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, April 27, 2013

The mountain tunnel on the Wenhu metro line

Haphazardly I came across a mountain tunnel on my way to Taipei Zoo where I met my new friend 煙雨 the Camel (文湖線福州山隧道 it might be called?)  Sure, since the metro in Taipei is underground, the trains run in tunnels all the times... Yet, the segment of the Wenhu (文湖線) line metro between Lingquang (麟光 ) and Xinhai (辛亥) stations runs above the ground level and went through a mountain tunnel...


The reality is that, I have taken this route before but might just have not paid attention to it... therefore the surprise when encountering it after the beginning of my era of tunneled visions.  Sort of like... you don't see what you don't know (or is it really true that the Indians really didn't see the boats Columbus came with).

I decided to take yet another clip on the tunneling process after I took my walk up in Moukong. Yet, since it was darker on the outside, even with my specially selected front-line seat, what my grandpa Canon and I could see most was the reflection of the things going on inside of the car. Yet, if I try hard, I can still see the street light on the outside.

So I tried with all my might to capture the process of going in and out of the tunnel... only to realize... easier to do it with 20-20 hindsight. I absolutely had no idea whether I was in the tunnel or not until I spotted street lights... yet again... on the outside... including the lights on the distant Taipei 101. lol

So ist das leben... at times...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My friend 煙雨 the Camel

Went to Taipei zoo... and found this new friend 煙雨 the Camel (though I might not be considered by her a friend lol).

Most of them nice animals paid me no mind albeit my all due intention to wave at them... This lady 煙雨 came over and stared at me.... walked away and came back and we stared at each other again... and a few more iterations more of her big eyes and my small eyes staring at each other...

We surely had some extended bouts of interaction in staring at each other... lol

Based on what I read when working on this post... apparently, when my friend 煙雨 was born on May 10th, 2012, she couldn't stand on her forelimbs... As a result, her mom didn't mind her too much possibly due to the reality that... new born who can't stand up quick enough in the wild has a lesser chance of survival due to the inability to stay away from the predators.  Survival the fittest... some collective intelligence that must have somehow gotten encoded in the genes during the evolution process as per evolutionary theory.   As a result, people in the zoo decided to bottle-feed 煙雨 instead when she was a baby camel to bring her up.

When looking at her picture, so I pondered... "What's in your mind?"


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tapas en el Gusto

Took my cousin whom I haven't hung with for easily 2-3 decades and my mom out for a dinner today... at a Tapas place I discovered during my daily walk...

Ended up, we landed at this Tapas place... and order my favorite dishes... a gigantic stuffed squid and combo grill... on fire-aaaah!

Donno about the guests... the Rum on fire itself makes me feel happy enough... 8-O lol

Saturday, April 20, 2013

North-link line trip 北迴之旅

The last time I took my parents to Taroko Gorge, it was before my accident... the summer of 2006... Yours not-driving-too-well even in times of better motor-coordination drove us all the way from Taipei to Hualien via that mighty dangerous scenic Su-hua Highway (蘇花公路), which runs between Suao township of Yilan and Hualien... built along the cliffs at points... such as the 清水斷崖 (Chingshui Cliff).

Personally, what makes Su-hua Highway dangerous for me to drive on is that, since Hualien is rich in marble, limestone, sand and gravel, there are a lot of huge gravel trucks (砂石車) racing on this winding road... with what seemed to be a scarily dangerous route to me... nothing but the backyard for them truckers...

In addition, closed to where the Philippine Sea Plate subducts under the Eurasian plate, Hualien has a lot of earthquakes.  The earthquakes, heavy rainfalls or typhoons all have resulted in rockfalls in the past... not only blocking the traffic, breaking the road but also pose great dangers to people in the vehicles (death and injuries).  

Given the unpredictable road condition of the Suhua Highway nowadays, in our recent trip to Hualien, instead of renting a tour bus to take us directly from Taipei to Hualien, we actually took the train "Taroko express" to Hualien first before boarding the bus.

I suspect this might be the first take I took the North-Link Line Railway (北迴鐵路)--one of the 10 Major Construction Projects (十大建設).  (The 10 Major Construction Projects were initiated to boost up the economy through the construction of public infrastructures during the 60s and 70s and administered by the late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who was then the premier of Executive Yuan.)    

The North-link Line segment of the railway runs between the Suao Township and Hualian.  At some point during the trip on the train, I saw the sign of Suao (蘇澳)... and I said out loud... "Suao (蘇澳)."  My dad told me... "No... the North-link Line doesn't go through Suao  (蘇澳)."  Not much later... I saw them gigantic signs  of "Suao xin (蘇澳新)" by a station the train didn't stop at...

