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Tainan

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:21

We extended last weekend by a day and took the High Speed Rail to Tainan, about 222 km or 1:09 train hours south from here. Tainan has much to offer: Good weather (it gets pretty cold these days in Hsinchu; around 23 °C at night!), lots of culture, and, most of all, good food and big night markets!

Our means of transportation was a scooter, without a doubt the most convenient way of getting around. We even brought our own helmets cause riding at 50 km/h with a 100 TWD helmet (about the price of two bowls of noodles), the kind that scooter rental places offer, is just half the fun.

The thing that personally impressed me the most was a Buddhist ceremony we saw at the beach. (It goes by the name of 海之祭 or, in full, 安平海祭淨安祈福消災冥陽法會. The translation is left to the reader - and the writer - as an exercise.) The preparations were huge since the whole beach was decorated not only with traditional items such as paper ships, statues, flags, swags, and fruit, but also with modern elements like fireworks, a laser show, and an ear-shattering loudspeaker system. The ceremony itself consisted of dance, praying, music, and an abundance of fire. All of this was to honor the gods, pray for luck, and hope the people who died in the ocean can find the way to heaven. Truly an impressive spectacle.

Apart from that there were different parks, temples, flowers, and nature. (I just noticed I forgot to take pictures of food again. Maybe I'll remember next time ...)

Check out my Tainan album for all the pictures!


Alert! Taipei is being attacked by giant monster spiders!

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:48

This and some other interesting night shots were taken during one of our walks to 象山 (Xiang shan; Elephant mountain). Check out the Xiang shan by night album for some nice photos of Taipei and 101.


Third typhoon this month!

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:41

This weekend Taiwan is being hit by the third typhoon this month. While this is probably bad news for certain people (reportedly they snuck through just when the bridges were about to be closed), it's good news for many Taiwanese (and a handful of foreigners) with Monday syndrome: Tomorrow is a day off.

For me typhoons are tremendously more interesting than the Swiss autumn storms I'm used to. I enjoy going out to see which tea stores and restaurants remain open (quite a few) and take some pictures here and there. I'm still waiting for a flying cow but the following is an impressive start:

(I apologize for the lousy image quality. One of these days I'm going to get a new, waterproof camera that takes good pictures at night.)

More pictures in my gallery ...


Okinawa pictures

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:51

It's a long time ago and the memory of my last vacation has already faded, let alone the feeling of relaxation, but some three weeks after returning from Okinawa the photos are finally ready.

Okinawa is a relatively small island in the south of Japan and inhabited by a little more than 1.3 million people. Actually, the whole prefecture includes hundreds of little islands, the Ryukyu Islands, but we only visited the main one. We spent two days in Naha, the prefecture's capital, and southern area before heading up to the center and eastern part.

Some of the views are breathtaking and so is driving on the left side for the first time in your life. Apart from the occasional struggle with the GPS (strictly Japanese and only workable with the handbrake pulled - learn the hard way!) it went fine, though, and we enjoyed five relaxing days in the sun.

The pictures, complete with GPS coordinates, thanks to my trusted and always present "Easy Showily" GPS logger:

Okinawa (Days 1 and 2)
Okinawa (Days 3 to 5)


Patriotism Olympic style

posted by Martin Rubli at 17:28

It's funny how media love to turn things their way if it only makes their country look better.

Now that the 2008 Summer Olympics are over, let's look at the medal table in a German newspaper:

2008 Summer Olympics medal table, German style

And then the same thing in an American newspaper:

2008 Summer Olympics medal table, American style

Obviously this kind of statistics always leave room for interpretation, but this one seems to be a bit of a stretch. Let's see what speaks against the U.S. version:

  • The precious metal market: Please drop me an e-mail if you would like to trade your pound of gold for a pound of silver or bronze.

  • Every single Olympic athlete: "Who cares that I only got a bronze medal. Silver and gold are just the same; it's the sport that counts!"

  • The International Olympic Committee: Their (unofficial) medal counts are sorted by gold, silver, and bronze in that order.

  • The Rest of the world: Yes, it's true. Almost the rest of the world counts in the same way the IOC does.

Too bad China scored so well. I would have been dying to find out how their government can push a 2 gold, 5 silver, 1 bronze result to first rank. :-)


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