Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Taipei 101

The Taipei 101 with some street art
by  Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

The Taipei 101 is the tallest building in Taiwan.  It has a very unusual shape, and towers well above the rest of the local skyline.  It was very foggy the morning that we were there, and the observation deck was closed.  We went by a very fast elevator to the observation floor and walked the interior circumference of the building catching occasional glimpses of the city as the sun peeked through.

There was a display on that floor of beautiful intricately carved coral, along with a few tourist shops.

The Taipei 101 was an interesting diversion, but not something that I would rush back to Taiwan to see again.

A view from the observation floor
Also included are a few photos of street scenes that we encountered as we headed to our next destination.

A coral warrior
This was some type of reptile - I think!
Another amazing coral sculpture
Square yellow building is a memorial to Dr. Sun Yat Sen,
a former President of China
Another view of the 101 from the street
Taipei street scene
A gas station

Statue in a park

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Welcome to Taiwan!

Street scene near our hotel.  Lots of motorbikes, but not
nearly as many as in Vietnam.
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Valerie and Murphy and I flew to Taiwan over the President's Day weekend last month and spent four days exploring that island nation.  Taiwan, or Nationalist China, was once known as Formosa.  It is where Chaing Kai-shek and his followers fled to after the communists took over China in the late 1940's.  Old Chaing managed to smuggle out (steal) many of the treasures of mainland China as he made his hurried exit - most of which are on display in the museums in and around Taiwan.

An alley near out hotel
As usual with my travels, I took lots of photos - and there will be several postings on this blog related to Taiwan.  The first, today's, looks at a few of the street scenes that we encountered on our first morning walkabout.  We were heading from our hotel (via subway and shoe leather) to Taipei's tallest building - the Taipei 101.  Photos from the 101 will be on the second posting.  (Taipei is the capital of Taiwan - and it is where we stayed during our visit.)

Enjoy your walk through a very modern Asian city!

Another street scene.  These small streets were relatively
quiet during the day.   Valerie and Murphy are in the

Police station across the street from our local subway stop
And the police also had motorbikes
A busy intersection
Subway station - up the steps, then down the steps
An old theatre building
Bicycle rental lot.  Travelers can rent a bike at one lot and
leave it at another.  Very smart urban travel!
Part of the Taipei skyline
A very narrow building
Murphy and Valerie waiting on a light to change
Unusual architecture
Stainless steel rhino - life sized!
An artsy bus
Taipei 101 in the distance - our destination!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Valerie's Birthday

Valerie and Murphy study the menu
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

My friend Valerie was born on Valentine's Day a few years ago - that is why her mother named her Valerie!  To celebrate the big event, several of us met at a Thai Restaurant in American Village.  Not being a fan of the local cuisine - or Thai food either - I had a bowl of ice cream while my friends chowed down on more exotic dishes.

Valerie snuggles up to her new friend!
Valerie still posing!
I have no idea what this is, but the presentation was superb!
Give me ice cream any day!

Kokusai Street at Night

by Pa Rock
An artsy bus!
Cultural Explorer

Kokusai Street is the place in Naha where all of the tourists seem to congregate.  After leaving the professional wrestling program during intermission, I went for a walk along Kokusai Street and snapped a few photos of the nightlife.  Enjoy.

Okinawan liquor store
Two scoops of Mango Tango, please!
A notions store
Some Okinawan wares

One of several "Sam's" on Okinawa.
The original Sam's Anchor Inn has
been around for over forty years -
I know that for a fact!
Boxed food display
Another market.  Many signs are in two languages.
Another shop
And another reestaurant!

Okinawan Professional Wrestling

The show began with these three dancers
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Sometime in late January or early February, several friends and I rode a tour bus from Kadena to Kokusai Street in Naha to watch Okinawan professional wrestling.  These "professionals" with names like "Habu Man" and "Mango Man" did their thing in a very small set-up on the fifth floor of a commercial building.

To your corners!  (Front left is a woman.)
Each of the wrestlers wore cheesy costumes to highlight their stage names.  There is a show twice every weekend with the various performers wrestlers rotating through the shows.

There was one lady wrestler who got out and mixed it up with the men - and she was actually as tough as any of the men in the show.  Also, a threesome of girls got up and danced in the ring - somewhat similar to what we would call cheerleaders in America.

As you will notice from these photos, Okinawan wrestlers are not as big and rough as their American counterparts - due probably to a lack of steroids in their diets.

The lady wrestler prepares to mix it up with the boys!
Several of us left the show at intermission and went out and walked along Kokusai Street.  Photos of that stroll will comprise the next posting on this blog.

That'll teach him!
And this next match will be for a belt!
And here's the belt!
The fringe is so manly!
My mother's a what!
If you can wear a tail, I can wear pink!
Charleston!  Charleston!
Get ready.  This is gonna hurt!
Hey, I'm over here!
Actually they're playing Twister!
Hey Punchy, wanna dance?  They're playing our song.

Kelly's son, Michael, poses with a wrestler
while Mom snaps a picture.