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June 25, 2005

Taipei Landmarks - Haagen Dazs in Taipei 101

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Yes, that is Bill Clinton over my shoulder.
Notice his math is as good as his character.
(I'm sorry. I forgot this is NOT a political blog.)

Posted by Dan at 10:08 AM

Taipei 101 - Worlds Tallest Building

Yes, I know. This is just a "proof I was there" photograph.
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They advertise it only takes 37 seconds to get to the 89th Floor Observatory.
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I measured it at 45 seconds and you could hardly feel the acceleration or deceleration.
Yes, that is the cost, 350NTD for the ride. About 12USD.

View West.
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A panoramic photo with an index of features.
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"Big Blue", IBM, is located in the big brown building to the North East.
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Artistic view, NE.
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Posted by Dan at 09:19 AM

June 24, 2005

Cons Truction

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Pros Truction coming soon for those in favor of Truction.

Posted by Dan at 11:45 PM

National Central Library and More

The day started off with a visit to the National Central Library in Taipei.
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They have a bilingual card and computer system. You can get a temporary pass, to get in, by showing a passport.

I then went shopping near by for a dizi. I have a two-piece dizi and I was looking for a one piece. I found one in a store with no English name but roughly translated to "harbour wisdom" near the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
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That's the hall through the arch on the right.

Then I went to another store to buy two VCDs of famous dizi players, Lu Chun Ling and Yu Xun Fa.
Leaving the store, I met an unusually tall girl.
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Taipei 101, Taipei Financial Center, is currently the tallest building in the world.
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It's not so big.
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A view of "101" at night.
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Dinner at "Dublin Teppanyaki Restuarant"
The French goose foie gras was heavenly.
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Seated (L-R): Yang-Tze, Mai-Chi, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Ti-Kang, Bao-Meei, me.
Standing (L-R): Chin-Der, Chia-Ling, Chiao-Lung
(Sorry if I transcribed someones name wrong.)

Owner and chef of "Dublin Teppanyaki Restuarant"
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Did I detect a slight Irish brogue?

Posted by Dan at 11:01 PM

June 23, 2005

Taipei Landmarks - 7-Eleven

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Posted by Dan at 09:36 AM

Taipei Temple Tour

Today is "visit as many temples as you can" day. We start with Lung Shan Temple.
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This area used to be a seedy tourist trap, now it is a sterile tourist trap. There are now gates around the temple with a park across the street with undergound parking. Snake Alley (Hua Hsi Street) is now covered and most of the snakes are gone. I was hoping to drink some snake blood in wine followed by some gall bile in wine. I didn't and was disappointed.

However, there is now a pond with fish inside the temple grounds.
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These carp were huge, at least two feet long.

We then walked West to Lane 253 to visit Chi Tian Gung.
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This is a small Matzu temple dating from 1846.

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Next we found a treasure, Ching Shan Gung.
General Chang graces the main altar. He was the mayor of Quanzhou, Fujian, China during the Three Kingdom period.
His administrative skills and fairness endeared himself to the local population.
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He is believed to occupy a position "on the other side" as High Justice of the Underworld, and his aid in worldly matters is considered powerful.

This temple was built in 1856.
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It is hiding behind a "modern" building. There are three floors of elaborately carved and gilded alters accommodating other deities.
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Even the roof line is majestic.
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Carved door guard, instead of a painted one.
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The mayor was honored for many centuries and then, one day, a strange tablet was discovered at his tomb, requesting that the new Sung dynasty move his remains to a place called Ching Shan. Thus, the name, for you with inquisitive minds.

We also visited King of Hell Temple, Ching Shuei Tzu Shr Miau, and another Matzu temple we passed on our walk the the Ximen MRT train station.

We skipped Fu De Gung and Lung Jing Gung because Rosa's shoes were falling apart.

Oh, I almost forgot. We visited Ji Yi Gung on our way the the Wan Hua Train Station to get Rosa's shoe fixed. I told Rosa that Mr. Shu has a shop there where he fixes shoes. We did find him but the fix didn't last.

Posted by Dan at 07:43 AM

June 22, 2005

Taipei Landmarks - Starbucks

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Posted by Dan at 08:36 PM

Shiue Hai (Sea of Learning) Academy

Here I am, with my book bag, waiting for the gates to open at the Shiue Hai Academy. I came to learn Confucian manners, morals, penmanship and a grasp of the classics. I want to learn to become a gentleman at Taiwan's first school of higher learning.
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But, alas, I'm too late. It was closed down in 1895 when the Japen annexed Taiwan and it never opened again, ending a 2000-year tradition. The Academy is now the Gau Family Shrine and residence. I wonder if it is also the home of "General Gau's Chicken".

These door gods, I think it is General Ching and General Wei, guarded the slumbering students emperor during the Tang dynasty.
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The story goes something like this. Emperor Tang Tai-Tzung had agreed to help a dragon king, who hadd fallen afoul of heaven by some horrible misdeed. The dragon was to be executed for his crime, but since earthly emperors can influence the affairs of heaven, the dragon had hopes of clemency. However, the emperor fell into a deep sleep during which he dreamed of the death of the dragon, which actually did occur as he slept. The dragon's ghost came back with a vengeance, and night after night it didn't allowed the emperor any sleep.
Two of his fiercest generals were summoned one night to stand guard at the bedroom door and frighten away the dragon's ghost. It worked. In order that his generals could also get some sleep at night, Tang Tai-Tzung ordered that their images be painted on his big double doors. The trick worked. Today, all temples use door gods to frighten away malevolent spirits.

