorful temple on Mount Oyama. It was a busy mountain.

A very colorful temple on Mount Oyama. It was a busy mountain.


News and general updates - Akihabara at night. I could substitute about 10 photos from other trips in this spot.

Akihabara at night. I could substitute about 10 photos from other trips in this spot.


News and general updates - My favourite tomato ramen. I think this was the first time I had it. It has chorizo and gorgonzola in it. A splendifirouos cornucopia of fat, salt and

My favourite tomato ramen. I think this was the first time I had it. It has chorizo and gorgonzola in it. A splendifirouos cornucopia of fat, salt and artificial coloring.


Who goes to Nagoya? Not many people. I went there, I liked it. It is not known for its hiking, but I found two really great mountains in the Suzuka range, probably my two favourite hikes of the entire trip. If I went to Nagoya again, I would happily do both of them again.
I did find it to be a little quiet at night, I think, the station is very busy and where I found most of my food, including a great thing which basically combines every kind of Japanese train station food speciality into one giant sloppy delicious mess.

The weather was good apart from my last day, and I also took a day trip, as you shall see to a monkey research facility and castle town surrounded by fighter jets.
If you would rather just read about Nagoya in detail, HERE IS A LINK.

News and general updates - Here is a shot from half way up magnificent Mount Gozaisho. It was colorful, exciting and very very windy as you shall see. I took a lot of great phot

Here is a shot from half way up magnificent Mount Gozaisho. It was colorful, exciting and very very windy as you shall see. I took a lot of great photos on this day, and as ever, did not take the ropeway. When I got to the summit the ropeway was not running due to high winds, and thousands of people were crammed into the summit restaurant wondering how they would get down again. I walked.


News and general updates - Here I am, looking very windblown and old. In great news, I now look older than this photo, all the time, even after my daily moisturizing ritual and

Here I am, looking very windblown and old. In great news, I now look older than this photo, all the time, even after my daily moisturizing ritual and sheep placenta treatments.


News and general updates - Nagoya has a great fake castle. Another day with excellent very overly colorful fake looking photos. The flower show in the castle grounds was excelle

Nagoya has a great fake castle. Another day with excellent very overly colorful fake looking photos. The flower show in the castle grounds was excellent. I love flowers.


News and general updates - Next up in the region of Nagoya was a day trip to Inuyama, near Gifu. I actually spent a few days in Gifu on a more recent trip to Japan. Inuyama is a

Next up in the region of Nagoya was a day trip to Inuyama, near Gifu. I actually spent a few days in Gifu on a more recent trip to Japan. Inuyama is a castle town with an actual real castle that was not destroyed in any kind of natural or man made disaster. It also has a theme park where they breed monkeys for medical experiments and an air force base. What a winning combination!


News and general updates - My second great mountain in the Nagoya region was FUJIYAMA, no not that Fujiyama, but another Fujiyama. This one is located on the very quiet Sangi li

My second great mountain in the Nagoya region was FUJIYAMA, no not that Fujiyama, but another Fujiyama. This one is located on the very quiet Sangi line. I had the entire train to myself, my vivid memory is of the driver getting off every few stops to do 'heads and shoulders knees and toes' to keep himself awake.. The mountain was quiet too, but also fascinating, after a steep climb it arrived at a bald plateau with strange colored plants, and a prominent public toilet?


News and general updates - My final day in Nagoya was rainy, so I went to the Toyota museum and looked at loots of looms and cars. An exciting experience for sure!

My final day in Nagoya was rainy, so I went to the Toyota museum and looked at loots of looms and cars. An exciting experience for sure!


Hiroshima was my next 'new to me' city on this trip. I did the tourist things. Well that and then some other stuff too. I think many people on a standard week long Japan itinerary got to Hiroshima for a day, go to Miyajima for a day, then flee back to Kyoto after they have seen bombs and the island full of deer with a floating toriiiiiiiiii gate. I did those things and splashed in some puddles while doing it, but also managed to go to Iwakuni in the pouring rain to injure myself climbing up a hill to a castle, and best of all I found a great 'mountain' with an excellent view of the bay of islands near Kure.

