Taiwan’s Farmland Patchwork Quilt

Arable land is at a premium in Taiwan. Close to 70% of the island consists of rugged mountains and forests, with several hundred peaks reaching 3000m (9800 feet) or more. Taiwan’s farmers have a reputation for being thrifty, hard-working and resourceful. Some time ago I had the chance to climb the thousand steps up to Qi Wei mountain that rises out of the plains in the south. Barely making it to the top the view made me momentarily forget my aching legs. I now understood the Taiwan farmer’s reputation. Neatly laid out rice paddies, green houses and vegetables fields were stitched together like a patchwork quilt and not a scrap of land was wasted.

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Posted in agriculture, Taiwan, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Pleasure of Waiting

About 100 years ago G.K. Chesterton wrote about leisure. In his view the “perhaps most rare and precious (type of leisure) is being allowed to do nothing.” It was his favorite, because it allowed idleness — in Chesterton’s view, the truest form of leisure.

Today the “leisure industry” (strange word as it is) does its best to combat idleness. It promotes exotic hobbies and sports, adventure tourism, far-flung destinations, extreme travel thrills and the like. Idleness is of no commercial interest.

Thankfully there are still some leisure activities where doing nothing and having the pleasure of waiting are an integral part of the pleasure of leisure. One of them is fishing, or to be more precise angling.

In his book “The Idle Angler” Kevin Parr puts it this way,

To idle successfully one must not simply be lazy. Idleness is a state of mind. Being lazy takes effort and avoidance whereas idleness is the release of that part of our self within which we feel most at ease and most content.”

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Posted in inspirational, motivational, nature, occupation, sunset, Taiwan, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Foot Reflexology Made Easy

If you take a stroll in a park in Taiwan or China you will very likely come across a strange sight. Men and women, mostly middle-aged or elderly walking barefoot on a path made up from large smooth pebbles with the thin end sticking up. I can assure you that these people are not doing penance for real or imagined sins nor are they trying to attain greater spirituality trough self-imposed suffering. They are practicing the ancient Chinese health exercise of foot reflexology. According to traditional Chinese medicine teachings our feet have various pressure points and areas that correspond to the major organs and parts of our body. Walking on the poking pebbles stimulates these pressure points and creates health benefits for your whole body, it increases the flow of blood and vital energy.

Besides being good for you in spite of the initial pain or maybe because of it, these pebble path also create interesting structures and pattern when photographed from various angles.

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Posted in Weekly Challenge: Structure

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Posted in health, Taiwan, tradition | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Relaxing Hexagon

The Chinese pavilion is an interesting structure. It has no walls, is most often hexagonal, but also round or octagonal in shape and is covered with a curved roof with glazed tiles. You find them in parks, gardens, out on the mountains and in various scenery. They always invite me to sit down, enjoy the shade and take a rest.

I don’t know if it is the architecture with its airy feeling or how pavilions blend into the surrounding landscape, but sitting down in a shady pavilion and enjoying the view always brings with it a calming and soothing feeling, no matter if it is in a small park in bustling downtown or halfway up a steep mountain hike.

Here are some images of pavilions in Kaohsiung and Taipei city.

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Posted in Daily Challenge: Corners

Posted in architecture, art, culture, Taiwan | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beat the Heat!

Weathermen are saying that this summer has seen the longest period of steaming hot and sunny weather in Taiwan in history. Usually the summer sizzling is interrupted by periods of rain and wind, but this year it has been one bright and sunny day after another and there is no end in sight yet.

To make life bearable, some come up with creative solutions.

This man must have had enough of his hot and stuffy room, so he moved his breakfast table out into the street to catch a bit of the cool morning breeze. Add an electric fan and a cold cup of soy milk, and things are looking up.

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What would do if you had to wear a fur coat in this weather? Probably the same as this fellow. Find a refreshing pool and never leave.

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Have fun in the sun, but keep cool!

Posted in humor, summer, sun, Taiwan | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Is In The Clouds

Summer is a scorching affair in southern Taiwan. Over four or five months the temperature hovers in the mid 30s C (90 or above F), and humidity is high. But there are upsides to this weather, such as the many delicious that are in season. Lychee, mangoes, pineapples, dragon fruits, guavas, etc are cheap and plentiful.

One thing I personally enjoy immensely are the clouds. Year after year I am amazed and in awe at the dramatic, majestic, towering and ever changing cloud displays summer weather brings. It is not unusual to see black storm clouds, patches of blue and fluffy white clouds all in the same sky. As they silently glide by or hurry past driven by a storm, never once repeated scenes, sometimes dramatic, at other times peaceful and tranquil, it sure puts things in life into perspective.

India’s grand old man of the arts, Rabindranath Tagore, put it this way, “Dark clouds become heaven’s flowers when kissed by light.”

Life is in the clouds: great life, broad life, deep life, elevated life. ~ Hawaiian Proverb

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Posted in Weekly Challenge Elemental

Posted in inspirational, landscape, motivational, nature, Taiwan | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Tenacious Roots Textures

In Taiwan’s subtropical climate aerial tree roots are a common sight. I am always fascinated by the sheer tenacity of these roots as well as by the intricate patterns they form, which are truly works of art. Whether it is jagged coral rocks or parched ground, the words “retreat” or “quit” don’t seem to exist in their vocabulary, only “holding on” and “not giving an inch” and going on the attack. It is little wonder that the metaphor of roots is so often invoked when we speak about strength, persistence, personal and spiritual growth and many related themes.

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Like tentacles of an octopus these roots overpower the stone wall.

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Weekly Challenge: Textures

Please see related post The Indomitable Spirit of Banyan

 

Posted in inspirational, motivational, nature, Taiwan | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Worth It’s Salt!

Sea salt production in Taiwan goes back hundreds of years. Surrounded by the oceans and with plenty of sunshine, the plains on the west coast offered suitable conditions. During the Japanese occupation in the first half of the 20th century and after World War II Taiwan was a major salt producer. From the 1980s on production gradually declined as salt farmers found it difficult to compete with cheap imports. Today only a few salt fields remain, mostly for educational and historical purposes.

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The corrosive effect of salt creates some interesting textures on the vintage salt mining equipment.

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Posted in Weekly Challenge: Textures

 

Posted in history, industry, Taiwan | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Ride the Duck Bus

Taiwan’s second largest city, Kaohsiung, is often called the “Ocean Capital”, because of its large port and proximity to the sea. Besides the ocean it also boasts a large lake and a river that flows right through downtown.

As a fun way to see the sights and sounds of the city the government launched amphibious buses that navigate the various roads and waterways. The locals call them affectionately “duck buses” and they have been a great hit with visitors to the city.

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All Aboard!

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Down by the Riverside

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On the Love River passing a cafe

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Posted in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Travel | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Taiwan’s Techno Gods

Nobody quite knows how it started, and there are several competing stories. But somebody or somebodies in Taiwan got the idea to combine traditional religious temple parades and its deities with techno and pop music, and at the same time bring the costumes up to speed by adding huge sunglasses and other paraphernalia such as scooters and quad bikes to give an overall jolly, upbeat appearance.

The idea spread like wildfire and these colorful characters and their cool moves are now a popular feature at many religious as well as non-religious events.

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Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge

Posted in customs, festivals, folk religion, Kaohsiung, religious life, Taiwan | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments