Friday, July 24, 2009

Taiwan to Hong Kong

Taiwan was a great time with Derek, Ed and Ashley. This baseball game was super cool to see. Cheering the entire game is normal in Taiwan.
We are now in Hong Kong. This was on the first day when we walked all over and went to the top of Victoria Peak.

Then we went to Aberdeen on the other side of the island to see the floating village. It wasn't really much to see but the boat ride was cool and the apartment buildings are just insane. The contrast between people living on simple boats compared to people living on the 30th floor of a building is dramatic.

This is the view from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island at night. They have a music/light show daily which was very colorfull. This city is amazing, chaotic, and one of the most amazing places on this entire trip.

We stayed at very simple hotel the first two nights for $40 per night. Then we moved because the hotel wouldn't let us book for 3 more nights at the same rate. I found this hotel on Hong Kong Island for $50 per night with a pool. The elevator jammed on our way up to the room. It was actually scarey and we were in there for five minutes until we pried the door open and climbed out a few inches above one of the floors. The manager then upgraded our room to the Executive level. The view is unreal and the room is perfect. Today we barely left the room. We just read and drank coffee while looking up occasionaly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

True Taiwan Travel

Going South on the train.

Huge river channels flow out of the mountains every so often.  These must be raging at times.

Taiwan is hot and therefore has huge bugs.  Stacey has been bit by hundreds of mosquitoes.

This is how the average Taiwanese dresses on the hottest day of the year and doesn't even break a sweat.  I have no idea how this is possible but it is of course opposite of what you would do.

We rented a scooter and drove to the Taroko Gorge National Park.  The road was insane and amazing.  The way people drive was even more insane and amazing they are not all dead.  This is the best place we have seen in Taiwan.

This is a temple for all the people who died building the road.  It has been wiped out by land slides 3 times.  

Derek came down and we went cruising up the mountain to the clouds and the cold air.

Driving in the clouds.

This was a crazy little cable tram that was being used to transport cabbage from a different mountain or valley to where this picture was taken.  It had a wild pulley system and a man operating the engines while smoking and chewing bettel nut.

The views in the mountains were so good and not hot.

We found a nice little swim hole and had it all to ourselves.  

This is the rafting operation: boats being towed, little red boat getting ready to ram a boat to shore, no splash wars because the boats are too far apart, and no one paddling with their tiny paddles.

The people we went rafting with drove us to the next town and took us to get some fresh ice cream at a famous dairy.  Taiwanese people are the most generous of all the people we have met so far. 
Derek, Stacey and I enjoyed a few wheat beers for my 27th revolution around the sun.

We have been traveling along the East Coast of Taiwan for the past week.  We have seen lots of beautiful scenery, rented a scooter, drove the scooter up to 2, 600 meters above sea level, seen a 3,000 year old tree, slept in 92 degree hotel rooms, passed out from the heat, laid around all day watching movies due to the rain, traveled on a train with standing room only, and made new friends while rafting on my birthday. 

The rafting part was completely opposite from what you would imagine.  We are on the opposite side of the world, what else would you expect but the opposite.  There were about 200 people there and no guides in the boats.  We were given paddles about the size of your hand.  We didn't even need paddles because instead of having guides that ster you, they had 10 guys in inflatable boats with motors that would ram you out of the way of danger.  They even towed us through the rough sections because they knew that no one was capable of making it through.  The Taiwanese are not into rafting for the thrill, they are in it to get wet and splash the other boaters.  We experience 3.5 hours of constant splash wars even through the roughest sections with 5 and 6 foot waves.  I think I had my eyes shut for over half of the trip. It was completely shocking and a great experience.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taiwan is on the Tropic of Cancer

Currently we are staying with Derek for a few days in Ilan, just east of Taipei.  He lives next door to his school.  He is on welcome duty this week and he has to open the car doors for the kids arriving at school.  He can say anything he wants because they don't have a clue what he just said.  He loves it!
4th of July in Taipei, Taiwan with a bunch of Americans that teach English.  Ed's world is much different than yours.
We went out to the Taiwan Beer Factory.  They throw a huge party every weekend evening and it was a good time.
Stacey and I cruised the streets a few times in Taipei.  The heat here is making it hard to do things day or night.  I shower at least two times per day and usually three.  The bikes bring some breeze and I figured out how to lock the bikes without a cable.
Very large memorial to Chang.
We went to the big night market and it was full of people and stuff.  There are so many little stores along here it would take forever to see them all.  The smells are very unique too.