I liked Hiroshima, the shopping areas were nice and interesting, although quite far from the main station. You can ride a tram that survived the bomb blast between the city proper and the Shinkansen station if you wish, make sure you lick everything on it for the authentic gamma-ray experience.
Of course, I also went to the smokers paradise Okonomiyaki temple restaurant fire trap, which is lots of floors of identical places showing baseball on the tv while people smoke and burn themselves trying to eat their Okonomiyaki.
Because I am considerate, here is a DIRECT LINK to the part of the trip where I was in Hiroshima. It opens in a new window to chew up a bit more bandwidth.

News and general updates - Here is a view of Hiroshima bay from Mount Noro which is accessed via Aki-Kawajiri station near Kure. This wasnt a tough climb but I made it very long

Here is a view of Hiroshima bay from Mount Noro which is accessed via Aki-Kawajiri station near Kure. This wasnt a tough climb but I made it very long by walking back down a high quality abandoned twisting road. The view was amazing the whole way.


News and general updates - Here is a little more of the view from near the top of Mount Noro. You can cycle over all those islands which are all connected via a series of bridge

Here is a little more of the view from near the top of Mount Noro. You can cycle over all those islands which are all connected via a series of bridges. The weather was superb. I am old and talk about the weather. Superb weather would not last.


News and general updates - I visited all the a-bomb historical monuments on a very rainy day and got saturated. Yet not as saturated as I would get the next day. I was actually

I visited all the a-bomb historical monuments on a very rainy day and got saturated. Yet not as saturated as I would get the next day. I was actually a little disappointed with the memorial museum, but I note that it is now being re-modelled. It felt very dated, and not as impressive as the Nagasaki one which I visited recently in 2018.


News and general updates - Here is the famous Iwakuni bridge. I got very very wet walking here from the station which is a few km away. I dont know why I was stubborn and insist

Here is the famous Iwakuni bridge. I got very very wet walking here from the station which is a few km away. I dont know why I was stubborn and insisted on walking.


News and general updates - And here is the castle. The cable car was not running, so I had the whole place to myself. But there was an issue, I slipped over walking up a wooden

And here is the castle. The cable car was not running, so I had the whole place to myself. But there was an issue, I slipped over walking up a wooden ramp and smashed my knee on something. I remember being in great pain and having an actual bruise (I dont bruise). Walk it off.


News and general updates - Onwards to Miyajima, and the sun had returned. Heres a red pagoda thingy.

Onwards to Miyajima, and the sun had returned. Heres a red pagoda thingy.


News and general updates - More of the view of the wonderful bay. There was one deer up here with antlers, on the summit stone. Clearly he was the head deer. There was also an i

More of the view of the wonderful bay. There was one deer up here with antlers, on the summit stone. Clearly he was the head deer. There was also an impressive new public toilet facility carved out of rare timbers.


News and general updates - And for the tourists, heres the floating torii gate thing. I was more impressed that this pigeon was successfully fighting off all the deer.

And for the tourists, heres the floating torii gate thing. I was more impressed that this pigeon was successfully fighting off all the deer.


The mystery destination on this trip was Shimonoseki. It is right on the bottom tip of Honshu. I had to find a spot that was not Fukuoka to stop for a couple of nights as there was no accommodation in Fukuoka due to the sumo. It was a quiet sleepy fishing town, where everything shuts early, but the geography was very interesting. Both sides of the strait between the islands had mountains to enjoy the view of oil tankers going by, and then there was the tunnel. I walked under the ocean, twice. On the far side of the under ocean tunnel was a nazi hangout where Einstein used to come to pontificate. The signage focused more on the Einstein and less on the nazi's. To top it all off, after walking for what seemed forever, I found an old Samurai town at Chofu.
I remember being concerned when I was forced into booking accommodation in a previously unheard of town that there would be nothing for me to do. I was wrong.

To read about the sleepy town of Shimonoseki directly rather than viewing the highlights reel below, CLICK THIS BOLD ALL CAPS TEXT.

News and general updates - This is probably the best cat photo of this entire trip, so here it is! I take more cat photos lately.

This is probably the best cat photo of this entire trip, so here it is! I take more cat photos lately.


News and general updates - Early one morning on the start of my epic adventure under the sea I walked past an amusement park in an excellent twilight.

Early one morning on the start of my epic adventure under the sea I walked past an amusement park in an excellent twilight.


