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Western Australia: Caversham Wildlife Park (Day 2)

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:16

Day Two took us to a wildlife park on the outskirts of Perth. A short train and bus ride away (never difficult thanks to TransPerth's great mobile app and the friendly staff), Caversham Wildlife Park is located inside Whiteman Park. Even before we entered the wildlife park we were lucky enough to see our first wild kangaroos – which I promptly mistook for deers until one of them raised its head out of the shadows.

We originally thought a wildlife park wouldn't quite be the typical tourist destination but it turned out that most Australians you see there are part of the staff. Apparently cuddling koalas and taking photos with giant rat-pigs (see below) is on many an Australia traveler's to-do list. While I prefer to give the animals their physical space I did enjoy the opportunity to take my zoo lens for a spin. :-)


The entrance to Whiteman Park, northwest of Perth.

The entrance to Whiteman Park, northwest of Perth.

Four of Australia's famous road signs on a single post! How's that for luck and photographic efficiency?

Four of Australia's famous road signs on a single post! How's that for luck and photographic efficiency?

The small track leading to the village.

The small track leading to the village.

Our first wild kangaroos!

Our first wild kangaroos!

The entrance to Caversham Wildlife Park.

The entrance to Caversham Wildlife Park.

Is it sleeping or whacking its head against the tree?

Is it sleeping or whacking its head against the tree?

The obligatory Koala group photo. :-)

The obligatory Koala group photo. :-)

It moves!

It moves!

A Tasmanian devil. It was hard to take a clear photo of this one because the poor animal just kept running around the cage in the exact same circle over and over again.

A Tasmanian devil. It was hard to take a clear photo of this one because the poor animal just kept running around the cage in the exact same circle over and over again.

Scary? Not so much, this cutie one was only about a meter long.

Scary? Not so much, this cutie one was only about a meter long.

A beautifully colored Gouldian finch.

A beautifully colored Gouldian finch.

If memory serves this is a fairy wren.

If memory serves this is a fairy wren.

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Not a pig, not a super sized rat, but the wildlife park's famous wombat.

Not a pig, not a super sized rat, but the wildlife park's famous wombat.

A kookaburra.

A kookaburra.

Besides taking photos with koalas and wombats, feeding the kangaroos is another popular activity at the park.

Besides taking photos with koalas and wombats, feeding the kangaroos is another popular activity at the park.

Does life get any better than that?

Does life get any better than that?

A rainbow lorikeet.

A rainbow lorikeet.

An Australian white ibis mid-flight.

An Australian white ibis mid-flight.


Western Australia: Perth CBD and Kings Park (Day 1)

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:30

Once again the cold drove us south for Chinese New Year. Actually, it wasn't so much the cold as the prospect of potential cold. The latter didn't materialize but that didn't take away from a great trip to Western Australia.

We had an overnight flight to Perth, so we decided not to venture too far away from our hotel after arriving at 5 o'clock in the morning. Luckily we lived almost right next to Kings Park, a huge park near the CBD (Central Business District). So those two naturally became our destinations for the first day.

While I generally steer clear of Swiss gatherings when I'm abroad, in a twist of irony, I always like to visit Chinatown when I go to larger cities. I find it interesting to see how different Asian subcultures get shuffled together. To cap off the day we therefore went to Roe Street for dinner and dessert.


One of our first impressions after arriving in Perth. Note the luxurious bike road on the side!

One of our first impressions after arriving in Perth. Note the luxurious bike road on the side!

London Court, a small shopping arcade in downtown Perth. Not as old as it looks but approaching 80 years nevertheless.

London Court, a small shopping arcade in downtown Perth. Not as old as it looks but approaching 80 years nevertheless.

The Perth Central Business District seen through Barracks Arch.

The Perth Central Business District seen through Barracks Arch.

One of the many beautiful trees in Kings Park.

One of the many beautiful trees in Kings Park.

The skyline of Perth.

The skyline of Perth.

View of Swan River from Kings Park.

View of Swan River from Kings Park.

