Archive for January, 2009

propinquity

Monday, January 26th, 2009

A few years ago, I thought it was pretty cool to think that we had slept on the continent of Antarctica (in sleeping bags and bivy sacks) and loked up at the stars from the bottom of a miissile silo, all within the same year.

Now we can top that: we have ridden an elephant and a dog sled, within the same month. Also a snowmobile. We’ve seen tigers and reindeer up close (the tigers much closer than the reindeer).

Last night it was clear, so we got to see lots of stars as well as the Milky Way. Ted did get to see some Northern lights but they were very faint, just a green glow you couldn’t even see until your eyes were adjusted to darkness – faint enough that he didn’t even call me out to see them. (He’d gone to the Ice Bar for a drink; I didn’t feel like going) We’re going to have a tour of an Aurora research center tonight, with a ‘starlit dinner’ at a nearby camp, so we’ll be looking for more sightings tonight. Hopefully the clouds will go away by then!!

amazing bargain! only $24.99!

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

My colleagues think this i s hilarious. Apparently the most common price here for collapsible chopsticks is NT $0 – you get them as a promotion from some business.If If you do to buy a set you might pay all of $100 (about $3 US).

photos! Thailand

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

OK. we took a lot of photos in Thailand – don’t be surprised if this page takes a long time to load.
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photos! Taroko Gorge National Park

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

I think Taroko can stand against any National Park for beauty; however, the gorge is so narow in spots that it can be hard to take good pictures. These are our attempts. There are several hanging suspension bridges, and a Buddhist temple and monastery next to the hotel we stayed it. It was kind of interesting to see trucks negotiating the park roads, and I mean “interesting” as in the old Chinese curse – especially when it’s a curving mountain road only one lane wide and you’re trying to get past a truck that barely fits until the edge of a mountain. This is also the only place I (or my mother-in-law the Master Gardener, for that matter) had ever seen wild poinsettias, which seemed very appropriate since we were there right before Christmas.
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photos! Day trips

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

In this post are the photos from Yehliu Geological Park and Jiufen.
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photos!

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

We took so many photos over the holidays that I think I’d better split them into several entries, to spare your bandwidth. I will also use a cut tag, so you can at least see this explanation without waiting forever.

I’ll split them by place and theme, rather than date (See the last entry, for the order in which we did things). To start with, this entry includes photos from around Taipei: The changing of the guards at the Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine, Longshan Temple, one from our local mall, and the fireworks on Taipei 101 on New Year’s Eve.
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Christmas in Taiwan

Monday, January 5th, 2009

The in-laws’ visit went well, and now we’ve gotten to see a bit more of the things we’ve been missing. We took them to most of the local sights, for day trips to the cool rock formations at Yehliu Geological Park (where the hiking turns out to be much easier when it isn’t 90 degrees F!) and the sweeping views from Jiufen (for Arizona people, this is Taiwan’s equivalent of Jerome, only ten times more crowded) and for longer trips to Taroko Gorge and Thailand.

Taroko Gorge is an absolutely spectacular marble canyon. It’s a bit difficult to photograph because it’s so narrow, but some of our attempts came out well. (Posting photos is on my to-do list.) The views are incredible. The park has steep cliffs overhanging chasms, a Buddhist monastery, hiking trails, suspension bridges, and enormously old sacred tree, lots and lots of fairly nerve-wracking one-lane mountain roads and more tunnels than my father-in-law really wanted to see in his entire life. The hotel we stayed at was at least a four star, with a rooftop pool that had Ted’s mother lamenting the bathing suit she didn’t bring. It did have some design oddities, like a giant window in the wall between the bathtub and the bedroom. This makes going to the bathroom at night hazardous, if you don’t want to wake your partner: either you stumble in the dark or you forget about the window and turn on the light. This was my approach, only the switch made it even worse by deciding to turn on *all* room lights. Ted wasn’t too pleased with me. We decided to drive home over the mountains instead of back up the west coast of Taiwan; unfortunately the obvious road to take was closed, and even more unfortunately we didn’t learn this until we’d driven on it for an hour and a half. The more southerly route finally got us home, after we’d gotten to see a little snow (!) and some fairly nerve-wracking one-lane mountain roads (they have those in the park too, not to mention more tunnels than my father-in-law really wanted to see in his entire life.

In Thailand we had our own private guide, Chob, and a van with driver. This turned out to be a very good way to see the country, giving us far more access and information than going on our own and being far less annoying than a group tour. It could have been pretty awful if we hadn’t liked the guide, but we did, and each for different reasons. One odd problem with traveling in Asia is that people can be so very friendly and helpful that it can make Americans feel awkward (me, anyway); having a guide who was clearly a high-level professional who enjoyed his job and loved his country made that not a problem. We spent one day seeing the National Palace, several temples, the Emerald Buddha, and the canals in Bangkok. On the second day we went up north to the bridge over the river Kwai and the JEATH POW camp museum, then got to cheer up by riding elephants (really riding: the driver slipped down and had me take his spot on the elephant’s head for a bit) then going to the Tiger Temple to pet sleeping tigers. On our third day we went to see the ruins of the old capital Ayutthaya, then for a boat ride around it. I’ve concluded that, much as I love Thai food, having it for lunch and dinner every day is a bit much. We also got to the Suan Lum Night Bazaar and the more touristy Patpong Night Market, and Ted’s mom and I went for a Thai/Swedish massage that was under $20 US for an hour. (The traditional Thai massage is even cheaper, but I was afraid it would be like Shiatsu, which I don’t like as much.)

At home in Taipei, we took Ted’s parents to the usual local stuff: the phenomenal National Palace Museum, to the National Revolutionary martyr’s Shrine (and saw the changing of the guard), the Longshan Temple (though it was too early for Snake Alley to be really open), all around our neighborhood (little things can be the most interesting in a place that’s very foreign) and up to the top of Taipei 101. We fed them well too: Christmas dinner, of course, dim sum dumplings, Ruth’s Chris for Ted’s birthday, Diamond Tony’s Panorama resturant on the 85th floor of the 101. (Technically, they took us for that one.)

I think they enjoyed it, and I don’t think we ran them too ragged. We relaxed enough that while I’m not thrilled to be back to work, at least I’m not feeling like I need another vacation to recover – which is a good thing since the next vacation is an Ice Hotel for Chinese New Year in a few weeks. I will try to get photos from this vacation posted before we take the next one!