Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pretty Place

Oh the places I have gone and the things I've seen since my last post. I won't bore you with wordy details or to many pictures. I just wanted to share a few picture of some of the beautiful places I have seen the past couple months.
Taipei City. View from a gondola.
Longest and most Beautiful gondola ride. Well it and the gondola ride at Sun Moon Lake tie for most beautiful. But this one was for sure longer and it had a clear bottom, so that was neat.
Chang Kia-Shek memorial hall. Taipei.
Standing in front of and facing the memorial. museum on the right, opera house on the left. Notice the coats, I can't even imagine having to wear a coat now. (that's how long it's been since I posted last)

Alishan Mountain.

The fog made it feel like a fairy tail or Lord of the Rings or something.
Please only notice my socks. I was looking real good. We were very under-prepared for the cold weather.

The suspension bridge we searched for.

On the terrifying drive back down the mountain.

Love the randoms who, for some reason, want you to be in their home videos.
Kaohsiung City. View from the back of the ferry.
Loving this city

How cute are our friends? To bad you can't see the 4 person bike we are currently sitting on

Largest port city in Taiwan. Also, a new favorite city of mine. Notice the building in the back.
Lotus Lake

Our friends drove us and showed us around Kaoshiung.Have I mentioned how nice people are here?

'walking through hell'
Remember that building that was in the background? This is the view from the top.

View from the other side

'Dome of Light' part of a metro station. Created by a French artist.
On our way to Green Island. View from a train.

Also from the train

Proof it was on a train.

Green Island. The nauseating 1 hour ferry ride was well worth it. (no that is not the ferry)

Our wonderful scooter that took us around the island.

Day one.

Setting up at the not so sandy more corally beach.
View from Hotel.

Sunset. Obviously.

Hot spring on the ocean. We went at night but I wanted a picture during the day time. We also boiled eggs there in naturally boiling water so... that's cool. Kinda weird.

Day two. Scooter ride around the island. First stop.

Next stop.

Another stop. (we ended up stopping a lot) Left side.

Right side. Easily in the top 5 most beautiful places I have ever been. Maybe even top 3.

On the train ride home. (16 hours of travel time was worth it)

Next stop. Tainan.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Thinking about how many pictures I want to share and stories I want to tell all of you that actually care to see them and hear about is just to much to think about. Each Weekend brings a new adventure that I want to show all of my pictures and tell you all about. I am behind however because 1. I don't think that many people really care and a blog makes me feel slightly narcissistic and 2, I am BUSY. Okay, that is enough of my sob story. Thank you for caring to take time to read this.
We have bikes. We love them. 
We make friends everywhere we go. They love us. We love them. (maybe the girl on the right does not love us so much)
On this particular Saturday we headed to an old town called Alishan. It wasn't what we expected. Nothing ever is. The funny thing is we had actually been here before but didn't explore much and there was 1 million people there, literally. We still liked it. We bought some things, saw some temples, the usual.
All of these pictures... missionaries. We had heard of this 'fan man' but didn't think we would actually find him. Amazingly, strangely, we did.

He paints beautiful fans. Lauren bought one. I may need to go back to buy one as well. Maybe to give Alishan another try as well. 

I have had many adventures while here in Taiwan, few I have blogged about. But Friday eventing on March 30th and Saturday morning of March 31st 2012 will for ever be one of the greatest adventures I will ever have in my life. Unfortunately pictures and words could never adequately describe this experience. I guess you will all just have to come to Taiwan for the pilgrimage of Mazu.

Matsu (or Mazu) is the goddess of the sea I could Wikipedia it and give you more accurate information but you can do that if you really care. From what I understand every year 'pilgrims' who believe in Matsu follow the goddess (a statue) for 10 days. Most of them walking, some riding bikes. They sleep anywhere they can, 7-ll's, temples, anywhere. They visit 3 city's along the way and the whole time the people that live in those city's are out side passing out food to all the travelers. It started as just a religious ritual but over the years has become more of a cultural event.

On our way home from Taipei, a week before, we saw large crowds of people and followed them to find a massive firework show. Not sure why this was happening at 1 in the morning, but we liked it. We learned it was Mazu and also learned it would be coming back through Chunghua (the city we live in) in a few days.

Friday night after enjoying our taro icecream we started hearing more and more fireworks (which is not that uncommon actually) but went to figure out what it was. We saw lots of people walking with these flag type things in there backpacks with lots of pieces of yellow fabric at the top. We jumped on our bikes and followed them. All along the way people we putting food in our baskets and giving us all kind of food. We weren't sure why we just laughed said xie-xie (thank you) and rode along.... 

