Meow Meow

MRT Sign

One of the many manga-style signs found in the excellent Taipei MRT subway system. Both courtesy and healthiness are important elements to the citizens of Taiwan. I find that this sign embodies both principles nicely.

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大中至正

CKS Gate

This (and the Mandarin characters in the blog title) is the Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park. I know that I posted some photos of this gate previously, but I was passing by on a particularly beautiful afternoon and admired the clear day with the mountains in the background. My Taipei apartment is only two blocks away from this park, which also includes the Taiwan National Theater and the Taiwan National Concert Hall. The park is 65 acres and landscaped with serene wooded areas and benches, making this a great reading place on a nice day. The huge square in between the two theaters just behind the gate became Taipei’s choice spot for mass gathering immediately after its 1976 opening. Many of the movements that led to modern-day democracy in Taiwan were born on this square.

Earthquake Temple

On September 21 1999, Taiwan suffered a 7.2 M earthquake and the epicenter was in Jiji, Nantou County where I was visiting on my way home from Sun Moon Lake. Taiwan sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so one can say that the 921 earthquake and the present volcanic eruption of Mount Agung in Bali are related. Over 100,000 structures collapsed in the 921 quake and thousands of people died. In Jiji, the greatly venerated Wu Chang Temple collapsed and has become a prime example of Taiwan disaster tourism – rather than demolish the collapsed structure, the monks just wrapped it with hazard tape and built a new highly-ornate temple across the parking lot. The remains of the old temple are an awesome reminder of the power of mother nature.

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Jiji City Temple

On the way back from Sun Moon Lake, there is an opportunity to take a historic small-gauge railroad for about 30 km that was originally used to service the timber industry during the Japanese occupation. Now, it is a local tourists and small, quaint towns well-suited for biking. In the town of Jiji, I came upon this small city temple with some unusual deities and great painted panels.

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Sun Moon Lake Biking

Yay, me!!!

Sun Moon Bike Cert

Actually, Giant Bicycles (made in Taiwan) has a pretty cool setup at certain scenic spots around the island. They have big, well-equipped rental stores that feature their top-end bikes at pretty reasonable rates. In the case of this Sun Moon Lake ride, I was able to take out a $2,000 road bike for the journey. It was definitely a great ride, but after I was done I wished that I had rented a mountain bike instead. The road bike just felt a little too delicate for the conditions there, even though I was on pavement the entire ride. Anyway, they surprised me with a nicely done certificate of completion at the end of the day. Yay, me!!!

Diving Pics – Bali 2017

I got around to reviewing the underwater photos that I shot on my four dives in Bali. The following are the best of the lot. My dive camera gear is the simplest of simple, so when I get an interesting one that is not washed out of light due to depth, I am pretty happy with it. These scenes are a mix of shots from Manta Point at Nusa Lembongan and various locations around Amed.

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Sea snakes… if you swim too close, they all hide back into their sand holes.BU4BU5BU6

Mysterious creature… something petrified?BU7BU8

Alt-Life Ubud

It seemed to me that the “alternative” has taken an ever deeper plunge into the fabric of modern-day Ubud. On my first visit, I compared it to my memories of Santa Fe, New Mexico because of the preponderance of art and up-market eateries. This time, more and more store fronts were dedicated to the following – love it or not.

SoulPath – “Transformational Clothing”  – For those folks where meditation and yoga just won’t do the forgetting thing…UbuSto1

Express yourself…UbuSto2

Native Bali drums, gongs and bamboo flutes – on a millionaire’s budget.UbuSto3

ARMA Museum, Ubud

This was my 2nd visit to ARMA. On this trip, I allotted more time than my first knowing that I would want more time browse the paintings – about 2 1/2 hours. Short for the Agung Rai Museum of Art, this is a private collection exhibited in a beautiful setting. I find it to be extremely educational in understanding the various schools of Bali art and doubles as a relaxing setting to hang out. Unfortunately but understandably, no photos are allowed of the paintings. Highly recommended!

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Bali Parade

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Of course, a trip to Bali is not complete without happening upon one spontaneous parade. This one passed by my hotel on my first morning in Ubud.

Amed Scene

Looking inland (south) into the mountains from one of the Amed beaches. A lot of the beaches here are black sand created by lava flows from these still-active volcanoes that ring northeast Bali.

Canang Sari – Bali Daily Offerings

One of the unique and soulful aspects of Bali are the ubiquitous small daily spiritual offerings placed on the ground at the entryway to all buildings and passageways. The practice is never-ending, freshly prepared daily to honor ancestors and gods. “Canang” translates to a small coconut basket and “Sari” means essence.