Apr 30 2010

Taipei Day 3, Taiwan

Went to XinBeiTou which is famous for its hot spring.

XinBeiTou library.

XinBeiTou Museum which explained about history of bath house.

Hot Spring valley.

Ketagalan museum, the museum about Taiwanese aborigines.


There are around 14 aborigine tribes with around 50,000 people living in Taiwan. They still have their own languages but also speak MinNan and Mandarin pretty well.

Go north to DanShui.

Rice (50 NT Dollar~USD$1.7)

A Gei (30 NT Dollar~USD$1)

Coast at DanShui

Town of Danshui

A church in Danshui

Fort

Fisherman Wharf

Went to ShiLin and got on bus 255 to GuGong Museum (80NT Dollar~USD$2.5).

FaLunGong practitioner which is banned in China, demonstrating outside the museum.


When the KuoMinTang party escaped from mainland China, they brought with them a large number of Chinese treasures and antiques. It was said that the GuGong museum in Taiwan has more important artifacts than the GuGong museum in Beijing.

A special exhibition about land lost to Russia in Xinjiang province.

During the Qing dynasty, especially during TongZhi and Guangxu reigns, over 500,000 square kilometers of land was lost to Russia because of the declining in the emperor power and because of some unequal treaties signed. The documents were kept secret and only released in 2007.

The museum was pretty informative and provided a good introduction about ancient Chinese history.

National University of Taiwan.

There are a lot of bicycles around the universities.

Went to TaiPei 101 (370NT Dollar~USD$12).

Taipei 101 is the 2nd tallest building in the world after the Burj in Dubai. Under the top 10 ranking of the tallest buildings in the world, 7 are in Asia, 2 in Chicago and 1 in the middle east. 5 Out of the 7 tallest buildings in Asia are in China.

Shopping mall in Taipei 101

The tower has one of the fastest elevator, going up to 1010meter/minute or around 60km/hour. To get up to the 89 floors, it took only 37 seconds.

View from the top

Taiwan is located around an earthquake zone so the tall building need a damper. The big damper with 5.5 meters in diameter and weighting 660 metric tons.

Noticed a similar Love sculpture as the one in downtown manhattan

HuaXi night market at around LongShanSi area.

Fried Rice (50 NT Dollar ~USD$1.7)

Oyster Omelette (50 NT Dollar ~USD$1.7)

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Apr 29 2010

Taipei Day 2, Taiwan

ZhaJiangMian (35NT Dollar~USD$1)

Housing price is quite high in Taipei as well. They use a Japanese Ping for measurement instead of the usual square meter. One Japanese Ping is equal to around 3.3 square meter. A one bedroom apartment with around 600 square feet cost around USD$400,000.

Taiwan has a lot of Japanese influences. Because it was colonialized by the Japanese for 50 years, most older generation 2nd language is Japanese and it’s not uncommon for younger generation to speak Japanese. The residential buildings here have some similarities to Japanese residential.

Taiwanese are very polite. There are pretty good with their please and thank you. I noticed that the bus driver even thank the passengers.

Got a 2 day transportation pass which include the MRT and bus for 310NT Dollar~USD$10.

LongShan temple.

Religion plays a more important role in Taiwan compared to China. Buddhism and Christianity are the 2 main religion here.

XiMenDing area, a shopping area for youngsters.

XiMenHongLou (Red Building), a historical building which once was a theater and market.

There aren’t many high rises buildings in Taipei

and Taipei 101 do stand out.

Met up with Doris, a university friend who I have seen for a long time. Her parents even treated me for a nice buffet dinner.

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Apr 28 2010

Taipei Day 1, Taiwan

Got to the DongDu harbour

at 7.40am for the 8.30am boat

to Kinmen. I almost missed the boat because I am supposed to get there 50 minutes before to confirm my seat.