Seen at the entrance of the tree-top walk. No wedding photos allowed!

Seen at the entrance of the tree-top walk. No wedding photos allowed!

The beautiful tree-top walk in Kings Park.

The beautiful tree-top walk in Kings Park.
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The DNA Tower in Kings Park ...

The DNA Tower in Kings Park ...

... which allows for great views of the entire park and the city.

... which allows for great views of the entire park and the city.

The poetic Flame of Remembrance and the no-less-poetic Pool of Reflection at the Kings Park War Memorial.

The poetic Flame of Remembrance and the no-less-poetic Pool of Reflection at the Kings Park War Memorial.
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Perth Central Business District (CBD).

Perth Central Business District (CBD).

A food hall in Chinatown.

A food hall in Chinatown.

We just had to stop by 鮮芋仙 to have some 仙草 and a luxurious 鴛鴦布丁. It's a mystery to us, however, why the latter one is served in a cup.

We just had to stop by 鮮芋仙 to have some 仙草 and a luxurious 鴛鴦布丁. It's a mystery to us, however, why the latter one is served in a cup.

A frog goes hiking: 北大武 (Bei da wu)

posted by Martin Rubli at 16:21

It was a busy National Day weekend for my legs. After running the Hsinchu Post Office "23km run" (which was about four kilometers short thanks to the organizers' inability to count) on the morning of the tenth I took a quick rest before packing my bags and leaving again for a two-day/two-night hike in the South of Taiwan. The destination was 北大武 (Bei da wu), the highest mountain in Southern Taiwan.

This time we had hired two drivers with small all-wheel-drive buses because of the long trip to 屏東 (Ping dong) and the poor state of the mountain road. We stayed one night in a homestay about 45 minutes from the trail head, which allowed for a pleasantly reasonable wake-up time. It used to be possible to drive further up, but after a landslide a few years ago the trail head had to be moved down by about 2.7 kilometers.

Most of the hike is in the forest, which is not a big surprise given the relatively low altitude of the peak (3092 meters). That, and the rain the day before, made for a somewhat slippery walk, but at least it was another perfectly dry hike where my umbrella and rain jacket stayed where they should – at the bottom of the backpack.

Technical information and photos follow. If the photos seem a little substandard this time I apologize; the weather forecast was a bit uncertain and my backpack a bit full, so my trusted D-SLR had to stay home this time and make way for the waterproof pocket camera. Weather permitting I'll try to make up for it next time. :-)


Map


(Click the image for a larger version.)


(Click the image for a larger version.)

Elevation charts

北大武新登山口 (New Bei da wu trail head) to 檜容山莊 (Kuai gu mountain hut):


(Click the image for a larger version.)

檜容山莊 (Kuai gu mountain hut) to 北大武 (Bei da wu) and back:


(Click the image for a larger version.)

檜容山莊 (Kuai gu mountain hut) to 北大武新登山口 (New Bei da wu trail head):


(Click the image for a larger version.)

GPS track

Hiking log

(As always, the altitudes are approximate.)

Day 1:

0840: Departure from 北大武新登山口 (New Bei da wu trail head), 1200 m
1015: Arrival at 北大武舊登山口 (Old Bei da wu trail head), 1540 m
1045: Continue
1505: Arrival at 檜谷山莊 (Kuai gu mountain hut), 2110 m

Day 2:

0130: Wake up
0225: Departure from 檜谷山莊 (Kuai gu mountain hut), 2110 m
0355: 神木 (Divine tree), 2450 m
0550: 嶺縣 (Ridge), 2870 m
0635: 大武祠 (Da wu memorial), 3010 m
0705: Continue
0750: Arrival on 北大武 (Bei da wu), 3092 m
0855: Start descent
0930: 大武祠 (Da wu memorial)
0955: Continue
1130: 神木 (Divine tree)
1225: Arrival at 檜谷山莊 (Kuai gu mountain hut)
1400: Continue
1545: Arrival at 北大武舊登山口 (Old Bei da wu trail head)
1650: Continue
1810: Arrival at 北大武新登山口 (New Bei da wu trail head)


Photos

The end of the road and therefore the new trail head. Until a few years ago the road continued a few more kilometers, which poor hikers like us now have to walk.

