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Posts tagged ‘Taiwan’

Been a Loooooooong Time ( Chinese New Year 2015 )

Well now its 2015, been a really long time between post. A lot has gone on many changes happy to say mostly for the good. More post will follow on some of these new developments but for now I will spend some time on most recent events. Having just returned from Taiwan and Chinese New Year it seems thats a good place to start. 2015 is the year of the ( Ram Goat Sheep ) haven’t been able to get a consistent answer on this from Chinese friends and since they are all pretty much the same thing gonna go with Goat…

Here is my latest New Years Card, I try to do these every year depending on work load. As usual this was done pretty fast last minute, I think if to do again I would change the orientation of the mountain but otherwise I like it… Unlike most of my other cards, Christmas, New Year, Halloween etc… this was done all on my Samsung tablet using Sketchbook Pro. In a way this makes it more like a hand done piece of art as I don’t have all the fun toys Photoshop offers and for this no 3D…

Xin Nian Kuai Le

Xin Nian Kuai Le

This yeah had me heading to Taiwan straight from a job in Beijing for Themetech Culture and Creative. They are a relatively new company ” attended their 2nd annual office party ” serving the Themed Entertainment industry in China. Specifically Disney Shanghai… Themetech has potential especially if they continue to satisfy Disneys quality standards; no easy task that, but so far they are doing it well. My old friend and boss from Gameworks, Mark Stutz is heading up their design effort as VP of Design so they are in good hands… More on that for later.

I can’t really discuss what I did there yet as the projects are still in negotiation but I am proud of what we accomplished and really hope Themetech gets the jobs green lighted as they are both quite cool…

The area I was in was in Bejing’s 6th ring Changping District. Its really far out there and not much like the other places in Beijing I have seen. Very little to do and quite dingy even for China. I was put up for the month at The Thaishan Hotel, which is supposedly a 5 Star Hotel. I am not sure how they came to that conclusion. Maybe its the amount of marble used in the lobby because it sure isn’t the service or accommodations… Anyway I was there to work not sightsee so it is what it is…

One Sat I wandered around the hotel neighborhood to see if there was anything interesting. I think these pics capture the environment  pretty well and offer a nice contrast to where I went next…

Would love to know what this beauty is doing here.

Sweet Ride

Seen better days

When the weather turns cold China ramps up the coal plants to produce the energy for heat, in many places you can see evidence of individuals doing the same…

and a pile of coal...

and a pile of coal…

"Not very well ventilated down there pop"...

“Not very well ventilated down there “…

Northern China has serious issues with air quality but I have to admit the air wasn’t too terrible most of my stay, of course that could be that I have gotten used to it and my standards have fallen.

I guess painting half the wall was good enough…

ran out of paint...

ran out of paint…

during my stay here in ChangPing I must have seen this 4 or 5 times, I guess when the car breaks down it becomes fair game

Pimp My Ride

Pimp My Ride

This poster was on a big board outside the little neighborhood I walked through, part of me wants to know what its for, part of me really doesn’t…

Seriously WTF is this about?

Seriously WTF is this about?

I am excited to get out of here and back to Taiwan.

Goodbye China Hello Taiwan...

Goodbye China Hello Taiwan…

 

Taiwan was beautiful as usual; clean air, great food, friendly peeps and of course my beautiful wife.

Arrived on the 14th of Feb with a good 5 days till CNY. Chinese New Year is based on the Lunar calender so it fluctuates every year this time falling on Feb 19. Not sure exactly how this is decided but I am picturing a monk somewhere in a room full of smokey incense.

Now thats a great way to welcome somebody home…

Famous Taiwan Beer

Famous Taiwan Beer

Taipei has great many Temples, this one is right next to another great Taiwanese feature, the night markets…

Temple Visit

Temple Visit

The temple was less crowded then usual as we came in on a weekday a bit ahead of the CNY rush, this calm will not last…

In the Temple

In the Temple

Beautiful carvings everywhere, this particular temple is around 250 years old, quite young by the standards of China. Taiwan still holds onto many of the cultural treasures of the  past, unlike the mainland where many of these artifacts have been damaged or even purposefully destroyed during the Cultural Revolution…

Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons

These lanterns are made by school children. there were a lot of them, quite creative and beautiful.

Cool Lanterns 1

Cool Lanterns 1

Cool Lanterns 2

Cool Lanterns 2

The traditional market near Fanny’s parents  house, it’s late in the day so the selection was a bit spare

Traditional Market

Traditional Market

Presentation is everything… CNY is all about family and food.

Hmmmm…

Hmmmm…

To the left…

Brother V

Brother V

Lao Ma and 2 of her grandsons…

Hangin with Lao Ma

Hangin with Lao Ma

The General and his ladies…

Fannys Ba & Ma

Fannys Ba & Ma

New Years fun… The kids tend to mess around and joke while the elders play heated games of Mah Jong…

Such Drama

Such Drama

Every time in Taipei we have to get some xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung, Best dumplings  ever…

Best Dumplings in Town

Best Dumplings in Town

During the New Year each family group will sponsor a dinner or activity, Brother V took us all to a great tepenyaki place excellent food, great presentation.

Great Steak Dinner

Great Teppanyaki  Dinner

Fancy Feast

Fancy Feast

Fancy Salad

Fancy Feast

Special Desert

Special Desert

This is a shot of another popular temple the day after New Year as you can see its a bit more crowded now…

Waiting to get in

Waiting to get in

This is my 5th Chinese New Year in Taiwan I really enjoy this time with fan’s family but I am also looking forward to heading back to Shenzhen and getting back to work

More to come…

A change of place

Just recently while discussing life the Universe and Everything with my peers in the USA it was brought to my attention that we will not be able to make the permanent move  to Asia just yet. It seems that my clients in the States are not comfortable with my being 10,000 miles and the relevant time difference away. I am somewhat saddened by this as I have really been enjoying my time in Asia and would love to delve deeper into the culture and language. Fanny and I had been planning a move to either Taipei or Hong Kong for the next 2 years.

Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy so what the clients want the clients will get. I cannot really fault the logic, after all I get paid well for my services and when they need the work it usually means they needed it yesterday… In reality its not easy working all night long for days on end and there have been some issues with communication.

What this means for the future is somewhat hazy right now as I have to figure out where we ” fanny and I ”  would like to be… The obvious choice is back to LA ” thats Los Angeles not Louisiana ” where I sit as I write this. By obvious I mean that Los Angeles is a place I enjoy living and it also is where the lions share of my work comes from for the Entertainment Industry. Other options are to make a go of it in Las Vegas Nevada or even stay here in Louisiana but I honestly can’t see that last one being attractive so most likely its back to the City of Angels. Since Fanny Is Taiwanese, there is no doubt that we will be going back to Asia often, it just will not be a permanent move until I can establish a revenue stream that  isn’t reliant on my physical location.

Over the next few months I intend to finally organize my huge collection of imagery captured in Asia over the last 4 years and share some more of it here on ecstaticpixel. I also plan on finishing all those draft post I have started but never got to complete.

Taipei day 1

After a good sleep at Fanny’s dad’s place we are up and about relatively early. Fanny’s parents live in a very desirable area of Taipei the area was originally reserved for military families but has sense then been opened to regular folks.Since there is a new metro station being built very nearby I assume this old neighborhood will be changing soon. Fanny’s dad was a pilot and retired from the  Taiwan airforce at the rank of full General I assume that is why they own here. I am impressed at the small differences between here and Shenzhen chief among them would have to be the use of good insulation, the house is nicely warm in spite of the chill weather. In Shenzhen when we left it was actually colder inside the apartment then on the street.

