Thursday, June 21, 2007

A brief outbreak of travel blogging

I realize that I took my trip to Taiwan and Japan a long time ago (at least, it feels like a long time ago now!), but I did take some interesting pictures that I'd like to share with you. I especially have to post a few pictures to explain my post for Eye Candy Friday tomorrow.

Before Eye Candy Friday, though, here are some pictures from the Taiwan leg of the trip. I visited Taiwan several times when I was younger, and the thing I remember most is the traditional Taiwanese street markets. Although Taipei has urbanized and modernized quite a lot, there are still traditional street markets here and there along specific streets. I don't think they'll ever completely go away--they're really a part of Taiwanese culture.

You can buy all kinds of things at these markets. Fish:

Pre-cooked chicken, all cut up into slices:

All different kinds of fruit:

One of my favorite fruits is mango. And boy, does Taiwan have mangoes!

And they're so cheap, too! I see mangoes for sale in the US for a buck a pop. But in Taiwan you can get beautiful ripe mangoes like these for three or four to a dollar.

While I was in Taiwan, I got to visit my one of my uncles, who works near Hualien, an eastern coastal city. His place of work is out basically in the country, and he works right near a beautiful lake. This picture below is fairly representative of the kind of lush green landscape you see once you get away from the urban centers of the island.

And what is a trip to Taiwan without seeing the obligatory tourist attractions?

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall:

The 2/28 Peace Park Memorial, dedicated to Taiwanese nationalists who were massacred by government troops while protesting the oppressiveness of the Chinese-run government on February 28, 1947 (I think--I'm obviously sure about the day and month, but not about the year).

Taipei 101, which used to be the tallest building in the world:

I also went to Japan for a few days to help celebrate the Chairwoman's birthday. I took a lot of pictures while I was there, especially of some new temples I visited, but haven't gotten to sort through all of them just yet. But I did pick a few of one of the nicer things I got to see while I was there--the Miho Museum.

The Miho Museum was designed by I.M. Pei, the same architect who designed the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre in Paris. Although the museum collections are okay (really, nothing to write home about), the museum itself, and especially the entrance to the museum, are really cool.

The museum is very modern looking, but Mr. Pei explained in a documentary provided by the museum that he wanted to integrate the design of the museum into the natural landscape of the mountain into which it was built:

He also designed a special entrance to the museum. Basically, you have to pass through a tunnel that cuts through part of the mountain to access the museum. The concept doesn't sound particularly interesting, but Mr. Pei said that he wanted to design the entrance so that coming upon the museum would be like a pleasant surprise. And he did a good job of it, too--I think the tunnel and the entrance to the museum are the best part of the whole experience of visiting Miho.

Here's what the tunnel looks like from the museum itself:

The design is really modern and striking:

The inside is lit up with lamps and is fully air conditioned:

And the best part about it is how it curves gracefully and sinuously through the mountain. It really does create the effect of happening upon a surprise as you come around the bend.

It's hard to capture in words (or even in pictures) just how cool the experience is of walking through the tunnel and getting to see what's on the other side (whether it's the museum on one side or the gardens on the other). Mr. Pei achieved exactly what he said he wanted to do.

Anyway, that's a brief run-down of some of the more beautiful/interesting/noteworthy things I got to see on my trip. I regret not being able to give the trip or the pictures a more thorough treatment, but . . . well, that's the way the cookie crumbles.


Blogger Melissa said...

I love all of the pictures. The tunnel is really neat.

6/22/2007 8:34 AM  
Blogger twellve said...

your lake picture is just gorgeous. makes me wish i were there!

thanks for all the lovely comments on my blog--i finally found yours!

6/26/2007 9:39 AM  

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