Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Visiting With Friends

The view from the 85th floor of Taipei 101, the indoor observation deck.

Sunday my good friend Jason W. flew in from overseas to visit old friends and old haunts. Andrew Kerslake and I picked him up at the airport and then hung out in Taipei, hooking up with the acutely intelligent and hilarious Jason Cox, who works at the Taipei Times, then heading to Tamshui to watch the sun set.


After eating some ice cream and ogling Taipei, we went to the 90th floor outdoor observation deck. Here are Jason and I contemplating actually walking up to the fence that surrounds the outdoor deck. After several changes of underwear and a twelve-step program, crying like girls, Jason and I were able to walk up to the fence. Behind us the security guards contemplate putting us in straitjackets.

On the way out to the deck -- here's what 85 floors of stairs look like when seen from directly above.

Andrew Kerslake has a good laugh at the expense of Jason and myself. Meanwhile Jason Cox and his new bride Jennifer actually look up. I couldn't quite manage that.

The views were spectacular, though hazed over. Taipei 101 is a must-do experience, and include the outdoor deck even though you have to fork over another $100. The wind whipping through the fenceposts makes them sing. "What's that amazing sound?" someone asked. Pause. "It's the sound of metal buckling," Andrew said innocently....

Jason Cox and his lovely bride.

Close up of the city.

JASON: Is there anyway we can ditch this Turton guy? ANDREW: Nope. I suppose he's just one of life's little trials.

I hadn't been out to Tamshui since the late 1990s. So the changes came as a huge shock. Long a playground on weekends for Taipei's overworked residents, offering some unique local foods and interesting local history, the waterfront has become just another crowded overpriced weekend outing.

At the entrance, Dunkin Donuts faces Mr Donut on the other side (not pictured). Nothing like authentic local foods.

After you've gotten your sugar injection from the donut shops, you can pause at Starbucks for more authentic local coffee. If you don't like this one, there's another one a few hundred meters down the waterfront.

Fortunately the views have still not been obliterated by development (for a view from the other side of the river, see my post on a visit to Bali).

There used to be plenty of street vendors selling Tamshui fried shrimp wonton thingys, but they have almost all disappeared to be replaced by small shops selling the same old same old night market stuff.

Still, some of the romance remains. Looking north out toward the ocean.

Looking south toward the city.

The crowds are amazing. The night market, it seems, has become the primary model for the Taiwan recreational experience....

Vendors have become shopkeepers.

Still some enjoyable views....

See no evil, hear no evil....

Jason moves in for a shot.

A troupe puts on community theatre along the waterfront.

A little world of peace and quiet.......

Out on the river there was a steady flow of boats....

...sometimes almost into each other.

After many years of living here, in many ways I've come to enjoy and appreciate the constant reassuring presence of people, even while I complain about them.

The waterfront was filled with people taking pictures of each other.....

...and lined with caricaturists....

...and with people busking....

...and with millions of tacky shops...

...selling tons of stuff....

We finally plopped down in front of the 7-11 next to the Starbucks to watch the sunset and drink a few beers. One of Taiwan's simple pleasures: if there are open bottle laws, they aren't enforced.

The woman in red. This beautiful young lady appeared to be following the three of us. Finally, after she had orbited our position a couple of times, I snapped her picture.

Lots of dog lovers brought what I suppose are technically "dogs" with them. Small dogs are very nice.....deep fried with a little tartar sauce.

Across the water....

Everyone came to the waterfront for a picture...some to take...

...and some to pose.

The Asian Sign of Picture Taking is learned young. I think it must surely be innate by now.

Jason enjoys the sunset and that good Taiwan beer.

Plenty of interesting faces everywhere....

As evening approached, the fishermen went out and the pleasure craft returned...

Fishermen at work.

Andrew and Jason.

One of Tamshui's most popular fish ball places, where there's always a line.

Tamshui at night.

On the metro back we spotted this anti-suicide advertisement.

The next day it was hiking outside Taichung. Myself and Andrew (pic from Jason), one of Taiwan's most informed expats. Andrew is a font of information on the history and culture of Taiwan -- if you ever get the chance, just get him rolling and listen. The fantastic Wikipedia page on the Taiwan aborigines is largely from his hand.

Jason tries out his impressive Canon S3 IS on a spider.