The end of the road and therefore the new trail head. Until a few years ago the road continued a few more kilometers, which poor hikers like us now have to walk.

View from the point where the road was swept away by a landslide caused by torrential rainfalls.

View from the point where the road was swept away by a landslide caused by torrential rainfalls.

Group photo before the start. The guy who's not carrying a backpack is the one who took longest to get ready. ;-)

Group photo before the start. The guy who's not carrying a backpack is the one who took longest to get ready. ;-)

A parking lot in the middle of the forest. The sign looks quite new, which is rather surprising given that there's not much more left of the road than a narrow trail.

A parking lot in the middle of the forest. The sign looks quite new, which is rather surprising given that there's not much more left of the road than a narrow trail.

The first section until the old trail head is pretty flat, but if the fog allows it you can see the steepness lying ahead.

The first section until the old trail head is pretty flat, but if the fog allows it you can see the steepness lying ahead.

The old trail head.

The old trail head.

After a few hours of walking in the forest and the fog finally a little bit of view.

After a few hours of walking in the forest and the fog finally a little bit of view.

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檜容山莊 (Kuai rong mountain hut). While it does look old and shabby from the outside it is one of the more convenient mountain huts in Taiwan. There's plenty of water (even for flushing the toilets!) and the cooking and sleeping areas are well designed.

檜容山莊 (Kuai rong mountain hut). While it does look old and shabby from the outside it is one of the more convenient mountain huts in Taiwan. There's plenty of water (even for flushing the toilets!) and the cooking and sleeping areas are well designed.

Early morning on the next day.

Early morning on the next day.

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Even the moon stayed around to make for nicer photos.

Even the moon stayed around to make for nicer photos.

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Finally at the top of 北大武 (Bei da wu).

Finally at the top of 北大武 (Bei da wu).

The view is not as breathtaking as other high mountains in Taiwan but I was told that you can see a great sea of clouds if you're lucky enough to get the timing right.

On the left in the far back you can see 關山 (Guan shan), the tallest one on the picture, and 玉山 (Yu shan), the tallest one in reality. The twin peak on the right is 美奈田主山 (Mei nai tian zhu shan).

The view is not as breathtaking as other high mountains in Taiwan but I was told that you can see a great sea of clouds if you're lucky enough to get the timing right.

On the left in the far back you can see 關山 (Guan shan), the tallest one on the picture, and 玉山 (Yu shan), the tallest one in reality. The twin peak on the right is 美奈田主山 (Mei nai tian zhu shan).

A curious bird also visited us while we were taking photos.

A curious bird also visited us while we were taking photos.

Apparently you're not even safe from photobombers on the highest peak in Southern Taiwan!

Apparently you're not even safe from photobombers on the highest peak in Southern Taiwan!

The forest on the ridge on the way down.

The forest on the ridge on the way down.

The view towards 屏東 (Ping dong) where we had started the day before.

The view towards 屏東 (Ping dong) where we had started the day before.


貓空 (Mao Kong) at last

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:52

It took a while for me to take the incident-plagued Mao Kong gondola, but after a few years without major malfunctions I finally felt brave enough to try it. So brave, in fact, that we decided to take the "crystal cabin", where the floor is made of nothing but a thick pane of glass.

We hiked up from 政治大學 (Chengchi University) to 指南宮 (Zhi Nan temple) and then took the gondola from there instead of the final station since the second half of the hiking trail we had planned to take was nowhere to be found.

Here are some photos from this high-temperature, high-humidity day trip:

指南宮 (Zhi Nan temple)

指南宮 (Zhi Nan temple)

The view from 指南宮 (Zhi Nan temple).

The view from 指南宮 (Zhi Nan temple).

