TRAVEL: Taipei, Taiwan in 72 hours (1/3)

September 20-23, 2015

Map of Taiwan (courtesy of Nations Online Project)

Map of Taiwan (courtesy of Nations Online Project)

Attractions

  • Mengjia Longshan Temple (龍山寺)
  • Ximending (西門町)
  • Red House (西門紅樓)
  • National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂)
  • National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine (國民革命忠烈祠)
  • Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)

During the end of September 2015, we found ourselves an opportunity to visit Taipei in Taiwan for three days before heading to Hong Kong for a major family gathering. After hearing so much about Taipei from one of my classmates, I was decidedly excited to see and experience for myself the Taiwanese culture and history. September is one of the better times to go; the weather starts to cool off although there may be a typhoon.

We stayed three nights (September 20-22) at the Park City Hotel- Luzhou Taipei located above the Saint Ignatius High School subway exit. The hotel room is very clean and the hotel offers free self-service laundry facility, which we used before we left for Hong Kong on the 23rd. Upon our arrival to the hotel after the 12-hour flight on September 20th, we were too early to check in so we stored our luggage with the hotel staff. We then washed up and refreshed ourselves before heading down to the subway.

At the station, we purchased Easy Cards for each member of the family. Each card requires a $100 deposit of national Taiwan dollars and then you may add your desired monetary amount to the card. It saves time from having to buy a fare for each trip on the subway. See the Taipei Rapid Transit website for more information. On our trip, we deposited $2000 national Taiwan dollars total and this covered the entirety of our trip and the bus ride to Jiufen (side trip on September 21).

We took the subway to the Mengjia Longshan Temple (龍山寺), a temple that was damaged during World War II but renovated to its current revered state. The elaborately carved dragons guard the tiled roofs.

Longshan Temple

Inside, one can see people praying and chanting. There are also several Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian statues. There are deity charms and jade bracelets in the temple shop. It was definitely worth visiting.

Longshan Temple

 

Longshan Temple

After exploring the temple and paying our respects, we walked to the Ximending (西門町) district along the busy streets. On the way there, we encountered the red-bricked buildings of Bopiliao Historical Block (剝皮寮歷史街區).

Old Taipei Street

It was still early in the morning and some shops were in the process of opening. We were lucky that a pork and beef jerky shop had just prepared a fresh batch of jerky when we popped in to buy some for ourselves and relatives.

Fresh Jerky

We continued our trek and browsed a couple of the shops and temples, until we finally reached Ximending (西門町)— a popular district for fashion, hip bars, and other trendy shops.

Streets of Taipei

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Resolutions for 2017

Resolutions for 2017

2016 was a challenging year, in terms of life and work. I changed jobs but had to adjust to the new work culture and how to handle different colleagues. I determined what steps I wanted to take for my future. I bonded closer with my family and extended family. I used the time I have off to do what I need to achieve my goals and to maintain my well-being. I bonded closer with friends and got started on a story collaboration that will be coming in the future. There are still multiple things to accomplish so hopefully things keep on coming in 2017.

  1. Exercise regularly (at least 3-4 times per week).
  2. Continue to face difficult situations and once done, it’s done.
  3. Learn Mandarin Chinese.
  4. Draw or write at least once a week. [Including blog posts]
  5. Reduce the amount of possessions and unused items (physically and digitally).
    [I have already eliminated my Crunchyroll subscription so I resolve not to watch too much Japanese Anime this year]
  6. Read regularly and complete the 2017 Popsugar reading challenge.

Arts: 12-16-16 teamLab exhibit: Living Digital Space & Future Parks at the PACE gallery

After seeing our acquaintance’s bedazzled photos on Instagram, I went with Taki to explore a futuristic exhibit of art by teamLab, an art collective made up of artists, engineers, programmers, CG animators, mathematicians, and architects originally based in Tokyo, Japan. They now have offices in Singapore and Shanghai. The group focuses on creating their digital art to “expand art” beyond the 2-D form and to change the relationships among people, who view the artwork (see their Concept page for more information).

At the PACE art + technology gallery in Menlo Park, CA, they presented the “Living Digital Space & Future Parks” exhibit from February 6 to December 18, 2016. The exhibit consisted of twenty digital art installations, specifically the Crystal Universe, Black Waves in Infinity, Black Waves, Flowers and People; Ever Blossoming Life II, Flowers and People – A Whole Year per Hour, Crows are Chased and the Crows are Destined to be Chased as Well; Cold Life, Universe of Water Particles, and Flower and Corpse Glitch Set of 12.

What stood out to me while looking at the installations was how they appealed to your senses and presence. For example, in Flowers and People, the artwork is rendered in real time by a computer program. Depending on the proximity of a person to the installation, the flowers bud, grow, bloom, and wither away. This interaction with the artwork is quite appealing.