Taiwan has been populated by some aboriginal local tribes since few thousands years ago. It was colonialized by the Dutch and Spaniards in the 1600s. During the Ming dynasty, Admiral Cheng Cheng-Kung, also known as Koxinga was based in Kinmen Island. He decided to attack the Dutch and defeated them. Many Han Chinese moved to the island during Ming and Qing dynasty and Taiwan was integrated as part of Fujian province. Taiwan was granted a provincial status in 1985 but was ceded to Japan during the Qing dynasty and Japan ruled the island for 50 years from 1895 to 1945.

During the civil war in China, the Chinese nationalist government lost the war to the communist and escaped to Taiwan.

Got to Kinmen at 9.30am (1 hour boat ride).

The shuttle then took me to the airport for the 11am flight


and landed at Taipei airport


at 12pm.


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People here are pretty friendly. An older Taiwanese man who was on the similar trip was pretty generous and offering me to stay at his place.

Took bus 262 to Taipei hostel. Since I only withdrew larger notes from the ATM, I don’t have change and a lady even offered to pay for my bus ride. Taipei Hostel is located around the crossroad of LinShenLu and ZhongXiaoXiLu. (300 Taiwan Dollar~USD$10, USD$1~31 NT Dollar)

Taipei has a population of around 2.5 million people and is located at the northern tip of Taiwan. During the Japanese rule, Tapei became the administrative capital of headquarter and there are still some Japanese style buildings remain in the city.

Chiang Kai Shek memorial

Flag lowering ceremony

Hip hop culture is quite popular in Taiwan and school kids practicing their moves on the street.

White Terror memorial

The White Terror is also known as 228 incident. Taiwan was handed by UNRRA to Kuomintang in 1945 after end of Japanese rule. 1.5 year after the handover, there were accusation of nepotism and corruption in the party. In Feb 27, 1947 there were a protest by the locals and on Feb 28th, ten to thirty thousands people were killed. Following the unrest, the Taiwanese government enacted martial law until 1987 and imprisoned and killed many elites and people suspicious of anti government activities. This remains a taboo subject for many years and is a source of hostility among the 2 groups of Taiwanese, the former are Chinese who inhabited Taiwan before 1945 and the later are Chinese who came along with ChiangKaiShek after the communist took over China.

Presidential Building.

This building was built in 1919 as the headquarter of the Japanese occupying force. Since 1949 it has been the office of the president.

HongShauNiuRouMian (65NT Dollar~USD$2)

Night in Taipei

Taipei is famous for its many night market. One of the bigger one is ShiLin night market.

Oyster Omelet (50NT Dollar~USD$1.7)

Some hostel mate brought me to Roxy 99.

Getting in the bar on Wednesday before 10.30pm is free plus there are and 2 free drinks provided.

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Apr 27 2010

Xiamen, China

Met some travelers at the hostel and spent the day together.

I plan to visit Taiwan since it’s not far away from Fujian province and tried to find an affordable route to Taipei. Few years ago, direct flights from China to Taiwan weren’t allowed. Since the new government Kuomintang of Taiwan came into power, relation between China and Taiwan is getting better and there are direct flights now. Flying direct from China towards Taipei cost around 2000 Yuan. However, by taking a boat to KinMen (1 hour) then fly to Taipei cost only 670 Yuan.

An old post office

Xiamen is a clean and nicely planned mid size city.

Like most other cities, there are a lot of constructions going on. Housing prices are high so developers try to make the most out of it before the bubble burst.

The ferry terminal for ferries to Jinmen, Taiwan.

Pedestrian street, ZhongSan Road.

Old town with some interesting architecture.

Xiamen University which has one of the most beautiful campus in China.

Had lunch at the university canteen. There are a lot of food varieties at the food court.

Just right beside Xiamen University is the beach.

Some hostel mates.

Rented a bicycle for a scenic bike ride along the southern coast of Xiamen.

and cycled along the southern coast.

There is a big sign saying One Country 2 System. The sign is aim at KinMen island, Taiwan which is just across the coast from Xiamen.

Ferry to Gulangyu. After 10pm, the ferry is free from Gulangyu to Xiamen.

