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2014/10/31 Taichung Science Museum
π 2014-10-31 00:00 in Sciencemuseums, Taiwan2014
While in Taichung, we spent a few hours at their science museum, and it was time well spent:













Taiwanese mosquitoes are bad
Taiwanese mosquitoes are bad



See more images for Taichung Science Museum
2014/10/31 Taiwan Day 07: Taichung and Surroundings
π 2014-10-31 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips

After sleeping in Taichung, we went to see a few local sights. First, Taichung is overrun with scooters, which actually may cause as much smog as cars do due to their inferior anti polution devices or total lack thereof. End result, the city is filled with smog and overrun with scooters driving dangerously in all directions. That didn't really bother me too much when I was driving since I took the attitude that if they were lane weaving into the lane I was going to (while signalling), they'd get more hurt than me, but it was still a bit annoying.

We started with the Paochueh Temple, which is another temple dedicated to the teachings of Confucius. People honor him as if he were a god. To be honest, considering his wisdom and teachings, I see nothing wrong with that:







The marthyr temple next door was closed for business on weedays, so we only got to see the outside:


So we went to our next stop which was a big buddha statue in the middle of town:



Asia seems to like their koi fish :)
Asia seems to like their koi fish :)

After a couple of temples, the pickings were slim, so when I saw a dot on google maps which gave me a personalized highlighted result for a natural science museum with high ratings. I suggested that we spend about 3H of our schedule to go check it out, and it was time well spent. Oh, and the best part was that it cost $4 per person, can't really argue with that :) This is on its own page

After a good time in that museum (time well spent), we went to a nearby town (Lugang) to see some more temples and old streets:






the narrowest street in town
the narrowest street in town

We found this pet pig attached with the dogs next to a school:



Time for a few more temples before heading out:








Service station for water, cute...


We then drove to our next town, Tainan, two hours away, where we went to another night market for Jennifer and spent the night:


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2014/10/30 Taiwan Day 06: Sun Moon Lake and towards Taichung
π 2014-10-30 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips

We arrived in Sun Moon Lake after sunset the previous night, but signed up for an early (05:00 getting up, that was a bit tough) sunrise walk with Wayne, the very nice owner of the B&B we were staying at (Laurel Villa). He took us to private land from his family from which you get a good view of the surroundings and the lake. Unfortunately the weather we got that morning wasn't the best, but at least we got to see sunrise across the mountains, so it wasn't all for naught :)







ants actually build their nests up in trees for protection
ants actually build their nests up in trees for protection

I have some Panoramas here.

He then recommended that we go ahead, get rental bikes and bike around a portion of the lake before breakfast so that we could miss the crowds that would arrive by busloads soon after. He also told Jennifer which of her places to see where worth doing and in which order, and that was invaluable advise.
As a result, we actually had a great rest of the day in the area, enjoying sights with barely any crowds.





apparently many people biking there suck at biking, the path was littered with signs tell you the curved road ahead of you indeed curves and you should slow down :)
apparently many people biking there suck at biking, the path was littered with signs tell you the curved road ahead of you indeed curves and you should slow down :)

because someone who can't bike managed to fall off this path, we were told to walk it. We kind of ignored that ;)
because someone who can't bike managed to fall off this path, we were told to walk it. We kind of ignored that ;)

across the lake was a tall pagoda we went to visit that afternoon
across the lake was a tall pagoda we went to visit that afternoon




After the bike ride, we went to pick up our car and drove to the beautiful WenWu temple dedicated to confucius, and then climbed up Tsen Pagoda:





the decorations were exquisite
the decorations were exquisite





confucius
confucius












Next, we grabbed some quick lunch and went to check out the Pagoda:



view from the top wasn't bad
view from the top wasn't bad




We then headed out to Lugang, nearby town with a few displays for tourists:




Ah yes, then it was still time to get to our next town, Taichung, and check out another night market:



more random animal parts for sale :)
more random animal parts for sale :)

After some food was time for bed and sleep :) .