PACE exhibit Living Digital Space & Future Parks

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Travels in Italy 2015: Overview

Regions of Italy

Regions of Italy (courtesy of World Atlas)

During our trip with Trafalgar, we explored several different regions of Italy in 14 days. After the tour, we spent 4 additional days in Rome on our own. Below is our itinerary.
Key: [region]

 

References

Italy Guides. (n.d.). ItalyGuides.it: A Sightseeing Revolution – A Virtual Travel of Italy. Retrieved from http://www.italyguides.it/en/

Machiavelli, F., Martin, S., Townsend, H., & Tyrrell, N. (Eds.). (2014). Italy. New York, NY: DK Eyewitness Travel.

Rick Steves. (n.d.). Italy Travel Guide by Rick Steves. Retrieved from https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/italy

Italy

Travels in Italy: Lazio – Ostica Antica, an ancient Roman harbor (June 2, 2015)

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Ostica Antica was Rome’s main harbor for more than 600 years until commercial competition brought the city into decline. The city was well preserved by silt. As far as the eye can see, the main street was the Decumanus Maximus and the ruins of the buildings were those of multi-story apartments complete with shops, baths, and bars on the ground floor. It was undoubtedly very cosmopolitan for its time. Continue reading

Travels in Italy: Lazio – Rome the Eternal City Part II (May 31 & June 1-4, 2015)

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Attractions:

  • Piazza Navona
  • Castel Sant’Angelo
  • Pantheon
  • Bartolucci (Pinnochio shop)
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Piazza de Popolo
  • Spanish Steps
  • San Lorenzo Church
  • Roman Forum
  • Museum Capitalino
  • Ostia Antica (June 2)
  • San Luigi dei Francesi Church
  • Santa Maria della Vittoria

Piazza Navona

From May 31 to June 4, we stayed at a boutique hotel in Piazza Navona, the district within walking distance of St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo. The area is very peaceful and away from most of the busy tourist crowds. The Piazza contains fountains and buildings that are influenced by the Baroque style. Several cafes line the Piazza and provide an interesting place to people watch and observe street artists. We had lunch at a pasta shop. The pasta is cooked al dente—the noodles were not as soft but the sauce was rich and flavorful.

Pantheon

On May 31, we visited the Pantheon, which is located in the financial and governmental district of Rome. The Pantheon is a well-preserved building from 1st century AD.

Oculus of the Pantheon

The circular oculus of the Pantheon has inspired several neo-classical, governmental buildings in America.

Bartolucci workworking company

Next as we wandered the streets nearby the Pantheon, we visited Bartolucci – a renowned woodwork company by Francesco Bartolucci. This woodwork shop has an exhibit of Pinocchio (the famous marionette puppet story) complete with Geppetto’s workshop.  All the pieces in the shop are handcrafted in Italy. Continue reading

Travels in Italy: Lazio – Rome the Eternal City Part I (May 19-20 & 30, 2015)

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Attractions:

  • Colosseum
  • Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
  • Vatican Museum
  • Peter’s Basilica & Pietá

Upon our arrival in Rome on May 19, we were given an introductory tour of the city by our Trafalgar Tour Director, Vittorio; we passed by major landmarks, such as the Colosseum, Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, and the Roman Forum and Circus Maximus. Afterwards, we rested and ate at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner.

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The following day on May 20, we began the tour with an early visit to Vatican—the world center of Catholicism. Vatican City is a sovereign state that has a population of about 500 and its own facilities, such as post office, banks, judicial system, radio station, shops, newspaper, and currency.

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The Vatican Museum houses the treasures of art by Michelangelo, Raphael, and other famous artists. Of course, we visited the Sistine Chapel but unfortunately photos were not allowed in the esteemed room. In the same area, St. Peter’s Cathedral is located beyond the Piazza San Pietro. We would visit this site near the end of our tour. Continue reading

Travels in Italy: Tuscany – Siena (May 30, 2015)

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Attractions:

  • Piazzo del Campo
    • Palazzo Pubblico
    • Fonte Gaia
  • Duomo
Map of Tuscany (Tuscana) region of Italy (courtesy of Google Images)

Map of Tuscany (Tuscana) region of Italy (courtesy of Google Images)

We stopped briefly at Siena on our way back to Rome. This hillside town is where horse races took place. We entered the town at the Piazza del Campo, where we admired the medieval Palazzo Pubblico’s bell tower and the Fonte Gaia.

Interior of Palazzo Pubblico

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We briefly stopped in a café for a latte. Afterwards, we explored the narrow streets. Old buildings lined the street and displayed brightly colored flags with animal symbols; each flag symbolizes the ancient rivalries of the influential families of the town. Continue reading