News and general updates - One of the best night views of Japan according to an official list. I think its second to Hakodate, which I did actually experience at night. The isla

One of the best night views of Japan according to an official list. I think its second to Hakodate, which I did actually experience at night. The island of Kyushu is to the left, joined on by a tunnel.


News and general updates - Here is one of the many shrines in the old Samurai town of Chofu. The name is confusing, because lots of places are called Chofu, but I think its beca

Here is one of the many shrines in the old Samurai town of Chofu. The name is confusing, because lots of places are called Chofu, but I think its because the Chofu clan retreated to here.


News and general updates - On my last night, I took the slow train over the strait to Kyushu for a look at Kokura in Kita-Kyushu. Thats a lot of K's. I found Kita-Kyushu to be a

On my last night, I took the slow train over the strait to Kyushu for a look at Kokura in Kita-Kyushu. Thats a lot of K's. I found Kita-Kyushu to be a much more vibrant city than Shimonoseki, I would return to Kita-Kyushu in 2018 to climb the excellent mountain overlooking the city.


My final destination on this trip was the southern city of Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu. A city I very much enjoyed. It is a large city with 2 very busy city centres. I am probably mentally confusing two visits while typing this right now as I recently went to Fukuoka again in November 2018. The highlight was definitely Dazaifu and the nearby Mount Homan, I enjoyed that so much I went again recently and continued onto the mountain behind it.
The other highlights were the ramen. There was an outdoor ramen festival and the top floor of one of the huge malls is known as ramen stadium. Most of the famous ramen shops in Australia proclaim they started somewhere in Fukuoka. I will do some more explaining with the pics in the highlight reel below, or if you prefer a lot more pics of the sites of Fukuoka, HERE IS YOUR THING.

News and general updates - Here is the outdoor ramen festival. I think this was the last night. This one seemed more popular with the locals compared to the ramen stadium in the

Here is the outdoor ramen festival. I think this was the last night. This one seemed more popular with the locals compared to the ramen stadium in the mall which was more popular with tourists. Eating ramen standing up without a spoon is quite the challenge.


News and general updates - The view from Mount Homan. This was my last hike of this holiday, and a great one. Actually it was probably only the third best hike of this trip but

The view from Mount Homan. This was my last hike of this holiday, and a great one. Actually it was probably only the third best hike of this trip but since they were all good, it was still good.


News and general updates - The shopping street leading to Dazaifu is very popular and picturesque. I ate some local treats here, had regrets.

The shopping street leading to Dazaifu is very popular and picturesque. I ate some local treats here, had regrets.


News and general updates - Fukuoka has no castle. It has castle ruins. No one goes to look at them. I did. It made for this nice desaturated photo of a wooden gardening shed.

Fukuoka has no castle. It has castle ruins. No one goes to look at them. I did. It made for this nice desaturated photo of a wooden gardening shed.


News and general updates - On a rest day, I went for an epic walk in a random direction and found this lake. It is a re-creation of the West Lake of Hangzhou in China, somewhere

On a rest day, I went for an epic walk in a random direction and found this lake. It is a re-creation of the West Lake of Hangzhou in China, somewhere so awesome I have been there twice. The mini version in Fukuoka was also quite good to walk around, and I think this is a good photo in great light.


News and general updates - One thing I definitely remember from Fukuoka is the tunnels linking the subway stations that go for miles. My hotel was at the very end of one of thes

One thing I definitely remember from Fukuoka is the tunnels linking the subway stations that go for miles. My hotel was at the very end of one of these. You never have to go outside if you dont want to.


So thats the end of that, another retrospective exercise completed. It took a long time! I hope I have done this in a format so that when I inevitably need to change my website again in 10 years time to cater for whatever replaces the current technology then that it is a lot easier and less time consuming!
....I still have about 15 more of these retrospective things to do!

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27 April 2019

Korkong trip is now completed!

The Korkong trip is finished. CLICK HERE to go straight to the last update! My next big trip is Japan again in November.

News and general updates - Do as the picture says!

Do as the picture says!


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The end

The end....for now....

Contents

5 February 2019
  Let met explain - forwards or backwards?
10 February 2019
  Upcoming trip - Korkong
  Upcoming trip - Japan9
17 February 2019
  Lets get overly technical
22 February 2019
  Full Lap of Taiwan - Revisited
8 March 2019
  Japan 2015 - Revisited
27 April 2019
  Korkong trip is now completed!
  The end