After an hour of riding out bikes, mostly on the freeway (which was scary), we ended up in a different city not even sure what city it was. People were everywhere. We went into a large tent type thing where, yet again, people were giving out food. A girl who spoke some English started talking asking us if we 'worked for 9 days' we were really confused what she was asking us. (by the way, every person in that tent was looking at us) Anyways, we realized she was asking if we had 'walked for 9 days' we felt dumb saying we had just been on our bikes for 45 minutes. People were not as interested in us then, and we were ashamed. But not ashamed enough to not take some bread. Then the kindest women and her 4 sons told us to follow them on there bikes to the next city. (all of this being said with no verbal communication) We started to but we felt bad ditching them, and dumb saying we were not actually following matsu. We tried to lag behind but they were to kind and would wait for us. After another boy joined us, who did speak English, we explained we had just come from Chunghua. He explained to the mother, we thought they would be upset but instead they gave us the lights off of their bikes and told us to ride back safely. I truly admire that women that I never even spoke a word to.

We went back to our apartment to check out what free goodies we had been given. This is what we got, and this isn't even all of it actually. We were so perplexed by what had just happened. Free food, following people who had been walking for 9 days, being shamed, following a family that we couldn't talk to, riding our bikes on the freeway, and by this point it was 1:00 AM.

We then got back on our bikes to see what was happening in our city. I have seen some pretty impressive firework shows in my life, including the 4th of July in Washington DC at the Washington monument and the one I mentioned from the week before. None of them come close to the fireworks we saw here. I have always been a fan of fireworks but never have I been almost brought to tears by them. I have also never stood so close to them that I actually feared for my life. It would have been completely illegal in the states if we had stood that close to these size fireworks.

After the firework show, working our way through the crowds, that are not in the picture unfortunately, on our bikes (kind of a joke) a random man asked to take a picture of us (not the first time it had happened tonight) so I asked him to take one with my camera. I am glad I did because I feel like you can see the true joy on our faces that we were feeling. It was 2:00 am now, the roads were lined with people and fireworks that were going to be set off soon and we had just witnessed an amazing display of fireworks.
We were ready to call it a night at that point completely happy and satisfied with the nights events. As we were walking into our apt. our friend Lison told us Matsu was going to be on the street right in front of our apt in an hour. We decided we could wait till 3:00.  Naturally at this point, we went inside and ate our free cold noodles(that were surprisingly delicious even thought I'm not sure why it was a surprise ALL food here is good), bread, and sports drink. We were slap happy and everything was hilarious, especially all the noodles that ended up on Laurens lap. Well an hour and a half later 4:30 people started lining up for Matsu. It was pure chaos! First we were running for the line, then we were shuffling backwards for forever, being stepped on, pushed, stepping on other people, Lauren and Lison holding hands through 3 or 4 other people, people yelling things at us, us just looking at them in confusion and shock. All while fireworks where going off all around us, notice how smokey it was from so many fireworks I just wished this picture showed how many people there really were.   
The tradition is to crawl underneath Matsu, one at a time, and wish for something and then you will have good luck all year. Well, while we were kneeling on the street in that chaos, unsure of what we were even doing, waiting to crawl underneath this staute I was picked up yelled at and pushed aside. Lauren was able to crawl underneath with lison. I had never experienced such chaos.  (see the blurry red and gold thing? yep, that's Matsu herself, I guess) I love that this picture is blurry It wouldn't be right any other way.
Notice the time, 4:57 am. Telling my family was so exciting they said that this is what I looked like telling them all about what had just happened. Lucky for them it was only 2 in the afternoon, but it was so much fun being able to tell them about it right after it happened.  I even got to show them some of the fireworks that were going off down the street. Bless Skype! If Skype were a goddess I would follow it for 9 days. 
So what is the best thing to do at 5:30 am? hike up a mountain to a giant Buddha to see the sunrise of course. It was so cool to be above the city watching the fireworks go off where we just were.
Turns out the sun rises behind the Buddha, oh well. We watched some people doing tai chi and sat and reflected on everything that had just happened.
The picture before this one I am standing on the walk out area right about that random red thing in the middle of the picture (there is a skinny black bar on the railing where I was standing.) The pictures are facing each other. It is a pretty spectacular place.

This is on the walk back down to our apt at 7:00 am. The tall redish building on the far left are our apt. buildings. The track is at the university that I run on everyday. (okay, almost everyday)

7:30 am, completely high on life.