Saturday, March 1, 2008

Kaohsiung Skyline

Some new buildings went up since the last time we were in Kaohsiung. They are on the right side of the photo.

Love River

I wanted to take some photos of the lights at Love River. We finally got there Friday evening, the day before I was to leave Taiwan. There was a lantern contest. We walked through the tents of lanterns and then waited for the good evening light to arrive.

I met up with HL, Dad and Joy after I had taken some shots of the river and the lights. As we were walking back to the road to catch a taxi we heard fireworks! We had no idea that was coming. I rushed up the path so I could get a good spot on the bridge. We think it was a test because no one seemed to know it was going to happen.

A few days later HL went back to the same spot. She said it was crammed with people.



Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

We're Back

The rest of our trip was uneventful. It's nice to be back in Lititz. I miss HL and Joy.

I had planned to post lots of photos to my flickr account. I didn't get many good shots. It was almost always hazy, and the sky turned out totally white in a lot of my shots.

Hui-Jen has a nice internet connection, but it was too slow to upload photos. If I post more, I'll mention it here.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's an adventure, uh, yeah, that's it...

Dad and I left Taiwan around 8:20 am on Saturday. When we checked in we noticed that our flight went to Dallas instead of Chicago. When we got to Japan we had to check in again to get our remaining boarding passes. I asked why it said Dallas and was told "sit over there and wait, it may take some time to figure this out". It didn't take too long. Our Chicago flight had been cancelled.

So we flew from Japan to Dallas/Fort Worth. The flight had a few rough spots, but nothing really bad. Near the end of the flight the captain came on the PA and told us he would like to say we are about 30 minutes away from Dallas. But he couldn't. He had just made a 90 degree turn to avoid a storm. He said we might have to circle for a while. If we stayed up too long, we would need to refuel in San Antonio. We circled for about 1 hour before landing. That was rough! As we touched down we shook back and forth a little. I thought we were going to tip over!

Once we got inside we had to wait in an enormous line for immigration. Luckily this line moved quickly, but we got pulled aside by customs for a check. They x-rayed all of our luggage and hand checked one of them. We now had about 15 minutes to re-check our luggage, find our gate and board. That's when we found out that our flight to Baltimore had been cancelled too! We were told we had 3 choices. Try to get on the next flight to Baltimore via standby, try a Washington airport, or try again tomorrow. Whatever we choose, our luggage was going to Baltimore on the next flight. I wanted to be on the same flight to the same ariport as our luggage, so we opted for staying the night and flying Sunday morning. After we waited in line for a few minutes an airport worker told us to go upstairs and get in another line at another gate. This ended up being a shorter line of people, but it was moving at a snails pace. We eventually got booked on an early flight and got a distressed traveller rate on a hotel. AA made the reservation for us.

After we dropped our stuff at the hotel (via the hotel shuttle) we walked to a nearby steak joint. What a great steak! We also had a spinach/crab/cheese dip.

We're going to call it an early night. Our shuttle leaves at 4:30 am.

Tomorrow is going to be a great travellinng day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Last night we saw some amazing Chinese Acrobats from Sichuan. The show was at the temple we visited a few nights ago.

HL, Dad and Joy got nice large plastic chairs with back and arms and were allowed to sit in a special area up front. It was reserved for older people and people with small children.I could have sat there too but I wanted to make sure there were not too many people in front of me. I took a hard metal stool and sat off to one side, one person behind the edge of the special section. After a while the people in front of me moved and I was able to move to the front row. The special section never filled up so I had a clear view of the stage.

The famous mask changers were there. The colored masks would change when their faces were covered. It happened in about a second.


Chijin is a long, narrow island running north/south on the West side of Taiwan. We visited Chijin two days in a row.

After letting Joy play on the beach a little, Guo-Yen, HL Joy and I rented some bikes. We rode to the ferry and crossed back to the main island. We ate some good flavored ice there and rode around the small harbor.

On the next day Dad, HL, Joy and I rented bikes and explored some more. We rode north until we reached the Chijin Star Tunnel. There are stars and constellations on part of the ceiling of the tunnel that glow. We walked through the tunnel and up a path to a lighthouse. After the lighthouse we walked to the ruins of an old fort.

Horses and Smiles

We visited some friends of Mei-Jen's that are in the horse business. They have a stable with a riding area. They also offer lessons. On our last trip Joy was afraid of the horses. This time she loved them.

Mei-Jen had a good time whipping Guo-Yen into shape for fatherhood.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Here's another place I read about on the internet before we came to Taiwan.

I had actually forgotten about it when I was told we were going there. We went on Sunday the 10th.

It takes about 2 hours of driving to get there. We first stopped at the Maolin National Scenic Area Visitor Center. I walked across a nearby suspension bridge. Then Kevin, Guo-Yen and Dad brought Joy out onto the bridge. She wanted to walk across too.

The floor of the bridge was made of sheets of metal, about 4' x 8'. They buckled. As people walked across the bridge, we could hear the metal sheets banging down to the supports.

