Recently, I joined my girlfriend for a week-end on the East Coast of Taiwan.
While Taroko is probably the most famous spot in Hualien county, if you just drive a few kilometers south of the city, you enter another bigger, protected area called the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area. It is not a national park but rather a protected domain that boasts quite a lot of attractions. For this post I will limit the visit to some attractions in the North, but if you are interested in knowing more you can follow the link to their (english) website: http://bit.ly/1ej4tEd
While there is probably not a single major attraction there, I think that this valley is still a must for visitors in Taiwan, because it is well protected and easy to tour, has dramatic landscapes with severe cliffs falling abruptly in the sea, tea plantations, is a great place to know more about aboriginal culture and is also less known than other spots.
One night, I went down to the river. I don’t know, maybe it was the huge moon rising in the night, maybe it was the typhoon that was about to swallow Taiwan. The air was warm, comfortable. Friday night. It felt good.
It is around 9pm, I walk into a park in Taipei, next to Songjiang road, with two friends of mine, and we come across a group of grandmothers training with conviction. They carry umbrellas. There’s about nine of them, and one trainer. While they are performing, I go to the trainer and ask:
“-Wow, that’s a great group, can we take pictures?
-Yes. She pauses. But be quick. We have a competition this week-end!
Right at the heart of Taipei, next to the Chang Kai Chek Memorial, one of Taiwan’s biggest landmarks, there is a big plot of land owned by the ministry of justice.
When KMT arrived in Taiwan after losing China to the Communists in the late 40’s, the land was given to some public servants as a temporary shelter until an hypothetical victory against the Communists. However, this never happened, and the result today, more than 60 years later, is a complex situation leading to the destruction of an historical part of Taipei, a memory of the Japanese era and the recent KMT era.
Interactive Image: hover you mouse to see some pictures
A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of the hot sleepy June, I was home when a huge and torrential rain reached Taipei, a phenomenon commonly known as “Plum Rain” or 梅雨, in Asia (Click link for definition).
This week-end, as I was in Fulong to watch some sandcastles, I met a group of young guys who were having quite a cool time making some kind of super jumps using a large ball buried in the sand. Since I had no idea what Parkour was, I thought that that was it, just jumping like crazy in the sand!
Of course, I decided to take some pictures!
In Taiwan, the Dragon Boat Festival or 端午節, is one of the most important of the year and celebrates the start of spring. People race on Dragon Boats-a tradition that is still very present in Taiwan, eat ZongZi (粽子), a delicious specialty made of glutinous rice stuffed with all kinds of meat and vegetables, wrapped in a (often bamboo) leaf. And everyone gets a public holiday…
Everyone? Not really. As I was walking on the streets on Friday night in Xinpu and Wanhua, I came across many people still hard at work, preparing the huge quantities of food that are going to be sold over the week-end and the following week. Among those workers, I decided to share with you the portraits of 3 young people who were standing out in the night, each of them dealing with one traditional product you can find in markets: fruits, fish, and meat.
Cutting Watermelons in a fruit shop in Xinpu: happiness
Luzhou is some kind of magical, out of time place. But this time, we wandered on the edge of the city, and discovered another side of Taiwan, one that is less brilliant. We met some factory workers working in rather poor conditions for car manufacturer sub-contractors. Here is how it works.
Friday night, rainy weather. We arrived in a street in the north of Taipei. It was my first time there. I noticed all the neons, the narrow streets, but apart from that it looked rather a normal district.
There were somehow a bit more foreigners than usual though, but also not that much. Well, at least white people, because I quickly found out it was some kind of little Japan, there.
Anyway, the place looked cool. We spotted a group of tourists looking for Luxy – not here, guys, people were looking at the notebook and shaking their heads helplessly – Luxy, is that some kind of club? No, not here, sorry.
As usual, we started to take pictures. This time, it was all about experimentations. My aim was to give more life into the pictures, and not necessarily focus on the “perfection” of the frame or technical details, not even the atmosphere, but rather make pictures with a story in it, conveying a feeling of action and movement, and managing to retain at least some of the specificities of the place.
As we were heading to Lala Shan, I realized I didn’t know what was Lala Shan at all. I thought it was a touristic place like many other I had seen, with an old street, slightly old-fashion, full of more-or-less modern shops selling more-or-less appealing goods. I thought this was the kind of place where you spend a Sunday afternoon.
But as we made our two hours and a half way through the road, 60 km of laces going always deeper in the Taoyuan county’s mountain, it became evident that this was not specifically the kind of place I was thinking about.