2014/10/29 Taiwan Day 05: Finishing Taroko National Park and to Chung Tai Chan Monastery
π 2014-10-29 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips

On our way out, we first stopped by a temple on the way and climbed its pagoda:











lots of scenic roads, although not always very wide
lots of scenic roads, although not always very wide

We then arrived to our another hike in Taroko National Park, to a cave with waterfall within. That was unusual and worth the small trek. The hike actually starts in the middle of a tunnel which you enter on foot:


lots of swallows in that tunnel
lots of swallows in that tunnel

even found some bats with my flashlight
even found some bats with my flashlight




I got a tiny bit wet in the waterfall cave, but not too much :)
I got a tiny bit wet in the waterfall cave, but not too much :)




After that, we had a longish drive across the Taiwan Alps (peak is 3200m, not too shabby), on a road that was one lane wide half the time. That made for interesting driving in a crappy underpowered rental car (it sure was struggling that high, had to downgrade to 1st gear several times), but I probably took 1h off the normal drive time, curvy roads are my bread and butter :)




this is a 2 lane road of course
this is a 2 lane road of course


quick stop at the peak (3200m or so)
quick stop at the peak (3200m or so)

We didn't have much time to stop for pictures on the road because we had an appointment with a guide for a private tour in English of the Chung Tai Chan Monastery. Despite my best efforts, and lots of passing on a no passing road, we got there 40mn late, but they were still able to accomodate us, and boy was that worth it. It's the biggest buddhist monastery in the world, and we got to see inside rooms on the 16th floor and above that are not open to the public (including a room with 2000 bouda statues):










And after more driving, we finally we arrived at Sun Moon Lake in the evening for some rest:


2014/10/28 Taiwan Day 04: Hiking around Taroko National Park
π 2014-10-28 00:00 in Hiking, Taiwan2014, Trips

After a good night in our cabin, we got up early to catch breakfast and be on the first trail before 08:00. For that trail, we needed a permit with a ridiculous process including a local who can vouch for you, is actually called by the NPS to make sure they'll answer the phone and vouch for you, and then you have to give your permit to a guy who will open the physical gate (padlock) to the trail. We arrived early because we wanted to score one of the only 3 legal parking spots by the trailhead.









turns out it's actually ants that build nests in trees
turns out it's actually ants that build nests in trees






picture of the bridge that started our trail
picture of the bridge that started our trail

And that finished our hike (6.4km return, about 3h and change). It was supposed to be a much longer one way hike, but the trail was damaged by a typhoon, and we had to content for that. I found the trail to be not bad, but when you've been to Yosemite and done things like the Glacier Point trail, it's a bit hard to beat that :)

Next, we did the swallow grotto trail, which was mostly walking by the original road that was now one way (a wider bypass replaced it), and while the hike was braindead simple, it was quite scenic and worth walking 1km down the road and then back to our car:






nice swallows, with orange necks
nice swallows, with orange necks





After that hike, we went further on the road to see a few more sights and do a more minor hike (which in hindsight was skipable):







When then headed back to our hotel for a short hike there just before sunset and dinner. By then we were both sick with a cold that Jennifer picked up and nicely shared with me :) so we needed the rest.




.

2014/10/27 Taiwan Day 03: Taroko National Park
π 2014-10-27 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips
After a night in Hualien, and the homestead giving us breakfast vouchers at McDonalds (doh, it this broke my 20 year+ record of not having eaten any McDonalds food when I ate an egg muffin which was eatable enough), we picked up our rental car and drove up the coast a bit to enjoy the cliff views and then drove into the national park to do a couple of hikes and stay in fancy cabins at a very nice aborigine hotel.


We drove up the coast for views and then back down and drove inside the park by going up the river:

If you've seen the california coast, the views weren't better, but they still were enjoyable:





Jennifer planning our trip with a ranger
Jennifer planning our trip with a ranger





we also hiked up there, to the high temple, many steps :)
we also hiked up there, to the high temple, many steps :)


our goal
our goal

our next goal (from the top temple we had reached)
our next goal (from the top temple we had reached)





We finished by reaching the Buluowan Visitor Center to plan our longer hike the next day, and check in at our cabin just before sunset (17:00 only because Taiwan isn't really in the right timezone). The included buffet dinner was actually quite good, but the show mostly done by kids afterwards was cute, but way too long.





