A Taiwan History…

Got a comment on recent post from PJ Cabrera that made me dig out this history of Taiwan.

It was the Dutch and the Spanish that first established formal political powers on Taiwan, marking the beginning of Taiwan’s transformation that would move the island from prehistoric obscurity into the modern world, forged through the Age of Exploration of the 15th and 16th centuries. Through expanding trade with the outside world during the ensuing Commercial Revolution, Taiwan progressed rapidly to become one of the thriving economies in East Asia. Both the Dutch and the Han Chinese immigrants played important roles in bringing this about by working together, each group complementing the other. In general, the Dutch formulated policies based on mercantilism while the Chinese implemented them, together creating a new Formosa. Their relationship was also competitive, however, and sometimes confrontational, as evidenced by Chinese uprisings and, ultimately, Jheng Cheng-gong’s (鄭成功) invasion of Taiwan.

It is fairly informative (meaning even I learned a thing or two). Hope you find it interesting and useful. Amazing how even in 16th century Taiwan very key in international trade.

The 3rd in the Trilogy

This is the last in the series of 3 photo essays centered around my friends-the Saito family. This portion is from our trip to Lukang-the 2nd commercial center of Taiwan after Tainan and marking Taiwan’s commercial development gradually migrating north. Founder of Acer Stanley Shih is from Lukang as well as the powerful Koo family.

At entrance to the main Matsu temple. The center of old Lukang. It is neighbored by all kinds of food stands selling local area treats, primarily oysters and oyster based dishes.

One of the many are stands selling seafood treats. This one owned by my friends the Lin family. The Saitos loved the simple yet flavorful dishes and were amazed that the 5 of us could eat so well for $20. More rounds of “oishis” FTW!

How many cameras can you spot in this picture? This is the courtyard to a shop of the historic “9-Turn Alley” a series of shops in Ching Dynasty period houses. The Alley winds at every corner to keep the nearby sea winds from blowing freely down them causing cold drafts and making a windy mess.

Here some of the local Lukang oyster ladies out in force shucking away…

We visited on a Sunday-usually a busy day since many tourists have free time to come to Lukang and visit. This Sunday was also in the middle of Ghost Month so temple activity at a peak level.

Every angle of temple is alive with activity and movement. Here the Keyhole gateway allows us to focus on one portion of that.

This is a pretty enamel painting of the home town on Matsu-the female deity and patron saint of fisherman. She was from the town of Meizhou in Fujian,China.

This is a long view of the Koo family mansion. It is now a museum. They have several out buildings and a beautiful garden surrounding the mansion. It was constructed in early 20th century Japanese occupation-style. Supposedly the Koo patriarch made good friends with the new Japanese rulers of the day. He also helped them find the rightful owners to much property which coincidentally was himself. There were no land deeds under the traditional Taiwanese agrarian system.

Some kids and moms have a traditional Chinese-style top throwing contest.

Nice garden cottage now serves as administrative office for the museum. Quite peaceful and nice here.

The balance of the Lukang set can be viewed here.

Nantou with old friends

Nantou is the largest county geographically in Taiwan. It borders Hualien, Kaohsiung, Chiayi, Changhua, Taichung and Yunlin counties. It is the only land locked county in Taiwan. It has some of Taiwan’s most beautiful scenery comprised of mostly mountains and it contains Sun Moon Lake as well. Generally, whenever we get visitors from overseas we make a point of taking them to Nantou-in this case I did so with the Saito family.

Here we just arrived at Sun Moon Lake from Shitou. Nice to see the water after being up high in the mountains. Weather report said 70% chance of rain-Saito said let’s take the chance. We won. beautiful sunny(but not too hot)weather that day.

Some kids messing around with their dogs by the lake.

Some dude chilling and fishing from one of the nicest shaded spots at lakeside.

WenWu Temple-the largest at Sun Moon Lake. So large in fact that Kensuke wondered if it was a palace. I noticed some mainland Chinese tourists there that day. I heard them speaking and their accents are a dead give away.This is probably the #1 promoted tourist site from Taiwan for mainland Chinese tourists.

I love shooting profiles-this is my favorite shot of Kensuke and Nanako from all that I took. I think it really captures them well.

Incense brazier handle close-up with much temple color in the background.

People buy these medals and hang them there as a thanks giving gesture.

My buddy Saito taking in the sights.

Get some beautiful lake views from the roof of the temple-this is one of them.

Aborigine village by the lake. This is near main pleasure boat dock area. One adult ticket is about $10 for a crusie around the lake.

Great being by the water up in the mountains-the best of both worlds.

We finished our travels that day at the Puli ShaoHsing Winery.

The balance of this set can be viewed here.

