June 20 Yilan Glass House Restaurant

Dell hosts a summer outing for their employees in Taiwan, as I remember Dell also did for their US employees in Austin. When Jeff worked for Dell in Austin, the summer outing was hosted in one of the large parks there, with food and activities provided for everyone. In Taiwan, instead of just one large gathering of all employees, there were three different outings offered every Friday for four weeks. Employees just signed up for the outing that they wanted to attend, and then they got that Friday off from work to go have fun with the other employees and their families who were going on that outing.

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Ann and Jeff are standing in the garden outside of the Glass House Restaurant in Yilan

Jeff signed us up for a trip to Yilan to have lunch at a well known restaurant there called  The Glass House on Friday, June 20. When we arrived at the building where he works, there were already buses parked and waiting to take employees and their families on the outing.  (Notice the Ubikes parked in their kiosks on the sidewalk next to the buses!)

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Buses waiting to take Dell employees and their families on the summer outing

It takes about an hour to drive on a bus from Taipei to Yilan, a city on the east coast of Taiwan. It used to take much longer, as you had to circle around the mountains, but now there is a tunnel through the mountains. This makes it a lot faster and easier to go from Taipei to Yilan.  Our first stop in Yilan was at a shoe factory.

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Shoe factory in Yilan

With changing times and industries, many local factories in Taiwan have, with assistance from the government, transformed into protected manufacturing businesses and converted their facilities into “tourism factories.” The place that we visited in Yilan was one of these “tourism factories”.

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Wooden sign near the entrance of the Yilan Shoe Factory

 Each tourism factory has a unique theme or product, and has facilities and buildings that have been upgraded, improved, and landscaped. The factories offer tours introducing their production processes, with exhibitions of their products and history,  and DIY (do it yourself) facilities. This way, tourism factories preserve a wealth of industrial knowledge and culture, while creating new tourist destinations for both learning and recreation.

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A man in the shoe factory is demonstrating how they make the wooden clog shoes

In this Yilan tourism factory, they made wooden shoes, or clogs. These used to be worn by many people in Taiwan. We got to watch men in the factory demonstrating how they make the shoes, with carved wooden bottoms and leather straps nailed across the top of the shoes.

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A man is demonstrating how to decorate the leather that will be a strap on the top of a wooden shoe

There were many different styles of wooden shoes on display.

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Wooden shoes on display in the Yilan shoe factory

They also had pairs that we could try on. They were not very comfortable, in my opinion!

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Jeff is trying on a pair of wooden shoes in the shoe factory

And there were lots of shoes for sale, some of them very elaborate and beautiful!

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Shoes for sale in the Yilan shoe factory

They had some benches inside the factory building that were shaped like the wooden bottoms of very large shoes!

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Ann is sitting on a “wooden shoe” bench inside of the Yilan shoe factory

I was utterly confused by these wooden clogs that were on display, and for sale, at the factory. Then Jeff explained that they were supposed to be worn by couples during their wedding. Then the double-sided clogs made some sense.

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Double sided wooden shoes made for couples to wear during their weddings at the Yilan shoe factory

After we had toured the factory, we went into the building next door to DIY, and make a small wooden keychain shoe. Actually, the small wooden bottom was already made, we were just punching and dyeing the small leather strap that would be nailed on top of our wooden shoe bottom. This was very frustrating for me, as the woman who was in charge of assisting us spoke no English, so she just ended up doing most of mine for me.

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Ann is using a leather punch to decorate a small piece of leather for a wooden bottom of shoe key chain

We got back on the bus and drove from the shoe factory to the Glass House Restaurant for lunch. This restaurant is famous for having no menu; the chef just decides what to cook according to what is in season at the time.

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The Glass House Restaurant in Yilan

The Glass House restaurant was indeed made mostly from glass, and surrounded by beautiful gardens. The food that we were served for lunch was delicious, and had a very artistic presentation.

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Sashimi and vegetable course served during our lunch at the Glass House restaurant in Yilan

There was also way too much of it! There were many (at least 10) different course served to us during a lunch that lasted for about two hours. Many people at our table stopped eating before the lunch was over, and wandered off to walk around the gardens

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Mango, kiwi, and vanilla milk pudding appetizer

Jeff and I managed to stay and continue eating until the fish course at the very end of the lunch. This is easier for me to do, as there are always dishes served with shellfish that I cannot eat. So I don’t get as full as everyone else.

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Ann is sitting at a table with the final fish course that was served for lunch at the Glass House Restaurant

After eating such a big meal, we needed to go and hike some of it off! Our next stop on this day trip to Yilan turned out to be a hike to the waterfalls on the Linmei Shih Ren trail in Yilan. Jeff and I had actually hiked on this trail during a trip to Yilan four years ago. But we never made it far enough along the trail to see the waterfalls, as it was getting dark so we had to turn back.

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Ann is standing next to a sign at the start of the Linmei Shih Ren trail in Yilan

We figured this out as we were walking along the trail, and it seemed very familiar. One clue that we had hiked on it before was the netting over the beginning of the trail. The trail runs next to a well known and popular golf course in Yilan, so there is netting over the trail to prevent hikers from getting hit by stray golf balls. I did not see any golf balls in the netting above the trail this time, but I do remember seeing a few the last time we walked up this section of the trail. Maybe the golfers are improving?

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Jeff is standing under the protective netting over the beginning of the Linmei Shih Ren trail

It was raining during the first part of our hike. This is very common in Yilan, as it is well known for getting more rain than any other place in Taiwan. This is because it is on the eastern side of the island, and there is a large mountain range to the west of it. So when storms blow in from the Pacific ocean, the clouds have to drop some of their moisture on Yilan so they can blow over the mountains to the west side of the island.

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Ann is trying to take a photo of a lake alongside the trail in the rain

It stopped raining before we got to the waterfalls, making it easier to take photos!

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Jeff is taking photos along the trail

Lumbering used to be done in this area of Taiwan. This log display alongside of the trail demonstrates how they used to tie the logs to a wooden sled, and then drag them out on wooden rails. They are no longer logging here.

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Logging display alongside of the trail demonstrating how they would pull the cut trees out of the forest

Linmei Shih Ren is a loop trail, and the waterfalls are located at about the furthest point of the loop from the beginning. So it took us about an hour of walking to get to the waterfalls.

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A waterfall on the Linmei Shih Ren trail

There were many waterfalls, as this river travels down through a gorge. They were all very pretty.

