Thursday, February 26, 2009

What is truth?

Found this on my igoogle page of all places..but i have to say, reading e e cummings is like catching up with an old friend

Seeker Of Truth

seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here


- E. E. Cummings

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Computer!

I got a really good deal on a new laptop: a mini laptop! It was only about 300 US dollars.

This is an Acer "Aspire One" kind of like the eeePC. I think the whole thing is only like 8 or 9 inches!

So far I love it! It's small, and light, and blue! It wasn't hard to talk myself into buying it, especially because of the amount I travel.

Though you can't see it in this picture, the casing of my old laptop is getting broken, and it weighs a lot more than this new one. Plus the battery on my current laptop is only giving me about an hour and ten minutes these days.... this new computer's battery life is about 3 hours. You can pay more for bigger ones, but really, I probably won't need it for more than that... it's not a problem to carry the power cord with me if I'll be out for longer.
It has a lot of memory (160G) but the RAM isn't the fastest. It doesn't have a CD-ROM drive either, but lots of USB drives and card readers. Basically it's not for everyone, but works quite well for what I want it for! And it's so darn cute! I haven't decided what to name it yet. Any suggstions?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fireworks

Tonight was the last night of Lantern Festival, and true to Chinese style, it ended with a long fireworks show. I've been able to hear the fireworks from my house every night. Here's a short cell phone video from last week's show.
  video

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Lanterns

There was this one section of lanterns highlighting some of the different places and activities in the county. There were onion lanterns, hot spring lanterns, and this, a tribute to the new freeway that allows tourists to get here in about an hour. I travel through this tunnel every week. In fact, I'll be doing it today. The Xue Shan (snow mountain) tunnel:


You can see all of my lantern festival pictures here:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Yilan Lantern Festival














Lantern Festival is held on the 15th day of the Lunar calendar (about 2 weeks after Chinese New Year), and it marks the end of the CNY celebrations.

















 But the celebrations in Yilan have been going on even longer because the city is hosting the national Lantern Festival. Every night I hear fireworks that shake my house, and on the weekends there are traffic jams on all the roads....did 
I mention that I only live about 3 minutes away from the festivities? 











I had a chance to go a couple days before it began, just to check out the set up. It was kind of fun! I took a TON of pictures, and I'll show you some of my favorites on here. I went later in the week with some friends,
 once the festival started. 



















This year is the year of the Ox, so true to form, there was a GIANT ox lantern in the middle of the field. In my opinion, it looked a lot better when it wasn't lit up with far too many sparkling colors. But anyways, every 30 minutes they'd have a  short announcement and music/light show which included the cow lighting up and spinning. Winnie mentioned that she was reminded of the golden calf in Exodus... 













Another area had lanterns made by students, where there was an inordinate amount of Spongebob Squarepants....it's a mystery to me. 

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Nan Bu - Southern Taiwan







南部






First thing to take note of is the drastic change in wardrobe! 
On the first day I was wearing:


  • A hat
  • An undershirt
  • A long-sleeved shirt
  • A hoodie
  • A scarf
  • A thin jacket
  • A raincoat
  • Jeans
  • Rain pants
  • 2 pairs of socks
As you can see, by the third day a t-shirt was just fine. The weather was awesome!

I asked myself...why don't I live here?? I really haven't spent much time in southern Taiwan, but I've enjoyed every trip I've taken down there. It seems like it's always sunny! I don't know how I would do in the summer heat, but it's a great winter escape.

There was also a lot of great food to try, including mountain pig and wild hen (or some kind of small wild bird), and giant shaved ice! I love this place in Kaohsiung! 




Thursday, February 05, 2009

Day 1

True to form, Yilan was quite cold and rainy on the first morning! The goal was to drive from Yilan to Hualian in the first day. 
Fortunately, by the time we reached Su-Ao, where we'd be going up the mountains, the rain stopped. Here's a view of Su-Ao harbor and bridge.











The Su-Hua highway is notorious for being dangrous and windy. I've been on it in a car 3 times, and was seriously carsick two of those times. Fortunately, I don't get carsick on scooters! Thankfully the big sand trucks that usually travel this road were on holiday, but there were plenty of cars. 







There are some incredible views from up top, and the bluest sections of ocean in Taiwan!




FINALLY, after riding for more than 5 hours, I saw a nice and familiar sight: the blue bridge near Taroko gorge! Only 45 minutes of driving left from here! 

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snow Day??

I told you it's been cold here! Here's a sight I never though I'd see in Taiwan:

It it possible? Is it true?

It's SALT!
We found "Salt mountain" at the end of Tainan county, just before passing into Chia-yi county. It's made from sea salt and was actually created to be a tourist spot by the Taiwan salt company. They sell a bunch of salt products as well as sweet and salty ice cream.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Road Trip!

Around Taiwan in...
....6 days...
... with 1 scooter...
.... total 1104km....

A few reflections from the journey:
  • Enjoy some side trips along the way, but don't forget your destination
  • Riding a scooter up a mountain is waay easier than riding a bike
  • It feels really good to pass an entire line of traffic-jammed cars
  • Taking a wrong turn can lead you far from your goal
  • 7-11s are your friend
  • The GPS isn't always right
  • Never forget to enjoy the view