Monday, April 30, 2007

Temple festivities

I checked out one of the most colourful temple festivals today at Baoan temple, in Taipei.

Its a really beautiful old temple that has been carefully preserved.

The festival marks the birthday of the God of Medicine
There all all kinds of floats, processions, acrobatics, and parading of statues from the temple on sedan chairs.
Its colourful; flamboyant and fun; and of course, very noisy; with firecrackers set off before each new troupe performs outside the temple.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dolphin watching

I had a great day-trip dolphin watching and going out to Taiwan's "ecological park in the sea" - Turtle Mountain Island; a tiny volcanic shaped island that resembles a huge turtle, 10 kms from the coastal town of Toucheng, in Ilan county.

The island used to be inhabited by about 700 people until 1977; when they moved to the mainland, it became an off-limits military area. You can visit a network of underground tunnels built by the military; and there are still military buildings on the island.

The island is now a special ecological protection area; only 400 tourists at a time are allowed to visit; and they are kept to a tiny area on the western part of the island.

You pass a lake, can see some lovely plants and flowers; and even snakes.

But the most special thing was when we got back onto our boat and headed towards a group of dolphins that had been spotted.
I was expecting to see maybe 20-30; but there were more than 100 skipping and dancing around our boat. The experts told us that meant there was a population of 4-500 dolphins at that spot. Such a lovely thing to see....and we really didnt have to go far to find these wonderful mammals.

Schools of dolphins skipped all around our boat

Monday, April 23, 2007

F4 meet their Asian fans

Wish you were here..
I found myself surrounded by thousands of screaming fans from Japan and Korea on Saturday - all having flown in for a four day trip to Taiwan to meet their pop idols, F4.

The band -who are huge in Asia, largely due to their tv series Meteor Garden - have been appointed Taiwan's tourism ambassadors.

The tourism bureau hopes they can encourage many young fans to come to Taiwan to discover the island's scenic spots - much in the way that Korean pop stars and movies have helped to give a boost to Korea's tourism industry.
The idols welcomed their fans in Japanese and Korean; sang for them, and even prepared some meals them, as they talked about their favourite sight-seeing spots in Taiwan.

young fan poses with cardboard cutout of jerry

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chinese-English dictionary

MDBG Chinese-English dictionary

I just discovered this brilliant site on the internet...soooo useful.

Its more than a can get help with writing the characters and test yourself on flashcards.

Maybe I can make more progress on my basic chinese now. hee hee

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Statue theme park

I had been wanting to visit Tahsi - which houses the temporary mausoleum of Taiwan's late President, Chiang Kai-shek for some time..and finally got a chance this week - just a few days ahead of the 32nd anniversary of his death.

It was quite a strange experience. First, a very elaborate changing of the guard ceremony outside the mausoleum [Chiang's dying wish was to be properly buried in China]. These days, ironically, lots of mainland Chinese who travel to the site - which is set in a beautiful and tranquil spot in the mountains.

It was said to remind Chiang of his birthplace in Zhejiang province, China. Just a short stroll away is a park set up by the township, which houses more than 120 unwanted statues of the late President.

Many were originally sited in schools or public buildings - but taken down as part of a goverment push to remove legacies of the island's authoritarian past.
The impression is a sort of CKS theme park..a rather bizarre collection of assorted statues all looking in different directions.
The township mayor, Su Wen-Sheng, says he hopes the park will help boost tourism - and also preserve the monuments as cultural artifacts.
But with so many statues being removed recently (the largest being a huge bronze of a seated Chiang that was recently located in the cultural centre in Kaohsiung) the park may soon run out of space for the unwanted figures.

This is part of what remains of the Kaohsiung statue..its now in more than 100 pieces. The original artist is trying to figure out if he can patch it back together...but it could be an expensive undertaking and it might not all fit together now..

I was reminded of this poem - Ozymandius - by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

"I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert...
Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.