Thursday, February 23, 2006

So what do I do in the mornings? Well, most days I wake up and head down to my local breakfast shop for some Pagen Dun Bing (Not sure if there's an English name for that) which is basically an egg and herb mixture, and a rasher of bacon all wrappped up in a kind of savoury pancake thing. This is the breakfast treat all Brittons wish they had invented. To get me out of my early morning stupor, I drink some Oolong tea (which probably has as much caffiene in it as coffee) and to occupy my mind I listen to a daily Bible study podcast on my iPod.
One of the things I'll always remember about Taiwan is the amount of LEDs on this island. One good use for all of them is the animated pedestrian crossing lights found in most major cities. When you can walk, there's an animated green walking man with an orange countdown timer, and when your time is running out, he starts to run. A very cool Taiwanese (I think...) invention.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Red sky lanterns and the moon.
Lantern festival at Taichung's main park was one of the best experiences I've had in Taiwan. There was such a great vibe, the moon was out and those lanterns are just awesome. If you ever get a chance to write new year's wishes on a lantern and watch it sail away, go for it.
Some great lanterns on display during lantern festival.
The classic red Chinese lantern.
My friend Torg at Taichung's lantern festival.
Taipei 101 during Chinese new year.
In South Africa we call them 'braais'. In Taiwan they call them 'barbecues'. Whatever you call them, it's great to spend time with friends around a fire, cooking meat.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

During Chinese New Year, almost everything shuts down, including school, so everyone has a week's holiday. Today we planned to go to the beach, but everyone else in the whole of Taichung was also keen on heading North, so we cancelled that idea when we saw the traffic. We did end up spending the afternoon at Taichung's science park though, and there was a really cute little girl who took a liking to our soccer ball. Let's hope her parents give her more opportunities to play sports than most Taiwanese kids get.
Approaching Taibei.
Rice paddies near a city called Ilan.
Taiwan has an excellent rail service that is clean, fast and efficient. It's a very good way to see the Island.
Here's the Presbytarian Church in Taroko that we slept in.
This was taken out of the train window on the way back from Hualien to Taichung. This scene is from the east coast somewhere. Sorry about the reflection.
And here's the cave I mentioned. A woman called Chi-Oang used to preach to whoever would listen in this cave while 2 guards would stand guard in case the Japanese authorities came along.
We were lucky enough to be put up for free in a Church in the town of Taroko, by a very friendly and interesting Minister there. The story of how the church started is quite amazing involving secret meetings in caves to avoid the Japanese authorities. Currently there are over 300 mountain churches scattered throughout Taiwan serving the 12 or so indigenous tribes that live here. Oh, the photo is simply light reflected off coloured windows in the church.
And here's the beginning of the 'tunnel of nine turns' which is the most spectacular part of the absolutely huge gorge. I'm not sure if the natural scenery or the fact that there is a decent road to see it by is more impressive. Taiwan has some amazing engineering and has put roads in places that other countries wouldn't even attempt.
This is the beginning of the famous Taroko Gorge which is one of the most amazing natural sites I've ever seen.
Bamboo rice is made by putting raw rice and other ingredients in a piece of bamboo, and then boiling the whole thing. To open it up you hit it hard on the ground to split the bamboo open on one side. Tasty and pretty exotic, I guess.
There are some really scenic spots on the way.
Flower soup at Tienshan, close to the end of out journey. It's actually quite tasty.
Rain, rain, rain. Credit to Isabelle for the idea.
Too much mist to see anything but a silhoette.
The blossoms are out, which I guess means it's spring.
Hungry? Maybe you were until you saw this. Yes, it's for real and yes, it's on offer to be eaten at this dodgy restaurant along the way. It was about the size of a cat, although it had large incisors like a rat. Any ideas what it could be?
This was about the last bit of good weather we had. Great view of some spectacular mountians though...
After seeng a friend's pictures of Taiwan's central mountain range, I decided that I was going to see it myself by scooter. So 2 friends of mine set off on a trip from Taichung in the West to Hualien in the east across Taiwan's formidible mountian range. All was good until the weather turned sour on us! We then put our scooters and ourselves on a train from Hualien back to Taichung. So here are some photos of my adventure. Pity about the mist...