On the Wings of a Dove

Well, not exactly, but with 85 floors and a height of roughly 350m the Tuntex Sky Tower,¬†Kaohsiung’s highest building, offers a chance to see a bit like a dove up in the sky would. A 360 degree viewing platform on the 74th floor offers stunning vistas, that is when the air quality and pollution levels play along. I was fortunate to be up there on a clear summer evening which helped to capture the views of the large harbor and city that you can see below.Beautiful View of Kaohsiung Port at Evening TimeBeautiful View of Kaohsiung Port at Evening TimeView of Kaohsiung City and Harbor at SunsetKaohsiung City Lights at NightAerial View of a City ParkBeautiful View of Kaohsiung Port at Evening Time

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2017 Lantern Festival — 2

Here are some more photos from the 2017 Lantern Festival in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Each year it takes place along the banks of the Love River. This year the city added a nightly fireworks display.

The 2017 Lantern Festival in TaiwanChinese Lantern in the Shape of a DragonColorful Chinese Lanterns in the Shape of ChickensChinese Lanterns in the Shape of Three Wise MenFireworks Along the Love River in TaiwanFireworks Along the Love River in Taiwan

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2017 Lantern Festival

According to the Chinese zodiac this year’s Chinese New Year rang in the Year of the Rooster, year of the chicken in Chinese, but rooster sounds better in English. Here are some photos from the Lantern Festival in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, which usually takes place in the first two weeks after new year. It’s a fun time for old and young to go out in the early evenings, admire the colorful lanterns, have a snack and watch the fireworks.

The 2017 Lantern Festival in TaiwanThe 2017 Lantern Festival in TaiwanThe 2017 Lantern Festival in TaiwanThe 2017 Lantern Festival in Taiwan

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That Banana There!

Many years ago one of my kids had a little picture book that illustrated the long journey of a banana from the time of clearing, planting, growing, harvesting and so on until it lands in your breakfast cereal. The idea was that things we take for granted and that look simple when glanced at casually are a lot more intricate and complex when studied closely. Here are a few of those things.

I’m sure you have one or several of these in your house without ever having taken a look at it.

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It’s the lens in your CD/DVD player without which you would see or hear nothing.

We don’t think about the complexity of fabrics when we get dressed in the morning, but there is a lot going on when you take a closer look.

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We handle money every day, zoom in and you’ll be amazed.

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Finally, here is my latest nature discovery. Spiders don’t shave their legs. Here is the pic to prove it.

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Photo Challenge — Details

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It’s a Dog’s Day!

A few years ago, I took a morning walk to enjoy the first warm rays of spring sunshine. Turns out I wasn’t the only one. Rounding a corner into a quiet side street I spotted these two who also enjoyed that pleasant spring morning, the peace and quiet, as well their mutual friendship¬†and harmony, a moment of silent pleasure of each other’s company.

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It’s Just Another Bend In The Road

So this week’s photo challenge is curves. Come to think of it there is very little straightforward in life. Looking back on my own I see many twists and turns. There is hardly a straight line in nature but curves are everywhere, from a leaf to an apple to a snake to a river. Even our language is full of curves, we talk about “all year round”, “bring somebody around”, “rounding out things”, “something being well-rounded”, “going round in circles”, “making the rounds” and many many more.

While straight lines and right angles seem more practical to us, mankind has used curves in art and architecture for thousands of years. Think of Roman aqueducts, Chinese moon gates, round tribal huts in Africa, arched bridges, etc. Architects say that round structures use less building materials, have better stability and insulation than rectangular or square ones. And one more thing, curves simply look better. Our sense of harmony and beauty prefers curves to sharp edges. Ok, enough rambling, how about some photos.

Modern Facade

Modern facade

Ammonite Fossil Halves

Ammonites

Wooden Snake

Taiwan native wood sculpture

Sea of Chairs

Chairs, chairs, chairs

Spiraling Staircase Seen  From Above

A winding staircase with steps made from wood

Curved Pedestrian Bridge

A curved pedestrian bridge located in a public park in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

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Athletic running track

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Corn dogs

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Chinese moon gate

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Not One To Spare!

