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Archive for August, 2006

Wu Lai Hiking

On Sunday I went hiking in Wu Lai (烏來) which is better known for its hot springs, but instead I got to tread through icy cold water and jump from rock to rock all day. It was such a good feeling to get away from all the usual comforts of the city and into the harsh n’ dirty hills. Felt just like going on camp again, having to waterproof everything with plastic bags, cook lunch with a metho burner and eat out of plastic bowls.

Though I think the girl in another group we bumped into didn’t understand the notion of hiking and brought her LV bag. I know that being high quality leather and all it should survive being in water, but still… can’t help but laugh and shake my head when I see a person waist deep in water carrying a LV bag.

A typical Taiwanese tropical thunderstorm started towards the end of our trek upstream and we were very lucky to make it to a small shelter to avoid the brunt of it. However the rain did not stop on the hike back down the mountain and left us having to trudge through unstable muddy terrain and navigate across rudimentary bridges with water roaring pass below. In the car on the way back we heard on the radio that emergency crews had to rescue a family who were camping there, luckily we didn’t get in the news too.

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Taipei at Night

With the shopping done and the dinners eaten, Taipei’s hustle and bussle winds down to become an almost relaxed state. It’s very easy to just aimlessly wonder down the street and look at the flickering neon shop lights, the lit up high rise buildings or even a few mysterious dark alleys. Walking is never a bore in Taipei.

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Roosevelt Rd, Gong Guan

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A lone bicycle.

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MRT Taipei

One thing that a person living in Taipei will experience everyday other than seeing the red splatter of a dried up Binlang is the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). It is in my opinion one of the best metro rail systems in the world in terms of efficiency, frequency, timeliness and hygiene. Not once have I experienced a cancellation and the wait during peak times is no more than 5 minutes, though usually less than 2. There’s also an army of cleaning ladies who are busy wiping, mopping and brushing every second, so much that they are even a common sight in a crowded male bathroom.

Melbourne needs to take a page out of Taipei Rail’s books and start fix the rotting system that the Kennett government left behind. There’s no way people are going to want to forgo the convenience of the car and use the existing service when it’s such a dud. They can start by increasing the frequency of trains and prevent cancellations. Then major upgrades and expansions to the routes is required with frequent buses to shuttle people to the trains. After experiencing Taipei MRT, you won’t wanna go back.

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Trains need to rest too.

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Zhong Xiao Fuxing, one of the busiest MRT stations.
Right underneath the infamous Sogo Department Store.

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Formosa Water Park

Last Saturday I went to the Formosa Fun Coast with a few NTU classmates. It was a perfect day for such an event with fabulous weather which meant the bikini clad girls were out in droves. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take my camera around as water doesn’t go well with electronics, so missed out on some good photo opportunities which included not just pretty girls but scenic too as some of the higher slides provided a nice view of the ocean during the sunset.

The water park had some exciting slides which brought out the best screams I’ve heard for a while and sends your stomach up towards your chest. It also had a large pool with artificial waves which you could ride on an inflatable. There was a new slide being built which is set to open in the next couple of weeks and it looks like it’ll be their new main attraction. Look forward to going again soon to try that out.

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Feelin’ lazy?

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Time trials – Stopwatch measures how long you took,
fastest gets on the scoreboard

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Even with more cars and scooters than the roads can handle, the Taiwanese have not forgotten the primitive bicycle. With famous bike manufacturer Giant calling Taiwan home, bikes have had a long history in this country and have managed to grab a special place in people’s hearts with the most rusty thing I’ve ever seen still being used. Not a day goes by where I don’t get almost run over by some old granny, or hear the nail breaking screech of brakes that hasn’t been oiled for decades.

So needless to say, when NTU’s campus includes two decent sized lakes and farmland a bike is definitely a requirement. There is no chance of you making it in time for your next class if it’s on the other side of the campus as it takes almost 20 minutes to walk from the Main Gate to the Rear Gate. With almost every single student having a bike, you can imagine how hectic it must be.

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Wanna bike?

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Only leave your bike in designated areas… or it will be taken away.

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Hualian

Friday

  • Depart from Taipei at 1pm Friday, taking the newly opened highway which tunnels through almost 14kms of mountain. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
  • The trip to Hualian requires navigating through dangerous, winding mountain roads that are prone to falling rocks. (Photo)
  • The traffic suddenly stops due to construction workers clearing some fallen rocks up ahead, causing a huge line. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
  • So we get out, stretch our legs and play Big 2. (Photo)
  • Taking a rest at a scenic lookout just outside of Hualian. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
  • It also happened to be right next to an airport so we got to see some planes landing up-close. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
  • 7pm, Arrive at Hualian to have dinner at a night market. (Photo)
  • Then another hour drive to our little motel which had an outdoor bath and pool. (Photo 1, Photo 2)

Saturday

  • Get up at 6am to arrive at the rafting place at 8am
  • White water rafting till 12:30. (Photo)
  • Taiwan Sugar Factory, to have ice cream. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
  • Then to an Aboriginal tourist attraction to watch a folk dance and do a maze. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
  • Some famous Wonton’s for dinner in Hualian City.
  • Then drive for two hours to our accomodation which is a kind of resort with little huts right next to a beach. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
  • Celebrate a birthday, food and drinks, then off to bed. (Photo 1, Photo 2)

Sunday

  • Get up at 9am for breakfast.
  • Beach Beach Beach. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
  • 2pm, back into Hualian City for lunch and some shopping.
  • Start heading back to Taipei at 6pm, arriving at 10:30pm.
  • Finish my 600 word Chinese essay due on Monday.

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Fence to the airport.

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Entering the tunnel on the way back.

Oh, there’s three typhoons in the pacific this week. One is heading up to Osaka Japan, the other two is headed for Taiwan. Pretty cool stuff. Hopefully we can get Thursday off.

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Fulong Beach

Monday was Valentines Day according to the Chinese Calendar. I think the guys in Taiwan get the wrong end of the bargain as they have the Western, Japanese and Chinese Valentines Day’s. With the trend for girls here to be materialistic, it means three bracelet/ring/necklaces each year that she can brag to her sisters.

Let me take this opportunity to mention that I’m not a festive person. I don’t make any effort to celebrate any special day. Those that have been to my last minute, CBF birthday parties have witnessed this. So if I actually do something on a special day, even if it seems insignificant to you, it means I have probably climbed a mountain, worn the skin off my hands and put my blood and sweat into it. So I guess it was a good thing I didn’t have a Valentine.

Anyways, I went with some Chinese-Indonesians from Chinese school to Fulong Beach and put a shrimp on the barbie. The shrimp being me as I came back with a bright red upper body. The skin should be peeling off any day now.

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