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Reconnecting: The Saito’s in SanYi

About 2 years ago I got a crazy idea: why don’t I try to find 2 Japanese friends from back in college over the internet (after 20 some odd years)?? Only info I had was the English spelling of one friend’s name, his field of study (archeology) and memory of home town name in Japan. They came to visit us last Fri. and we spent 3 wonderful days together. They have 2 great kids now and it was a blast sharing some of my favorite places in Taiwan and favorite local eats with them. We got many “oishi’s” (Japanese for delicious) from them, and I think they really enjoyed most of what they ate. Here ‘s some pictures from our jaunts around central Taiwan.

Here we are stopping in SanYi on the way back from the airport. SanYi is a town famous for carved wooden figurines. They noticed it was a festival day (1st day of Ghost Month in fact) and many people had this unusual fruit. They mistook for lychees in fact it is “longan” (literally: dragon eyes). A friendly SanYi merchant offered them a couple of bunches to try.

Beautiful pottery shop we stopped in. They had nice quality goods which were nicely displayed. Nice to see many Taiwanese merchants getting a better grasp on display and lighting for quality aesthetic impact.

Group of school kids in Sheng Hsing (former railway station built during Japanese rule of Taiwan) hanging out and snacking.

Kensuke and Nanako getting in the corny tourist spirit (after I pushed them into it :D). They are great kids! Was sorry my son wasn’t back from US trip yet, so he could meet them.

My buddy the archaeologist checking stuff out. We used to spend many an evening sipping Suntory Whiskey and discussing the vital issues of life…or just shooting the breeze.

They have a photo exhibit of related imagery in the train tunnel. Kind of cool and eerie in there-in other words, I liked it.

Family group shot leaving the tunnel. It was about 10 degrees cooler inside albeit very humid to the point of drippy.

Very steep alley-at rooftop of adjacent house.

Here is the link for the complete set.

Testing New LED Flashlight

Really happy with this LED light I picked up. No batteries needed,self charging with hand-crank so very sustainable! FTW! Company is called BENEX. No-mine is not in Hello Kitty pink, maybe next time :D. Anyway, the following were some of my first test shots using flashlight to aid in better flash pictures. Will keep playing with it.

Fun stuff-no don’t get paid for the plug-too bad!

What was I thinking? Probably just concentrating on holding light in one hand and shooting picture with other. Need to work on my self-portrait faces…

I consume much more of this than Coke. Love blue and water drops so do the math.

Tick-tock,tick-tock,tick-tock people,time’s ticking away…My friend said if this was B&W be very film noire??

My favorite tea-pot(never used) I picked up on first trip to Xiamen,Fujian, China on Gulangyu. A beautuful island where the foreign embassies used to be.

Light, shadow and color

Got a bug in me to go and shoot some photos in some new spots or ones that I haven’t covered that well. I was still within my favorite light/time band:early morning or late afternoon. Here are a few images that were fun to shoot and I feel came out fairly well. Hope you agree.


I’ve walked by and shot this fountain before but when I saw this recent addition of lone Water Lily, just had to have it. I did nudge it a drop to get a slightly better angle.


I’ve been to this temple before up in the hills of Dakeng, but didn’t have good light. I did this session.

This was the first time I visited this temple in the fields opposite JiuShe Park. Love the upward angle with some blue sky against the bright temple colors.


I knew this was going to be good just from the “keyhole” archway.


I received a call on my mobile just as I was going over this bridge. As luck would have it, this fellow was doing some fishing.


Some of the classic colors and shapes of traditional Chinese temple roofs.


I love the markets in Asia-this one is Taichung’s largest Chienkuo market. They are so alive and crazy and colorful and ASIAN! My photos all available here for viewing.

David Byrne & Brian Eno-New Musical release


David Byrne and Brian Eno’s Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is getting close to being released. They have arranged to release one track,”Strange Overtones” but when I went to the site that instructed me to leave my e-mail in “box”, no box was found? April Fools or foolish scripting? Anyway, I’m sure they’ll get that strightened out promptly. Very eager to hear the music. Here is what David Byrne’s blog reports:

Today, a free track is available from the upcoming record that I did with Brian Eno. I’m hoping that folks will be pleasantly surprised at the direction we’ve taken and the final result. Since it’s only one song, it may give a skewed taste of the record, but many told me it’s their favorite track — I guess we’ll see.

I’m also wondering whether the web-curious will allow news of the album to spread more or less by itself. In the past, I might have undertaken all kinds of expensive marketing plans to prepare for a record release: there would be a teaser, live shows, posters, magazine ads, interviews, and advance CDs sent to writers and reviewers. We’ve done a few interviews, but that’s about it. It will be interesting to see if audiences find out about this song — and the record — without all those marketing techniques, and solely through Internet word-of-mouth.