I’ll take a break from posting a recent series from my last trip to Okinawa to show off something I saw last weekend at the Hsinchu City God Temple. This is part of a ceremony allowing and welcoming spirits to roam sort of “finish business” from the earthly realms. During this month, spirits are appeased and/or kept away from homes through incense and offerings and spirit money, or ghost money, is burned as an offering. I have some more shots from last year here.
As school is about to start, this is a bit of a culture shock to many foreigners entering Taiwan for the first time. It’s hard to believe this is the start of my third year on the island!
Last weekend included a trip to a wedding in Taoyuan, followed by a trip to Daxi Village in Taoyuan County. Like Sanxia, it has an older section of town, but unlike my visit to Sanxia, we arrived too late to see it fully being used and enjoyed by people.
Regardless, I did take some photos of my evening in Daxia, short as it was.
I’ve always liked seeing contrasts in photography, and given my background in history, I’ve always liked to see the mix of old and new. Taiwan is full of this, and I saw this in a glimpse as a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver moved along through a crowded traditional Jhubei market last weekend.
In the US, it’s not uncommon for schoolkids to not know where their chicken/beef/whatever it is might come from. In these markets (and on the farms in Taiwan), it’s quite obvious. Instead of having an industrial farm grow your food and purchasing it from a middleman, you can go to these weekly markets where just about anything grown in Taiwan is directly sold to you. Mix that with a pizza delivery chain that everyone knows and I think you have an interesting study in globalization here.
A lot of people groan when I mention McDonald’s, Domino’s or the like. I have to say I have a soft spot for both, even though I came to Taiwan wanting to explore the cuisine. And I have explored the cuisine. However, there comes a point where any resemblance of home – even processed food with a very predictable flavor – is very appetizing. Says a lot for someone who used to/makes fun of people who visit NYC Times Square from across the US to go to TGI Fridays.
With Chinese New Year coming (and family visiting), this blog will be taking a break after tomorrow. I’ll be returning with plenty of material, or at least I hope to do so…
These water machines made an interesting subject the other day while I was out walking. They’re kind of like gas pumps, but for drinking water. Potable water doesn’t come out of many taps in Asia, so people rely on bottled water (which is very cheap and comes in large amounts) or taps and machines like these which exist for drinking, cleaning, and cooking.
You CAN use tap water to wash dishes and probably would be fine if it were boiled, but I don’t take too many chances, though I’m not convinced I would be wiped out if I forgot to do any of the above :)
Before I start today’s post, let me say thanks to the new visitors. WordPress.com has an awesome feature where they pick a blog to feature along with about 7-8 others on their front page. This has increased my traffic and made me thankful that I’m not running my own server! I learned that I was “freshly pressed” through a comment and checked my email. As of only 12 hours later, I have 546 hits today alone, and counting. This isn’t bad at all for a blog which usually averages 30 per day!
If you’d like, go ahead and subscribe. I post daily photos of my time in Taiwan and would love to see some more comments. Thanks to those of you who have commented in the past! If anyone with a photo or relevant travel blog is interested, I’m also always up for trading blogroll links.
Today’s post shows some street scenes from Taipei. Specifically, this is Ximending, a district known for its fashionable shops and plethora of advertising. It’s a pretty “trendy” district, and full of young people. Of course, because this is Taiwan, street food is still all over.
These shots were mostly taken using the new Nikkor 35mm f/1.8. In addition, I used the 70-300mm on some of these photos.
Last weekend, I had the chance to revisit Hsinchu Zoo. I revisited my old favorites, the crab-eating macaques, and they were especially lively. I then made my way up to an area which I neglected before – the orangutans, tigers, and bears. I have a previous post with photos from the first time I visited.
These shots were all made with the Nikkor 70-300mm. I had to turn the ISO up to 1600 and was shooting at f/5.6, the widest aperture at 300mm. While I could’ve used a wider aperture (meaning a more expensive lens), there was a decent amount of light, though I felt like I was racing the sun.
Advertisements are everywhere in Taiwan. While the same is said of any industrialized country, it takes different forms here. You’ll see them not only on storefronts and signs, but on moving trucks (that blast out a recorded ad in Chinese) and, in this case, on the back of a tricycle. The good news is that there are very, very few billboards (I hate billboards!) and since it’s all in Chinese, it almost doesn’t seem like advertising. Kind of funny how that works.
This was taken in Taipei with the 35mm f/1.8 in Ximending. I thought it was odd sitting in the middle of a modern city’s shopping district as there were much more expensive ads all over the place – much like New York’s Times Square. The interesting thing about this is that I later found it advertises a hotline for men and women to call for… well… it’ll be awkward for me to keep talking… my family reads this.
These shots were taken at the Double Ninth festival, and as a I alluded to yesterday, were reprocessed through a very cool preset collection I found for Aperture 3. These were never put up mostly because I had so many images to comb through after that day of shooting. I decided to go with a very effective black and white preset for these that has the texture and contrast I was looking for in my images.
The other night, I had a Tex-Mex craving. Unfortunately, that’s a hard thing to quell in a place like Taiwan, which, like any other country, has its own take on any cuisine which gets imported to Formosa’s shores.
The good news is that there’s a pretty decent Tex-Mex place here in Jhubei City. While it’s a little kitschy (complete with all of the servers wearing cowboy hats) and the beer is way overpriced, it’s a good escape. They have a few good dishes and a locally famous 72-ounce steak which you get for free if you finish within an hour.
One of my favorite things is the bilingual sign. I turned this into black-and-white to show contrasts and also because there isn’t much color going on with the red-yellow-blue scheme they have.
This shot was taken during the Double Ninth Parade, which I posted about a few weeks ago. I don’t think I realized how much I liked it until recently looking back at my photos for a recent slideshow I made which included a lot of shots from my first three months here in Taiwan.
The spiked club he is holding is a type of ceremonial weapon. I believe it’s sometimes used as a ceremonial flogging tool as well. All I know is that it looks pretty fierce – even if his is a prop.