Interlude: Lion Dance

While staying with relatives in the Taipei area, I had the fortune of attending a college-level lion dance competition, and it was a pretty cool experience. For the uninitiated, the lion dance is the great Chinese cultural dance, representing…. something. I’m not sure. But in Chinatowns all around the world, there is certain to be a lion dance display for (Lunar) New Years. Basically, you’ve got two+ people in a lion costume, jumping around. It looks more impressive than it sounds.
Lion dance - dance 2

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Interlude: the Taiwan Railway Bento Box

When I think about Taiwan’s railways, I immediately think of the Taiwan Railway bento box / boxed lunch (台灣鐵路便當).  There’s nothing particularly special about these boxed lunches – no special ingredients, no special preparation, no special packaging.  But yet, they are surprisingly popular, and surprisingly delicious.  It tastes like comfort food.
Railway bento box - cheap 1

Inside, you’ve got some basic pork chops, pickled and boiled vegetables, and a broiled egg.  This basic lunch (or dinner) is very simple, and very cheap – just $2!  And for the fancy pants, there are also fancier boxed lunches, costing $3 for slightly more food.
Railway bento box - cheap 2

During lunchtime, massive crowds form to buy these boxed lunches.
Railway bento box - lining up

I found that they weren’t big enough to be a full lunch or dinner, but were quite nice as a snack to take the edge off my hunger for a couple of hours.  They’re especially convenient since you can not only buy the boxed lunches from onboard the trains, but also in most train stations, including Taipei Main Station.

While waiting for buses and trains at Taipei Main Station, I ate a great number of these delicious boxed lunches!

Travelogue: Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung (高雄), the second largest city in Taiwan, was the fourth major city I visited in Taiwan. It’s basically a large boring city, with some attractions thrown in.  Fun fact: Kaohsiung used be known as Takau (打狗 – literally, beating the dog).  I want to be a fly on the wall at the city hall meeting where they decided to change that name.
Kaohsiung - panorama martyrs shrine 1
Kaohsiung - panorama lotus pond 1

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Reflection: Chinese Travel and the Naming of Places

As mentioned in an earlier post on Alishan, something odd about traveling in Taiwan is the naming of places – all points of interest, no matter how insignificant, must be named and labeled.  This is the pig stump.  That rock arrangement looks like a Buddha’s ear.  Over there is a very tall tree.

And to somebody who has traveled through scenic spots in other countries, this is really weird.  When climbing Mount Rinjani in Indonesia, there are basically no labeled points of interest.  There’s the summit, there’s the crater and accompanying lake, there’s the hot springs.  There’s a bunch of camping sites.  And that’s about it – everything else is simply ‘climbing trail’.

And it’s the same thing in New Zealand, home to the Great Trails.  Hiking in Abel Tasman National Park, there are only two points of interest – hiking trail, and camp grounds.  Nothing else.  It’s simply you and nature, and have to use your own eyes and imagination to find any sights of interest.

So why this difference?

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Interlude: Mass Wedding in Taipei

One of the reasons why I stopped in Taiwan, was to attend the wedding of one of my (countless) cousins. I had expected a traditional Chinese wedding (lots of ceremony, lots of relatives, lots of drinking), but it turned out to be a mass wedding! Mass wedding, meaning that 85 couples got married in one giant ceremony. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Wedding - mass wedding ready to begin 22

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Travelogue: Alishan

Alishan (阿里山), or Mount Ali, is one of Taiwan’s most renowned tourist destinations. It’s not Taiwan’s only mountain (Taiwan is full of mountains), and it’s not the highest (that’s Yushan, or Jade Mountain), but it’s the most accessible, and arguably the most beautiful. Hence, I made Alishan my first stop when touring Taiwan, with a pit stop in Chiayi, the nearest major city, before venturing to visit this beautiful mountain.
Alishan - panorama scenery 1

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Travelogue: Chiayi

Chiayi (嘉義) is mostly known for being the closest major city to Alishan (阿里山) national park, but I found it well worth my time to spend a day or so exploring Chiayi, especially after recovering from my climb up Alishan. It’s a modestly sized city, large enough to have its own points of interest, but not large enough to merit more than a day or two of exploration. A view from my hostel:
Chiayi - Panographic view

On a side note, Chiayi was the first stop on my loop of Taiwan – I visited Taiwan during the off season (read: the rainy season), and Chiayi / Alishan were the only places not raining when I decided to set off on an island-wide tour.

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How to set up .htaccess for 301 Redirects for Bluehost Addon Domains

This post will show how to use .htaccess to move a website to a new domain, especially when using Bluehost.

A couple of days ago, as I set up this website,, I struggled to set up a 301 redirect from my previous domain,  My hosting is with Bluehost, and they offer a domain redirection tool – but it does not work with addon domains.

Specifically, if I own both and, and both are registered with a single bluehost account, is the primary domain, and is an add-on domain – and is set up as (although also works).  It’s stupid.

But as a result, Bluehost’s regular domain redirection tool and does not work.  Technical support tells me I have to modify my .htaccess file, but refuses to give any guidance on how to do so.

I couldn’t find any turn-key solutions via Google searching, so I did some researched, and wrote my own .htaccess solution.  And I’m posting the solution online, to help out others.

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Travelogue: Night Markets of Taiwan

Taiwan’s night markets are world famous – there are many night markets and bazaars around the world, but as famous as in Taiwan. Just as how France equates wine and England equates crappy weather, Taiwan equates night markets. So I had to visit two of the most famous of Taipei – Shilin (士林) night market and Miaokou (廟口) night market located at Keelung (基隆).
Night Market - Keelung night market 1

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