16 August 2009

Nature's Splendors on a Sunday Afternoon

Hi, all. Today I hung out with Jim. You can find some great pictures from our trip over at his blog, Sponge Bear. I showed him (some of) the sights around Hsinchu City.

I showed Jim everything from my house in Siangshan near the East District (so I don't live in the Miaoli part of Siangshan!) to actual East District, to the Downtown area itself. You can see downtown in the pictures above, and below.
Surprisingly, these previous pictures were taken five minutes after Jim had gone back to Fengyuan. It was raining/showering for the final two hours that he was here. That seems to be typical in Taiwan. When you have time to do something that you have been wanting to do for a long, long time, nature throws a gauntlet in your way. Anyway, I had a really nice time with him. I warned him many times in advance that he would really, really like Hsinchu, and my declarations were pretty accurate.

Above is a caterpillar that tried to destroy my eucalyptus shrub. I killed it and about three others. The plant seems to be okay now. I was mentioning this to Jim. Jim and I talked about many things, including the nature around my house. Anyway, living in a house, even with a yard as miniscule as mine (more like a veranda than a yard) surrounded my all manner of nature (mountains, trees, animals, insects, etc.) makes it a constant battle when you want to keep things alive. Even if you want to keep your food edible for more than thirty minutes, you need to be oh, so extremely vigilant. I'm serious. in thirty minutes, ants can be all over your kitchen table and all over whatever food you've left out. It really is a constant uphill battle. But I love it here in this house, and Sharon is much more relaxed, so I hope we can be here for a very, very long time!

But just before I get to that, above is part of the view we got to see when walking around the driveways/throughways/byways/unpaved roads that are just 150 metres above my house. Below, you can see Yuanpei University. I didn't know, at first, where the path led to, or what views it overlooked. We didn't go to the end of the path. A lof of the area is cemetery land. So maybe, when a person dies, they bring a bulldozer, and path just a little bit more, and consult with the family of the deceased to see where exactly the body should be buried. That is just my guess, anyway.

I am pretty sure this picture above is of my street! Not many people walk up here along the unpaved roads (mostly, they are used for illegally disposing of trash, which is a pretty disgraceful way to treat the environment - but you see that a lot in Taiwan). I think a good way to fight environment abuse like that would be to have toll-free numbers that everybody could call at any time. You could take a photo, and report people, or simply report where trash has been inappropriately disposed. I guess I wouldn't want to video tape or take a picture of a gangster type dumping his garbage willy-nilly like that, because I could get thrashed around or worse. However, there has got to be some solution. Actually, I find Hsinchu has more responsible people than other places in Taiwan I've been. I prefer not to have the rules enforced top-down, with cops handing out tickets at every corner for every harmless little infraction like that do in Taipei. The best idea is to instill a strong sense of aesthetics and responsible awareness in people when they are kids, etc. Maybe it is the buxiban teacher in me!

This picture of Yuanpei University seen from the top of the unpaved hillside roads is quite pretty. There continue to be pleasant surprises in store fro me as I explore the city of Hisnchu, because not matter how easy it is to find you way around this town, you will always find a new nook or cranny somewhere.

This man-made lake (Jingcing Lake) located near Park Avenue 1, is a case in point. There are a lot of people who come to escape the noise and bustle of their everyday hectic activity. When Jim and I were there, we saw a foreigner man/Taiwanese woman couple who were with their twin daughters. The family looked very happy. They were all walking contentedly around the lake (before it started to rain, and everybody including Jim and I) gradually made their way home. Even though Jim and I were quite far away up the hill, the foreigner grinned and said hello to the two of us as we were making our way down. Hsinchu is much more relaxing than some cities I've been in or lived in in Taiwan.

Above, you can see the lotus pads, which this lake seems to be famous for (everybody always wants to take pictures of them).

Jim was quite impressed by the variety of nicely designed houses in Hsinchu, including these Western-style ones in the background (in the right side of the picture) which probably house Science Park managers and CEO's.

I also really appreciate the big trees and the free air in places like this. Honestly, I was ecstatic to be able to show Jim that there are really nice, pleasant things in Taiwan, that are not monotonous, and that show that Taipei doesn't have the monopoly on culture that it often seems to possess in many foreigners' eyes.

