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Take your time

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:01

You've got to admire the relaxed attitude of Taiwanese in many respects, but this one may be pushing it:

With only eight seconds left to cross the road, shouldn't the man be walking instead of what he seems to be doing?

Accounting for taste

posted by Martin Rubli at 07:45

Several times per year Taiwan's furniture manifacturers come together in Taipei. Under such glamorous names as "Taipei International Exhibition of Furniture & Interior Decoration & Building Materials", "The 14th Imported Fine Furniture Show", or "13th Taipei Furniture Fair" they gather to show off the masterpieces of their design work.

The saying that there is no accounting for taste is probably as old as the first cave paintings. As for me you'll much rather see me carefully remove a 30,000 year-old painting from a cave wall than spend a single dollar on one of the exhibits at these events.

I have picked two examples to class up my blog. The first one is a traditional Taiwanese set of living room furniture:

The second one (and this is the part that really worries me - after all you can't argue with tradition), is fashioned after ancient European cultural periods (possibly Baroque?). It is considered European luxury style luxury.

Maybe it's time to send a few of these designers on a business trip across European living rooms.

What's funny is that, when you take pictures at these exhibitions, it usually doesn't take long until some worried sales person comes jumping across the hall telling you not to take pictures.

At first I didn't quite understand why. After all they are trying to make a sale. And nowadays people often shop with cameras. You take pictures, go home, take your time comparing, matching styles and colors. And at the end of the day you decide. So why stop people from taking pictures? Are they too embarrassed about their design? Do they fear to be ridiculed by the blogging community?

Not at all! The opposite is the case: They are proud of their design. So proud, in fact, that they fear that people take pictures at an exhibition, then bring these pictures to the next best furniture factory to have an exact replica built at a fraction of the price. It is sad but true that this is common practice among a large part of Taiwanese.

Be that is it may. My motto is that you can take pictures of anything as long as you're fast enough. And in that spirit you can find the rest of the pictures in my gallery. But I'm warning you: They are not for the faint of stomach!


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.

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)

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