10 January 2012

Previously Unposted Photos & Travel Commentary

This week feels sad to me. I don't know why. I wish my future was brighter, and I wish I could make the most of my skills, previous opportunities, my current knowledge, but there's a way forward...somewhere. I feel like I'm flailing helplessly for the way, knowing I'll never find it. One nice thing, though, is I've dispatched the deja vu I used to have into oblivion. It used to make me think I was onto something, but the deja vu was never really a cheerful or uplifting sense. If I had lived this life before, I only knew something ominous was ahead. At least, now, the only feeling I have is that I've taken my life into my own hands, for better or for worse - but probably for something in between.

My proudest moments, in some ways are my photographs and the reading (sadly insufficient) I've done. The first photo above, was taken on our way back from Ilan. I drove Sharon and I from Hsinchu to Ilan and then, the morning after the next, we drove back through Taipei, of course, which is why you see the Taipei 101 at dusk. We took our time coming back, stopping for juice, or stopping at an Italian restaurant in Keelung (actually pronounced Jeelung).

The two photos that follow Taipei 101 at sunset were taken in Banciao. There is a special rotating platform or elevator which you pay...basically, it costs an-arm-and-a-leg...at first I thought the Photoshopped photo of us as couples against the background of images you see when you are on the thing was included, but it isn't, so the deal isn't a good one. Still, I got a couple of nice photos from the platform, as you see below.

I have been careful to try and record unusual sights that one can see in my neighbourhood. I should probably include the sound trucks that usually blast political messages either from the KMT or the DPP, but I haven't and I probably won't, because other people have likely done that on YouTube. There is the neighbourhood cow, however, which doesn't show up very often in many neighbourhoods. This cow (which has recently been replaced by another, younger black one with long curly horns, mostly likely because the one you see here died). I suspect that it probably provides a family with milk and nothing more. Or maybe just a pet. Still, someone usually leaves it out to graze all along the kilometre-long road from my house to the highway here. I have never seen the owners. You can go very close to the cows. They won't hurt you (even the male ones). They don't even seem to notice strangers very much.
I like geometrically inclined shots, like the following. I don't know if call it geometrical is a fair assessment. It might be the visual suggestions in it or the apparent magic or contradictory appearances. Hands reaching out toe the sky. Or ocean overcome by clouds of ink. Anyway, I took the shot at a park called 19 Hectares Grasslands near my home.

There is a stray cat that was miaowing for food outside our house. It looks just like this one, which is actually a different stray that I saw in Baoshan. Asian shorthairs are smart, fast, strong, and sociable. They don't mind checking you out. This one did get bored of me taking pictures after a while though, and after about seven minutes, it left.  By the way, our stray...we wanted to take it in, but we ended up taking in another unwanted cat that someone else really wanted to give away. Which is almost a shame, considering the fact that the orange Asian shorthair (for whom we have since put out a box, blanket, and regular food and water) is much better natured, and gets along with Sharon (my fiance, not my cat) a lot better, to boot. Maybe in the future. As long as the Persian Chinchilla which we did adopt doesn't drive one of us crazy.

I regularly go to a cafe called The Melting Pot. This is where I took a picture from inside:

As you can see below, there is a grey building, which is actually a large block-encompassing prison for young offenders. I think I once drove my scooter past the other side of it during visiting hours, when the kids were coming back in and the parents leaving, and the guards overseeing it all. At least, something on that order was occurring.

On my way back from a solo trip to Ilan via scooter, I encountered this half-finished train station in the East end of Hsinchu City. This will probably be Zhuzhong Station or some such. It lies directly below, or south of, the easternmost stretch of the Science Park. It is an excellent idea that a train line is finally built between Hsinchu City and Zhudong. That way, people can visit Neiwan without having to take a bus (which takes a long time, particularly with the narrow mountain roads) or drive a car (tourist traps become intolerable when cars parked like sardines make any actual moving vehicle a source of anxiety, exaggerated or not).

By the way, I just managed to take some pictures of the finished station recently:

Aboriginal areas and aboriginal villages in Taiwan have a very distinctive look. They even paint the road furniture in the colours of their particular aboriginal tribe. In much of Hsinchu, Taoyuan, and Ilan county, I think the tribe is Attayal. Below is an aboriginal restaurant. The food is fresh, the staff/family owners are friendly...but the cost of the meal is prohibitively expensive. I ended up forking out NT$600 for my own lonesome self. Anyway, lesson learned, or not. I should ask, beforehand, what the prices are.

This is the family that owns the restaurant.
There is a distinctive bridge that, once you arrive at it, you know you are halfway to Ilan City. There's a lot of bicycling activity, if you're into that sort of thing, and a busy village that has at least one hostel which most likely caters to the cycling community. Silly me forgot the name of the town, and I just checked Google Maps, Street View, and it seems that every time I go to Google Maps for Taiwan, they have less and less information in English there. For example, what used to be Hsinchu North District and East District are now labelled as Bei District and Dong District. This is utter nonsense, no doubt perpetrated at the behest of some typical dunderhead in Taipei who thinks they know English and the non-Taiwanese or foreigner community, but doesn't really. Even local Taiwanese don't know and call their city areas Dong District, or even East District. At least, calling it East District would give a Western nomenclature to it (after all, you are writing the names in English, so why muddle names up into something that doesn't make any sense to anyone, really?).  
The above paintings, the tunnels and the art/designs in them, are next to the red bridge, which you also see in one of the photos below.

The representations, of course, are of the aboriginal tribe. I saw a lot of plastic peaches, and I think, persimmons. The real peaches they sell up there are delicious. I've had them.

One bridge is a driving bridge; the one I am taking the picture from is a pedestrian bridge for tourists to...well, take pictures of and from.
This is the town I mentioned. Sorry I am so terrible with names sometimes.

The advantage of living in Taiwan is that you don't have to spend hundreds of Canadian dollars to see the mountains or see the ocean. You just hop on your scooter, pay CAD$3.50 and drive for five hours to the other side of the island and immerse yourself in both mountainsides and sea scenery. Just bring a picnic lunch, or whatever, because mountain restaurants often charge a lot of money. Even cafes will sometimes charge NT$150 for a cup of coffee (and not even great coffee, at that).

Ilan is hot and vibrant at night. At least in the summer, when I sent there.
One of these days, I would like to drive all around the island. I will probably do that with my son, Jacob. It is my dream. Once I achieve that, a big item will have been checked off my bucket list.

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