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Jeff is standing on an observation deck next to one of the waterfalls on the trail

Our group was the only group of people hiking along the trail this Friday afternoon, so it felt very uncrowded. Everyone was hiking at their own pace, and so we were spread out by the time people started to arrive at the waterfalls. So there were never any crowds on the observation platforms near the waterfalls.

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Waterfall along the Linmei Shih Ren trail in Yilan

I have my umbrella up in the photo below because all of the tree branches were dripping water on me. It was still very wet, even if it had stopped raining.

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Ann is looking at a waterfall along the Linmei Shih Ren trail

The mountains surrounding this trail were very green and beautiful.

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View of the mountains surrounding the Linmei Shih Ren trail

It was a wonderful outing!

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Jeff is taking video along the Linmei Shih ren trail in Yilan

 

 

 

 

 

June 15 Guo Ziyi House

We were walking with Harmony along one of the main  roads  in Neihu near the Wende subway stop when we discovered another piece of Neihu history.

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Jeff is standing in front of Guo Ziyi house in Neihu

I have walked past this curious gate on the road across from the Neihu high school and not given it a second glance

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Gate above the stairs going up a hill from the roadside to the Guo Ziyi House

There was a sign next to the gate saying that it was the entrance to the Guo Ziyi House, which was open to the public for tours. We decided to check it out, since we had some time before dinner. It was a steep climb up the hill, with a lot of stairs. You cannot see the house from the road, as it is that far up the hill above the road!

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Harmony on the stairs going up the hill to the Guo Ziyi House

The Guo Ziyi House was interesting, as its architecture was more in an European than Asian style. It was built in 1917. It is a two-story Western-style red-brick house. The  T-shaped house is decorated with colored tiles imported from Japan, and Baroque-style embellishments.

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Harmony is standing inside of a first floor room in the Guo Ziyi House

There was a traditional family ancestor shrine in one of the rooms downstairs.

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Shrine of the Guo Ziyi ancestors in a room downstairs in the Guo Ziyi House

Guo Ziyi (697-781) was a Tang Dynasty statesman, known for his impressive feats 1,250 years ago. He is the ancestor of the world’s Guo (often spelled “Kuo” in Taiwan) clan. He earned his fame for ending the An Shi Rebellion in 755, and served under four Tang emperors. In 762, Guo was made Prince of Fenyang for his achievements.

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Close up view of the family shrine

This room was formerly the dining room of the house. A variety of historical documents were on display,

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Jeff is standing in the former dining room of the Guo Ziyi House

The Guo Ziyi House was the home of the first Neihu Village mayor Kuo Hua-jang during the Japanese colonial era, and it was designated as a municipal historical heritage site by the Taipei City Government in 1999.

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A bust of Mayor Kuo Hua-jang on display inside of the house

This room was the library. It had many interesting historical displays. Unfortunately (for me), everything on display only had signs in Chinese. And the tour guide was explaining everything in Chinese. So most of what I am writing about is what Jeff translated for me.

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Photo of the library in the Guo Ziyi House

There were stairs going to second floor in a hallway on the back of the house. The red bricks used in the Guo Ziyi House are larger (about 4 inches) and denser than those used today.

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Stairs going up to the second floor in the Guo Ziyi House

Here is a view looking out of a first floor window to the yard in the back of the house.

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Photo of the view looking out of the downstairs back window

Despite being designated as a historical site, the house continued to be neglected for more than a decade

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Second floor hallway in the Guo Ziyi House

Thanks to the efforts of the World Guo Clan’s Association President Kuo Shih-chi, starting in October, 2010, the house was given a year-long facelift. This effort was lead by Guo Ching-po, another member of the Guo clan and a master craftsman who specializes in restoration work of historical structures.

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View looking out of a second floor window of the Guo Ziyi House

It must be nice to have such expertise in your extended family when you need to restore your ancestral home! Even so, the total renovation cost was approximately $50 million NT ($1.6  million US dollars). The World Guo Clan Association donated more than $30 million NT of these funds and the Taipei City Government provided the rest of the money needed to complete the restoration.

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Second floor room in the Guo Ziyi House

The photo below shows how the house looked before its restoration.

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Photo of the Guo Ziyi House before its restoration

The photo below was taken after the restoration of the Guo Ziyi House. World Guo Clan family members came from all over the world to visit the house. There are more than 500 of them in the photo below!

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Photo of a photo of the World Guo Clan family members gathered in front of the restored Guo Ziyi House in Neihu

 

 

 

 

June 14 Nanhuzuo’an River Hike

We went to Donghu to eat breakfast and explore the area, and we ended up hiking on a new trail This one runs along the Nanhuzuo’an River, which is a tributary of the Keeling River. Not only was it an interesting hike, but we learned a lot about the Neihu area. Fresh air, exercise, history, and exploration is an unbeatable combination!

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Jeff is standing on the path along the Nahuzuo’an river in Donghu

There are many, many different places to get breakfast in Taipei. We have already tried all of the places near our apartment in Neihu, so Jeff wanted to try some of the places in Donghu, This breakfast place was okay, but so far, I still think all of the best breakfast places are near us in Neihu.

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Ann is eating breakfast at a place in Donghu

We walked by an elementary school. It always seems like there are a lot of children in our neighborhood. Maybe there are a lot of families with children living in this part of Taipei, as Jeff has been told that parents here consider Neihu to have some of the best schools in  Taipei. This is another reason why it is expensive to buy, and even rent, in  this area.

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Cute sculpture on the wall outside of an elementary school

Taipei now has bikes, called Ubikes, that you can rent at many of the subway stations and along busy streets. Jeff even has a Ubike kiosk in front of the building where he works. I had been meaning to register so that I could rent a Ubike.  So when we walked past this kiosk in Donghu, I registered at Ubike.  I can now rent Ubikes in Taipei. I have not done this yet, because it is summer, and very hot here. It helps to walk around with an umbrella (sun parasol) for shade. And there is no way that I could ride a bike and hold an umbrella at the same time!

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Ann is registering to rent Ubikes in Taipei

The beginning of this trail alongside of the river was not very attractive. It had a nicely paved walkway, but the river itself was almost dry, and there were no trees alongside of it.