So, was it Suao (蘇澳) or not that we were at?  Yes, we surely were in Suao when the conversation took place.  Yet, there is a reason for my dad's comment of Suao is not Suao (蘇澳非蘇澳) as well.  

Original, the plan was for the North-link Line to run between the Suao Station and Hualien Station.  However, due to the protests of Suao residents, the starting point of the North-link line was changed to be the "Suao xin (蘇澳新)" station (also in Suao but at a site different from the "Suao Station").  In addition, the name of the station was changed to "Suao xin (蘇澳新)" on January 1st, 1982 from 南聖湖車站 (Nanshenghu, 6/1/1975-12/31/1981), which was formerly known as the 南新城站 (Nanxingcheng, 4/15/1968-5/31/1975). (Don't worry... I bet the majority of Taiwanese got no inkling about the history of the name change for the Suao Xin station.  8-O lol) 

The construction of the North-link line started on the Christmas Day of 1973 and started its transporting career on Feb. 1st of 1980.  This initial version of the North-link line was 31,029 meters long.  The single-track railway went through 91 big and small bridges and 16 tunnels... with the longest tunnel as the 7757-meter Guanyin tunnel (觀音隧道)--the longest tunnel in Taiwan at that point.

Given the high demand, there were new construction efforts put forth to modernize the North-link line since 1992.  The railroad was electrified in 2003 and expanded to double track in 2005.  Given the railroad was built in the mountains, the expansion project actually involved the construction of new routes and tunnels in various segments of the railroad.  For instance, the 10,307.1-meter New Guanyin tunnel (新觀音隧道) replaced the 7757-meter Guanyin tunnel (觀音隧道)... and it is now the longest railway mountain tunnel in Taiwan.

A little something for your to know on your next Hualien trip... the unmentioned...

Following is a clip of what it be like to going through one of them North-link tunnels... Just as you could not tell when the tunnel was to end.. neither did I... 

Which tunnel is it? Not sure... one of the tunnels about 20 minutes away from Hualien station and between the Heren (和仁) and Hualien station.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Them birds look mighty like real swallows!

When walking out of Tonghua street (通化街) and Linjiang Street night market, I saw a huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling decorated with leaves and two moving birds... wing-flapping etc... in front of the furniture store.

I was absolutely taken by the ingenious design... How smart a design and how did they get the electronic birds to move like the real ones!  Look at the lamp shades... even got them decorated with things looking like bird dropping...  The true definition of realism!

As I was about to take a video clip or two of this interesting chandelier and the artificially engineered birds that looked mighty real, this lady saw it and stopped as well...

Don't quite recall the conversation...

I might have said something like... "The birds look so real!" while the lady broke the news to me... "They are real.  They live under the blackbox over there and I only got to catch a glimpse of one the other day."

At some point, one of the swallow decided to fly around and, later, performed bowl movements right in my face while resting on one of the lamp shades (though not caught on camera) to authenticate its real-life existence.

Presenting to you... them birdies 以真亂假... lol


What's at the end of the tunnel in the night? 雪山隧道 Hsuehshan Tunnel

In the darkness of a rainy night when all cows are black, what it be like to be at the end of the tunnel?

The way I see it... still light at the end of the tunnel... light pollution or not. 8-O lol


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A very long 雪山隧道 (Hsuehshan Tunnel) trip

雪山隧道 (Hsuehshan Tunnel) is the longest road tunnel in Taiwan, second longest in Asia and fifth longest in the world (though it was once upon a time the longest road tunnel in Asia).  The length of the East-bound tunnel (Toucheng bound) is 12,917 m with the theoretical speed limit within the tunnel between 60 and 90 km/hr.  It is on National Highway No. 5 or the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (蔣渭水高速公路).  

For the trip we took to get to Toucheng on April 4th, 2013, we entered the tunnel at 11:44 AM and exited it at 12:04 AM as a result of the Tomb Sweeping Day rush.  It took us 20 minutes to move through the 12,917 m tunnel... meaning at the speed of, on average, less than 38+- km/hr... though a lot of times, we were under 1 km/hr. Were they to issue tickets on cars moving between 50 km/hr... the government surely would have gotten mucho rich that day... lol

According to my dad, who has taken this route many a time, this was the slowest trip he had every taken through the tunnel.  So... some kind of record-breaking... I guess?  8-O lol

However slow a trip might be... and however the jamming traffic might have gotten us annoyed.  I did get to see the light at the end of the tunnel...