The building style here is similar to the mainland but the quality control makes all the difference. From the outside the buildings show their age but inside things are good. These buildings will soon be taken down to make way for the new style mega complexes ( developers are already pushing ) but for now its still the old way, I am hopeful that Taipei will retain some of its original charm after the inevitable growth…

The Neighborhood

Fanny tells me this used to be a restaurant but now it is an auto shop specializing in European cars.

Sleepy Dog

Something really cool about Taipei is the convenience, on our walk to the bus stop we can pick up breakfast, grab a coffee and do a little banking. We got what I call a chinese burrito and a rice meat  roll thing called ” Fan-Tuan ” for around 2 bucks Yum… A note for Americans I found out at the bank that our travelers checks are not very welcome here. You need to make sure they are from American Express or no one will cash them. Not shocking when you reflect on what the US banks have been pulling but a sad reflection on our current situation…

Quick Breakfast

This same shop may be operated by a different family for the night time crowd. Taiwan is a great place for food, the taste is a bit lighter then in Shenzhen but I think this has to do with the better ingredients quality. In China they over spice the food to cover any shall we say ” Issues ” that being said I also enjoy the food in Shenzhen just need to be a bit careful.

Making Breakfast

Local flower shop

Flowers

Just 2 blocks from the family home we find a major street, the buses load in the center of the street, this is also where the MRT will be going in underground when its finished. I think when we move here I can see having a scooter or maybe even a motorcycle but with all the public transport I see no reason for a car.

Catch The Bus

Something I have never seen in China, a cop actually doing police work, I imagine she is parked illegally. The police also ride scooters here if your wondering.

Ticket Time

Unlike Fannys Hula Hoops this girl has  a similar style to the ones we have seen in China, I believe its more of a workout thing as the hoop is weighted.

Hooper

On the main street of Taipei, ” Zhong-Xiao East Road “, this is a great area to walk around and people watch, very fashionable and such. Supposedly the real estate prices here have become incredibly high, a bit like Manhattan or Tokyo. 1 million NT for a ” PING ” or around 30,000 US dollars for 35 square feet.

main Drag

This is Fanny’s mom’s hairdresser of 20 plus years. Everybody gets done up special for the New Year.

Styling Time

Oh Boy…

In Good Hands

Thats a good look.

Zombie B

Heh Heh Heh

Scary Me

Flapper style cuts are cool… Why is it that all girls want short hair and boys like it long?

Flapper Time

Louise Brooks  silent film star and the original Flapper

Louise Brooks

Freshly styled we get back on the bus for a trip across town to see if we can make an appointment to see a knee specialist as mine is still bothering me. I am hoping that since this time I have Fanny with me we can get a better understanding of just what is wrong with it.

My beautiful girl sporting her new do

Taiwan is full of temples, you find them everywhere side of the roads, in the markets and neighborhoods. They are really ornate and seem to be in much better repair then their counterpoints on the mainland. I still don’t have a strong understanding of what the significance is, there are Buddhist and Taoist with a whole lot of overlap going on. I suppose this makes sense considering just how old  Taiwan and China’s cultural history really is.

Bus Ride 1

I have seen a number of these, I think they are power transformer boxes, painted with flowers and trees.

Bus Ride 2

Another temple, you routinely see people walk by and bow to whatever ( Gods ) are in there. I have also noticed a good deal of Christian symbology here on this trip, I suppose its inevitable but I hope the people don’t lose sight of their origins.

Bus Ride 3

Taipei Veterans General Hospital is one of the best facilities in Taiwan. Until very recently they had mandatory military service. Because of this veterans here receive real benefits, not surprising if you consider Taiwan’s history and proximity to communist China.

Taipei Veterans Hospital

As I am a foreigner and have never been here before  the first step will be to make an appointment to see the doctor on a walk in basis. After this is accomplished we head across to the cafeteria for some lunch.