2014/10/26 Taiwan Day 02: Taipei
π 2014-10-26 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips
For our second day in Taiwan and Taipei, we started the morning with the national museum of Taiwan, which is quite big




Jennifer looked up the origin of her name (3 different characters):




After 4H+ in the museum, we went out to see the park next to it, and a museum of Aborigines



very fat koi fish, if they could walk on land to get your food, they sure would :)
very fat koi fish, if they could walk on land to get your food, they sure would :)

happy bird
happy bird




Our next destination was another night market we caught just before sunset to stock up on food for our upcoming train ride to Hualien for Tarako National Park:


Jennifer would be happy there every night :)
Jennifer would be happy there every night :)

Piggy!
Piggy!

Rainbow bridge
Rainbow bridge

Yummy food for the train
Yummy food for the train

blowtorch piggy
blowtorch piggy


On the way out we stopped by a very very nice temple I don't have a name in English for :)









By then it wasn't late, just 18:30, but we had to get back to our hotel, pick up our luggage and take a fast train to Hualien for Tarako National Park, where we arrived around 22:00 and got some sleep for our drive to the park the next day.

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See more images for Taiwan Day 02: Taipei
2014/10/25 Taiwan Day 01: Taipei
π 2014-10-25 00:00 in Taiwan2014, Trips
After a breakfast of champions in our room with view of Taipei 101.


We started the day by going back to the Sun Tay-Sen monument which was half closed last year, and learned more about him as well as his main executor, Chiang Kai Sheik. We saw the changing of the guards there, which was quite elaborate.






Next, we went to see some old city gates, and the Zhongshan Hall where Taiwan signed getting its country back from Japan after the 2nd world war. As luck would have it, it actually was the 69th anniversary of that day, so the hall was open to the public and they had a long parade otside starting from that point:


north gate
north gate


nice parade car
nice parade car





reconstruction of south gate
reconstruction of south gate

When then went back to the Chiang Kai Sheik monument to read about him again and compare his history with Sun Tay-Sen's:









From there, we went to Elephant Mountain, and hiked up for a view of Taipei at sunset and beyond:










We then hiked back down and went to a night market and all kinds of foods, many didn't seem safe or even food to me :)

Pachinko for children?
Pachinko for children?




blowtorch chicken, my favourite :)
blowtorch chicken, my favourite :)


huge ass prawn
huge ass prawn

We avoided the baby shrimp fishing pool at the night market, because Jennifer took us to a real shrimp fishing place. It was a new screw around zone, some people came with their own fishing equipment and bait, and totally kicked our non fisherman asses :) In the end, we did so badly with a single shrimp that the owner felt sorry for us, and threw in some freebies when we asked him to cook our one shrimp :)



the only shrimp we ever caught was by hand when it got caught into our net
the only shrimp we ever caught was by hand when it got caught into our net

people other than us then ended up with a plate load of shrimp ;)
people other than us then ended up with a plate load of shrimp ;)

but the owner added 4 shrimps to our sole shrimp we caught because he felt sorry for us :)
but the owner added 4 shrimps to our sole shrimp we caught because he felt sorry for us :)

And this was the end of day one, after this hard fishing experience, we went to our room for some sleep.

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See more images for Taiwan Day 01: Taipei
2014/10/12 Diving The Banda Sea 12 days on Waow
π 2014-10-12 00:00 in Diving

Here is a google photos picture gallery if you'd like that after viewing this post: https://plus.google.com/photos/106981743284611658289/albums/6073787459128610737?authkey=CPHRzYaNzL6VSg

After diving Raja Ampat with Waow last year we had a fantastic time (huge boat with big rooms, more crew than guests, great crew, and satellite internet on the boat during the trip, what else could you ask for? :).
At the time, Jay and Kay, the cruise directors recommended that we come back for their once a year trip from Maumere to Ambon (part of the trip they need to do from Bali to Raja Ampat after they're done with Komodo). This trip goes from Alor (many sea snakes) to the Banda Sea towards Ambon. You do get to see bigger stuff like a school of 50 or so hammerheads, giant humphead parrotfish, and huge schools of diverse fish. I also got to see 3 cuttlefish on one dive, and I love those things :)



large crew, 24 people
large crew, 24 people

cool poster
cool poster

After a sunset dive, we had a boobie come on our boat and go back to our main boat with us. He was probably tired of flying and sleeping on a boat is better than drifting at sea all night :)



we gave him fish :)
we gave him fish :)

Anyway, this was about diving, so let's get back to that. The Waow Crew was again fantastic, they took care of all our diving needs every day, and took us to great dive sites where I was able to take these pictures with a crappy point and shoot camera.