Unterwegs zur Tunneled vision

Used to be, other than taking the train--which goes through one tunnel after another, there are only two ways to travel between Taipei and Yilan. The trip could be as long as 3-4 hour if taking the 北部濱海公路 (Provincial Highway No. 2 ), which goes along the coastline... and thus mucho detours.

Or, if in a rush, the alternative would be the scary (to me) 北宜公路 (Bei-Yi Road) known for its 九彎十八拐 because it was build along the mountains.  The direct translation of 九彎十八拐 is "9 twists and 18 turns" although I am not sure whether it's a figure of speech. The reason why it was scary to me is because my dad who is chronically late would eternally try to pass cars at them twists and turns on this winding road with no-good visibility.  In reality, there were so many fetal accidents on this road that, not only ghosts stories are abundant, you actually see people throwing paper money on the road for the deceased in accidents on this road.  Also them twists and turns and ups and downs also made us car sick too many a time...  

Since the opening of Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) and National Highway No. 5, on an average day and when the traffic isn't bad, it takes about an hour and a half to travel between Taipei and the town of Toucheng in Yilan.  This highway and the associated tunnels (5 of them) absolutely made the Eastern Taiwan more accessible.

Usually, the trip between Taipei and Yilan would involve tranveling on National Highway No. 3, National Highway No. 5 and some connection roads inside of Taipei and Yilan.

Following are some tunnels I traveled through on my way back to Taipei from Toucheng on April 5th, 2013.

National Highway No. 5

Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道)

雪山隧道 (Hsuehshan Tunnel) is the longest road tunnel in Taiwan, second longest in Asia and fifth longest in the world. (Although it was once upon a time the longest road tunnel in Asia.)  The length of the west-bound tunnel (Taipei bound) is 12,942 m with the theoretical speed limit within the tunnel between 60 and 90 km/hr.

This was an extremely memorable trip because 99% of the times, we would chose the lane that moves like a turtle, strangely, this time... our car was passing the cars on the other lane the entire trip with our limit at around 40-50 while the cars on the other lane-- above zero or so.  Also, just when I was pondering why the light above our lane was red, we heard the radio broadcasting inside of the tunnel stating that an earlier accident on has been cleared.  Guess this was the reason why we were traveling on the theoretically closed lane.

Pengshan Tunnel (彭山隧道)---National Highway 5

Pengshan Tunnel (彭山隧道) is the first tunnel you hit after the 雪山隧道 (Hsuehshan Tunnel) when driving on Highway number 5 Taipei- or West-Bound (3,806m).

Wutu Tunnel (烏塗隧道)

塗隧道 (Wutu Tunnel) is the shortest among the 5 tunnels on National Highway 5 we had to go through between Toucheng and Taipei... If life is really simply going from tunnel to tunnel, this would be my favorite kinda tunnel to go through.

Shiding Tunnel (石碇隧道) & Nangang Tunnel (南港隧道)

石碇隧道 (Shiding Tunnel) and 南港隧道 (Nangang Tunnel) are adjacent to each other when travelling north bound though connected when traveling south-bound. These are the last two tunnels I traveled through on the National Highway 5. The trip through these two tunnels gives you the real life experience of what I always wonder... "Life is going from one tunnel after another."

National Highway No. 3

Fude Tunnel (福德隧道)

After we get off the national highway 5 and got onto national highway 3 (Formosa Freeway), the first tunnel we hit was the 福德隧道 (Fude Tunnel).

Because my grandpa Canon camera refused to wake up, I was not ready to capture the process of entering the tunnel... sort of like... I was not ready to enter the tunnel... as always... though life seems to have the bad habit of making me going from one tunnel to the other... mostly unannounced.

國道三甲台北聯絡線 (Taipei expressway--my own translation)

The Taipei expressway connects the National Highway No. 3 with the Daan and Wenshang districts of Taipei and the Shenkeng District in the New Taipei City.

Within the short distance, two tunnels I passed...

Taipei Tunnel no. 1 台北一號隧道

Taipei Tunnel no. 2 台北二號隧道
Voila! C'est tout le tunnel du jour!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Them relatives of dinos and my grandpa canon camera

I found out something absolutely interesting about my beloved grandpa Canon A570 IS camera today... (just don't let the camera hear it...)... I think it has herpetophobia... and it's ok.  I think it might have just been hanging out with me for far too long... lol

So I was starting up with my daily walk and I saw this gentleman with lizards.  I asked for his permission to take some pictures of them relatives of Barney and he agreed to it.

