Scribbles in the Sand

All About My Life in Taiwan


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1st day in Japan

Woke at 4am for our 5:30am flight from Taipei to Tokyo Narita airport. We’ve been to Tokyo twice now so the trip in to town is more familiar, although we had a few hiccups early on.  Number one was forgetting to move our clocks an hour ahead and almost missing our train and the second was misreading the train ticket and thinking we were in cart 9 rather than seat 9, meaning we had to run half-way down the platform to get on the high speed railway.

The trip in to city centre is nice. Lots of green fields and country houses with cool blue tiled roofs.  We got off at at Shibuya station and got a taxi to the apartment we are staying in.

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After a short rest we travelled to the new Tokyo studio to read through the scripts for the coming week of shooting.  The set is being built and we have our first 7 videos to record tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a 12 hour day, from 8am to 8pm. Let’s hope the first day of filming goes smoothly and can ease the nerves.

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Below is a short hyperlapse of the famous Shibuya crossing made famous in movies. Still playing with the hyperlapse app so have not perfected the technique of filming.

>Steps taken:13,692

>Floors climbed:19


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We Did Some River Tracing!

Early Saturday morning Fiona, my brother and I got the MRT subway from Beitou all the way to the end of the line out in Xindian. From there we met a group of Fiona’s colleague’s friends and we all bundled onto a public bus, and off we set on a very uncomfortable, twisty ride up, into the mountains.

We arrived at an activity centre in the middle of the forested mountains on a swollen river bank, a typhoon having just passed days before.  Annexing the activity centre was a giant garage full of wetsuits, canoes, and helmets all dangling from the rafters. Continue reading


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How to Get to the Top of Taipei 101 for Free…Kind Of

Our friend Doris arrived from London on Friday last weekend. Having never been up the world’s once tallest building, Taipei 101, so we though it would make a good Saturday morning outing.

However, riding the worlds fastest elevator up to the top costs a staggering 500NT (£10/$17/€12.5) which while not astronomical, when two of the three members of the group have already been up before, it seems a waste of £30 to look across the city from above

Fear not, here is a secret hack for when you visit Taipei. Continue reading


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Flying Visit to Penghu and the Museum of World Religion

Our friends are over from the UK, so for the past few days we have been showing them the delights of Taipei.  They have also been exploring other parts of the island by themselves. Last week we all got the plane to Penghu, and then from there we took a boat tour and scooter ride around the small sparsely populated outer island of Wangan.

We were almost not going to go based of bad weather reports, but the weather couldn’t have been better. Blue skies, blazing sun, a fresh and strong wind free from the constant Taipei humidity, it felt like another country. Our friends got quite burnt thinking their factor 20 British sunscreen would be enough for the Taiwan sun, it wasn’t.  Sadly Fiona got struck down with some sort of bug  while we were visiting the green turtle conservation centre on Wangan, and was expelling liquids out of each end. Continue reading


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Trip to Taichung

Tuesday evening has Fiona find out from a friend about some interesting new jobs opening up in Taiwan.  Starting next year, IKEA is opening a flagship store in the centre of Taiwan in the city of Taichung 台中.  This round of interviews is for managerial positions and the interview process had been covered in the newspaper because of the thousands of applicants, interview entirely in English, and the requirement to build some flat pack furniture in later rounds.  Since the interview was in English, I thought there was no harm in me going along too, and with only an evening to write a Mandarin CV, and read up on IKEA, time was short.  We didn’t get to sleep until 2am, and woke at 5am, ready for our flights that we had purchased from a self-service machine in 7 Eleven the previous night. Continue reading


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Day 3 – Big Buddha

Today’s adventure was to the island of Lantau to see the largest Buddha in the world.  We took a ratty coach from Doris’ doorstep to a motorway bus stop, and then a 20 minute journey to the brand new MRT station in the new territories, (an exceedingly modern, clean and deserted place, clearly built for future travellers).  From here we took a pleasant journey across the water and met up with one of Doris’ old school friends. (all of this using the octopus card-similar to an oyster card).   She had brought along her professional grade camera which was exceedingly large, heavy, and expensive, so I was happy knowing we would get some great snaps*. Continue reading


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Hong Kong Day 2

The previous day I had made a list of things to see in Hong Kong,  and so the first thing on the agenda was to see The Peak.  A giant hill in the centre of Hong Kong, home to the rich and famous.  Doris’ sister drove us up the ridiculously steep slopes to the very top where there is giant viewing platform.

This is the real home of the western tourist, which in comparison to the asian tourists, look like giant blond buffalos.  I’m so used to seeing a foreigner and expecting them to be American that it was nice hearing German, Swedish, and British English accents for a change.  We took some snaps then looked around the shopping centre before taking the peak tram back down into the city.

 

View from “The Peak”

Inside the peak tram

This ancient railway descends almost vertically at points, and offers amazing views down across the harbour through the thicket of trees.  A Chinese tourist was so overwhelmed by this beauty that he insisted on standing for the entire journey snapping pictures with his overly large camera.

When the tram suddenly descended steeply, he fell back several meters, but luckily a hairy italian stuck out his arm and propped the man up.  Even this near death experience (or rather, broken camera experience) didn’t deter him and he continued with his pictures.

Once at the bottom, we crossed the road and entered one of Hong Kong park’s.  Inside this mosquito haven was a giant Eden project style Avery,  full of exotic birds, and even more exotic cameras.  After being bit one too many times we took a tram to a coffee shop, and then to a giant computer emporium filled with all manner of computer accessories and apple connector cables.  Approaching nightfall we walked to the harbour.

All of the party boats chartered by white bankers were returning as nightfall descended and we and took a 1o minute boat ride over the Kowloon in order to look back across the harbour at HK island from the promenade.  The viewing gallery gradually filled up with thousands of tourists and the show began.

It was a bit slow to start with, and didn’t really end with a massive bang, but seeing lasers and LED’s put to the sound of pumping music on world-famous buildings was worth seeing.  It happens every night at 8pm so I recommend it if you ever go.

After the show finished we walked along some busy shopping streets and entered one of the many many restaurants.  We both had beef noodles and milk tea, and later got picked up by her parents and drove home after a long day of walking about town.

 

Here is a video teaser of the light show.  https://dl.dropbox.com/u/8504439/HK%20Light%20Show.MOV

The boat we took across harbour

Nathan Road, the longest road in HK, filed with expensive shops.

Beef Noodle Joint

Every Night at 8pm. See the Attached video