Friday, March 30, 2012

Marble Factory

In a few of my previous posts, you might recall I mentioned the abundance of natural marble rocks found in the eastern part of Taiwan.
Here we visit a marble factory with an attached museum and all the statues you see were created there.

This fountain reminds me of something one might see in Europe.

The entrance to the factory is lined with cute statues of the twelve Chinese Zodiac figures.

Inside the factory, a loud and dangerous-looking machine saws the thick marble.

A worker polishes the previously sawed marble pieces.

What else did I see at the factory?
A "hand" bench.

Two Maneki Neko or "Beckoning Cats".

And, ahem, what is this?
Someone said it is a back massage chair. :)

- Karen

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Being Watched

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- Karen

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sugary Factory Tour

Not being familiar with this company or brand, our tour group enters this unassuming building not knowing what to expect.

Inside this long corridor with windows into the factory, we enter into a self-guided tour to see how the candy, cookies, desserts, ...etc. are made.

Like many tourist attractions, a gift shop is at the end of the tour.

Everyone is encouraged to try the free samples of the company's products. Needless to say, many of us weren't very hungry for dinner afterwards.

- Karen

Friday, March 23, 2012

Endless Love in Public

The eastern side of Taiwan has an abundant of metamorphic rocks found in nature. These rocks are turned into marble after being cut and polished.
Since 1995, Hualien County has invited stone sculptors from all over the world to participate in its biennial International Stone Sculpture Festival.
Sculptor Filin Gueorgui created "Endless Love" during one of these festivals and it was displayed by the scenic seaside.

The marker next to the sculpture listing the artwork's title and creator.

- Karen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Bird Bathing

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- Karen

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In the Tropics

As a bonus stop by our tour guide, we encountered this large structure.
I have heard of the Tropic of Cancer, but I did not know there are physical markers for it at 9 spots around the world with two in Taiwan alone.

You noticed the marker is divided into two. If you stretch yourself and place a foot on each side, you can say a part of you is in the tropics and the other part is in the "northern temperate zone" of the earth.

If you click to enlarge this map, it shows that the Tropic of Cancer is 23.5 degrees north of the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn is 23.5 degrees south of the equator. The area in-between these zones is called "the tropics" where the seasons do not vary much.

- Karen

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cave Exploring

We arrived at a mountain side to find this almost 500 ft. (150m) cave converted into a Buddhist temple known as the Eight Immortals Cave.
Seven other caves exist in the area, but this one is the largest.
You might not be able to really tell from this view, but our tour guide said the opening to this cave is shaped like a part of a woman's body so many young married couples come here to worship hoping to get pregnant.
I read that archaeologists have uncovered various objects from within these caves over time which date back to 25,000 years ago.

Here is a closer look inside the cave where one can come to worship.

These are statues found outside this cave. Sorry, I do not have any information about them other than they are quite eye-catching.

- Karen

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Hillside Condo

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- Karen

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Eight-Arch Bridge to Sansientai

Of all the places I visited while in Taiwan, the Eight-Arch Bridge was the most intriguing.
I have never seen a walking bridge with such a unique architecture stretching across the water to another island.
The island of Sansientai (translates to Three Immortals Terrace) in the distance is a nature preserve with three large rock formations. Legend says three of the Eight Immortals from Chinese mythology was here; thus, the three rocks.

It is a hike to get onto the bridge as well as the continuous inclining and declining staircase to get over the arches.
Unfortunately, we only had time to make it through four arches. The winds got stronger as we moved further away from shore to where it felt like we were walking sideways.

Here you have a better view of the up and down motion of travel. It is a workout before you reach the island, but remember to save some energy to make it back to the mainland.

- Karen

Friday, March 09, 2012

Amis Music

One of the benefits of traveling is learning about new cultures.
The Amis culture is one of many indigenous tribes of Taiwan. To preserve its culture, a folk center was created to share its heritage with others. We stopped here on our tour to listen to a traditional musical performance.
From what I read online, the Amis people had a spoken language, but no written language, so many of their history is passed on through folk songs from generation to generation.
I uploaded an abbreviated video below so you can hear a sample of their performance.

I did not realize it at first, but soon noticed that this young performer was playing her flute instrument (or tipolo) by blowing it through her nose.

- Karen

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Sparrows

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- Karen

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Please Feed Me

Almost everywhere we went in Taiwan, we encountered what I assumed are stray dogs walking the streets and even some highways. It was a sad sight to see some previously injured and walking on three legs.
This one greets us as we returned to our tour bus. He must have gotten used to tourists feeding him.

I walked up onto the bus and looked back at him. He did not move or make a sound even as our bus pulled away.
I thought of my dog back at home and thought how spoiled he is while this one isn't so lucky.

- Karen