Then we spent some time exploring the river bed. The water level was very low.

the Dragon's Neck and Back

After a second stop at the river, we went to Dragon Head Mountain. I couldn't gt myself into a good position to get a photo to show it well. It looks like a dragon lying on the ground with his head down. There is a path to a small pavilion on the top of the head. We climbed it.

More Cheng Ching Lake

I read about a wetland area around Cheng Ching Lake and asked to go there. Kevin and Hui-Jen took Dad and I there while HL and Joy were visiting friends.

I thought I saw it on previous trips past the lake. I pointed it out as we drove past it, but Kevin didn't think that was it. After driving around looking for it for a while we went to the Three Pagodas to walk a little and ask for directions. We also asked at a road side food stand. Eventually we ended up at a youth center across the street from the lake. It is run by the KMT, one of the political parties in Taiwan. We saw a fighter jet that Kevin remembers from his childhood.
Those of you with a keen eye may have already noticed the Kirkland chips from Costco.
There was an obstacle course, a seated zip line, camping, wall climbing and a suspension bridge. I wanted to try the zip line, but I weigh too much. *@$%! I went across the suspension bridge instead. There was a small child and an adult ahead of me going very slowly so I decided to wait until they were almost across before I would start. While I was waiting 3 or 4 small kids came up and started across. Halfway across 2 of them started coming back. I'm glad I waited for them too. I finally got across. It was not very high, it had a safety net, and it was above water, so it was not scary. It was fun.

Finally we found the wetlands and walked around. I had read that there were many birds there during the winter, but we only saw a few, like this egret.

Friday, February 8, 2008


February 8, 2008

After lunch at Mei-Jen's parents' house, we went to Fangliao, Pingtung to meet one of Mei-Jen's college friends. Fangliao is on the West Coast. We have not been in the north or on the East coast yet.

We walked around the seashore area for a while. Later we ate tangyuan. They are sticky rice balls in a sweet soup.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Another Temple

The other evening I told Kevin I wanted to get some photos of red lanterns. He took me to a local temple, but it was too windy to get long exposure photos. After Joy's Birthday meal, Kevin, HL, Joy and I went to another temple.

-- I just heard firecrackers outside. It's 9:30 AM. This set lasted about 15 seconds. "We haven't heard as many firecrackers and I expected. There were quite a few on New Year's Eve, but not a whole lot. Even HL thought there were not as many as in the past. --

This temple had a street market all aroound it. It reminded me of the Ephrata Fair. Joy got a batter operated rat lantern that plays "It's a Small World", very loudly. The first thing I did when we got home was put some tape over the sound opening to make it quieter.

The temple was large. There was a stage set up outside with spotlights shining into the sky. A large burner was located outside, spewing lots of smoke into the air. Enough bags of paper money to fill a few pickup trucks were stacked nearby, waiting to be burned. Lots of people were coming and going. There was a stand inside the temple where one could buy paper money and incense.

The inside of the temple was ornate as usual. There were so many people moving around I felt uncomfortable using the tripod. I handheld all of the the shots so I had to use a high ISO. Oh well.

We walked around the market a little bit after leaving the temple. I ate a corn dog (overrated). HL and Kevin ate some concoctions that looked like popsicles. I found out later that they were congealed blood mixed with rice. This is coated with peanut powder and sesame powder with some cilantro on top for good measure.

Joy played 3 games on the street. First up was a "poke and surprise box". It's a large box that is divided into many smalle squares. Surprises are placed into the squares. Then the whole thing is covered with paper with decorations printed on it. After paying a fee you may use a small hammer to poke a hole in the paper. You get to keep the prize that's inside.

The next game was bouncing ping pong balls into some tubes. Kevin, HL and Joy all played this.

The last game was a fishing game with a magnet on the end of a string. Joy did really well at this. In the end she got to choose a prize out of a large box. She picked a bubble play set.

Pizza and Cake

Dad and I were resting at the apartment after the hot pot lunch when I decided to walk back to the pharmacy. When I got there, only Mama, Baba and Mei-Jen were there. Everyone else was at Costco. They came back with a Birthday cake for Joy and a pizza. They were both good. The pizza had ham and pineapple on it. The cake was white with pieces of peach inside.

Flower Show

We went to a flower show today. There was a large line of cars outside waiting to get in. Admission was free. We walked around just a little bit and took a family photo. Then Mama and Baba went home. We only stayed a little while longer. We didn't even enter the main exhibition area.

More Drums Please!

Today is Joy's 3rd birthday. Happy Birthday Joy! It's also the first day of a little thing called Lunar New Year, often called "Chinese New Year".

We went downtown to Sogo Department Store to see a Lion Dance. There were a lot of people waiting in line to get into the store. The first 300 people could purchase a bag for $100 NT (New Taiwan Dollars). That's about $3.25 US. I'm not sure what else it might have contained, but each bag had some kind of ticket that could win you a prize, including a new car. Wow! There was a guard in line holding up a large sign indicating the 300th person in line. We were much too late to get in the first 300. We didn't even go in the store.

