Photos That Inspire – Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia

Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia

Sunset Over Tanah Lot in Bali, Indonesia

Early 2008, Phil and I took our then nine-month-old daughter Ender to Taiwan for the first time.  After settling her down with my mother, we headed over to Bali for a 5-day mini vacation.  Bali was beautiful, the food awesome, the people friendly.  All was going well... when both of us were struck by a terrible case of stomach ailment... Since we only had five precious days, we headed out of the hotel anyway.  On our schedule that day was the highlight of Bali - Tanah Lot.  We were to time our schedule so we could be there at sunset, when the scenery is supposed to be the most spectacular.  However, by the afternoon, Phil was half past dead.  I was feeling ok, therefore would not give up the chance to see sunset over Tanah Lot.  I dragged Phil up the hill through the row of cafes, found the best location for my shots, paid for a coke, and plopped Phil down in a chair.  Pale and green, Phil just sat there as I set up the shot.  Soon, the sky turned an incredible shade of orange behind the exotic temple.  I shot with glee as Phil moaned and groaned behind me. Finally, I had this shot.  I was satisfied and Phil was relieved... Read More

Trans-Siberia Video 02 – Huangshan

The second leg of our journey took us to the most beautiful mountain of China, Huangshan, the Yellow Mountain. Read More

Day 10 1/2, One of Us Stayed Awake on the 18-Hour Bus from Luxor to Dahab

Phil often makes statements such as "... one of us will have to stay home and take care of the baby", or "one of us will have to go on site and take care of this server crash..."  And somehow, when he makes such statements, that unfortunate "one of us" always ends up to be me.  So on this long-dreaded 18-hour bus ride, "one of us" stayed awake to give you the full account of the ride.

During the planning of the trip, there was no question that we wanted to see at least a little bit of the Sinai Peninsula.  But we had a choice.  The two popular destinations on the Red Sea were Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab.  After reading much on the Internet and our trusted Lonely Planet guide book, we decided to forgo Sharm and go to Dahab, for a more low-key and authentic "Red Sea Experience".  Then there were the two choices of how to get there, a fast ferry to Sharm then bus, or a straight bus ride from Luxor to Dahab.  The price difference was steep, with the ferry route costing more than double.  And the departure time of the bus gave us an extra day in Luxor.  So, with the knowledge that we would have to be cramped up in the bus for 15 to 17 hours, we decided on going the true independent traveler style, the bus.

So to pick up from our last post, we finished our tea and sheesha, walked over to grab two shwarma sandwiches for the ride and headed over to the bus station.  We had learned that Luxor now has a new bus stop near the train station instead of the one that is a half-hour outside of town.  So we confidently walked over to the train station.  However, when we arrived at the train station, there was no sign of the bus stop.  We walked around the station several times and found no signs and no buses.  Just when we were getting a bit nervous, we saw a couple of backpackers sitting in front of an unmarked store right next to the station.  We approached, then realized that the store was in fact, the bus station.  OK, now that we had found other travelers, we felt more relaxed.  I think it's a "safety in numbers" thing...

While we were waiting for the bus, another couple showed up and they looked obviously East Asian.  Then I heard them speaking Mandarin, so I introduced myself.  Turned out they were a Chinese couple living in Holland, heading to Dahab to learn scuba diving.  Just about now, the girl of the second backpacking couple (with whom we have not  yet spoken) showed up in tears telling us how her ATM card was eaten by the machine.  She tried to go to the bank and get it back, but they told her that she will have to come back on Monday...  And this was how we met our new travel companions Maya and Mike, sister and brother, with whom we traveled for the rest of the trip.

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Photo Tour of Po Kok Temple in Taichung City

One more day, and Phil will be in Taipei.  Once he gets here, we will have a packed schedule of where to eat and play.  So today, I was to fulfill a little family duty and go to Taichung to pay respects to my ancestors. I am going to spare you the boring details of the trip.  I do, however, want to share with you the history and beautiful architecture of the temple. Po Kok Temple was built by monks from Fujian in 1927, during the Japanese Era.  The temple was dedicated to Buddha, Medicine Buddha and Amitabha Buddha.  World War II left many Japanese soldiers buried on the grounds of the temple, therefore, the Po Kok Temple is a major tourist destination for Japanese visitors to Taiwan. I have been coming to the temple ever since I was a little girl.  But it has been over 8 years since my last visit.  Walking in through the gate, memories of my childhood rushed back to me.  I was glad to be visiting again, yet there was this melancholy feeling that I couldn't explain. Read More

Best Souvenir from Taiwan, Yingge Ceramic Art

Not sure if I had clarified this in the last post, I am Taiwanese. I was born and raised in Taiwan, moved to San Francisco when I was 13, then moved to San Diego for UCSD. And now I call San Diego home. My parents moved back to Taipei after Soph (my sister) and I left San Francisco for college. So every year, we go back to Taiwan to visit my parents. This is not Phil's first trip to Taiwan, but since he will only be in Taiwan for five days, we really had to pick and choose where to go while he is here. And for this trip, we had something big planned, we are going to the National Park in the middle of Taiwan. and because of this plan, I decided to go to Yingge without him. Ynigge is a town in Taipei County, known for its exquisite ceramic art. The Chinese word "Yingge" means eagle. The town got its name from the prominant rock on the outskirt of town, that resembles the head of an eangle. Its ceramic origin dates back to the Qing Dynasty. The first recorded ceramic site was established in 1805 by the Wu family, who found that the local mud fires especially well, creating strong ceramics, suitable for many applications, from plate settings to wash basins. The Wu family had to move its shop location a few times around Yingge due to feuds over land ownership, but finally settled in 1853. And the shop's final location is the root of the current "Ceramic Old Street". Read More

Hot Spring Spa Resorts, a Stone’s Throw from Taipei

March 20, 2004, Election Day in Taiwan.  Politics in Taiwan is very unlike politics in the U.S.  The little country usually draws out 85% of the eligible voters on Election Day.  Taiwanese citizens around the world fly back just to vote.  And that was the reason why I went back to Taipei a week earlier than Phil, so I could vote in the Presidential Election.

I got in early in the morning, around 6am.  As soon as I got back to my parents' house, the polls were open.  I cast my vote and went back home for a long nap...  Even for a frequent traveler, the flight was still 13 hours...  It doesn't get shorter the more often you fly...

That evening, my whole family was glued to the TV, watching the election results unfold.  To make it easier to understand for our readers, let's just say it was a Bush vs. Gore, translated to Chinese.  By then, I was tired of the election.  I just wanted to go somewhere to relax and start my vacation.  At 7pm, I finally got my whole family unglued from the TV and we drove to Wulai, just 30 minutes away from Taipei!  Immediately, I felt the political pressure and stress leaving the atmosphere.

Wulai is a small mountain right outside of Taipei, originally inhabited by the aboriginals, the Atayals.  The Atayals discovered the hot spring about 300 years ago, by following the steam coming from the river bed.  During the Japanese era, the area was developed into a hot spring destination, with low budget bath houses.  It really wasn't until the early 90's the Taipeians put some real money into the area and transformed it into the hot spring paradise it is now.  Dozens of modern boutique day spas and resorts popped up all over the mountain of Wulai.  It is now one of the most popular and accessible hot springs in Taiwan.

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