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Posts Tagged ‘tourist attractions’

As promised a trip to Elephant Mountain (its called elephant mountain because of its shape, there is also tiger mountain, leopard mountain, and lion mountain—they guard Taipei, of course).

A morning of tidying the apartment and eating apple pie at a coffee shop. I sat out on the balcony despite it being a bit brisk and got ogled by every old man who came outside to smoke. …Just drinkin coffee here, carry on please.

Finally I grabbed my camera and me and William were off. Not too far away, past 101 and down some streets, I swear we just turned a corner and all of a sudden gone were the high buildings and there was fresh air and trees. Winding back streets and we finally find what seems to be the start of a trail. And by trail I mean hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of stairs. After climbing a particularly strenuous set I sit down, and William announces we’ve only been hiking for 5 minutes….literally 5 minutes…12 more minutes of stair climbing to go.

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Waaaaaah. I hate exercise. But…it was well worth it. A rival to the views from the top of 101 and free to boot. We settled down on a giant boulder to wait 20 more minutes for the sun to set. Others were doing the same, setting up tri-pods in order to get the most perfect night-shot. Most of the postcards of Taipei are apparently taken from this exact spot.

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It was gorgeous. And then scary going back down all the stairs in the dark. Trees in Taiwan are skeeeery. Lots of scraggly branches and vines.

Hot pot for dinner (yum) and scootering at night is really really cold.

(Tina claims the old photo made me have a giant nose…alternate photo supplied..though I think this one is sappy, and I DO NOT DO Sappy.)

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Hahaha. Asians AND the election. Double whammy.

(Where can I get a dolphin hat like that)

When I get up tomorrow morning America will have a new president, and hopefully we can start being a good country instead of a shitty, evil, greedy one.

In other news today was my semi-day off. So after baby Pre-K and working on bulletin boards in the classroom I headed across town to see the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

There was a Jerry Uelsmann exhibit that I was excited to see and really surprised was here, since I had only heard about him in passing from one of my professors-Libby. He had about 40-50 pieces, it was really great.

However I was really really blown away by the rest of the museum as well. It was a fairly large place. 3 massive square floors, and while the actual building itself was a bit rough: patchy paint jobs, bizarre hallways that led nowhere, floor gaps, videos set on cardboard boxes. The art was pretty impressive.

Right now there is the Taipei Biennial going so an entire floor was dedicated to mostly modern video and installation art. And while usually I thumbs down video art, a couple of the pieces were really fascinating. One I watched for a long time about a man asking people what day it was…and then the asian people looking at him and his camera and saying “they didn’t know” or “don’t film me” or “its June 4th…thats it”…after asking about 100 people and all of them acting very strangely and denying any knowledge of the day’s date I couldn’t really figure out what was going on.  Then it cuts to Tiananmen Square, an average day, with swat gear and police more than usual. June 4th 2005…Chinese citizens are still paranoid and petrified of talking about the date, 14 years after the fact.

IN addition to Jerry Uelsmann there was a floor of contemporary Asian ink paintings….already tired and having spent an hour of two wandering I wasn’t really into going into this last floor, but I felt like I should give it a chance, maybe it wouldn’t be the same paintings of bamboo and characters.

Wow.

Wow. is all I can say. They were amazing. Massive, giant, towering paintings, often in 1 to 2 colors, tones of grey, fine detail, millions of strokes all the same or similar to a large gorgeous effect. Several artists each with very distinct styles and they were beautiful, modern, amazing. I will have to find pictures to put up.

And at 15 NT for a ticket(!50 cents!) I am definitely going back – plus the giant park next door looked pretty lovely.

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Today we got up had some donuts and coffee at Mr. Donut, walked down to Taipei 101.

Tourist time!

Art outside..

Tina being silly.

Looking at it from below, you have to crain your neck way way back, but still, while really tall, it didn’t seem like the tallest building in the world. I guess its because there aren’t any comperable skyscrapers near by, it just sits by itself big and green.

We wandered around the very very posh mall that is the first 5 floors before getting tickets for the observation deck. Only 400$ (12$) which is pretty cheap I’d say for the top of the world’s tallest building. Hell the Rockefeller Center in NY was like 30$ a pop to just look at other tall buildings.