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指南宮大雄寶殿 (Zhi Nan temple Mahavira hall)

指南宮大雄寶殿 (Zhi Nan temple Mahavira hall)

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A glass floor cabin of the Mao Kong gondola.

A glass floor cabin of the Mao Kong gondola.

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The 指南宮 (Zhi Nan temple) station of the Mao Kong gondola.

The 指南宮 (Zhi Nan temple) station of the Mao Kong gondola.

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View through the glass floor of the Mao Kong gondola.

View through the glass floor of the Mao Kong gondola.

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A frog goes hiking: 武陵雙秀 (Wu ling shuang xiu) (Day 2)

posted by Martin Rubli at 16:07

A frog goes hiking: 武陵雙秀 (Wu ling shuang xiu) (Day 2)

The second day started with an interesting false alarm at exactly 11pm when somebody's cell phone alarm went off. I checked my watch and was relieved to see that there was still plenty of time to catch some much-needed sleep. But shortly after there was rustling left and right as if people were getting up. Before long I nodded off again until 3am. Later that morning I was told that some people indeed got up before noticing that they were four hours early ...

After the actual wake-up time we had a quick breakfast before heading up towards 品田山 (Pin tian shan). Sunrise was earlier than expected, but it was just as well because hiking is simply more enjoyable when you can see more than just what's in the light cone of your headlamp. Even though we were far from the top the view was stunning and almost made me forget how early it was.

The truly interesting part was still to come, though. The last few hundred meters before the peak involve some real climbing, which makes you feel like you've earned the view at the top. And what a view it is! But see for yourself ...

This post covers day 2. Day 1 is here.


Overview

The green track is the first half of day two, the blue track is the second half.


(Click the image for a larger version.)


Elevation charts

新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut) to 品田山 (Pin tian shan) and back:


新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut) to 武陵山莊 (Wu ling mountain hut):


GPS track

Hiking log

(As always, the altitudes are approximate.)

0300: Wake up
0400: Departure from 新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut), 3180 m
0445: Break for watching sunrise
0515: Continue
0625: Arrival at 品田山 (Pin tian shan), 3524 m
0645: Departure from 品田山 (Pin tian shan)
0705: Forced break waiting to cross bad-mannered hiking group
0725: Continue
0810: Arrival at 新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut), 3180 m, break
0955: Departure from 新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut)
1035: 池有山第二登山口 (Second Chi you shan trail head), 3230 m
1045: Arrival at 池有山 (Chi you shan), 3303 m
1105: Departure from 池有山 (Chi you shan)
1114: 池有山第一登山口 (First Chi you shan trail head)
1117: Arrival at 三叉營地 (San cha campground), 3200 m, break
1155: Departure from 三叉營地 (San cha campground)
1345: Arrival at trail head
1350: Departure from trail head
1440: 武陵吊橋 (Wu ling suspension bridge), 1860 m
1445: Arrival at 武陵山莊停車場 (Wu ling mountain hut parking lot)


Photos

Sunrise halfway up to 品田山 (Pin tian shan). As you can see from the chain of lights walking up hikers in Taiwan really get up early.

Sunrise halfway up to 品田山 (Pin tian shan). As you can see from the chain of lights walking up hikers in Taiwan really get up early.

These photos were taken in the direction of 宜蘭 (Yilan).

These photos were taken in the direction of 宜蘭 (Yilan).

If you look closely you can see a river ...

If you look closely you can see a river ...

... and even 龜山島 (Turtle island) in the distance.

... and even 龜山島 (Turtle island) in the distance.

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Our hiking group admiring the sunrise.

Our hiking group admiring the sunrise.

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The first sight of 品田山 (Pin tian shan) on the way up.

The first sight of 品田山 (Pin tian shan) on the way up.

A close-up view of 雪山 (Xue shan) on the left and 北稜角 (Bei leng jiao) in the middle.

A close-up view of 雪山 (Xue shan) on the left and 北稜角 (Bei leng jiao) in the middle.