First up was a drumming performance. Great! There's nothing like drums, cymbals and gongs beign played REALLY loudly at 10 AM to get you going. When the drums finished, most of the drums were rolled away and the lions came out. There were 3 large lions and 2 small. They did a great dance. Each large lion has 3 people inside. Sometimes the "head" person would stand on the shoulders of the "rear", making the lion stand up straight and very tall. This all took place outside. Eventually the lions and drummers went inside of the store and continued their performance.

I could not get myself into a good position for photos. We got there too late for that. Here are a few photos anyway.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Joy, Dad, Hui-Ling and I all will celebrate our birthdays on this trip. Mine was first, Jan 26. Dad was next, Feb 2. Joy is Feb 7, the first day of Chinese New Year this year. The date changes on our calendar since the Chinese New Year is determined by the Lunar Calendar. HL's is on Mar 29.

We took Dad to the Outback Steakhouse here in Kaohsiung. We made reservations. I was shocked, but I guess I shouldn't have been. When we finished our meal and left at 8:30, there were 11 empty tables upstairs, out of about 14 tables. Yikes! How can they possibly stay in business. I'll be curious to see if it's still here on our next trip.

After the Outback, Hui-Jen bought a cake for Dad. We sang and had a small celebration in the apartment. Happy Birthday Dad!

Ten Drum Culture Village

Sunday, February 3

A drum festival in Tainan and bad weather equals great opportunity for us! Mei-Jen's friend took us to the Ten Drum Culture Village Festival today. On the way there it started raining. It got worse the closer we got to the festival, although it was never raining very hard.

The first thing we did was see a performance by the Ten Drum youth group. They were excellent. If you know how much I love drums you know how much fun this was for me. There were only about 30 people in the audience so I had plenty of room to move around and get photos from different angles.

After the performance the other audience members scattered. As we were buying some CDs just outside of the performance space, we suddenly heard them playing again. HL asked if I wanted to watch, or even play a little. Of course I did! HL got me up on stage with a pair of sticks in my hand. I got to play their large drum. Then I asked if they could teach me something so I could play with them a little. I guess it got lost in the translation because a few of them started playing and I just stood there like a dumb rock. It was still really cool to be on stage while all those drums are being played. I asked again and they played again, and this time I joined in, watching and playing along with one of the drummers who was playing a similar drum to one I was near. I played with them a bit, and even stopped right when they did. Whew!

The Culture Village is contained within the grounds of an old sugar cane facility. I believe the company sponsors the group. There are classes available for children, youth and adults. On our last trip to Taiwan, Guo-Shu took us to see the youth group in performance in Taipei. The family who took us to the festival today bought us a DVD of that same performance when the wife came to visit us in 2006.

Next we got a tour of their drum museum. It was only our small group of 8 people. We got to see some nice drums and learn a little about how they are made. We even got to play some of them. There is one drum that is 7.5 feet in diameter and has natural skin heads. They have another that has a plastic head that looks bigger than that.

One of the bulidings contains a shrine with 5 large drums on either side. Each drum is used to pray for a specific thing, such as wealth, good health, children, etc. To use this, you choose a drum and hit it 3 times. Then you light 2 incense sticks. One goes in a pot at the shrine and one goes in a large standing pot about 20 feet in front of the shrine. I choose a few drums and prayed.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Saturday, February 2

On my first trip to Taiwan we went on a hike to see monkeys. Dad did not go along. On our last trip here, we took Dad on a hike near there, but not exactly the same place. We only saw a few monkeys from the car. This time I wanted to take Dad to the place he missed on our first trip. After a small amount of searching, Guo-Yen found the same place. It starts out with concrete ramps and steps and turns in to all wood walkways and steps. Some parts are a little steep. (But they are nothing like the hike from the last trip!)

We hiked upwards for a long while without seeing any monkeys. It was getting hot. Every once in a while I heard a loud hooting sound. I couldn’t tell if it was a monkey or a man. Finally HL suggested we turn around. Just then 3 monkeys came out of the woods and jumped up on the walkway. They scampered past us and headed down the trail. I got a few photos, but they were all blurry. Then we heard the hooting again. It was a man who had just passed us heading up the walk. He was calling the monkeys! He was about 50 feet ahead of us. Suddenly a few more monkeys appeared. They ran right past us, giving me another chance for photos. Then a lot of monkeys started appearing around the man. He led them off the path and down a trail into the woods.

The Monkey Whisperer

I knew we were ready to leave, but I just wanted to take a look down that trail. I walked up the where the man and monkeys left the trail. A monkey came out of the woods and started slowly coming towards us. I quickly sat down on a step and started photographing him/her. This monkey was somewhat big. I was glued to the camera and was taking a lot of shots. When I stopped and lowered the camera, I was shocked to see that the monkey was only about 3 feet from me. HL was holding Joy and standing with Guo-Yen just a few feet away from him also.

We saw a few more monkeys as we walked back down. I was not at all disappointed that we didn’t make it to the top. I was just happy we got Dad there and that I got some monkey photos. We might even go back sometime later during this trip. There are other trails to explore.