A couple of video medleys first.
Sea snakes are awesome, this is compilation of some of the ones I saw on a single dive. They are very poisonous, have no predators, and are inquisitive, so sometimes they'll come check you out, but you're not their food and they have no reason to attack you:

Our very last dive, we found a young blue lobster that didn't know not to run around the reef, so we went to play with it a bit :) Our dive guide also saw a manta shrimp and ferreted it out. After that it gave up on hiding:




this corral (animal) had little hair in its mouth, sensed something going in, and then closed down on it
this corral (animal) had little hair in its mouth, sensed something going in, and then closed down on it


This parrotfish had a protection bubble around it, created for protection when sleeping at night
This parrotfish had a protection bubble around it, created for protection when sleeping at night




this was a 4 meter shark, it was huge
this was a 4 meter shark, it was huge







One dive, we got very lucky and found a school of hammerhead sharks, about 50 of them, and I was able to get in the middle of them for a few pictures:



Thanks to Arturo for taking this picture
Thanks to Arturo for taking this picture












Manta Shrimp, usually very shy and hard to find
Manta Shrimp, usually very shy and hard to find





One dive, I got lucky, and found 3 different cuttlefish. Usually they just sit there and let you take pictures all day long, and change colors depending on their mood (annoyed, scared, or relaxed):













Diving, how does it work? Which way is up?
Diving, how does it work? Which way is up?

Here are some video bits:
Small fish pulsing with light:

I love those fish. We always joke that we should take 2 together and make a knot with their hair tail :)

A classic, but clownfish are always fun, expecially these:

Electric Jellyfish found during safety stop. I had colors pulsing through its body:

Nice flouder fish:

I love cuttlefish, so many colors and minicing abilities

Another one on the same dive. This one was a bit afraid because it had gotten bitten by something else earlier (I later saw a piece missing). This is why it was swimming away from me:

So many schools of fish on Amet Knoll on the 11th day:

Most of the time was spent on the boat, but we had a land excursion at Pulau Naria, a port where Dutch, British and Portugese used to fight for the rights to indonesian spices, and specifically the nutmegs (noix de muscade) that were growing there. We got to see a fort that was used to defend the island:












nutmeg
nutmeg


we had a 2nd breakfast to sample local goods
we had a 2nd breakfast to sample local goods




we finished with a market visit
we finished with a market visit



poor little kitten, it's a bit sick
poor little kitten, it's a bit sick

Also, one of the islands we stopped at had an active volcano, very cool:



thanks to Arturo for this picture
thanks to Arturo for this picture

And before we knew it, the 12 days were over:










BBQ dinner on our last night
BBQ dinner on our last night

nice fondant au chocolat
nice fondant au chocolat

the staff sung songs that evening
the staff sung songs that evening

And that was the end of 13 wonderful days, thank you to all the crew!

2014/10/12 Indonesia Day 5: Playing with Tide Pools, Maria Statue with View, Water Village, and Market
π 2014-10-12 00:00 in Indonesia2014, Trips

After breakfast, we went to the beach during low tide, we saw people fishing and we looked at the low tide sea life:





Next, we drove up to a Maria statue with view of the area:


water village we saw next
water village we saw next

We then went down to the water village:



low tide
low tide


kids wanted us to take their picture :)
kids wanted us to take their picture :)




Last, was the market:





And then lunch before boarding the Waow for our diving trip.

2014/10/11 Climbing the Egon Volcano on Flores Island
π 2014-10-11 00:00 in Hiking, Indonesia2014

As part of our quick Tour of Flores Island, Indonesia, we got up at 02:00 (argh!) for a scheduled departure of 02:30, but it ended up being 03:10 due to our driver being late. He drove us to the trailhead which we barely reached with our 2WD car on the pretty bad road inside the park (we had to back up and run through holes and rocks a few times until we made it through without being stuck in the sand, or stalled).
The drive there was supposed to be 30-45mn, but it actually took 1h10, so by the time we started at the trailhead, it was already 04:15.

We booked a local guide who was a gazelle in flip flops :) (i.e. he was super fast on rough slippery terrain with crappy flip flops which don't offer much traction). We started at night with flashlights and got to the top 20mn after sunrise (sucked that we missed that, but the view from the top didn't allow for seeing the sun rise anyway).







After a mere 1h35, we made it to the top (normally they budget for for 2h30. It was only 3.5km (1.9 miles), but very steep climb (800m/2700ft):

we finally got to the top
we finally got to the top

Jennifer got a bit tired at the end, but made it :)
Jennifer got a bit tired at the end, but made it :)







To be honest, the view was only so-so, but eh, it was still a good climb.
Going down took longer (1h40 after subtracting out the picture breaks I took) because the terrain was treacherous and more dangerous when you're going downhill:




finally at the bottom
finally at the bottom

2014/10/11 Indonesia Day 4: Climbing Egon Volcano, Flores Museum, and resting at our hotel
π 2014-10-11 00:00 in Indonesia2014, Trips

After the climb up Egon, we got down by 08:00, so we had plenty of time to go back to the museum we had tried twice and was closed twice. They had a fair amount of prehistoric artifacts, and as I write this, archaeologists just found cave paintings in Indonesia that are allegedly 40,000 years old.






Japanese-Dutch money from the Japanese occupation
Japanese-Dutch money from the Japanese occupation

After all this, we were still back to the hotel by 11:00, way in time for lunch. I let our guide see the photosphere pictures I took with google cardboard for an immersive experience:


I had a hard time picking Indonesian food I was ok with during each meal, so for this one I thought I would live dangerously and got a cheeseburger just to see what it would be like. Arturo and Jennifer spent a good time laughing at me when I got spam and a very thin slide of unmelted cheese :)


We mostly spent the afternoon resting, and looking outside a bit:





2014/10/10 Indonesia Day 3: Kelimutu National Park
π 2014-10-10 00:00 in Indonesia2014, Trips

After a long drive across the island (and it was the short way across, but driving in Indonesia is so attrociously slow), and sleeping close to our departure point, we got up bright and early (actually it wasn't bright at all yet) at 03:00 and took our tour car towards Kelimutu National Park. We drove almost all the way to the top and only hiked a mere 20mn at most.

Watching sunrise there was not better than Haelakala in Maui, but it was still very very nice. One interesting thing is that the 3 lakes routinely change color depending on the volcanic activity and what ends up in the water.













After this nice excursion, we got back to our lodge for breakfast, packed and went on the road to visit some villages and markets:





One of the villages:


cool tree
cool tree

traditional houses
traditional houses


I caught a little chick for Jennifer :)
I caught a little chick for Jennifer :)

We got a visit in one of the traditional houses in exchange for a tip :)





and I found another little chick that needed to be picked up :)
and I found another little chick that needed to be picked up :)



rich people had different houses
rich people had different houses


And then more driving to back to Maumere...

busses are full
busses are full

taking the pig to the market
taking the pig to the market

We got to a restaurant by the beach for lunch:



somehow another little chick ran into my hand :)
somehow another little chick ran into my hand :)

And we finally arrived to our lodge by the beach to rest and go to bed very early for a 02:00 waking up the next morning:



happy! :)
happy! :)





2014/10/09 Indonesia Day 2: Arrival in Maumere
π 2014-10-09 00:00 in Indonesia2014, Trips

After a flight from Bali, we arrived in Maumere, where we got picked up by our guide and driver:





After arriving, we had lunch at a local restaurant, before heading out to the other side of the island:











After getting to a lodge close to Mt Ende, and after a quick nap, we went out for dinner where I got to catch this nice moonrise :


2014/10/08 Indonesia Day 1: Quick Stop in Bali
π 2014-10-08 00:00 in Indonesia2014, Trips

This year, our Indonesian destination was Flores Island to catch the Waow boat in Maumere. We were told that Flores was worth visiting before boarding the boat, so we took 4 days to spend there before getting on the boat. However, you fly there through Bali, so we had a few hours in Bali the day we arrived before taking a plane to Maumere the next morning.