Neihu has an interesting relationship with its many rivers, mountains, and lakes. In the past, it was a very flood-prone region. On July 1, 1968, Neihu Township of Taipei County was placed under the jurisdiction of Taipei City and became Neihu District of Taipei City. Construction was prohibited in the entire district until 1974.  In February 1976, the city government announced a development plan for the Dahu Park area. Neihu has experienced huge growth ever since then, with the construction of the Neihu Technology Park.

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Ann is standing on the path alongside of the Nanhuzuo’an tiver in Donghu

The extension of the Taipei MRT (subway) to Neihu in the 1990s and early 2000s also boosted its residential and commercial growth. But they were still figuring out how to do flood control on this area’s many rivers during that period. Hopefully, all of the rivers are now “well-managed.” In fact, they were dredging this river channel as we were walking along the path.

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Dredging the Nanhuzuo’an river

At this point, the river path was not very inviting. It was hot (no trees for shade) loud (because of the dredging) and there was no sign of birds or any other wildlife. But then, it got more interesting.

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Jeff is pointing to a plaque on the wall explaining some of the history of this area

The next section of the path had plaques on the wall explaining some of the history of the area. The explanations were all in Chinese characters (no English) so Jeff interpreted them for me. This area near Taipei was settled way back in the 1600s because of all of the bamboo growing in the mountains. Bamboo is a very versatile plant that can be eaten, woven into hats and baskets, made into furniture, etc., so a bamboo industry developed here.

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Man weaving bamboo on a plaque alongside of the river trail

Next, they discovered all of the coal in the mountains, so the Neihu area became a mining center. I already knew that, due to the signs along the mining trail that we hike in the mountains. But I did not know that was the reason for all of the Tudigong shrines in this area.

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A plaque on the wall alongside of the river showing an early map of the area

Tudigong is worshipped as the spirit or god of the earth. When you are mining, you are taking something out of the earth. So your entire livelihood depends on the earth. So you would want the earth spirit or god to be generous with you, and keep you safe while you work. Because this area had so much mining in the past, it has the highest concentration of Tudigong shrines anywhere in Taiwan. Whereas Matsu or Confucius might be more important in other areas of Taiwan, Tudigong was the most important god here because of the mining industry. The Neihu area also had a lot of farming in earlier times.

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Tile mosaic in the wall alongside of the river showing a man plowing with a buffalo

After the history lessons, the wall art switched over to tiles with the many different local species of birds painted on them.

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Tile with a local bird species painted on it on the wall alongside of the river path

There were also birds depicted on the cement walls, as a painted upraised sculpture in the cement.

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Bird art on the cement walls alongside the river path

I even saw a few real birds at this point in our hike. I think that this guy is the same as the bird sculpted on the cement wall!

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Bird sitting on a railing on the path alongside of the river

Further up the river path, we began to see more trees and greenery

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View from the river path

Then there were flowers in a nice garden alongside of the path.

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Flower garden growing alongside of the river path

And statues, too!

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Statue alongside of the river path

There was even a teddy bear carefully tied to a perch up in a tree. I am sure there is an interesting story there.

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Teddy bear tied to a perch in a tree in the flower garden section of the path alongside of the river

All along this river, there were high walls made of cement or stone. The small stream inside the walls was very tiny, so the walls were likely for flood control, and the parks alongside were added afterwards.

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High stone walls built up alongside of this river

Then, the scenery along the banks of the river path changed again. Now there were small farm plots alongside of the path, growing many different types of vegetables.

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Farm plot growing vegetables on the side of the river path

This small farm plot was growing laundry along with its vegetables!

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Farm plot with clothes hanging to dry above the vegetables along the river path

This last photo was taken earlier in the week, when we had dinner with Jeff’s cousins Cary and Julie from Tamsui. We ran into them when we went out for dinner to the food court at Miramar in Neihu. A totally unplanned encounter, and a wonderful dinner !

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Ann is sitting in a restaurant in the MIramar food court with Cary and Julie Yen, Jeff’s cousins from Tamsui

 

 

 

 

June 7 Fulong Beach Sand Sculptures

Fulong Beach is not far from Taipei. It hosts a sand sculpture competition every year. We both like sand sculptures, so we headed out to Fulong Beach to see the sand sculptures.

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Giant panda sand sculpture at the Fulong Beach 2014 Sand Sculpture Competition

Jeff and I took the train to Fulong Beach. It takes about an hour to get to Fulong from Taipei if you take the express train. But we took the local train, so it took much longer, as the train stopped at every little town between Taipei and Fulong. Fortunately, we were not in a hurry to get there, so we relaxed and enjoyed the slow pace of the train ride.

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Ann is standing next to a wall in the Fulong train station

Fulong is famous for its boxed lunches, called biandang in Chinese. The original Fulong biandang is sold in a shop just outside the train station, and there was a long line of people waiting to buy them when we walked out of the station. I do not much care for boxed lunches, so instead I bought a beach hat. There were many of them for sale in a shop next to the one selling the biandang.

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Ann is standing in front of a shop sell beach hats in Fulong

Fulong Beach is located adjacent to Fulong Village at the mouth of the Shuang River.  It is frequently visited by Taipei residents during the summer due to its easy access from the city, Fulong is one of the more popular beach destinations in northern Taiwan, but we had never been there.

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Ann is standing under the giant fish net sculpture in front of the Fulong visitor center

The Fulong visitor center had a giant sculpture shaped like a fish net in font of it. Inside the Fulong visitor center, there was a wonderful exhibit  of carved driftwood.

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Craved driftwood exhibit inside of the Fulong visitor center

During one of Taiwan’s recent typhoons, a lot of driftwood was left on the beach, some of it very large. After it was picked up off the beach, it was given to local artists to carve.

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Driftwood carving in the exhibit inside of the Fulong visitor center

These carved driftwood sculptures were interesting and beautiful. Some were done in a traditional style, and some were more modern. I would have likely stayed and spent more time looking at them, but we had come to see a different kind of sculpture.

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Driftwood carving in the exhibit inside of the Fulong visitor center

The Shuang River divides the beach into two distinct areas connected by a bridge. The outer area is essentially an island whose size varies according to the flow of the river and the tide.

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Jeff is standing on the bridge that connects the “island” section of Fulong beach with the mainland section of Fulong beach

The sand on Fulong beach is golden in color, a rarity for Taiwan, and has a higher percentage of clay in it than white beach sand. This makes it perfect for making  sand sculptures! We had a good view of the sand sculptures from the bridge.