I took Jim to this Filipino-run lunch shop/café/panini restaurant. This is one of my favourite places to have a quick bit to eat, as you can sees from Jim's picture of me. I look like I am in 7th heaven, as I am eating some of my fries, etc.!
Hsinchu has many things, from parks to shopping, from multi-culturalism to more sophisticated university lifestyles...

Here is one of my favourite example of the latter, a second-hand bookstore/café called Socrates Café or Casa de Socrates Café. They have books in many languages (particularly in English), which you can peruse while you sit at the table, or even buy if you wish to take some of them home. They serve food and beverages of various sorts (although the food is a little expensive, truth be told), and if you go to the university, you might run into classmates or other students from the university, with whom you might strike up a conversation or five! It is a great place to hang out and relax, and it is very convenient for students of National Tsing Hua University. Even if you are not a student, you can just walk up the lovely campus and drop in. Just remember to buy a book or two. The owner of the café/bookstore is really friendly!

Here is a photo of Jim in front of the aforesaid café. He is of course, suitably Socratic, no question about it. How can he not be, with that pose!

Tsing Hua University even has its own man-made lake. Jim and I were able to observe a real, professional photographer performing his duties as a wedding photographer just behind us on the lawn, as we took pictures of this lake!

This is taken from the road leading up to Eighteen Peaks Mountain. I actually was hoping to show Jim that park as well, since it is really lovely. But there were just too many places to go, and to many things to do! In the area around Eighteen Peaks mountain, as well, there are a lot of neat little shops, like a bakery, that sometimes, on the weekends, sells amazing cinnamon rolls and such things. There is also a place that sells soy milk made from Canadian-grown soy beans. The soy milk is delicious.

This is a view down from the hill descending from Eighteen Peaks mountain. Jim was pointing out that some of these buildings are actually Japanese style. What I do know for sure, myself, is that the area down here is the campus/enclosure for yet another of Hsinchu's dozens of universities and colleges. This one, I think, is a teacher's college or some such.

After exploring much of Hsinchu's East District and Siangshan, we headed bad downtown (and north, as well). The above was taken from the middle of the roundabout (which accesses such roads as Minzu, Zhongzheng, and a few others besides). The roundabout is also where the East Gate is located. It is an old gate that is located under the pavement you see on top. You have to go down the stairs, and basically into the tunnel to see the gate itself. There are all sorts or hilarious and obscure warnings and rules (some of which are sensible, like not throwing trash or spitting betelnut, etc. - but some of which are a bit odd or overly-vigilant) that are listed on a sign in the tunnel.

This is part of the view you can see in the downtown area. There are lots of trendy clothing shops. It is basically where a lot of the young people hang out.

You can see part of the tunnel, with some people going down the stairs, right here. In the background and more in the distance, you can see, to the left, a sign advertising a young, up-and-coming Democratic Progressive Party politician's billboard. It is election season (for the municipal councils, I gather), and to the right, you can see one of Hsinchu's more prestigious hotels. Hsinchu has a lot of prestigious hotels (some of which are located near the Science Park), but this is one of the ones located downtown.

The most famous ornamental section above the East Gate. When people see this, people think, "ah, yes, that's Hsinchu."

There's that DPP politican peeking out from the darkness again. Maybe he will be in charge of this city soon, who knows?

This is a darn good picture of Jim, I have to say! I snapped him while he was talking to me, so I was able to get him when he was not posing. He looks younger in this picture, for some reason! Alas, about fifteen minutes after this, he had to hop on the express train back to Fengyuan. It was, however, a really relaxing and wonderful time I had, and I certainly think Jim had (at least from what I see he's written about the trip on his blog after Sharon and I got back from downtown). I look forward to many, and more frequent visits like this in the future!!!


gladbutterfly said...

Thanks so much for sharing your trip around Hsinchu with Jim, Thoth. It really is a beautiful place, and I'm so glad you're enjoying it. How about a guided tour of the Science Park?

Kaminoge said...

Maybe next time I'll drive up with Amber. I'm sure she would enjoy some of the sights. Oh, and my wife can't believe we didn't any shops selling the allegedly famous meatballs.

Thoth Harris said...

I think Sharon and I found one of those souvenir shops on Beimen Street (quite far from the train station - but near the temple where that big food market is). Sharon pointed out what, probably, are those meatballs that your wife wanted. I bought some, and they are in my freezer. If Sharon hasn't eaten them herself, you can have them next time you come up.
We could take you to that shop when you guys come up. Bring those "ten yen yabber" things when you come up. ROFL!