I have often observed the tiny orange spiders in the same webs as these large golden orb spiders. Young? Symbionts?

Taichung spills over the west coast plain.

Looking north to Fengyuan.

We stopped by the karaoke place next to the temple and had drinks. Andrew did something that was almost like singing.

A local family enjoys some old Taiwanese songs.

On the way home this huge beetle was having a snack....

18 comments:

channing said...

The Canon S3 is probably among the best non-pro cameras that can be had. I have an S2 and its possibilities are endless, most of them starting with that 12X stabilized optical zoom.

Michael Turton said...

Yep! I'm working like a dog this month so I can buy the S5 when it comes out. I was really impressed with that S3 of Jason's.

Michael

Wulingren said...

Living in Beitou, I go to Tamsui quite a bit. Both the donut places are very new, like the last month or so. The Dunkin Donut colors really clash with the rustic surroundings. I got fried shrimp wantons there just a couple of weeks ago. All in all, I think Tamsui is still an interesting place; it gets quieter the further down the river you go, past the Seven Eleven. I think that is new also.

Benjamin said...

Michael, I can't believe you stopped at that 7-11 for beers. If you would have walked 50 feet past the boat landing you would have been at possibly the best spot in Taiwan to have a beer. It's an outdoor cafe with Deluxe beer (it's around, and very decent). You can sit on the patio, have real beer, and watch the sunset. It's awesome. One of Taiwan's best spots.

And you were 50 feet away.

Anonymous said...

LOl. Sorry, benjamin. We just got overwhelmed and assumed the rest of the waterfront was as awful as the first part.

Anyway, the beer was cheap, which was the key point

Michael

Maoman said...

Wulingren's got it right. It's Tamsui or Danshui, but never Tamshui.

somimi said...

Lovely pictures! Thank you for the link. I need to get out on the trails around here, but I cannot get any of my air-conditioning-loving relatives to accompany me.

And I really don't know the area all that well yet, having been here all of 3 weeks.

Regarding the spider question: that is most likely a male orb weaver. They can't make their own webs, so they exist on the periphery of a female's, eating the leftovers and trying to impregnate her without getting noticed and eaten.

raven said...

Wow, what camera do you use Michael? You take very impressive pictures!

Btw, loved the blow-by-blow account of Tamsui. You made us feel as if we're walking there with you.

Michael Turton said...

Maoman, Tamshui is perfectly acceptable.

Raven, I shot these with a Olympus C-770. It's five year old technology, but the lenses are excellent. I'm upgrading to a Canon Powershot S5 IS at the end of next month.

Thanks Somimi! I always wondered about the little ones.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

BTW, Somimi, if you live in Taichung, I'd be glad to take you up some of the trails here.

Michael

Maoman said...

"Maoman, Tamshui is perfectly acceptable."
Really? In what language/pinyin system?

Michael Turton said...

"Tamshui" is legitimated in the court of common usage, Maoman. Just type TAMSHUI in Google and watch the sites fall out. It has been used here for years.

Michael

Maoman said...

Does common usage confer legitimacy? I guess it depends on your perspective. I'm interested also in how you'd pronounce it. My pronunciation changes depending on what language I'm speaking. Similarly, I never get Wanhua and Manka mixed up. That would result in "Manhua" or "Wanka"!

somimi said...

Thanks for the offer! I'm situated in Taipei, but I may get a chance to travel around the island yet. There's a chance of a weekend trip to Kenting sometime in the future, and I have relatives in Tainan as well.

channing said...

Before Taipei adopted Hanyu Pinyin, the train station was also named "Tamshui."

Maoman said...

Yes, and their announcements were equally unorthodox and horrible. These threads on Forumosa bring back some memories:
http://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?p=265090#265090
http://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?t=2253
Just because you can Google it doesn't make it right. I mean you can google "I don't know nothing" and you'll get results. It doesn't make it a good English sentence.

Michael Turton said...

Maoman, "Tamshui" has been used since the 19th century -- any of the many regular renderings "Tamsui" Danshui, Tamshui are all equally good. As long as everyone knows what we are talking about.

Michael

Maoman said...

How would you pronounce it? I know how to pronounce Danshui, and I know how to pronounce Tamsui, but could you tell me how to pronounce Tamshui?