We make holes in teeth!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day 7 Pictures

On to day 7, a whole lot of pictures again today. I think this may be the biggest picture day left though I'm not sure. I left too many similar pictures of Julia in at the end there, but I know my mom likes it so whatever. I don't think I'll hit my Flickr upload limit before Tuesday, though I guess you never know. It resets on the 1st of each month.

On our way to the pottery village, here's a distant shot of the hill cemetery I was talking about in one of the other picture days. Waaaaay off in the distance someone just plopped down a plot one day and it went from there.

This is what they look like from close range. I think they come in various shapes and sizes, but you often get the bungalow thing going on with them. I call this a cemetery but I don't know if this is an actual cemetery or just a sort of rogue thing. Not sure how it works here. I don't think every inch of land is accounted for like in the states.

Look! Bikes in Taiwan! Check out the guy in the yellow helmet, he seems amused. The guy in the black hat also illustrates the masks I was talking about in another post. You see them everywhere.

One of the desserts I described, a sort of doughy shell with ice cream, cilantro, and shaved peanut candy. Good stuff.

On the way out Lydia stops for a quick bowl making session.

And this fat German guy sells German sausages. Nat and I split one. Good stuff!

Art! Or maybe this guy took a little too much opium. Kinda neat, but then it makes you question what the difference is between art and a guy who has absolutely no clue how to make something.

In Taiwan, they have this exotic sport called basketball. Calvin illustrates how it's played. This was on the roof of his apartment. Note Calvin's Wang shirt. I'm sure you know but Yankees pitcher Wang is from Taiwan and the guy is a freaking superhero over here. Astoundingly popular.

I stuck the camera over the edge and shot this one straight down. Dig the reflection on the building. The little white blocks are scooter parking spots.

Looking out from the roof. Doesn't this look a little like various random shots from Vietnam movies? The architecture is quite similar as everything in the region needs to be both earthquake and typhoon proof. So it's a KISS building principle I think.

The farm with the rooster again. Can't get enough of that damn rooster.

A garden on the roof, around the corner from the basketball hoop. I call this making the most of your space.

Lydia being silly.

Nat and Julia hanging out in the hallway outside the apartment watching Lydia do something or other with an umbrella.

Julia displays how not to put a sun hat on.

Getting better.

Almost had it but screw this, I have to take this dumb thing off.

OK fine, take your dumb picture but I'm not keeping this on long.

Calvin and I go out to get some dessert. I really dig this shot of the steam. It captures man's inherent struggle in his quest to be both free and secure and in the balance have his own identity. Alternately, it's just a bit of steam. You decide.

That's a wrap for day 7 pictures. A little light on the commentary today but I'm running a little late getting everything up so I'll keep it light and maybe get 2 more days posted before the weekend is over.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Day 6 Pictures

Getting these up and going tonight, while I have the basketball game on in the background as opposed to waiting until tomorrow morning. I must be at the doorstep of being over my jetlag now. Woke up at 5:00 this morning so tomorrow we may actually hear the alarm for the first time in about 3 weeks as opposed to waking up at 3:00 again.

Much smaller set of pictures on day 6. I guess we didn't do anything riveting that day. Only 7 here and a couple are probably pushing the bounds of what's worth posting, like this first one for instance. Here you have the rare sighting of a bank, where they keep money. Money is used to buy goods and services. Currently, the exchange rate is 30:1 with the US dollar. It used to be 34:1, yet 1 more reason your bike costs more and more these days.

Yeah, it's a bank. Wow.

This is your typical "establishment" which kind of splits the difference between the street vendor and your full-fledged crisp & clean looking restaurant. This place is right around the corner from the apartment in Lotung. We went here for a hot & sour soup before lunch while Nat's mom was out getting her hair cut. We wanted to get a little local food action because leftovers were on the menu that day. Here Nat wolfs down her share while I hold Julia and take pictures.

And here is one of the blurry pictures I took while entertaining Julia. You know I could have sworn I took one of the women making the soup but it wasn't there. It may have been so bad I deleted it. This is a bunch of instant food you can grab when you go to sit down. This is basically fast food in Taiwan.

