Travelogue: Sun Moon Lake

Together with Taroko Gorge and Kenting National park, Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Taiwan, but it was among the last places I visited during my stay in Taiwan. Why? Because every time I wanted to go, it would rain. When I was staying in Taishan with relatives, it once rained nonstop for 15 days. I’m not sure if I’ve gone two weeks without seeing the sun before (this was a record for Taipei, too, 15 days of constant rain). But once that nasty weather finally cleared up, the weatherman predicted sunny weather, I finally set off for the Sun Moon Lake, hoping to see some great sights!
Sun Moon Lake - panorama scenery 5
Sun Moon Lake - panorama scenery 7

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Travelogue: Taichung

I’m sure Taichung / Taizhong, Taiwan’s third largest city, is famous for something, but I found it notable mostly as the City of Bears. Seriously, it’s got bear statues everywhere! 100+ bear statues, scattered around the city. I suspect that it’s rubber duck envy – as probably the only major Taiwanese city not on the coast, it can’t have a giant inflatable rubber duck in its harbor, so it went for bear statues instead. I guess it worked?
Taichung - I love bear
Taichung - bear 2

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Interlude: the Treachery of 7-11 Sandwiches

Introducing the 7-11 sandwich, available all throughout southeast Asia.  Looks good, doesn’t it?
Convenience store - sandwich unopened

Yet, if you buy it and open it up, this is what you get:
Convenience store - sandwich opened

You think you’re getting a nice big sandwich, filled with meats, lettuce, and cheese.  However, nothing but sadness and despair awaits you, as you open to find a hollowed out shell of a sandwich, with nothing but a facade of toppings.

And you sadly reflect upon your life.

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Interlude: Baseball Batting Cages

I’ve been to a baseball game before, and I know (roughly) how baseball works, but I’ve never actually played baseball. And so, I didn’t think that batting would be particularly hard. You see a ball coming towards you, hit the ball, and then run in a circle. Simple enough. I might even have a hidden talent, like that Japanese guy who can repeatedly slice baseballs in half. So with one of my cousins, I visited a batting cage. And thoroughly dashed my hopes of having a hidden talent for baseball.
Batting cage - batting 2

It’s kind of like Schrödinger’s cat.  Before going to a batting cage, I exist in a quantum state where I am both good at baseball and bad at baseball.  But then, when I open the box and actually try batting, my quantum state collapses and I’m either good or bad, but not both.  And I’m bad.  Really, really bad at batting.

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Travelogue: Macau

Macau, the other Chinese special administrative region, is smaller and considerably less well known than Hong Kong. Whereas one can arguably call Hong Kong the Pearl of the Orient (I would not), Macau mostly exists to serve the gambling needs of the greater China region, and is supposedly the biggest gambling destination in the entire world! There’s not terribly much to see though – I took a day trip from Hong Kong to Macau, and half a day was sufficient to see all the interesting parts of Macau.
Macau - panorama view 1

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Travelogue: Hong Kong

I’m not sure what possessed me to spend an entire week in Hong Kong (香港 – fragrant harbor). After staying almost three months in Taiwan, I needed to get out and renew my visa, and so chose to visit Hong Kong. As a regular tourist, HK is chock-full of shopping. As an expat, HK is full of business opportunities, bars, and money to be made. But as a backpacking traveler, HK is expensive and somewhat lacking in places to visit. Great city to explore, just that there’s not quite enough of it. After three days in Hong Kong (and one day in Macau), I had basically seen the entire city.
Hong Kong - Victoria peak panorama 1

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Interlude: Red Bull Soapbox Race, Taipei 2013

While I was staying near Taipei, Red Bull hosted the first Red Bull Soapbox Race in Taiwan, so I dropped everything and headed on over to watch. Even though I grew up in the states, I have never seen a soapbox race before (*cough* deprived childhood *cough*), so my first race was in Taiwan – not exactly known for its soapbox racing. Results… were decidedly mixed. But I got on national television! Of Taiwan!
Soapbox race - portrait

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