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Sand sculptures on Fulong beach

The Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival was held for the first time in 2008 to promote sand sculpture art in Taiwan. The festival has had a growing number of visitors every year since it started, and they were expecting over 500,000 people to come in 2014 to see the sand sculptures. It runs for almost two months, from May 3-June 30, so all those visitors are spread out over an eight week period. It was not too crowded on the day that we went, because it was overcast and cloudy, with a chance of rain the in the afternoon.

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Ann is standing in front of the Fulong Beach Sand Sculpture sign on the beach

The competitors who made the sand sculptures were from all over the world.

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Sand sculpture of Marco Polo

There was no theme, so the sand sculptors could choose to do whatever they wanted. But the silk road in China was a popular choice, as there were three different sand sculpture with this theme.

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Jeff is standing in front of a sand sculpture depicting the silk road of China

Most of the sand sculptures were carved on all sides, so you needed to walk around the sculpture to see all of it.

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This sand sculpture was titled “Bandu’s dream”

Most of the sand sculptures were in great shape, considering that they had been carved almost a month ago. There was only one sand sculpture that was damaged. It was titled “Not true wealth” and featured unhappy people sitting on stacks of money. It was obvious that people had gone over the rope barrier and climbed onto the sculpture to have their photo taken sitting or standing on stacks of money (made from sand.) I wonder if the Irish artist who made this sand sculpture would have appreciated the irony!

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Ann is standing in front of a sand sculpture of money, titled “Not true wealth”

After we were finished looking at all of the sand sculptures, we decided to rent bikes so we could bike through the old Caoling tunnel.

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Jeff is standing with a rental bike alongside the river road leading to the old Caoling tunnel

The old Caoling tunnel was one of the most important railroad tunnels that connected the eastern and western sides of the island at the beginning of the 20th century. It was constructed by the Japanese in 1924, and its total length is 2,165 meters. At the time of its construction, it was the longest tunnel in Taiwan. The Caoling tunnel was closed in 1979, when another train tunnel was built through the mountain. It reopened in August 2008, as a bike path, with pavement replacing the train tracks.

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Ann is sitting on a bike near the entrance to the old Caoling tunnel bike path

The journey through the tunnel seems endless. You keep moving and always expect to see a light at the end — but there is none. It takes a long time to bike through this tunnel!

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Inside the old Caoling bike tunnel

The Caoling railroad tunnel is said to have inspired the creation of the famous Taiwanese folk song Diudiudang. The song was about a train running through the tunnel in its early days. The term Diudiudang was created by the song lyricist to describe the sound of the dripping water that could be heard while traveling through the tunnel.

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Ann is standing on the bike path on the other side of the old Caoling bike tunnel

You can see the mountain that the tunnel goes through in the background of the above photo. There is a beautiful view of the rocky seacoast on the other side of the tunnel.

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Jeff is standing on a platform taking photos of the seacoast on the other side of the Caoling bike tunnel

The bike path continues alongside of the coast and eventually loops back into Fulong. But we decided not to continue biking along the path, as we were worried about the weather. So we just biked back through the tunnel again to return back to Fulong. We arrived back in town just in time, as it was starting to rain when we returned our rental bikes and got on the train back to Taipei.

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Jeff is standing on top of a stone observation tower on the Fulong old Caoling bike path

.It was fun biking through that long tunnel! I would like to come back and do it again sometime. We had a wonderful time at Fulong!

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2 Dragon Boat Race in Bitan

Monday was officially Duan Wu, so Jeff had the day off. We decided to go to another Dragon Boat Festival. This one was in Bitan, in the southern Banqiao district of Taipei.

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Dragon boats racing on Bitan Lake, at the New Taipei City Dragon Boat Festival

But first, we went shopping in the Neihu day market for more zongzi. Jeff wanted to buy some more zongzi, as they freeze well, and will keep for awhile. They are great quick snacks, and great to take on a hike.And you can only easily find them at this time of the year.

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Jeff is checking out zongzi for sale from a vendor in the Neihu day market

We ended up with lots of different zongzi to try! We ate them for the rest of the week, and put many in the freezer!

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Jeff is sitting at our dining table with all of the zongzi that we purchased in front of him on the table

Many vendors were also selling an arrangement of green leaves. Jeff asked why one lady why she was selling these bunches of leaves, and she told him that you were supposed to put them next to or on your door for good luck. I guess this is another local Duan Wu tradition. So we bought a bunch, and I put the green leaves arrangement near our door for good luck.

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Ann is holding the green leave s arrangement that you are supposed to place near your door on Duan Wu for good luck

Since this is my third blog entry on dragon boat races, I should probably explain the legend behind them. Jeff has told me something about Qu Yuan and throwing zongzi into the water from boats to prevent the fishes from eating his body. As that was not enough of an explanation, I decided to look it up in Wikipedia. Here is the legend from Wikipedia.

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Ann is standing next to a flag proclaiming this as the New Taipei City Dragon Boat Festival

The main legend concerns the saga of a Chinese court official named Qu Yuan. It is said that he lived in the pre-imperial Warring States period of China (475-221 BC). During this time the area today known as central China was divided into seven main states or kingdoms battling among themselves for supremacy. This was at the conclusion of the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty, which is regarded as China’s classical age during which Confucius lived. Also, the author Sun Tzu is said to have written his famous classic on military strategy The Art of War during this era.

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Ann is standing on a pathway, overlooking Lake Bitan and the Dragon Boat Festival area

Qu Yuan was a minister in one of the Warring State governments, the southern state of Chu (present day Hunan and Hubei provinces). He was a champion of political loyalty and integrity, and eager to maintain the Chu state’s autonomy and hegemony. It is believed that the Chu monarch fell under the influence of other corrupt, jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan as ‘a sting in flesh’, and therefore the fooled king banished Qu, his most loyal counsellor.

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The staring dock in Lake Bitan for the dragon boat races

In Qu’s exile, he supposedly produced some of the greatest early poetry in Chinese literature, expressing his fervent love for his state and his deepest concern for its future. This collection of odes are known as the Chuci or “Songs of the South (Chu)”..

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Dragon boats lined up in the starting dock ready to race on Lake Bitan

In the year 278 B.C., upon learning of the devastation of his state from the invasion by the neighboring Warring State  of Qin, Qu is said to have waded into th Miluo River which drains into Dongting Hu Lake in today’s Hunan Province, holding a great rock in order to commit ritual suicide as a form of protest against the corruption of the era. The Qin or Chin kingdom eventually conquered all of the other states including Chu and unified them into the first Chinese empire. 