Please allow me to show you how I came up with the plausible diagnosis with them pictures (proofs) and the associated captions.

Unless... my grandpa canon is but like me... getting worst with the presbyopic thing... 老花 la!  8-O lol

(To be more exactly, according to evolutionary biology, salamanders are actually the decedents of prehisotrical amphibians rather than dinosaur... though they all are cold-blooded vertebrates... I guess.... 8-O lol)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Parchment craft exhibition at Zhongxiao Fuxing Metro Art Gallery by 林寶玲

Took my walk underground the other day because it was pouring... and I came across this nice Parchment craft exhibition at Zhongxiao Fuxing Metro Art Gallery by 林寶玲.

Based on the bio on the poster, apparently, Ms. 林寶玲 is really multi-talented... not only is she good with craft work, she also have licences in baking and mixology...  Wow!

Amazed again by the creativity of artistic people...

Especially when I thought this to be sophisticated enough... my own art work...

Like... Lord... Look what a nice turtle I can drew!   8-O lol

Regardless, the exhibition will go on till April 30th, 2013... make sure you check it out when possible!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Animal Party of Hong Yi (洪易)

In recent times, I have developed enough endurance to walk all the way to Zhungshan north road (中山北路) from the vicinity of Sogo department store in Zhongxiao East Road.  Some days, I would walk all the way to the Yuanshan metro station  (圓山站) and take the metro back.  For what purpose?  To walk and, en route, to see the world.

Then, I realized that the artist Hong Yi (洪易) has an exhibition of his huge and colorful animals somewhere in the former Taipei Flora Expo exhibition halls near the Yuanshan metro station  (圓山站).

These are animals like the huge kitty cat that's far taller than me in front of the Fuban Financial building.

From 富邦金融大樓 Fu-bon Financial building

Or those in the InSian gallery...

From Insian Gallery, Taipei

The first time I found where it was (The Far Eastern EcoARK Pavilion), it was way past 5 PM--the closing time.  Last Friday, I  finally made it there to see them huge colorful animals!

Animal party! (Will leave the pictures and captions to tell the story.)

Various dates 3/29/2013

Far Eastern EcoARK

I have walked past this strange looking building so many a time... but ain't got no idea what's up with this weird looking building called "Far Eastern EcoARK"...

That structure in the right is EcoARK though it was in this picture because I was taking a video clip of an airplane flying over my head. 3/20/2013
From Far Eastern EcoARK

After I made it to visit the Animal Party Exhibition inside of this FE EcoARK, I saw the sign for another exhibition "The Amazing Feather (驚奇之翼)" on the second floor and decided to check it out.  It was not until then did I realize... "Wow... this building I have been walking around in is made of 1.5 million recycled plastic bottles?" 8-O

And, of course, I intriguingly went to touch the walls, the doors, and saw bottles... bottles.. and more bottles everywhere... and I didn't even know they were bottles... 8-O (Sounds almost like a parody of what that kid said to Bruce Willis in Sixth Sense lol)

Featured film: EcoARK and I

The following clip is the report on BBC news about EcoARK.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Simon Levin's Pottery Exhibition "Almagan" in Yingge 鶯歌

Although my friend Yvonne had invited me to her exhibition before, because it was somewhere way up upstate and no in NYC... I didn't get to attend her exhibitions.

Then, I met the artist Simon Levin at a dinner one day and got invited by the artist himself to his exhibition.  As a result, I made sure I went to the exhibition in Yingge, New Taipei City (鶯歌) at the Fugui Gallery on Sunday... since it's just so cool a notion to attend an event as such under the invitation of the artist himself... something I've never done in my life.

The artist Simon Levin makes pottery and I was told that most of the work in this exhibition are "made in Taiwan"... possibly in Tainan.

Two of the art work I like the most are turtles without a shell as shown in the picture below... although, to the artist himself... this guy is an imaginary animal (apparently called Paul).  Regardless, it's my turtle... (Just don't tell the artist himself... 8-O lol)

Love this best!  Nice turtle de moi! lol

Since no picture-taking is allowed inside of the gallery, I only get to few picture outside of the gallery and a picture together with Mr. Levin and his wife.  Unfortunately, my grandpa Canon was acting out and preferred to take an afternoon nap... when I finally woke it up, I forgot to turn the flashlight on.  As a result, you basically get to see only the silhouette of us all. (Meaning... 盤古開天地以來 or first time in history, Ratprincess shows her 本尊 face in her blog... though offering only her silhouette due to the acting out of a Camera with some personality 8-O lol).