On the way to the main peak there's another small peak whose back slope actually poses the main difficulty of reaching 品田山 (Pin tian shan). If you're unlucky you can get stuck in traffic jam here.

On the way to the main peak there's another small peak whose back slope actually poses the main difficulty of reaching 品田山 (Pin tian shan). If you're unlucky you can get stuck in traffic jam here.

Climbing down the back slope of the "pre-peak" ...

Climbing down the back slope of the "pre-peak" ...

... and up again towards the main peak. But it's totally worth it because ...

... and up again towards the main peak. But it's totally worth it because ...

... halfway up you already get this magnificent view!

... halfway up you already get this magnificent view!

小霸尖山 (Xiao ba jian shan) and 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan).

小霸尖山 (Xiao ba jian shan) and 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan).

The last few meters of the trail.

The last few meters of the trail.

These flowers reminded me of the Swiss "trademark" flower, the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edelweiss Edelweiss].

These flowers reminded me of the Swiss "trademark" flower, the Edelweiss.

Me at the top of 品田山 (Pin tian shan) with 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan) in the background.

Me at the top of 品田山 (Pin tian shan) with 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan) in the background.

The obligatory group photo on the peak. :-)

The obligatory group photo on the peak. :-)

The 雪山 (Xue shan) family always makes for a nice setting. From the left:

* 甘木林山 (Gan mu lin shan). Originally and erroneously measured at 3690 meters (instead of the correct 3666) it gave 三六九山莊 (369 mountain hut) its name.
* 雪山主峰 (Xue shan main peak). The second highest mountain in Taiwan.
* 北稜角 (Bei leng jiao).
* 雪山北峰 (Xue shan north peak).

The 雪山 (Xue shan) family always makes for a nice setting. From the left:

  • 甘木林山 (Gan mu lin shan). Originally and erroneously measured at 3690 meters (instead of the correct 3666) it gave 三六九山莊 (369 mountain hut) its name.
  • 雪山主峰 (Xue shan main peak). The second highest mountain in Taiwan.
  • 北稜角 (Bei leng jiao).
  • 雪山北峰 (Xue shan north peak).
樂山 (Le shan) with its radar station in the distance. I believe on the right parts of 大鹿林道 (Da lu forest trail) are visible.

樂山 (Le shan) with its radar station in the distance. I believe on the right parts of 大鹿林道 (Da lu forest trail) are visible.

Looking back to 品田山 (Pin tian shan) on the way down.

Looking back to 品田山 (Pin tian shan) on the way down.

The view from the spot we watched the sunrise a few hours earlier. You can see the trail down as well as 桃山 (Tao shan) in the far back.

The view from the spot we watched the sunrise a few hours earlier. You can see the trail down as well as 桃山 (Tao shan) in the far back.

Approaching 新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut) again where we had stayed the night.

Approaching 新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut) again where we had stayed the night.

Cut, two-and-a-half hours later. After being disappointed by the afternoon weather the day before we decided to give 池有山 (Chi you shan) another try. The view was great! On this photo you can see 新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut), 品田山 (Pin tian shan), and part of the trail between the two.

Cut, two-and-a-half hours later. After being disappointed by the afternoon weather the day before we decided to give 池有山 (Chi you shan) another try. The view was great! On this photo you can see 新達山屋 (Xin da mountain hut), 品田山 (Pin tian shan), and part of the trail between the two.

Turning around 180° you can see 桃山 (Tao shan) and 桃山山屋 (Tao shan mountain hut).

Turning around 180° you can see 桃山 (Tao shan) and 桃山山屋 (Tao shan mountain hut).

Such nice weather deserves another flag raise! On the right you can see 小霸尖山 (Xiao ba jian shan) and 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan).

Such nice weather deserves another flag raise! On the right you can see 小霸尖山 (Xiao ba jian shan) and 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan).

And once again the whole scenery, from 雪山 (Xue shan) to 品田山 (Pin tian shan).

And once again the whole scenery, from 雪山 (Xue shan) to 品田山 (Pin tian shan).


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