Marc's Public Blog - Trips to other locations


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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 |

Table of Content for trips:

More pages: February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997



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 :)










Taiwan mosquitoes are bad
Taiwan mosquitoes are bad

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.




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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:




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 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 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




More pages: February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997