On what I walk to see...

"Objects do not have any intrinsic meaning- that meaning is conferred on them by us- and that different people, and the same person at different times, may confer different meanings on the same object." (Hammersley, 1989, p. 135)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Toucheng train station 頭城火車站

On our way to Hualien, the train went past Toucheng train station (頭城火車站) without stopping...

Many an endless summer day and night, I sat there wondering what it be like to be an adult...

The same town where I felt desperate because 楚留香couldn't have been stabbed by 蘇蓉蓉...

Then, as the train was going by the Toucheng train station 頭城火車站 and while I was taking this clip, my dad and I were busy talking about where grand parents' place was...  so he might have said... "That's the old house" while I replied... not yet there...

Ended up he was speaking of the dormitory of Railway company by the train station they used to lived in when he was a kid.

Same train station... same and different notions of old house and childhood... 老家與童年.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Taipei Wunchang temple 台北市文昌宮

I have walked past the 文昌宮文物特展 (Wunchang temple special exhibition) at 中山公民會館 many a time and finally decided to pay it a visit the other day.

In Taoist religion, 文昌君 is the God of culture and literature, and is believed to be the guardian of test takers.  Students taking major exams often worship 文昌君 to ask for blessings.  In my younger years, my parents used to take us to worship 文昌君 before entrance exams or on the first day of the Chinese new years (of course, before my mom became christian).

台北市文昌宮 (Taipei Wunchang temple) is a temple hosting four deities in association, if not in charge, of the departments of achievements, fame, and wealth.  They are the 文昌帝君(Wenchang Dijun)大魁夫子 (Great Master Kui)朱衣神君(Zhu yi Shenjun)關聖帝君(Guan sheng Dijun). Since I am working hard on my Ratology book, it seems very appropriate for me to go and pay them a visit... praying that I can get the book finished up with both my body and head in one piece.  8-X

Ended up, because 文昌帝君(Wenchang Dijun)'s birthday fell on the third day of the second month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, during the special exhibition, which is between March 11th and March 31st, people who collected all six stamps on this pink sheet can go to the office of the temple to claim the "Wunchang Pen."

All stamps collected on this pink sheet... as a souvenir for myself.
The Wunchang pen (文昌筆) I have been using to work on the book.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

From Hell's Angel at Swallow Grotto (燕子口) to London to Brighton Vintage Car Rally

The same day I walked down about 2/3 of the way and up from 清水斷崖 (Chingshui Cliff) in the afternoon, I also walked along Swallow Grotto (燕子口) in Taroko Gorge (太魯閣) .

Other than the beautiful scenery and grand rock formation, as I was walking from one tunnel to the other, a group of bikers rode past me and that was just way too cool!

It reminded me of how haphazardly I bumped into the London to Brighton vintage car rally in 2006... one of the last trips I took before yours truly became a handicapped in the body, too.  8-X

The one and only reason why I caught this vintage car rally was because I was crashing at the hotel room of my boss Dawn's niece during my trip to London.  Since she checked out early to leave town, I also had to get out earlier... When I first so these interesting looking cars running around on the street, so I thought to myself... "The Brits are surely classic... look at the cars running around on the street?!  Wow..." lol

The wonderfully haphazard nature of surprises in life... regardless of bodily condition... except you've just gotta be there to live it... I guess?! 8-O lol

清水斷崖 Chingshui Cliff

I walked down 清水斷崖 (Chingshui Cliff) today... sort of... although I did not get to go all the way down... I did managed to go down and back up in one piece... 清水斷崖 (Chingshui Cliff) is a part of the Taroko National Park lasting for around 21 km.  About 5 km of the cliff extends along the coastline and rises almost perpendicular from the Pacific Ocean.  Like the rest of the mountains in Taiwan, the steep mountains in the east coast such as Chingshui mountain is formed due to the continental drift with the Philippine Sea Plate continuing to slide under the Eurasian Plate.  Which the steepness we see above the sea level also translate into the steepness below the sea level... drops in hundreds meters in altitude within tens of meters off shore.

Such huge drops inevitable will result in undercurrents in the water... thus, so I was told, it makes it dangerous for you to go into the water unless you are on one of the rare sand beaches in the vicinity.

The last time I took my parents to  清水斷崖 (Chingshui Cliff) in 2006, I was still physical capable but did not take the walk.  (Should've known better?  How'd anyone know?)

So, I took my time and did my walk... the not-so-steep slope also helped...

Although I did not get to make it all the way down... because I had to make sure I could carry myself back up in one piece and without making the rest of the people waiting for mes, myselves, and Is for too long... I made it far enough for myself and I am happy about it-- not to mention, without a cane.  From not even able to move after Jan. 7th, 2011 (yet again), to bringing myself down to ground zero by trying to get up to see St. Paul and them canons on Mount Fortress in Macau, to my still be in one piece right now after today's attempt... sure, I have not gone all the way day to the waterfront and touched the Pacific ocean... and the not-so-steep slopes might have helped.... yet, this is one of the biggest achievement I have made so far since Jun. 19th, 2007.