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Dragon boats racing on Lake Bitan

The common people, upon learning of his suicide, rushed out on the water in their fishing boats to the middle of the river and tried desperately to save Qu Yuan. They beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles in order to keep the fish and evil spirits from his body. Later on, they scattered rice into the water to prevent him from suffering hunger. Another belief is that the people scattered rice to feed the fish, in order to prevent them from devouring the poet’s body.

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A dragon boat “flag puller” reaches out to grab a flag at the end of the race

 However, late one night, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared before his friends and told them that the rice meant for him was being intercepted by a huge river dragon. He asked his friends to wrap their rice into three-cornered silk packages to ward off the dragon. This has been a traditional food ever since known as zongzi, although they are wrapped in leaves instead of silk. In commemoration of Qu Yuan, it is said, people hold dragon boat races annually on the day of his death.

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The winning dragon boat paddles by the judges’ platform

One final note from Wikipedia;

A Song Dynasty (circa 1000 AD) silk painting depicts an imperial dragon boat competition that took place in the ancient Chinese capital of Kaifeng. It shows dragon boats, referee boats, marked racing lanes, spectators, streamers, flags and banners and race officials. Since there were no “photofinish cameras” at the time, close races were adjudicated by a panel of judges who observed which crew was the first to pull, grasp or grab a flag that rested on a buoy positioned at the finish line for each racing lane.  These historical Song illustrations inspired some dragon boat race organizers in Taiwan to replicate flag pulling finish line markers in their annual races.

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Pretty flowers along the path near Lake Bitan

This competition arrangement gives rise to an additional crew position, that of the flag puller. The flag puller rides aboard near the decorated dragon head, out of the way of the drummer. As the boat nears the finish line flag float, the flag puller extends his or her arm to grab the flag from the lane float to signal attainment of the finish line as the boat whizzes by. The steerer has to accurately steer the boat within arms reach of the flag mount. Electronic devices are sometimes used to accurately capture times. The flag puller must not miss pulling the flag, otherwise the boat’s finish is disqualified.

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Foot bridge over Lake Bitan, and canopy tents over food vendor stalls alongside of Lake Bitan

There were no flag pullers in Tainan, but both of the dragon boat races in Taipei used flag pullers. The races in Taipei in Dajia Park did use an electronic timer, but I did not see timers at either of the other two races.

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Jeff is enjoying a treat of fresh mangos over shaved ice at the New Taipei Lake Bitan Dragon Boat Festival

This was odd, to say the least! There was a place at the Bitan Dragon Boat Festival where you could get a massage from women holding large kitchen knives. Even if they were very dull, this just looks painful to me!

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A women giving another women a massage using large kitchen knives

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Close up photo of a woman getting a knife massage

At the conclusion of a long weekend of Dragon Boat Festivals, I am ready to hand out my “awards” to the winners.

Best Food at a festival award goes to the Tainan Dragon Boat Festival!

Best Shade at a festival award goes to the Taipei Dragon Boat Festival!

Prettiest Location for a festival award goes to the Bitan Dragon Boat Festival

Best (Novice) Competitors in a festival award goes to Harmony’s NCKU team in the  Tainan Dragon Boat Festival!

Most Exciting Race to Watch at a festival award goes to the final race in the Bitan Dragon Boat Festival! By the final race, when the winners of the earlier races compete against each other, they are very,very, very good!

June 1 Dragon Boat Race in Taipei

There is a special traditional Chinese food associated with the Duan Wu holiday when the dragon boat races are held. It is called zongzi. We went shopping in the Neihu day market for zongzi before heading out to watch the dragon boat races in Taipei on Sunday.

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Jeff is buying zongzi hanging in bunches from hangers sold by a woman in the Neihu day market

Zongzi is a traditional Chinese food made of sticky rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves and tied with string.  Zongzi are commonly made in a tetrahedral shape. Zongzi are cooked by steaming or boiling, and then are easy to reheat in a microwave. Wrapping a zongzi neatly is not easy to do, as I have tried many times! While traditional zongzi are wrapped in bamboo leaves, lotus, banana, and other types of large, flat leaves can also be used to wrap the zongzi. Each type of leaf imparts its own unique smell and flavor to the rice

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More zongzi for sale in the Neihu day market

The fillings used for zongzi can vary, and the recipes are often handed down in families,(similar to stuffing recipes used to stuff Thanksgiving turkeys in the USA). Fillings can include,salted egg yolks, chestnuts, taro, shredded pork or chicken, Chinese sausage, pork fat, peanuts, and shiitake mushrooms.

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Fresh lychees for sale in the Neihu day market

Zongzi fillings can also be sweet, making the zongzi more dessert-like. These sweet fillings are usually made with red bean paste, tapioca, or taro.

There was also lychees and dragon fruit for sale in the market. Lychees are in season and only available in June and July, similar to the cherry season in the USA. I believe that the dragon fruit season is longer, perhaps from June until October. I was happy to see both of these types of fruit in the day market, as they are two of my favorites!

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Dragon fruit for sale in the Neihu day market

The largest dragon boat festival in the area is in Taipei Dragon Boat Festival at Dajia Riverside Park. It is also the oldest continuous festival in the Taipei area. It was happening from May 31 until June 2, and had many international teams competing in the races.

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Stage set up under a highway over pass at Dajia Park in Taipei for the Dragon Boat Festival

The great thing about the Dragon Boat Festival area in Dajia Park is that it has a lot of shade. It is very, very hot already in Taipei at the beginning of June! Dajia Park has both highway overpasses and permanent pavilions that shade large areas of this riverside park. I appreciated having many spots where I could be in the shade! There were also tents and awnings set up alongside of the river.

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Jeff is standing next to the river in Dajia Park where the Taipei Dragon Boat Festival takes place

The use of dragon boats for racing is believed by anthropologists to have originated in southern central China more than 2500 years ago, in Dongting Lake and along the banks of the Chang Jiang (now called the Yangtze River). The celebration was an important part of the ancient Chinese agricultural society, celebrating the summer rice planting.

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Dragon boats racing on Keeling River in Dajia Park in Taipei during the Dragon Boat Festival

I think that Duan Wu in Chinese refers to the Summer Solstice.  Wu refers to the sun at its highest position in the sky during the day. Duan refers to upright or directly overhead. So Duan Wu is an ancient reference to the maximum position of the sun in the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year or summer solstice.