Gulangyu is a beautiful island 1square km in size. It’s a car free island and home to 16000 people. Traffics are banned in Gulangyu and was the island was a residence for westerners during Xiamen colonial past.

Night view of Xiamen city from Gulangyu

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Apr 26 2010

Fuzhou Day 2, China

Was planning to visit the provincial museum but it’s Monday and most museums in China close on Monday.

Breakfast (Dry noodles and Fuzhou meatballs 7 Yuan~USD$1)

The high speed train from Fuzhou to Xiamen started running today. The 280km journey which usually takes 4 hours will be shorten to 1.5 hours taking the express train. There is a long line at the auto ticket machine because this is the first time where ticket buyers encounter the machine.

Took bus 51 to the pedestrian street.

On the pedestrian street, there are many food stalls.
(12 Yuan~USD$2)

Took bus 37 to MaWeiQu, a small town south of fuzhou city.

Shipbuilding site at MaWeiQu

Shopping Mall

Have a local hair cut for 15Yuan~USD$2 on some random street and have noodles with meatballs again (6Yuan~USD$1)

Got on the D9221 9.21pm train (85Yuan~USD$12.5) towards Xiamen.

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The high speed train is brand new and was just put into operation today.

Finally, a non squatting toilet

Every now and then, I am still amazed by the infrastructures in China. The country is planning to build 12,000 km of high speed rail track by 2012, connecting Beijing with most other provincial capital in the country within 8 hours. Reducing travel time between neighboring provincial capital to under 2 hours and cities inside province to an hour. The bullet train is called HeXieHao and is made in China. The government has a stake in many of the companies involved in building infrastructure.

Arrived at Xiamen train station at 11.11pm sharp.

Took a cab (12Yuan~USD$2) to BaJiaCun hostel (40Yuan~USD$6) since bus 3 and 21 stopped running at that time.
6 bed dorm

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Apr 25 2010

Fuzhou Day 1, China

Arrived at Fuzhou train station

at around 10.15am in the morning after 12 hours on the train.

There aren’t any hostels in Fuzhou so walked around and found a hotel not too far away from the bus train station for 88Yuan~USD$13.

I think this is the most I have paid for accommodation in China after going around the country for a few months.

I have some distance relatives in Fuzhou. I am considered an overseas Chinese and my grandparents migrated from China during the 1940s from Fuzhou. They live at ShangJie town which is around 12km from Fuzhou. Bus (55,39) go towards ShangJie town, just jotted it down for my memory. I didn’t tell my distance relatives in advance that I am coming, I just rang them up and they came and picked me up from the city.

Went to ShangJie town which is the hometown of my ancestor.

Fuzhou style noodles

My distance cousins

Home cooked dinner

BaYiGuangChang (August 1st Square)

A big statue of Mao

West Lake which is a famous lake in Fuzhou

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Apr 24 2010

Nanchang, China

Typical Chinese train

Arrived at Nanchang train station at 8.30am after 20 hours on the train.

Chinese people have a hospitable culture. If there are someone coming from another place, they will usually give a warm welcome. A friend of CongTou, HaiTao whom I have never met took half day off from work and brought me to a breakfast place.
People from Nanchang like to eat noodles with soup for breakfast (6Yuan~USD$.9).

There is a big wholesale market for all kinds of goods at the west part of town. Hai Tao works as a credit card salesperson and I tagged along with him to his clients office.

On August 1, 1927, Nanchang was the site of one of a series of insurrections organized by the Chinese Communist Party. The Nanchang Uprising, led by pro-communist Kuomintang officers under Russian direction, succeeded in holding the city for a few days. The military force in Nanchang rebelled against the Kuomintang and this is the start of the civil war between the communist vs Kuomintang.

Memorial of Jiangxi revolutionary army

Most of the explanation is in Chinese and is even hard for me to understand.

About the long march

HaiTao then invited me to his place for lunch. Local home cooked food.

BaYi (August 1st) square.