You might have read the old poem or story about the poor couple with seven children. A childless rich man and wife offered them land and a house for adopting one of their children. The poor couple looked at each of their children as they lay asleep in their cots, but in the end they could not bear to part with any. They had none to spare!

I am reminded of this tale when I watch the yearly dragon boat races on the Love River in Kaohsiung. There are 18 rowers, nine on each side, a drummer and a steersman. Crammed into a narrow boat they have to work together with perfect synchronization if they want to be successful. A tight team will beat a physically stronger team that is out of sync.

Everybody has to trust and rely on each other, everybody expects the other to give their all, everybody must do their share with all they’ve got and right on key. There are no dragon boat super star paddlers, no celebrities or outstanding individuals, only teams. And when they cross the finish line it is the whole boat, all 20 of them, that won the race, not any individual. They equally share the triumph and praise. Truly, in a team effort like this, there is none to spare!

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When Seeing Red Means Happiness

Visit any Chinese community around the world and you will soon notice the abundance of the color red in the designs, decorations, ornaments, clothing, lanterns, architecture, etc. Long before there was “Red China” in the sense of communist China, red was the dominant color in China for any celebration, festive occasion, wedding, birthdays and traditional holidays, congratulations, etc.

Among the five elements red symbolizes fire, expressed in energy, summer, sun, heat and south. Those are important things for an agrarian society. Other qualities associated with red are good luck, celebration, happiness, joy, vitality, long life, recognition, propriety, creativity and joy.

If you are invited to a wedding or birthday or Chinese New Year celebration, red is aways a good choice. If you bring a present wrap it in red.

The color that is most often combined with red is gold, the symbol of wealth and prosperity. The red/gold combo is especially popular at Chinese New Year, together the two colors embody everything one could wish and hope for the coming year.

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Carved gourds with red tassels

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A paper cut with an intricate Chinese character for good luck and prosperity

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Festive red lanterns create a bright and cheery atmosphere

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A store that specializes in New Year’s decorations

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Calamondin mini oranges decorated with red and gold ribbons

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A calligrapher writes New Year’s couplets on red paper

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A Face In A Crowd

It was an important religious festival in one of Kaohsiung’s most popular temples. The place was packed with a noisy and boisterous crowd. There were drums, gongs, cymbals, firecrackers, shouting, masked performers, people pushing and shoving. I snapped photo after photo of the colorful happenings. Then suddenly there was this face of a young girl, right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. So calm amidst all the confusion, so young and beautiful, yet so wise. Flying on the wings of thought, seemingly untouched by her surroundings, she lives a quiet private moment. Author Hans Margolius puts it this way,

“Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.”

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Chance Encounter

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Another Brick in the Wall!

This week’s photo challenge is “Earth”. It is hard to know where to start and where to end. Earth surrounds our life in so many ways. Most of us live in houses made from bricks, cement and stone. In hot climates you walk on floors made from cool stone tiles. You eat your food and drink your coffee from things made of the earth. Your bathroom, just have a look around, tiles, sink, toilet, it’s pretty earthy. I remember using a ceramic screwdriver for some computer repair. Then there all the things made from glass . . .

In this post I want to share some photos of bricks and brick making. Bricks are very close to the original earth, some mud, some added ingredients, shaped and fired into a multitude of shapes and uses. Chinese craftsmen apply colorful glazes to roof tiles and eave sculptures to create their beautiful architectural features. So here we go . . .

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A traditional brick making factory in southern Taiwan

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Bricks are air-dried before firing.

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These special bricks have just been shaped.

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Stacks of traditional roof and floor tiles.

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Traditional end of tiles roof pieces with the Chinese symbol for long life.

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A typical Chinese temple roof made from glazed roof tiles.

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A ceramic eave decoration of a water-spouting fish.

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Green glazed pottery of mythical beasts on a temple eave.

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