Both the sun and the dragon are considered to be male. (The moon and the mythical phoenix are considered to be female.) The sun and the dragon are at their most potent during this time of the year, so this was the cause for celebrations such as dragon boat racing.

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Ann is standing alongside of the river in Dajia Park during the Dragon Boat Festival

Of the twelve animals which make up the traditional Chinese zodiac, only the dragon is a mythical creature. Dragons were traditionally believed to be the rulers of water on earth; rivers, lakes, and seas.Tthey also were thought to rule the waters of the sky; clouds, mists, and rains.

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Dragon heads on boats docked along the riverbank in Dajia Park

Worshipping the dragon deity by holding races was meant to avoid misfortune and encourage rainfall which was needed for the crops that had been planted.

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Ann is standing next to a stone dragon head in Dajia Park

In addition to the dragon boat races, there were other activities going on during the three day festival in Taipei. There were performances on the stage,  a zongzi-wrapping competition, and an egg-standing contest. I would have liked to watch the zongzi-wrapping competition, but it took place on Saturday when we were watching the dragon races in Tainan. And the egg-standing contest took place on Monday. So while we were there, we watched many dragon races and a few performances on the stage.

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Cute food trucks, made from modified VW vans, parked in the food vendor section of Dajia Park during the Dragon Boat Festival

Then we did the most traditional Taiwan festival activity and went to find something good to eat in the food vendor area! There are many vendors offering snacks, along with some very cute food trucks made from modified VW vans!

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Jeff is enjoying a snack of stinky tofu purchased from a food vendor at the Taipei Dragon Boat Festival in Dajia Park

The Taipei  Dragon Boat Festival in Dajia Park had something else to aid in a more recent tradition, the photo op! There was a full size dragon boat, surrounded by flowers and plants, in the middle of a grassy area of the park. Everyone could line up here to take family photos or selfies with the dragon boat behind them. I liked this photo that I took of Jeff with the dragon boat so much that it has been the wallpaper photo on my computer and iPad for the last month!

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Jeff is standing next to a dragon boat in Dajia Park at the Taipei Dragon Boat Festival

 

 

May 31 Harmony’s Dragon Boat Race, Tainan

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Harmony in the dragon boat with her NCKU teammates

Dragon boat races are always fun to watch, and this one was even more exciting since we knew one of the competitors! Dragon boat races are traditionally held as part of the annual Duanwu Festival in Taiwan and China.

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Sign alongside the river in Tainan

The date on which the dragon boat races are held is referred to as the “double fifth” since Duanwu is reckoned as the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. This usually falls in the Gregorian calendar month of June and occasionally in late May or early July. This year, it fell on the weekend of May 31-June 2. It was also a long weekend, with many people getting Monday June 2 off as a holiday.

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Cardboard Matsu temporary temple alongside the river in Tainan

You likely can’t tell from the photo above, but that is not a real temple. It was entirely made of cardboard! According to Harmony, there was a special blessing ceremony the day before the dragon races started, to guarantee that all would go well with the races.

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Harmony is pointing to her NCKU team on the competition schedule

The Tainan dragon boat races go on for three days. Every team that wins their race on Saturday advances to race again on Sunday, and the winners of Sunday’s races race again on Monday. Harmony’s NCKU student team had been practising, but Harmony did not think that they were going to advance. All of them were racing for the first time.

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Harmony is sitting with her team, waiting for their turn to row

The atmosphere alongside of the river where the dragon boat races were being held reminded me of a fairground. There were lots of vendors selling delicious snacks, many teams hanging out waiting to compete, and lots of people watching the races. It was also very, very hot and sunny, so I had to keep looking for shade so I would not get sunburned.

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Ann is waiting in the shade of a tree alongside of the river for Harmony’s dragon boat race to start

Dragon boat races have been held for over 2000 years throughout southern China. Dragon boat racing became an international sport, beginning in Hong Kong in 1976. It has become more and more popular since then.

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Harmony’s team has their life vests on, and is ready to row in their dragon boat race

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Close up photo of Harmony

For competition events, dragon boats are generally rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails. At other times (such as during training), decorative regalia is usually removed, although the drum often remains aboard for drummers to practice. The drummer beats the drum to give the rowers their rowing rhythm.

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Dragon Boats at starting dock for the race in Tainan

Harmony’s NCKU team ended up in the dragon boat that was the furthest away from us, on the far side of the river from where we were watching the races. It made it much more challenging to get good photos of her team!

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Looking up the river in Tainan where the races were being held

Harmony’s dragon boat was was very exciting! They did not win, but  it was still fun to watch!

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Harmony’s NCKU team rowing hard during their dragon boat race!

The photo below is a close up taken after the race.

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Harmony in a dragon boat after her race in Tainan

In the photo below, Harmony is holding up her competitor card from the Tainan Dragon Boat Festival.

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Harmony is holding up her competitor card from the Tainan Dragon Boat Festival

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Harmony with Jeff after the race

After the race, we went walking around the historic section of Tainan. Lobsters are not native to Taiwan, but I guess they ship them all the way from New England to this restaurant in Tainan!

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Jeff and Harmony are standing next to the sign with a very large lobster!

The crustacean in the photo below is one of the native type.

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Jeff is standing next to a much larger than life size sculpture of a native Taiwan crustacean

We were not hungry, as we had been snacking  on many things while watching the dragon races. But when we walked into a courtyard that had traditional Taiwan shaved ice desserts, we could not resist and ordered one. Taiwan shave ice dessert is just finely shaved ice, with molasses syrup poured over it, and many different toppings on top of the shaved ice. This one had the traditional sweet red beans and black chewy tapioca balls on top.

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Harmony with shaved ice

Jeff also had a bowl of noodles with some traditional toppings.

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Jeff and Ann with a bowl of noodles with traditional toppings

After we were finished eating, we walked to the famous historic Matsu Temple in Tainan. The goddess Matsu is one of the most important deities in Taiwan. As she is a Goddess of the Sea and Taiwan is an island, it is easy to understand why Matsu was so important to the Taiwanese people. It is estimated that there are 400 to 500 Matsu temples in Taiwan, but one of the oldest and most important is in downtown Tainan.