Glass Dome

Inside we find a huge cafeteria with many stalls much like the food courts under malls. The place is clean and the food smells good hard to believe we are in a hospital. We get a full meal soup noodles and dumplings etc. you cant see it here but across from us the man is enjoying some kind of sizzling fajita thing. Both our meals cost us around $8 US and are quite good just can’t beat Taiwan for food.

Cafeteria Food

After lunch we go back to wait for our time to see the doctor. He does surgery in the morning and sees patients in the after noon. To the left you can see the office rooms where doctors treat the patients, as this a public hospital there are many people but our wait is only about half an hour. It is possible because they gave us  special treatment as a foreigner.

Take A Number

The doctor is quite nice and spends a good 20 min examining my leg before sending us down to have series of X rays made. This is also a teaching hospital so there are two intern doctors and a few nurses in attendance. He speaks excellent english as he spent time working in hospitals in the states where he went to school. Good news so far is according to him my knee structure is good we just need to find out whats causing the swelling. Not sure what a magnetom is but I liked the sign. I have 3 scans made of my knees and head back up to see what he thinks.

Magnetom

From the X rays the Doctor can see the scaring on my bones but wants an MRI scan done to be sure of whats going on in there. He tells me that I either have injury induced arthritis , a torn meniscus or floating debris any of which can cause the swelling and discomfort I have been experiencing. The appointment for MRI will be in a few days so for now we are done here I am given a prescription for an anti inflammatory med and we head on out. Our total time is under 3 hours including our lunch and the bill comes to a whopping $50 Us dollars for 3 X-rays, doctor consultation and a week’s medication, not bad for no insurance and no appointment.

We take the free shuttle back to the MRT station for a quick subway ride back to downtown. The MRT in Taiwan is very good and using it one can get just about anywhere in the city. The cost is quite reasonable as well, to use it you purchase a debit card type thing the ” Easy Card ” which can be used for any of the public transport and can be recharged at almost any convenience store.

Easy Card

The MRT trains make travel in Taipei very easy, it does get crowded at times but unless you must go outside the city or need to carry a lot of gear a car is just a hinderance here.

Trains Coming

Its been a nice productive day and we now its time to meet up with the family for dinner. The shop here on the right is selling various Chinese New Years paraphernalia.

The next few days will be spent visiting with friends and family, eating good food and generally relaxing… Its good to be back in Taiwan. 🙂

Heading Home

Late Night Flight

This year for Chinese New Year we will be in Taipei Taiwan. This is my second New Year in Taiwan and I am looking forward to it as I enjoy Taipei greatly and it will be a nice break from Shenzhen. We are going a bit early in order to give us time to take care of some things we need to do. Every year around this time travel in China becomes very congested as just about everyone is traveling home, I have seen it claimed that this is the single largest human migration in the world. To avoid complications, instead of flying straight from Shenzhen we have booked flights out of Hong Kong, the price is literally half that of a flight from the mainland 3400 RMB or around $525 US for both of us. Our flight leaves at 10:30 pm so we need to get to the border early in case of the almost certain delays. We will leave from Shenzhen bay to avoid having to carry our bags through customs especially important as I have packed my Cintiq in order to work while we are there.

. Taking the higher priced shuttle van is a must right now but in truth for Westerners its still quite a bargain our tickets cost us 150 RMB apiece or approximately $25 US well worth it for the convenience.

Waiting For the Van

Our wait is a bit longer then usual due to congestion at the border but we eventually are loaded in and on our way to Hong Kong. Unfortunately due to the strange relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong just getting in the vehicle has little to do with how quickly you get anywhere. After loading, the driver takes everyone’s passports and cues us into the line to clear China border security. The majority of vehicles in line are other ” Limo ” service vans usually late model Toyota mini vans with dual licenses plates, Full size Busses and the occasional wealthy Hong Kong resident. Everyone has to cue and go through the security checkpoints on both sides; mainland China and then about 50 meters after that , Hong Kong. The border agents take their jobs seriously so its advisable to give yourself a wide margin on time. A note for Westerners if your passport photo doesn’t look exactly like you anymore expect to be questioned on it.

