2014年2月17日 星期一

Not So Festive Lanterns


Last weekend was Lantern Festival 元宵節, so there were fireworks exploding all over town.  We dragged ourselves downtown to see this year's lanterns, but as it turned out there wasn't much to see.  Only six lanterns in all, and some of them were broken!

We also passed by the Triangle Park while the big "fireworks fight" was going on, but this year's crowd wasn't half as large as last year's.  Last year's Lantern Festival transformed the entire city into a single, massive traffic jam, but this time around most roads were clear.  Apparently the Taitung County Government 台東縣政府 has decided not to funnel so much money into this festival, and this may be why this event was so distinctly unimpressive.

Aside from the haphazard viewing of local religious festivals, I didn't do a whole lot last weekend.  I dusted off my road bike and rode up the coast on Saturday, and on Sunday I did laps on my mountain bike behind the Forest Park 森林公園.  I would have loved to go swimming, but the weather is still too cold.  After the amount of eating I did on Chinese New Year, exercising seems like the right thing to do.

   
I've been watching a lot of movies too.  On Saturday I watched 1982's "Swamp Thing," and on Sunday I watched 2004's "Catwoman."  "Swamp Thing" still holds up pretty well, despite the fact that it's now 32 years old.  "Catwoman," a much more recent production, is so bad that it's good.  I loved the part where the cats bring Halle Berry back to life, and Benjamin Bratt's character has to be the most clueless detective ever.  We need more superhero(ines) to save us from dangerous beauty products.  This is a niche market that The Avengers have yet to consider.

In more personal news, I've had more than one friend mention the word "divorce" lately.  While everyone's situation is different, I can't help but wonder at the coincidental fact that three (count 'em, three!) different people mentioned marital difficulties in the same, two-week timeframe.  Is it some kind of vibe I'm giving off?  Something inappropriate that I'm saying?  Something related to Valentine's Day?

Anyway, I've got a race in Guanshan 關山 this weekend, followed by a trip to Kaohsiung 高雄.  Hope you all had a good Lantern Festival, even if you were far removed from lanterns, fireworks and festivals.  Spring is here, and there are many reasons to be happy.


Related Entries:

Keelung 基隆 and Uninterrupted Sunshine
Happy Year of the Horse! 馬年快樂 (中)
Shuang Liou Forest Recreation Area 雙流森林遊樂區
Intro 6

2014年2月13日 星期四

Keelung 基隆 and Uninterrupted Sunshine

Keelung River

During most of Chinese New Year we stayed in my brother-in-law's house.  He lives in Bai Fu 百福, a small community south of Keelung City 基隆市.

We drove to his house from Taitung City 台東市.  We crossed the mountains on the Southern Cross-Island Highway 南迴, and from Ping Tung County 屏東縣 we took Freeway 1 all the way up to Bai Fu.  The traffic going north was very light, but there were many traffic jams going south.  Traffic was at a standstill north of Kaohsiung 高雄, Taichung 台中, and Hsinchu 新竹, and I was very glad we were going the opposite direction.

One of many abandoned factories in Bai Fu

During our stay in Bai Fu, we left our car parked near my brother-in-law's house.  Neither my wife nor I had any desire to drive around that part of Taiwan.  Instead we took trains, taxis, or the MRT.  My brother-in-law's house is not far from the train station, and it was only a few train stops away from Nan Gang 南港, the nearest MRT stop.

We spent a lot of time walking around the Xin Yi Shopping District 信義商圈 in Taipei.  This is something we do every time we're there.  They opened up a new Krispy Kreme near the 101 building, and the lines in front of that place were unbelievably long.  All that waiting in line for donuts.  Why?

The "Little Yellow Duck"

We also had dinner at my wife's aunt's (aunt-in-law's?) apartment near the Jong Shiao 中蕭 Sogo.  My wife's aunt is a tailor, and it was a bit crowded in her little shop.  Altogether there were 12 of us trying to eat a large dinner in that little workshop.  My wife's uncle (uncle-in-law?) is a good cook, but it was hard to get comfortable.

On the day before we drove back to Taitung, we went to Keelung City, and it was astonishingly crowded.  Even the train to get there was packed, and there were so many people going to Keelung that the trains were all running behind schedule.  It is only four stops from Bai Fu to Keelung Station, but just going four stops away took us nearly one hour.

Downtown Keelung
   
And why was it so crowded, you ask?  It was so crowded because the "little yellow duck" - really a giant, inflatable duck - now resides at Keelung Port.  A lot of people felt an uncontrollable desire to be near this duck, and this is why I might as well have walked there.

While in Keelung, we visited the Yangming Oceanic Culture and Art Museum 陽明海洋文化藝術館, which was surprisingly interesting.    We also ate lunch in a coffee shop, walked through the terrifyingly crowded Temple Night Market 基隆廟口夜市, and had Western food at another restaurant before fighting our way back onto the train.  The crowds were thick everywhere except the museum, and by the time we finally got back to Bai Fu we were all exhausted, and in desperate need of showers.

The temple for which the  night market is named.

On the following day we drove back to Taitung, a trip that took us 7.5 hours.  The traffic from Bai Fu to Hualien City 花蓮市 was not bad, but the traffic from Hualien City to Taitung City was terrible.  We would have made much better time if I'd taken Highway 11 instead of Highway 9, but I had no way of knowing this at the time.

All in all it was a good trip, and a pleasant Chinese New Year.  I enjoyed Keelung and Taipei, and I am getting to know Keelung much better.  I spent a lot of time walking around Bai Fu, and aside from the high rainfall it seems like a nice place to live.

Keelung Night Market

Related Entries:

Happy Year of the Horse! 馬年快樂 (中)
Shuang Liou Forest Recreation Area 雙流森林遊樂區

Water Running Up 水往上流
Taiwan by the Numbers: People