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Historic Matsu Temple in Tainan

Tainan Grand Matsu Temple was a palace before it was a temple. Zheng Chenggong’s (Koxinga’s) son, Zheng Jing, had it built for The Prince of Ningjing (Zhu Shugui) after inviting the Ming prince to take up residency in Taiwan. The palace was where the prince was living when he decided to take his own life, because the Ming dynasty was overthrown. When the Qing took over Taiwan, General Shi Lang took up residency in the palace. Later, in a political move, he petitioned the emperor to have the building converted into a temple dedicated to Matsu.

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Roof guardian dragons on top of the Matsu Temple in Tainan

The Grand Matsu Temple of Tainan was the first officially dedicated Matsu temple in Taiwan.  I noticed that all of the stone lion statues guarding the temple entrance were wearing red bows. Maybe this was because of the the Duanwu Dragon Festival celebration?

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Red bows on the stone statue of a lion guarding the entrance to the Matsu Temple in Tainan

Even the wooden crane statues inside the temple had been decorated with red bows!

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Red bow on the crane statue inside of the Matsu Temple in Tainan

We enjoyed touring the NCKU campus where Harmony was taking classes, and watching her compete in a dragon race with her fellow students. It was a fun trip to Tainan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 31 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan, Taiwan

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Harmony is standing next to a rock with Chinese characters carved into it in front of the building where she attends class at NCLU in Tainan

On our first weekend back in Taiwan, we headed down to Tainan to watch Harmony compete in a dragon boat race. Since her race did not start until the late afternoon, we spent the morning exploring the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) campus in Tainan. This is where Harmony has been attending classes for the past year.

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A sign near one of the entrances to the NCKU campus in Tainan

First, we had to navigate through the maze of bicycles and motor scooters lining the sidewalks between the train station and the campus entrance. There were so many bicycles parked on sections of this wide sidewalk that barely one person at a time could squeeze between!

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Harmony is standing on a section of sidewalk between the train station and the main entrance to the NCKU campus

National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) is a research and teaching university in Tainan.  In Chinese, its name is shortened to (Chéng Dà), and that is what Harmony always called it.  I did not realize that it had a much longer name until we came to visit the campus. National Cheng Kung University is named after Cheng Ch’eng-Kung  (also called Koxinga), the general who defeated the Dutch, and established Ming dynasty rule  in Taiwan.

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Harmony and Ann are standing on a shaded street inside of the NCKU campus

NCKU is considered of the most prestigious universities in Taiwan, with a  strong reputation in science, engineering, medicine, management, planning, and design. According to international rankings,  NCKU is ranked second or third among all universities in Taiwan. 

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Sculptures by the famous Taiwan artist Ju Ming outside of a building on the NCKU campus

NCKU is large; it has 9 colleges, 40 departments, 82 graduate institutes, and 54 research centers. NCKU is among the four universities of the Taiwan Comprehensive University System.

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Harmony is standing in front of another piece of sculpture on the NCKU campus

They changed the name of the college many times over the course of its history. National Cheng Kung University was originally established under Japanese occupation in January 1931 as Tainan Technical College.  After the end of the Japanese occupation, the school name was renamed to Taiwan Provincial Tainan Junior College of Technology in March 1946. Then the college was renamed the Taiwan Provincial College of Engineering in October of that same year.

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Jeff is standing next to another piece of sculpture on the NCKU campus

When the central government of the Republic of China moved to Taiwan from China in 1949, it was one of the three existing colleges in Taiwan. As the number of colleges expanded, it was upgraded to a provincial university in 1956 as Taiwan Provincial Cheng Kung University. In 1971 it became a national university, and the name was changed to its current one, the National Cheng Kung University.  I think that the man depicted in the campus sculpture below was contemplating why the college was renamed so frequently!

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Sculpture on the NCKU campus

There was also some student art on display at the NCKU campus. I am assuming that this “artistic” display of hanging bottles was supposed to be representative of something or some idea. But to me, it just looks like green bottles hanging on a rack.

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Student art display on the NCKU campus

Not far from it, there were yellow plastic crates stacked up. I think that this was also student “art” because food service workers would likely have just piled them up next to the building.

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Yellow plastic crates, likely part of a student art display on the NCKU campus

I am sure that there is some symbolism and meaning behind the plastic crates, but as there was no explanation I cannot provide any more information.

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Sculpture on the NCKU campus

The NCKU campus is located completely inside of the city of Tainan. But with all of the beautiful landscaping around the buildings,  it does not feel like a city college.

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A beautiful pond, with a central island and fountains inside of the NCKU campus

There was also something very unusual on the NCKU campus; a partial section of an old city wall. This wall section is part of the old wall that used to enclose the city of Tainan. I first thought that maybe it was there because the campus was originally next to part of the old city wall. But that was not the case. Instead, the reason that the old wall section was there on campus is because it was relocated to the campus to preserve it.

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Harmony and Jeff are standing next to a cannon in front of a section of the old historic Tainan city wall on the NCKU campus

This section of the historic city wall must have been moved here quite awhile ago. The tree roots on the other side of the wall are substantial, so they have been growing there for some time!

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The other side of a section of the old historic Tainan city wall on the NCKU campus

The NCKU campus had a building with a museum inside that told about the history of the university. It was open, so we went inside to cool down and spend some time in the air conditioning. We also learned a lot about the history of the university from the exhibits inside of the museum.

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Ann and Harmony are standing in front of the building on the NCKU campus that houses the museum telling about the history of the university

Most of the exhibits had signs written in both English and Chinese, so I could read them. That meant I could include a lot more information about the university in this entry of my blog!

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Harmony is sitting at a desk used by a former president of National Cheng Kung University, in the history museum on campus

There were lots of these beautiful trees with yellow flowers on the NCKU campus. I also saw them around the city of Tainan. I think that they are Delonix regia var. flavida, which is a yellow-flowered variety of a popular tropical tree, and also the official tree of Tainan.

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Flowering yellow trees on the NCKU campus, probably Delonix regia var. flavida 

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Another pond in a garden area on the NCKU campus

I enjoyed getting to see the university that Harmony has been attending for the past year in Tainan. It was a great way to spend the morning while we were waiting for her dragon boat race to start!

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Harmony is sitting under a tree on the NCKU campus in Tainan

 

 

June 6 Computex, Taipei

As a person who enjoys learning about new technology, I always enjoy Computex. You can see lots of interesting, cool, (and sometimes odd) things.

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Jeff is standing with three show girls at Computex 2014 in Taipei

Computex takes place in Taipei the first week of June every year. The show is so big that it occupies both convention centers; the big one in Nangong, and the smaller one next to Taipei 101 in Shilin district.

