What’s with the water

About 3am a few weeks ago I woke to the rather pleasant sound of flowing water outside. After checking that it wasn’t raining I wandered downstairs to check that the kids hadn’t left the ground floor water tap running. What I discovered was a burst water main that flowed a torrent of water straight through and past our garage.

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Beautiful Butterflies

Save the suburban sprawl, urban streets and insecticide fields, butterflies are quite plentiful in Taiwan. As more than half of the land area falls into one of those categories it still leaves plenty of places to watch these beautiful insects. Taiwan is rightfully famous for its huge range and spectacular butterflies, despite people’s encroachment across their terrain.

Butterfly

Heliophorus ila matsumurae
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Physical relocation to China remains unlikely

The cross-straits standoff of six decades added another rough chapter this last week. China’s chief cross-straits negotiator Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) met with Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in the highest level talks since the Communist and Nationalist war in 1949.

To demonstrate the absurdity of China-Taiwan relations, Chen and Ma finally managed to meet on the provision that Ma could be introduced as President of Taiwan and Chen would neither protest or acknowledge the “president” title for the leader of “the renegade province”. For neither protesting nor acknowledging, Taiwan now infers that China agrees to Ma’s “mutual non-denial” policy. That is, that both China and Taiwan will no longer pretend that the other doesn’t exist. So the diplomatic coup for Taiwan is “that China is not denying the mutual non-denial policy”.

And to reach that historic step the newly elected Taiwan government had to deploy an enormous police force to contain protests, stop display of the Taiwanese flag, and other patriotic actions. They have simultaneously run a political witch-hunt and detained, without charge, a number of the opposition party. Many feel they have taken an “improve economic ties with China” mandate to regress civil rights, oppress the opposition and quietly return Taiwan to China. Most seem too apathetic to care.

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But all is not lost. Though political, social and economic control may be sliding westward, thanks to 50 years of an obsessive concrete fixation, a speedy physical relocation of Taiwan to China still remains unlikely.

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Rubbish

As unglamorous a subject as it is, it is fascinating to see the way the rubbish is dealt with. At its simplest, it goes into a truck, squashed up with lots of other rubbish and land-filled somewhere.

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But the majority of rubbish is recycled one way or another. Between recycle trucks, local recycle yards and old women collectors, nothing with any residual value is placed in the ground.

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No bycatch but too much tuna

Once every few weeks we visit the Chijin(旗津) Island fish markets to buy a big bucket of fish. This is a small market right inside the fishing harbour with 20 or so regular vendors and up to 10 irregular ones that show up when there is enough of something to sell. The majority of seafood on offer is pretty consistent but every time we go there is sure to be a new variety of ocean protein I haven’t seen before.

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There is such a huge range of fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Nothing it seems is left behind or wasted. Indeed, there is no bycatch from a Taiwanese fishing boat.

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Leprena II in Kaohsiung

We have recently been very fortunate to have my father visit us here in Taiwan. Being an unconventional sort of dad he arrived in Taiwan in a very unconventional way. Aboard his home, lifestyle and well traveled 32 foot yacht Leprena II.

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Currently based in the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea he didn’t hesitate to up-anchor and sail the 5500 odd kms to visit us. [Read more →]

Kaohsiung Orange Line

For the last few years the streets of Kaohsiung have been a mess with construction of the two-line underground MRT. Last Sunday the 14th of September the East-West Orange line opened for passengers to finally finish the mammoth project. Since we live close by the Daliao end terminal of the Orange line this will be a huge boon for us. It currently takes over an hour to reach Siziwan near the harbour. The Orange line takes about 25 minutes to complete the 14 stations along the 14 km route.

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Japan

The ties between Taiwan and Japan are long and very strong. It is telling that so many Taiwanese are so fond of anything Japanese even though Japan occupied Taiwan for the first half of last century. It was equally interesting that so many of the Japanese we met on our 2 week trip had traveled to Taiwan or wished to do so.

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Now my wife and I are travelers of old and have always been ready to pack a bag and venture off. But this trip was a little different. We started out as a party of 8, my in-laws, nephew, 3 kids, wife and myself. Backpacks not being appropriate, we decided to start with a 5 days Tokyo tour group.

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Penguins in Taiwan: That’s impressive

On our recent Southern holiday adventure we stopped by the Nation Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium. Though I had heard and read about this place, we were all totally overwhelmed with the amazing display of fishes and animals.

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It should not be surprising that Taiwan would have a great aquarium, for everyone here absolutely loves seafood. It is only natural that a small live sample of all the yummy marine dishes should be available for viewing.

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Money to burn

Burning money in Taiwan is serious business,  especially at this time of year during ghost month. And with a full moon on the 16th of August everyone is out burning their ghost money making sure their ancestors and deities are all cashed up for another year.

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