BaYi is synonymous with the PLA (People Liberation Army of China) because August 1st is celebrated as the founding of the PLA army.

Nanchang is known for: The Tengwang Pavilion, a towering pavilion dating to 653AD and is considered one of “the Four Great Towers of China”

Side view

There is a museum inside the pavilion.
Hats of the official in the court.

View from the tower

In most Chinese cities, there are new and old districts. Across the gan river is the new part of the city with newer high rise buildings.

A Chinese cultural dance performance at the top floor of the pavilion

Took tour bus 1 which go towards the east part of the city. I just like to get on public bus going around the city. Went to the train station to get tonight tickets toward Fuzhou. Luckily I was still able to get ticket but only hard seat.

In Nanchang, it was said to have the highest water fountain and ferris wheel (Star of Nanhchang) in the world. Those 2 were located at the new part of the city. Tour bus no. 2 will go around the new city, however I took the wrong bus, bus no. 2 and wasn’t able to check out those places.

Visited China construction bank which HaoTao works at. Compensation in the bank is merit based. Every employee in sales is ranked weekly and everyone’s compensation is transparent on a board for coworkers to see. This line of work seems pretty competitive and unlike what socialism preachs.

My hospitable Nanchang friends.

Went to the train station and got on the 9.47pm train (87Yuan~USD$13, hard seat) towards Fuzhou.

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Apr 23 2010

ChongQing to Nanchang, China

Farewell to the foggy city.

There are many guys carrying bamboo stick in ChongQing.

Because ChongQing landscape is hilly, those guys are sort of like porter, helping people to carry their goods.

Got on bus 141 towards the north ChongQing train station.

Greening of the train station

Got on the K806 9.47am train (196Yuan (hard seat)+90Yuan (hard sleeper)=286 Yuan~USD$42) towards Nanchang. It’s a 21 hours train ride to Nanchang and a hard sleeper cost 345 Yuan.
I bought a hard seat ticket and then upgraded it to hard sleeper in the evening and that saved me around 60Yuan.


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Typical scene on a train in China

Lunch on the train (10Yuan~USD$1.50)

It’s quite hilly on the way towards Nanchang. The train spent most time inside tunnels and I guess this must be some engineering feats to build so many tunnels across the mountains.

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Apr 22 2010

ChongQing Day 4, China

Noodles for brunch
Pig intestine noodles (6 Yuan~USD$1)

XiaoMian (4 Yuan~USD$0.7)

Today is a rainy day

Took bus 1 to XiNanZhengFa University

at YuBei district. It’s around 45 minutes bus ride to the university.

Yumin showed me around the university. The university has a pretty nice library.

Took bus 801 to Chongqing University at ShaPingBa district.
Cafeteria of ChongQing University

Walked around SanXia Square which is another square with a pedestrian street at ShaPingBa district.

SiFanUniversity

Called it a day after visiting 3 universities and took bus 089 back to ChaoTianMen at YuZhong district.

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Apr 21 2010

ChongQing Day 3, China

Surprisingly, the weather is clear today.

Visited the 3 gorges museum.

This is my third time going back to the museum and I am glad that I was able to get in.

Inside the museum

There are exhibits on the Ba culture and the area of the three gorges downriver from Chongqing.

This poster is saying Chinese should smoke Chinese cigarettes, during the boycott of foreign products.

Remnants of a Japanese bomb. From 1938-1943, Japan dropped many bombs in ChongQing to terrorize the local residents.

View across from the museum

A friend of a CongTou, YuMin was very nice willing to show me around the city and treated me for a dry hot pot. A funny looking sculpture at HongYaDong.

JiaLing river

Crossed the JiaLing river by cable car (5Yuan).

View of YuZhong district

The Science Museum

and Theater.

Just around ZhongYangGongYuan, Central Park

are some newly built churches

Took bus 262 from ChaoTianMen to ChongQing Library.

There are many plants around the library

a pretty green library

Back to HongYaDong

There are many food stalls on the 4th floor

Night scenery

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