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State-of-the-art toy 

Computex is always fun to attend, because it is where major international brands to announce new products, new technology, and new trends.

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Jeff is testing some glasses at Computex

Jeff attends Computex every year because it is important in his business. Now that we live in Taipei, it is also easier for me to go to Computex. So we spent a Saturday seeing the show. There was lots of interesting technologies to learn about, fascinating products in some display booths, and it was air-conditioned inside of the convention center!

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Jeff is standing next to a Dell sign at Computex

Here is some statistical information about Computex Taipei 2014 from the official website.

COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2014 attracted 38,662 international buyers from 166 countries, an overall 1% growth. The top 10 nations by turnout were: China, USA, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Germany, and Russia. There were notable increases in visitors from China (15% growth from last year), UAE (22% growth) and the Philippines (19% growth). It is projected that total visitor count for all five days will be over 130,000.

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Jeff is holding a cupcake with a Dell flag on it at Computex

There were over 45 new product announcements held during the show and many ideas and innovations were showcased.

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Jeff is holding a t-shirt that he won, standing next to a red mustang in the Ford exhibit area at Computex

Ford showed off its Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication technology. Its smart V2V technology can prevent accidents due to embedded ICT that lets cars interact with other cars so drivers can sense through their cars pile-up and traffic jams ahead. Ford also used this show to introduce to Taiwan its Emergency Assistance onboard (basically, like the GM Onstar service.) Jeff also won a Ford tshirt by answering questions about the Ford Mustang car on display. It was a medium size shirt, so it became one of my tshirts.

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Jeff is holding up a motherboard and a very small PC from an exhibitor at Computex

The internet of things (computers embedded in appliances, etc.)and wearable devices were big this year at Computex. And there are always some things that are puzzling. Is the large mouse statue in the photo below with the skull on its belly supposed to be cute or scary?

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Jeff is standing next to a statue of a large plastic mouse at Computex

I learned about gorilla glass, made by Corning and used in tablets, smart phones, etc. Corning is now making glass that is more flexible (less likely to break or scratch) and anti-microbial. We also learned about 4K screen protocol and technology.

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Jeff is discussing new 4K screen technology with an exhibitor at Computex

Computex presented  the development and innovation gold award to five companies; GP Acoustics (UK) Ltd. for its X300A Wireless digital Hi-Fi speaker system; Philips for Philips Two-in-One Design, dual 19-inch display; HTC for the HTC Dot View case; Taer Innovation Co., Ltd. for Cylinder, the cell phone car holder and Thermaltake Technology Co., Ltd. for Level 10 M Hybrid mouse. I know that we looked at some of these new technologies at the show.

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Ann is pointing to some 3D printer produced plastic shells

A total of 75 winning products were chosen for awards from 288 product entries. The computer case in the photo below won an award, and it was one of the prettiest (and cool) computer cases that I have ever seen. With all of the clear plastic, you can see the computer “innards” inside of the case!

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Ann is standing next to an award winning computer case

There was lots of soft serve ice cream being handed out by exhibitors  in many of the display areas. I ended up having ice cream for lunch, as I was given four cones from various exhibitors!

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Ann is eating ice cream at Computex

The technology behind laser/digital screens interactions was explained to us by this exhibitor. This technology is used for target practice and interactive displays. It also gave Jeff an opportunity to try it out with a laser gun!

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Jeff is trying out a laser gun technology at an exhibit at Computex

There are always many different gimmicks by exhibitors used to get people into your booth or display area. there are contests with prizes (mostly chatkas) given away, and shows. There are lots of pretty girls in skimpy costumes (and plenty of guys walking around with cameras talking photos of them!) This year, there was even an exhibitor with slot machines in their display area to entice people in. I gave one a spin, and won………………. another ice cream cone!

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Ann is getting ready to play a slot machine in an exhibit at Computex

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Moon Bridge in Dahu Park

This last photo was taken at night during this week in June. I wanted to include it in this blog to show why the bridge in Dahu Park is called the Moon Bridge! It also shows off Jeff’s great photography skills!

May 18-23 Tiffany’s Visit to Andover, Massachusetts

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Ann, Jeff, Sharon and Tiffany enjoy a New England lobster dinner

We were fortunate to get to visit with my niece Tiffany Lu when she came up to stay with us for two weeks in May. Naturally, we celebrated with a New England tradition, a lobster dinner hosted by Sharon and Dan.

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Tiffany “biting” into a lobster, and Sharon

Lobster comes back into season in May, so Tiffany picked a great time to come for a visit! She was actually in the area to attend a conducting class up in New Hampshire, an d a friend’s wedding.

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Dan and Ann getting ready to eat lobster

We took her on a hike up  Ward Hill in Andover. The view was great, but the mosquitoes were terrible!

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Tiffany and Ann at the top of Ward Hill in Andover

For some reason, they were trying to bite Jeff more than Tiffany and me. We decided to trying hiking somewhere else to get away from the mosquitoes!

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Jeff hides in his jacket from the mosquitoes!

We went hiking in the Phillips Academy Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary instead. It did not have the swarms of spring mosquitoes that were present at Ward Hill.

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Stone gate entrance to the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary at Phillips Academy in Andover

The sanctuary was very green and pretty, with lots of flowering mountain laurels and rhododendron bushes alongside of the trail.

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Tiffany and Ann are walking on a path in the sanctuary

Massachusetts often has a short spring season, but there are always lots of flowers blooming during those few weeks of the year!

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Flowers blooming on bushes along the trail

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Flowers blooming on bushes along the trail

The sanctuary has 65 acres of land, with several small ponds.

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Ann and Tiffany are looking at a pond in the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary

It was definitely still jacket weather in Massachusetts!

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Tiffany wearing her jacket for the hike in the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary

Another view of the pond in the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Photo of a pond in the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary

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Flowering bush in the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary

We ended our hike with a dinner at Fuddruckers, where Jeff decided to order (and eat!) a giant hamburger! That is the 1 pound of beef burger that he is biting into in the photo below!

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Jeff bites into a 1 lb Fuddruckers hamburger!

Afterwards, we walked around downtown Andover

2014-05-23 16-14-00

Tiffany and Ann are standing on Main Street in downtown Andover, MA

We ended the day enjoying some frozen yogurt. In New England, it is never too cold to eat ice cream or frozen yogurt!

2014-05-23 15-57-04

Ann is eating frozen yogurt