As we were leaving pre-lunch we found Nat's mom, who picked up Julia with her newly cut hair. She didn't put together that we were pre-eating which was good. She didn't ask, we didn't tell.

This is my vacation addiction, the Vitalon green tea, chilled, a mere 16 calories per bottle. Try as I might I could not find a place to buy it here. In this day and age you would think you could buy anything. But it turns out you can't. This place even has a website but it's pretty thin and not very useful.

Oh, I remember now, this was the Italian night, which was actually quite good. After dinner we went shopping for something or other. Julia found a chair and made herself comfortable. Lydia in the upper corner there.

Not sure what prompted this but they both climbed into Nat's parent's bed and had fun with it. Lots of entertained people by this little display.

And that's that, day 6 in the books. Not a real exciting day in terms of pictures but it is what it is. Maybe tomorrow will be more exciting.

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Day 5 Pictures

Not a whole lot of time this morning as I actually slept until 5:00 this morning, so I think things are getting back to "normal" for me with my sleeping. That means I don't have an endless amount of time to do things in the morning. So a quick recap of the pictures from day 5.

Just a cute picture of Julia as she plays with the flywheel of the exercise bike.

Out on the streets among the street vendors. There are endless little "stands" like this, where a stand is really nothing more than a crate with vegetables, sometimes propped up on a crate, other times plopped on a piece of cardboard.

They also sell meat. Note the pig snout to the right.

Your typical busy street, where everything is very vertical. This is much wider than most, as it's a fairly major road going through town.

More of the same as above, but with big mountains in the background. I'm a sucker for mountains in the background.

Sometimes people have little more than a few pounds of scallions to sell. These vendors just plop down in a convenient location to sell their veggies. Note how these people dress when it's 75 degrees and humid.

When it rains, just bust out the umbrella.

Nat and Julia as we hit the International Park, or whatever it was called. We played a little bit on the wooden deck area before we walked through the shops in the village. Here Julia probably saw something that made her nervous and she latched herself to mom.

But she forgot all about it when I started throwing her around a bit.

Julia already knows how to look cute for the camera. After 36 years I still make faces. Man I'm balding fast. Oh, and notice how Julia and I accessorize in our shirt selection. Very sleek pair we are.

At the public alter of a Buddhist temple in the park. These are everywhere in the country as well.

Julia and grandpa, taking a walk while we eat some dessert.

Walking down the street of the village, which is littered with places for you to dump your money.

One of the displays on the other side of the park. This is a tree/bush with leaves, the entire thing is made of gold. Pretty flashy.

And that's a wrap on day 5 pictures.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day 4 Pictures

Day 4 is another "meat" day in the picture posting. I took 44 pictures on this day and I picked 21 of them to post. No enhancement today, just some cropping and posting. You can click through each of these pictures to get the full sized Flickr version. Not sure if I'll be able to do that through all of the rest of the pictures because my free account limit is going to fill up before too long. But it resets every month so it may not be an issue since April 1 is right around the corner.

This is the delivery van at 3:30 in the morning driving on the sidewalk in front of the 7-11. The who drove the van popped out, not missing a beat that 3 people, including a whitey and a 2 year old, were there at such an absurd time, and announced, "What a beautiful baby!"

Shortly after we see how they most efficiently deliver newspapers.

Back at the apartment, our daughter sure looks tall here doesn't she? I think Lydia had an inch or less on her. Our kids is tall.

On the road to Lotung, this is basically a Taiwanese cemetery. Not everyone gets a little tomb like this, as there are only so many hillsides in the country and I imagine burying your kin on a hill isn't cheap. But these little displays appear randomly all over the country, and sometimes enormous hills will be filled with these displays that Nat calls "gaudy".