One thing I can say to myself is that... all them ground work I put all things down for... to walk... one step at a time on flat surface or on slopes... whether it looks like walking or not... it paid off!

When you go to Hualien, I hope you can take some time to enjoy a walk I took... (though all the way done not).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wushih Harbor in Toucheng 頭城烏石港

We went to visit the 烏石港 Wushih Harbor in Toucheng 頭城... my dad's hometown today.  It was named 烏石港 Wushih Harbor because of the large and black coral rocks in the harbor.

In the old time, it was the most important harbor in I-lan... in addition to the fishing industry, it was also the main port for import and export.  Unfortunately, the flood in 1978 flushed down a tremendous amount of mud and stones, and silted the river way.  In 1983, an American ship sank after hitting the coral reef, and, consequentially  blocked the harbor entrance... which brought forth the downturn of this harbor.

Due to the lack of harbors in I-lan, new land was filled for the construction of the Wushih Harbor Deep Sea Fishing Harbor.  The project started in 1991 and was completed in 2003.  Today, it is one of the major tourist fish port in I-lan.

While we can visit new harbor where the fisherman sells your seafood they just caught, the lake between the Tourist information center and the Lanyang museum is the site of the old harbor.  According to my dad, when he was a kid, he used to go fishing with his pals along the old seashore... where the museum is now.

Pictures of Wushih Harbor in Toucheng 頭城烏石港

Pictures of Lanyang Museum

Taipei Expressway Marathon 台北國道馬拉松 3/17/2013

Today is the day for the Taipei Expressway Marathon 台北國道馬拉松 taking place on the Shijr-Wuku Elevated Viaduct section of Highway No. 1.

Yes! I was there though... marveled by the dedicated runners on the bus on the other side of the highway after gotten waking up by my dad about people running on the Highway... lol

Other than I cannot run, apparently race is full and entry closed. :-D

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy Birthday Tu Di Gong 土地公

In Chinese folk religion, Tu Di Gong (土地公) is the Chinese earth god who handle the local affairs and protects the villagers or local people.

Though I didn't know that it is the birthday of Tu Di Gong (土地公) today (the second day of the second month in a year in Chinese Lunar Calender)-- actually not until when I started preparing this post, I haphazardly walked by the Tu Di Gong temple on Andong Street (台北市福佑宮) and happily enjoyed the traditional Taiwanese Puppet Show dedicated to Tu Di Gong (土地公) in celebration of his birthday!

What a pleasant surprise since it's been centuries since I saw one of these puppet shows live!  Happy Birthday Tu Di Dong! (Since the server of blogger is in the cloud, hope the birthday wish got delivered on time. lol)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Huge red five-petal flowers in Taiwan in the Spring? 木棉 (wood cotton) or Cotton tree

At the beginning of my walk today, I walked past the Zhongxiao Fuxing station where I saw this lady holder a big red flower fallen from the tree...  It seems like she had a question to ask but no one stopped for her (The reason why the passersby didn't respond to her might have something to do with her asking the question in English and some people who know English might be too shy to respond).  I stopped to see whether whether there was anything I could help her with.  Ended up, she wanted to know what the tree that bears the huge flower was called... and the gentleman and the lady are visitors from Finland.  (Wow... Hello, Finland!)

It was very unfortunate that I only know the name of the tree in Chinese due to limited my English proficiency...  I wrote the name of the tree down on a piece of paper for them so that they can google it up... only to realize afterwards how chicken-and-egg that notion was... how are they are to google the words up if they don't know Chinese... (unless someone else knowing Chinese does it for them, I guess.) Unfortunately, that realization came too late since we had already bid each other farewell and walked towards our separate directions.

Since nothing is new under the sun and someone else' might have the same question, I decided to show you here what the tree and flowers look like... in case you have the same question when traveling in tropical areas such as Taiwan, Southern China or south Asian.

The flower that Finish lady was interested in is called 木棉花 (Wood Cotton Flower) and the tree is called 木棉樹 (Wood Cotton tree).  It's official English name, though, is Cotton tree with Bombax ceiba as the binomial name.  It is a tropical tree and is deciduous in the winter.  The flowers come out at around March and April before the new foliage.  Based on my observation, the flowers are not necessarily red... some of the trees actually bear flowers that look more orange than red.

The blossoms form capsules, which contain cotton-like fibers when ripe... and, if walking around in town during that time, you actually would see cotton-like fibers floating around in the air.

Though there is no way for me to relay what I found to these two Finish visitors in Taipei, hope this might help someone else with the same question... "What are those huge redish or orange-ish flowers called?"

"木棉花 (Wood Cotton Flowers) or Flowers/blossoms of Cotton tree."

Though it is highly unlikely that I will be asked the same question twice, at least I know now shall someone ask me the same question next time (especially after I generated all them mumble jumbles for two simple words "Cotton tree"... while, en route, I learn to describe a plant in English and learned to use words like binomial, deciduous in this context... lol)