Unfortunately this year it took 1.5h to get through the aiport due to a huge imigration line. Eventually we got out at 17;10, which was barely enough time to meet our driver guide we used last year and go to Uluwatu to have a quick tour of the temple, see the monkeys, and then watch a Balinese dance (actually kind of a play, not entirely unlike Japanese kabuki), and then we were supposed to have suckling pig for dinner, but the place closed for some holiday. Instead, we ended up having dinner on a beach with pick your own fish, we'll grill it :)




new toll expressway to the airport
new toll expressway to the airport













that night also happend to have a full lunar eclipse
that night also happend to have a full lunar eclipse



We spent a free night at a nice Hyatt thanks to my credit card, and while we were short on time due to our flight, we did a quick tour of the grounds with Arturo .
















2014/10/07 Indonesia Day 0: Flight Through Taiwan
π 2014-10-07 00:00 in Indonesia2014, Trips

Like last year, we flew Eva Air business (only 120K miles to go to Bali), and while the food and service were still quite good. Unfortunately the entertainment system was unreliable and crashy. It failed for me in both planes....


seabass was yummy :)
seabass was yummy :)

Jennifer enjoying her lobster :)
Jennifer enjoying her lobster :)

good job entertainment system, still didn't work after 2 reboots
good job entertainment system, still didn't work after 2 reboots

very nice HUD
very nice HUD

virtual landing
virtual landing



2014/10/05 Btrfs Tips: Catch Btrfs Deadlocks
π 2014-10-05 00:00 in Btrfs, Linux

Simple cronjob to detect btrfs kernel hangs

As of 3.16, btrfs can still deadlock (it happens more frequently with older kernels).

You don't want a pile of stuck processes and having a half working server that you need to debug later. The cronjob below (a template for you to modify) will alert you when your load avarage is too high, show you which processes are blocked (could be something else than btrfs), and also show you if your swap is runnig out (btrfs has memory bugs with quotas and snapshots that can eat all your memory).

SHELL=/bin/bash

# If load average is more than MAXLA, show load average and all blocked processes # As any time show anything blocked on wait_current_trans.isra.15 (used to be a btrfs hang bug) # Also show swap if it drops below MINSWAP # We pipe into bc because shell comparison doesn't do floating point. */5 * * * * nobody MAXLA=25; MINSWAP=10; if [ $(echo "$(awk '{print $1}' < /proc/loadavg) > $MAXLA" | bc) 1 ]]; then cat /proc/loadavg; ps -eo state,pid,etime,wchan:30,args | grep W |grep -v "^[RS]" ; fi; ps -eo pid,etime,wchan:30,args | grep -q [w]ait_current_trans.isra.15; if [ $(echo "$(free | grep 'Swap' | awk '{t = $2; f = $4; print (f/t*100)}') < $MINSWAP" | bc) 1 ]]; then free; fi

2014/10/01 Good Entertainment from our Bird Feeder, and Stupid Squirrels
π 2014-10-01 00:00 in Public
A while ago, I bought a bird feeder because I thought it would be fun in our yard, and sure enough, it was an instant hit. We got to see many interesting bird, including a baby woodpecker probably related to the big woodpecker that's living in our of our trees and making swiss cheese out of it :)

I have many pictures of those birds, but these are hopefully the best:














The only problem were the squirrels that started by eating fallen seeds, but eventually went to the source:

they look good when they start
they look good when they start

clean the seeds by your doorstep
clean the seeds by your doorstep

then they climb
then they climb

and climb
and climb

and jump
and jump

and climb
and climb

and jump
and jump

The squirrels really became a problem, so I had to trap them and get rid of them:

I tried to build a defense, but it was pointless
I tried to build a defense, but it was pointless

on the plus side, I could capture all the grain the birds were dropping
on the plus side, I could capture all the grain the birds were dropping

so I had to bait them with peanut butter
so I had to bait them with peanut butter


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