The thing about Taiwan’s countryside is, like Forrest Gump said, like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get. Last weekend we went up in the mountains outside Hsinchu without any real plan. As we were driving along a small, rather remote road we rounded a corner and came upon a bunch of large, colorful paintings on the concrete wall next to the road. This was utterly unexpected. This was deep enough into the mountains that you’d expect to see little more than vegetation and waterfalls, yet here was some extremely colorful art. This of course fit … Read the rest
There are people absolutely eveywhere. They’re all around me, moving in all directions all at once. Each person has their own goal but together they become like ants, milling about frantically. Scooters mixing in with the people, normally so nimble, this crowd makes them feel big and clumsy, and they creep along at the same pace as the pedestrians. There’s noise all around, the omnipresent murmur of voices, the buzzing of scooter engines, and the shouts of vendors. I can see my wife ahead of me, but the sea of people has filled the gap between us. Beyond her, the … Read the rest
Not too long ago I was running some errands and on the way home I took a bit of a detour along some smaller side streets. While I was riding along I happened on a small park by the river and stopped to look around. It seemed to be little more than a path next to the shallow, partially overgrown river. I strolled along it for a few hundred meters until it ended then turned around to see where it led to in the other direction.… Read the rest
PLIMATES. The text is still clearly visible on the otherwise worn old paint bucket. It's being used as a temporary-come-permanent flower pot. There's nothing strange about that, except the location. I'm surrounded by greenery, to my left the park with it's bushes and trees, and to the right - just beyond the fence - lies the river, weeds growing on the banks and in the shallows, clear blue water gurgling past. For some unfathomable reason, there's a large collection of potted plants arranged in rows along the sides of the path. It's a haphazard mix of pots; old buckets, Styrofoam boxes, and actual flower pots in all shapes, sizes and colors; with just as varied a mix of plants growing in them. It's so strange to see them here, despite being real living plants they almost feel artificial - sort of out of place in the landscape. I've already taken a bunch of photos but I'm not sure they can fully convey the feeling. As I turn on my camera to snap a few more, one question is at the front of my mind: why would someone - clearly not the gardeners - bring a bunch of random potted plants to a park?
Just around the corner from our house lies a large indoor market. The vendors there sell all kinds of groceries, fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood and spices; whatever you are cooking, you can probably get the ingredients there. The market is so big, in fact, that it spills out of the building onto the surrounding streets, the vendors lining up their stalls – or sometimes just a tarp on the ground – along the curb. In the mornings, especially on weekends, the entire block around the market building is complete chaos; hundreds of people milling about, their paths intertwining as they … Read the rest
The most terrifying sound that I know is that of slowly cracking glass. That long, drawn out crunch as the fissure propagates across the pane, which tells you something is about to go wrong and the worst thing about it is, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. I did not have this fear two weeks ago...read the rest
Something that you see often in Taiwan, and I believe also in other parts of Asia, but far less common in Europe, are the small alleys; the winding lanes in between and behind the buildings of a city block. For the most part these little nameless streets are rather ugly in a utilitarian sort of way. Since few people enter these alleys there tends to be lots of stuff there that’s hidden from view: water pipes, AC units, disused scooters, piles of recycling and so forth. I have found however, that there’s a special kind of beauty in these places, … Read the rest