Left side eave and column relief.
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I'll have to ask Mr. Gau Jing-Hung about this motif at one of the clan meetings.

Posted by Dan at 09:42 AM

June 21, 2005

The National Palace Museum

Today, Rosa and I visited The National Palace Museum, 221 Chinshan Road, Section 2. We took bus #285 and transferred to bus #255 which dropped us off at the base of the hill where the treasures are stored. The best picture of the building is the billboard because of all the construction.
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Starting June 1st, 2005, photographs are not allowed to be taken any longer. Before then, photo taking was allowed but no flash. People used flash, so, now no camera pictures.

The following pictures were taken surreptitiously.

This reminds me that in four weeks I'll be camping in the Adirondack mountains and canoeing in it's lakes and streams and "viewing the streams and hills".
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The museum is open from 09:00 to 17:00 year round. The Shilin Train Station is the closest MRT station and bus #255 will take you back and forth.

This reminds me, I need to buy food for the camping trip or buy a bow and arrows.
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The museum was openned in 1965.

This reminds me, I need to get the truck checked-out before I attach the canoe trailer to it.
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Only about a twentieth of the treasures are displayed at any one time, so, multiple trips to the museum over the years are required to see it all.

This reminds me, I need to pack the hammocks we will be sleeping in. (They require the use of two trees, usually "twin pines".)
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All the treasures were the property of the emperor or high ranking nobles. And, only the best of the best are displayed.

This reminds me, don't forget to bring Rosa on the camping/canoe trip.
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Admission to the museum is only 100 NT and, at 10 AM and 3 PM, there are 1 1/2 hour tours in English.

Posted by Dan at 09:00 AM

June 20, 2005

On The Lighter Side

After the swim, we visited the hilltop Chungcheng Park, crowned by a white 74-foot (23-metre) statue of Kuan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. You can enjoy the view of Keelung harbour from windows inside the hollow statue. Around the base of the statue, there are statues of vererable buddists. Or, are they taoists?. Being a taoist, but not a statue yet, I posed with some of them.
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Kuan Yin, Rosa and I.
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Posted by Dan at 10:26 PM

Ocean "Beach" Swim

Today we spend the "day at the beach". Well the day started at 1530 because the sun was too strong earlier, and the beach is solid rock.
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Ye Ol' Swimmin' Hole is just West of Keelung, on the North shore of Taiwan. It is a free beach. The beach at Green Bay (Feitsueiwan), further West, costs $$$. This spot is sheltered from the ocean swells.
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Two beach bums.
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The diving spot is a little futher out on the rocks.
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Two bathing beauties with require equipment - hat, goggles, and suit.
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I'm about to show off, to the crowd, my famous back dive. BTW, that is a gasoline tank in the background and high-tension wires behind it. Nice combination for the wettest area in Taiwan prone to lightning storms.
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But, because I never dived here before and I didn't know how deep the water was, I chose to do the "Chicken Stance" dive.
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Next year, a swim to Turtle Island anyone?
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Posted by Dan at 12:22 AM

June 19, 2005

Birthday of Shia Hai Cheng Huang (City God)

Four pilgrams land at Da Dau Cheng Wharf on their way to Shia Hai City God Temple (Cheng Huang Miau) to celerbrate the birthday of Shia Hai on the 13th day of the 5th lunar month.
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Now, if I have my story right, Shia Hai was the protector of Tongan, Fujian, China, before immigants brought his image over and built a temple in the town of Manka, now called Wan Hua, which is now a section of Taipei, south of where we are standing. That temple was burned down by competitors and thirty-eight Tongan defenders were killed bringing the god's image out of Manka to its present location in Da Dau Cheng (big courtyard for drying rice). The temple was first completed in 1859 and since has been refurbished. (The original image, from 1821, was lost.) The Danshui River silted up at Manka and the wharf at Da Dau Cheng brought prosperity because if was further downstream.

The temple, on Ti Hua Street, is small because it is built on a "chicken cave" location. Or, was it "beehive cave? Those are a geomantic calculation terms, for those who don't remember your terms. The temple is easily covered with signs.
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Picture from the inernet.
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Fireworks were laid out in the street and lit to ward off evil spirits before some tall well wishers came to wish Shia Hai "Happy Birthday!" Somewhere, someone was actually playing the Happy Birthday music.
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As the fireworks errupted, I had to turn away. I could feel the fireworks bouncing off my back and head. When it got a little quieter, I turned around and snapped a picture. All I could see was smoke. The camera saw better.
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Well wisher number one. I'll have to find out his name. I asked but his ears were too high to hear.
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Well wisher number two. Same problem asking for his name.
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A quick check to see if my feet are still where they should be.
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Posted by Dan at 02:47 AM