Shenzhen Bay

This time through we spend a full hour getting past the mainland Chinese only to wait another half hour for Hong Kong its quite possible we will miss our flight as we still have a good half hour to 45 min drive to the airport. Fanny and I discuss this in English which of course our driver being from Hong Kong understands. Spending any amount of time in China tends to instill in people the need to be a bit manipulative at times and this time its paying off as our driver is making good time.

Moving At Last"

Our driver did really well and although time is tight we will not miss our flight. The airport is actually not too bad but then again it is 9:30 at night. After checking in we grab a coffee and await our plane in a terminal I have not seen before. Hong Kong’s airport is really quite amazing and someday I hope to have the chance to spend some free time here just looking…

HK Terminal

Our Flight leaves at 10:30 which means we will be getting in around midnight in Taipei. Strangely enough the flight is only about half full, this is probably due to the time and the fact that we are traveling a full 4 days ahead of the business men who work in Shenzhen but live in Taiwan. As you can see from the little flight map display Taiwan is actually quite close to the mainland something which makes their independence from China a loaded subject. The presidential elections are to be held very soon and the biggest challenge to the current leader of Taiwan is a female candidate who seems to want to take a much more hard line position with China, not sure if thats a good idea at the moment…

Flight Path

While in flight I read an interesting article about the lantern festivals that take place in Taiwan for New Years, I really want to see this sometime. This whole thing is really fascinating to me on a cultural level. I have never seen so many people fully commit to an event. The entire country and in fact most of Asia puts itself on hold for almost a full month. This is really amazing considering the current state of economics around the world. I have noticed closed shops in Lian Tang for the last week at least and at the same time you see long lines of people waiting to buy tickets home.  In 2008 the number of travelers during the season exceeded China’s population at 2 billion I assume this means there will be even more now. The fact that so many people in China are now living and working far from their family homes makes for some serious congestion.

After arriving safely in Taiwan we make our way to the shuttle bus area which has recently been redesigned. One of the nice features of Taiwan is an abundance of cheap and convenient transport options. We will be traveling to Taipei on a shuttle service run by the airport and I assume subsidized by the government. The service is quite nice and at 150 NT or $5 US  just you cant beat it.

New Development

The waiting area is relatively empty due to the time. Its right at midnight but the busses are still running. These girls are enjoying a quick game of something while they wait.

Playing Cards

I really enjoyed the design in here, the low ceilings and stone columns make me think of a Stanley Kubrick film

Ticket Counter

A view from outside shows more of this design sense. Taipei’s airport is currently undergoing a great deal of new construction should be interesting to see it when completed.

Patient B waiting

I really am happy to have my panasonic camera back in action the digital zoom works well especially considering the low lighting…

Closeup B

The buses are quite good, comfortable and spacious this one doesn’t show it but many of them are lit up like mobile christmas trees with neon and led lights. I am not sure why this is but it makes for cool visuals and its something I am getting accustomed to the longer I stay in Asia.

Not Our Ride

We have to wait for awhile longer as this will be the last bus tonight and will be full of passengers and airport employees. The man standing in the aisle here is one of the employees off from his shift and seemed quite friendly and talkative. This is another thing I really appreciate about Taiwan, the people here are very polite and approachable in sharp contrast to the mainland Chinese.

The trip to Taipei will take almost an hour which makes this comfortable bus very welcome to the weary traveler.

Nice Bus

These are some pics I took from the bus, I love Taipei at night there is something magical about it, a perfect place for me as I tend to be a night owl anyway…

Golden Lights

Numbers

Night Street

Tomorrow we must get up early as there are many things we want to accomplish while here and with New Year fast approaching we will not have any time to waste.

 

 

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