Monday, November 03, 2008

Kaoping Meanderings

Another day, another trip to Kaohsiung on the high speed rail, this time for the Hot Games 2008. The show is the local gaming, entertainment and gambling machine industry's annual shindig. One thing about traveling in Taiwan is that you encounter your own stranger-ness, and the local friendliness, all over again. Everywhere I went people took care of me....(as always, click on these or any photo on the blog to be taken to its FLICKR page)

The show was crowded, both with buyers, and with families who brought their children to test the machines.

Taiwan makes all sorts of sophisticated equipment, incorporating software and digital media, robotics, and innovative game concepts.

Testing the slots.

Looking at the entertainment items.

Here players test a game where a controller the size of a bowling ball moves a ball across bridges and other puzzles. The concept, said the designer, was based on the traditional games of the Taiwan aborigines.

Companies also came in from abroad. Here a Korean maker shows off their golf game. A sensor on the floor detects the ball vector and assigns a location on the screen. The saleslady assured that I could make my money back in six months at $700 per person for a 2 and 1/2 hour round of 18 holes. The game has over 50 world-famous golf courses.

This photo.....

...and this photo recognize Taiwan's status as a major maker of parts and components for gaming machines.

Here the major maker Tommy Bear shows off some Batman figures. I asked....

...the lovely salesgirl where the betel nut girls were, since many foreigners know about them, but she said the manufacturer hadn't brought them.

What's a Taiwan festivity without Cosplay?

In this game based on a Japanese animated TV show, the player reaches between his legs with both hands and grabs his stick....

That evening I went out to Guanshan near the Nantze Export Processing Zone to enjoy Thai food with my friend Jason Cox, the brains behind the excellent blog That's Impossible!: Politics from Taiwan. Jason proved to be wonderful company, and in the morning we hit the streets to sample what Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties had to offer.

When I lived in Kenya I developed an affect for sugar cane. Here a street vendor makes a hungry crew happy. The streets were lined with vendors hoping to snag a buck or two from the tourists heading out to the Guanshan scenic area to play.

Although it isn't longan season, this beefy fellow was offering bags of the stuff.

Urban Kaohsiung: land of expressways.

Jason and I stopped in exciting Da She town to grab coffee and watch the locals drive by.

Hardly had we set cup to lip when a group of fire trucks sped by.

There's no limit to what a scooter can carry.

A good blog should offer images of cultural and historical significance.

Welcome to Da She, where the men are men, the women are women, and the post-accident rehab people make a fortune.

It's always election time somewhere. Here the local DPP candidate for County Chief advertises.

Asleep at the wheel.

Jason, one of the merriest people I know, manages to look serious for a moment as we both implement the admonition on the garbage can behind him.

Mother and daughter plot shopping strategy.

She outed me as a foreigner, so I snapped her photo.

After coffee we headed over to Pingtung to look at the Matzu Temple and meet up with Jason's wife Jennifer. Here a country road takes us home.

Outside of Taliao a betel nut vendor waits for customers.

Crossing the new Kaoping Bridge.

In Pingtung policemen were busy working.....

The interior of the Matsu temple. I've been to this temple before (most recently) and have always enjoyed it. It is one of the island's most beautiful, I think.

Implements of power await a procession.

Inside all that glitters is golden.

A woman chats with her friend.

On the third floor balcony a temple dragon eyes a Christian Church.

Figurines adorn this beautiful temple.

It's now a stereotype on traveler's blogs, but you gotta get a shot of the incense burners.

Beautiful Taiwan women smile for the camera.

After Pingtung we swung north to Meinung, now a tourist mecca with great traffic conditions and stunningly unique souvenirs everywhere.

Along the way I snapped this interesting picture drawn by a local elementary student on the wall of a school, warning kids not to do drugs.

On the way into the mountains we stopped at the Baofa Butterfly Sanctuary next to a nursing home, where outside was this oddly moving movement of an old Taiwanese woman singing a sad Japanese song while this couple danced.

Inside the butterfly cage I snapped this picture of Jason and Jen.

Back in Meinung town we stopped at a tourist market to fondle the totally unique souvenirs....

...and look over the selection of high quality wines. Word to the wise: avoid the banana liquor.

In the evening it was back to the Thai food place for spicy food, beer, and good conversation. Thanks for a really great time, Jason!


Anonymous said...

With all respect to Taiwan politics and news (and I, eh, hold alot of respect to those), this kind of posts is why I follow this blog.

Perfect. :D

阿牛 said...

Great photos! And very glad you had a good time. I was super happy to be your host. We'll have to get a better trip to Meinong prepared next time you come out.

Anonymous said...

For all your love of obscure alleys I think you hit the mark with your candid or posed pics of ordinary people.

Anonymous said...

Great Entry...
Please keep the "cultural and historic' photos coming.
I'd like to see a new blog created dealing with that topic only as we seem to have a common type preference.

Aloha from island X Hawaii

Anonymous said...

It is good to see you covered some of the loveley south of Taiwan. Pingtung has such a wonderful rural feel. I just love all the betel nut trees. The new Kaoping bridge has been in use for a couple of months now.

BTW, I never thought ID comments might be anti-social. Anyway, having read that on your sidebar I've now removed them from my blog. The last thing a blog should be is anti-social.


Anonymous said...

Entertainment items indeed!

Anonymous said...

"The show was crowded" - well the photos don't show that. Aside from people letching at the models the place looks as active as Taiwan's economy.

Michael Turton said...

crowding relative thing.

Dixteel said...

Nice to see the games show. I always found those visits to games and electronic shows in Taiwan exciting and enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Michael, the crowding you describe would be relative if someone lived in Antarctica! I'm disappointed that you have to resort to such subjectivity rather than objectivity. Isn't that no different from the sugar coated propaganda peddled by the KMT each day? Why play that game? I thought you were above it.

Michael Turton said...

Dude, I was only teasing but now I'll be serious: the show was crowded compared to last year, when it was a freaking ghost town. The reason the aisles are empty is because people move from booth to booth, they don't stand around. I had to wait in line for all the games I played, though not long.

It wasn't crowded by night market standards, but for a small industry show in a market where coin-op is basically stagnant and gambling has not begun, it was not a bad crowd. If I can remmeber, the crowd fgiures should be out in a few weeks, maybe i'll post them here.


Xty said...'s been a long time since i left taiwan. still awesome!