We get in the elevator and we rise 84 floors in about 35 seconds. Since you’re completely enclosed you don’t realize it but your ears repeatedly popping let you know you’re flying skywards. Ding, we’re there.

I really wasn’t ready for how unbeleivably high we were, and how giant Taipei is. I know we can ride and ride and never see anything different than buildings and stores and buildings, but it stretches literally for as far as you can see.

On all sides, as far as visibility allows.

Theres the death star mall! I told you it looked like the death star, it does even more inside.


And here’s me, the whole being dark in the viewing gallery doesn’t make for a great backdrop.

And here’s the giant ball that keeps the whole building from falling over during Tsunamis, it stops it moving up to 40% and weighs 730 tons.

There was also nearby a 5 story bookstore, yum. And a whole hall of mirrors leading to the giant ball where we took crazy reflection pictures, but that’s for another day.

The views were great, it really was amazing, maybe I’ll go back another time. Night views?

Also I’m planning on making a collection of Taipei 101 photos from our apartment since it changes color everyday of the week. It does a rainbow thing Roy G. Biv , today its sunday so its purple. A rainbow of taipei 101s.

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Secret Asian Man….no joke. Someone has changed the words from agent to asian, its on the radio and I’m rocking out to it as I look at tons of discount hello kitty housewares. That little kitten is EVERYWHERE.

An early morning, waking up at 7am since we’re still not used to the time switch yet. This morning has come back to bite me in the ass this evening though, oh well. Some tv (John Edward’s scandal), some mystery breakfast. Every meal here has at least one mystery food… I’m 70% longing for a burger and fries, this mornings mystery foods were almond juice and turnip cakes.

We did tourist things today. I got to wear my camera and not feel stupid. White people count was up to 7…a whole 7. We went to the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, and looked the museum.

It was pretty cool. There was also a wooly mammoth exhibit and in typical Asian fashion, cuteness to go along…giant stuffed wooly mammoths. Of course all the little kids were posing in front of them and I wanted to too. On the way to the front this little boy with a buzz cut, eyed me down….I gave in to the impulse to make a face at his stare, crossing my eyes. I was  welcomed with a mean squint. Very worth it.

After the giant museum onto Longshan Temple: I want to go back there again definitely. It was gorgeous inside, a lot of incense and carvings, however since it is still a working temple I felt a bit awkward taking pictures. I snuck and few but will have to go back sometime when I have more courage. There were shrines to good grades, prosperity, and one crowded with teenagers that is apparently about love and relationships.

I got some new shoes in the market located underground near the temple. Two pair for 8$, but I got a bit nicer ones for 10$. Green peep-toes.

Then to a completely different part of town to visit Tina’s other uncle. When we get there of course there is no parking in the tiny winding alleys that are somehow streets, so instead we are dropped off to get our hair washed….

Ok stop the presses…. Not just any hair washing….more like…
A shoulder massage, scalp massage, and 45 minutes of intense hair washing….really 45 minutes, and you can watch tv. Then complete styling, I got mine blown out straight for fun. All of this….

FIVE DOLLARS.

I would pay three times as much. Just the straightening alone at home would cost 35$. We are definitely going to the salon once a week for this…so so relaxing. I feel guilty for it being only 5 dollars, maybe some one should tell them that can charge 50$ for this in America.

After that, I step outside with my newly straightened hair and bam…poof. Of course, humidity. We sit on the sidewalk for a while killing time outside of Tina’s other uncle’s apartment. Theres a dog that we play with and we get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Finally a mini-snack of tempura, tofu, and more fried blood, along with some Taiwan beer, fittingly named “Taiwan Beer”. It was pretty good, I thought it tasted like Heineken.

Then off to her uncle’s business, which is surprise, surprise a Karaoke club. It’s empty so we eat dinner – dumplings – yesss. And Tina’s cousin – we’re going to go with Lulu from now on because her nickname sounds like that – karaoked her heart out for hours and hours. There were only about 20 English songs, all of which were written ages ago, so we ended up doing only one –Do re mi – (Sound of Music Mom!) and that was my limit of karaoke for the evening. Exhausted and still not adjusted to the time we fell into bed at 10.

Again, photos to follow…sorry the internets are slow here. Here is one to last you…..scooters, millions and millions of scooters.

Here is Tina’s Aunt and Uncle and one of their daughters, who is highschool age, the other one is off at college.

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