Thursday, August 31, 2006
...but the surroundings weren't particularly stunning. We were unable to rent a scooter on Penghu because we don't have Taiwan licenses and due to the surprisingly high level of police presence on such a small island, we are told that we wouldn't be able to "get away with it" like I do every single day in Taichung. Summer-ya would be an ideal place to stay at if only I had access to a scooter that could take me to more interesting places that I'd rather be at while on vacation.
The next place we stayed at was called Summer-ya! More info can be found at www.summer-ya.com. It was a nice place and all. The rooms were very well-designed...
Tongpan Island, Penghu County. What you see are basalt pillars. There are only three areas in the world where you can see basalt pillars. One is in Yellowstone National Park, one is somewhere else that doesn't seem to concern anybody here, and one is Tongpan Island, Penghu County, Taiwan Republic of China. It is a source of great pride for Some Taiwanese to be able to claim geographic wonders on par with geographic wonders in the US.
You can fly to Chimei by landing here at the Chimei airport. It's amazing that such an airport exists. After all, the island's only 7 km long.
The gayest moment of the whole trip! Strangelaowai and Fob with LOVER'S WEIR in the background, above my head. The weir is simply a formation of rocks in the water that looks like two hearts, one on top of the other. In this picture, the hearts appear side by side and tilted about 90 degrees to the left.
Fob (left) and Strangelaowai (right). In Taiwan, either nothing is authentic... or everything is! Notice how, in this picture at least, I seem to enjoy this quirk as I slowly come to grips with the fact that Chimei Island is nothing but a tourist trap. And Fob? Truthfully though, the picture doesn't do him justice as he was a very cheerful person to travel with.
We took a boat to Chimei Island, where we paid some coin to scooter around the 7 km rock. I can't explain how capable Taiwanese businessmen are of turning a beautiful 7-km-long piece of land into a tourist trap, but on Chimei Island, that's exactly what they've done. Most of the roads feature nothing but rented scooters and tour busses, all from the same company. Pictured above is the grave of the Seven Sisters. Chimei gets its name from those Seven Sisters. There's a story behind how the sisters died, but it's so woven into the tourism economy here that I never bothered to ask why I came all the way from Canada (originally) to see a grave and seven trees behind it, one representing each sister. In addition to the tacky donation box, there was also a gate charge to see this grave. You could say this is a pretty expensive picture! Graves make money in Taiwan, who'da thunk it!
An abandoned military installation beside Shanshui beach. These characters are read from right to left and translate into something like "Important Military Land".
Cactus-flavored ice cream. All the Pengu cactus goodies I sampled on my trip were all red and tasted like raspberry for some reason.
Penghu is so dry that cactus grows abundantly. Penghu residents, like their Taiwan proper counterparts, tend to make their environment as edible as possible. Thus, one famous product from Penghu are "cactus-flavored" edibles. I'm not sure if the cactii pictured are the edible type.
RiDong Restaurant, Makung City, Penghu. Some animals are pettin' animals, and other animals are eatin' animals. On the left, lightly battered squid rings in a light tangy sauce. On the right, local raw fish. Squid rings: to die for. Local raw fish: not as tasty as salmon.
This is a friendly local I will call the Greek Frontier Villa Bunny. Unafraid of humans, it scampered right up to me apparently to be petted. I complied, because honestly, who argues with a bunny?
A beach called Shanshui. Located within a 5-minute walk from Greek Frontier Villa, Shanshui was one of the many reasons I would go back to Greek Frontier Villa in a flash.
We stayed at the Greek Frontier Villa, seen here from the front. The decorations are so nice that other tourists who weren't staying here would take pictures of themselves in front of that blue gate, presumably to show their friends back in Taipei the amazing guest house that they DIDN'T stay at. Complete with small pool and sauna.
Propellers make for a noisy flight! A 56-seater, this is verifiably the smallest plane I've ever flown on. Flying time: <40 minutes Airline: UNI
Friday, August 25, 2006
Ox. I don't know how he got to roam freely around a hiking area called Dai Mo Shan in Hong Kong, but there you have it. Ox.
A lively street in Lan Kwai Fong, a famous bar district on Hong Kong Island. The economy has really picked up lately in HK, making it all the more entertaining to stroll around. The open celebration of vibrant multiculturalism was refreshing for a Canadian who's been stuck in Taiwan for almost a year now.
Shrimp dumplings on top of hairy squash. Hairy squash is just a translation from Chinese. I'm not sure exactly what I should be calling it in English. This was a dish some great HK friends of mine and I shared at a dim sum restaurant overlooking Victoria Harbour.
My great friend J in HK treated me to a seafood dinner, including deep-fried tofu, clam soup, crab...
Typical Hong Kong signage: half-corporate, half-sleaze. The Chinese character depicted is generally understood to represent "pawn shop". Read: stolen goods.
GAYLORD, Ka Ka Lok Fast Food. I actually found written English in HK to be funnier than written English in Taiwan. My favorite English sentence on this HK trip was seen in a room manual booklet at the YWCA Anne Black Guest House where I was staying: WE ASSUME NO LIARILITY FOR LOST OR STOLEN ITEMS.
Sometimes they don't roam around so much as lay around picking at themselves, but I can't say the concept is all that alien to me, a fellow simian.
Seen along a hiking trail around the Dai Mo Shan area of HK. The characters say, "Fat Old Mai". Perhaps Fat Old Mai is the local man of the mountain?
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Close up of a butterfly in ??? Taroko Gorge. Interestingly, ??? Butterfly Valley also has butterflies too! This marks a new feat of authenticity in Taiwan!
Me hangin' off the edge of a cliff in ??? Taroko Gorge. The Taroko are an extinct Aboriginal tribe (slaughtered off by the Japanese) who used to call this gorge their home. Now their tribal name is used to sell bus tours and much much more.
The ????? Chongde Rest Area. This photo shows a section of coastline towards ?? Nanao. The main coastal highway goes through an amazing series of warped tunnels through this rugged coastline. It's one of the top ten seaside scenic drives in the world.
We stopped at some unnamed waterfall beyond ?? Tienhsiang, water being a rather plentiful resource thanks to the recent typhoons. Yes, it was as bright as this picture appears.