Oh wait, shit, this is just housing. But I'm going to leave that description up there for when I do post the cemetery picture you'll know fully well about it. While I'm here, let me show you what a religious parade looks like, which is very similar to a funeral procession. Death is a big deal to some people, and you know these processions when you see them, obviously. Often you see people getting ready more than you see the actual procession, so it's not strange to see 3 people standing on the side of a country road, dressed as if they're getting ready to head off to the marching band. They're probably waiting for the procession to start or come by.

Anyway, I post this picture to show you how there is housing plastered on the hillside in furious fashion. When you have this many people sometimes you have to find a place to live, stat!

The quality on this one sucks, but I wanted to show another thing you will see randomly. That's a (roughly) 30 foot tall statue of the Buddha on the hillside, standing above a temple. This is also not rare in the country. With Nat's dad driving, blurry pictures were the norm here.

This is a total blur, but this hopefully shows what I consider absolutely random things put up in impossible locations. It's hard to really tell but that white shack is basically on the side of that cliff. I used the expression "cliff" liberally because the gorge isn't that deep. But this thing was just sorta perched there and had Nat and I wondering just what the hell it was. The green thing sorts looks like a car, but it wasn't.

I don't think I mentioned that on the trip down to Lotung we were stopped by 2 police officers who were stopping traffic, right before the road goes under another highway. We sat there for 10 minutes or so, presumably while some important person went by, likely a presidential candidate.

Another picture of the same. Julia was basically screaming on and off the whole time. It makes me think that kids really can sense tension like a smoke detector with smoke.

Another landscape picture just to show what was all around us on the road between Taipei and Lotung. I like how vertical these power lines can get at times. As a reminder this is an active volcanic island. This one could probably use some of my Photoshop Magic, if you call heavy saturation a form of magic.

Just outside the tunnel on the Lotung side, you suddenly find yourself among the rice paddies.

The cool item here is the building halfway up the hill, on the right. This is a school that they just plopped on the side of a hill. In American, NFW they would waste money putting a school up on the hill with the view. That would be littered with million dollar houses. You really don't see many houses on the hills in Taiwan, probably because they eventually get ushered off by the occasional earthquake.

Just another still life-type shot to show you what you see everywhere, houses and rice paddies out in the countryside. And powerline towers.

And then bang, you're in town, where this dilapidated house has old barbed wire along the top of the wall. If you look closely you'll see that the top of the wall is lined with beer bottles that were encased upside down in the cement when the wall was poured, then the bottles were broken off to create a further deterrent to breaking in.

These buildings used to basically be where the rice paddy plantation owners lived, but apparently they've turned into bed & breakfasts. You can see the blue truck in the picture, which is the Taiwanese version of a delivery truck. Size matters here!

Nothing to do with Taiwan so much as I think this is a cute picture of her. Remember mom, click the picture to see a big version.

All 4 generations in 1 picture, Nat's dad, grandmother, self, and daughter. I'm betting against us ever getting a 5th generation picture of the same kind, since Nat's grandmother is 93 now. But really, you never know with these crazy Asians and their 120 year life spans. I wouldn't be totally shocked. I think my mother-in-law just had a spasm when I finished that sentence.

The Taiwanese meter maid, kind of looks like a Stormtrooper. These people can be a little germ insane at times. It's not uncommon to see people walking down the street or shopping with masks, be it homemade or your basic Home Depot mask you might use if you were sanding something.

The exercise bike and the Hello Kitty car. Hard to believe I wasted upload space on this picture huh?

This is a picture in the park outside of where we stayed in Lotung, where all the old men in town go to hang out during the day and look at me as if I'm an octopus, and ask to see my bitch tits.

The living room where we stayed in Lotung. You might notice that both Calvin's apartment and this one are a bit sparse, no carpet, no fluffy couch pillows, and so on. In a country where the humidity is often 90% for months on end, carpets and pillows serve as mold & mildew traps. You would need to air condition your house 24/7/365 if you wanted carpeting.

Determination baby. I'm pretty sure there's some cheese on the other end of that stare, but I don't remember right now. Again, click it for the super sized version.

With that, day 4 wraps up.

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Accommodation in aviemore