Friday, August 27, 2010

Yilan [18]

This summer, my travels around Taiwan were pretty limited. Normally I would visit relatives all over, but this time I never made it down south.

Yilan, although only half an hour outside of Taipei, was probably one of my larger trips. A couple of my coworkers took me there to look at some architect by a well known Taiwanese architect, whose name I have written down but cannot read...

This first building is a gallery building that is still under construction. The concept was to give the essence of driftwood floating in and under the surface of the water. The park behind was designed by the same firm as well:

The second building was some sort of small commemorative museum. It wasn't open, but look at that 'folded' concrete, something that maybe too many architects get excited about. I like it too. The roof of the room the left folds down and becomes a bench which doubles as a shade for the windows below:

This was the architect taking the typology of local buildings and stacking them on top of each other to form a community center sort of space:

The second floor directly connected to a bridge going off away from the building. The material of the path didn't change so you never got a sense that you were leaving the building until you were already further away. There were a lot of little nooks to sit and look out over the landscape:

The bridge used to be only for cars, but the architects added a pedestrian walkway off to the side and slightly under the existing bridge. It used the structure of the existing bridge.

For being by a roadway, the pedestrian bridge was peaceful. Probably because it was lower in level. So much nicer than sidewalks on bridges right next to the cars that I am used to.:

Rowing machines looking over the river:

Realizing that quirked out form is hard to read. i don't get it.

Last was a trip to another much larger museum. The concept was of a rock sitting in the water. The water around is manmade, but the ocean was right across the street:

White Man Toothpaste, aka, The Last Days [17]

Back in Taipei, it was hard to believe the summer was already coming to an end. It was a good couple weeks. For one, after coming back from Shanghai it felt blissfully cool in Taipei. At that point, I knew America was gonna feel cold.

This was a picture from a cousin's birthday at Ponderosa, no comment on the restaurant choice; he wanted steak. Ponderosa in Taipei is a fancy nice restaurant, and as with all fancy nice western food in Taiwan, it was disappointing. I'm wondering, do you get good Western food when you travel in tour groups? I'm guessing that's what most of the dining outside of Taiwan has been for my aunt's family. If you can't tell, our fingers are the candles for the imaginary cake. Nice:

I took one last trip back to Baisun to visit my grandparents. As usual, life on the mountain was dominated by talking about food. By the first day, My grandmother had already planned out the menu for the entire time I would be there. Stuff was constantly being added to the menu. Life seems so simple in the country. Life is about family, friends, a nice breeze, a bit of rain, health and good food. With all the complexities of city life, higher education, and contemporary life in general, it's often hard for me to appreciate their simple life. Although they keep up with the news through the television, it was still hard for me to explain things to them that seemed basic to the way i live. I'm sure their lives have been busier in the past, but the slow pace of taking an hour to buy a bus ticket was frustrating and refreshing. It was inefficient by the way I live, (not that i had anywhere to go), but for my grandparents, buying a ticket was definitely less about efficiency and more about their friendship with the ticket office owners. Same goes for grocery shopping etc...

I was introduced to a new fruit/nut... not sure what. I love that produce shopping in Taiwan lets you taste test. In Taipei, I saw store owners chopping cabbages in half for customers to inspect the insides before buying.:
At the indoor supermarket near my grandparents' I saw white man toothpaste for the first time. It was next to the black man's toothpaste. What's the deal?

Temple nestled between other buildings. I used to be surprised when walking along a street looking into storefronts and all of the sudden finding myself looking into a temple at a giant Buddha rather than another storefront. I guess this is what it looks like from across the street:

The last Saturday was phenomenal. A trip to Yilan, which will be my next post, and then dinner at a delicious Japanese restaurant and dessert at the Melange, a supposedly very well known dessert and drinks place. I wasn't too impressed by the overcooked waffles, but they say the dryness helps them to soak in the flavors of the toppings... I guess that's what you would call a Taiwanese take on Western food. Otherwise, it was good company and a good time.:

This is a photo during the daytime of a building in the same area (between Zhongshan and Minquan MRT stations. I liked walking around this area. There were a lot of boutiques and artist studio stores. Bamboo is a common material, but it still looks exotic to me.:

Speaking of bamboo, a bamboo grove in Daan Forest Park. I liked the way the bamboo creaked in the wind. Daan Park is Taipei's sad equivalent to Central Park, with a fabulous playground. If I was still small enough, that playground could have been a mini paradise:

Random nature shot around the corner from my Aunt's condo:

And finally, a few shots from the firm where I worked. I know you've been wondering if it's all been a lie, but it's true. I was in fact interning and not just travelling around Taipei.


The serious half of the office:

Send-off lunch. They acquiesced to my requests not to eat spaghetti again. I think this was a Japanese restaurant instead.:

It was always strange to me how the heart of the building where the firm is located connected directly to the outside. In the end, does that save energy or waste a/c? In my education, people get so excited about 'fuzzy spaces' between interior and exterior, but after being in Taiwan, it's really just a norm:

At the very end, gift shopping. Got a few small things at one of these stores. These shops don't sell any of their own products. Instead, they rent out cubes to other people to sell whatever they want. Makes for a pretty interesting array of stuff:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shanghai V (Life)[16]

It's been a long time since I've hostelled. In a lot of ways it's true that hostelling is "not as nice" as a typical hotel. It's noisy, there's less privacy, and you don't get a maid or a TV or whatever. But I remembered a couple things about hostels that I've really missed. To start, Often they carry more of the flavor of the country they are in. A Marriott might be comfortable, but a Marriott is a Marriott whether in the US or China. I would hope that most people don't travel just to experience what they already know. Although.. I guess coming home at night to something familiar can be good after a tiring day. How would one design an upscale hotel with the flavor of the country it is in?

I also enjoyed meeting the other people staying at the hostel. Quite a few were travelling on 'around the world' plane tickets, going around to different countries for a whole year. Out of all the people I met, I suppose I was probably the most boring. Only in Shanghai for a week and not really travelling otherwise. Regardless, it was nice to hear advice on places to go and things to see. We even picked up an extra companion from Japan for our trip to Suzhou.

Front door:

Next door:

Inner Courtyard. The hostel was a traditional Chinese residential complex converted into hostel. Quite unique.:

Creepy hallway made less creepy by lighted statues. Didn't quite get the ambiance here.

This is where the rooms were:

We mostly ate breakfast at one of the stands down the street.:

Shanghai IV [15]

Circular Overpass, Pudong. I have lost much of my love for joiners after discovering photoshop's auto joiner command. I still (stubbornly?) put my joiners together manually with love.