About MJ Klein
Former field engineer MJ Klein now lives in Taiwan, and writes articles that primarily feature photographs of travels of MJ and wife Hui-chen, plus daily goings on in the bustling island nation of Taiwan, and other places in Asia. Articles feature people, culture, food, situations and sometimes the trials and tribulations of traveling in places such as China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos and of course Taiwan.
Latest Posts by MJ Klein
Recently, Hui-chen went looking on the internet for something to do, and she found this local festival in Xinpu, a township close to where we live in Taipei Taiwan. It coincided with the Lantern Festival, and at first I thought it was just a local Lantern Festival, but as I looked around, it seemed a little different. This festival apparently is a Lantern Festival that celebrates the Hakka People, and this area has many Hakka Taiwanese. Hakka people came from China to Taiwan a very long time ago. We have a friend who is a 9th generation Taiwanese Hakka. There was absolutely no information about the festival anywhere, so we walked around and enjoyed the carnival atmosphere.
There were lots of floats on display.
As you can see, some of them were quite elaborate.
We came to this cool display of hand painted lantern shades.
Hui-chen is pointing out the Doraemon lantern shade because Phoenix likes Doraemon.
As you can see, there were literally thousands of lantern shades on display. I got the impression that these were all done by school children.
Definitely a carnival festival going on.
Lots of vendors selling you-name-it. n, until I eventually told the ride operator that the kids were bored.
Take a look at this activity. Shooting balloons with arrows. What if your aim is high? There is a very fine mesh net above the backboard, but it didn’t look substantial enough to me.
Last but not least, is this photo of one of the vendors. He’s selling mountain pork in the form of meat-on-a-stick, and sausages. We didn’t try it, but we often have mountain pig and it’s delicious.
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Geotagged photos by MJ Klein
Our latest camping adventure in Taiwan was in Guoxing where we used a brand named Adisi, which is a Taiwanese home grown brand.
The tent structure remains attached to the quick-setup frame, so you don’t have to take it down.
These very clever joints fold and lock into place, making it very easy to set up the frame with the tent attached.
After the frame is set up, all that remains is to install the frame components for the foyer, and then put on the rain fly.
This is the tent and additional frame in the front for the foyer, awaiting the addition of the rain fly.
Notice the die-cast aluminum feet on the frame. The inner strap is the tent. The rain fly cleverly snaps into a connector on the outside of the foot. To be honest, after seeing this tent go up, I think this is the most intelligently designed tent I have ever seen.
The rain fly is also well designed. All zippers are covered with flaps that keep out the rain.
The rain fly has 10 little pockets like this, that contain tie-downs.
If you had high winds where you’re camping, these 10 tie-downs would hold the rain fly secure.
As you can see, the tie-downs are provided at 2 levels: at the top and mid points of the rain fly.
The foyer has 2 entrances, making it very convenient.
There are tie-downs for all the inside flaps too.
This is the 6-person sized tent and the foyer is very generous however they also offer a 8-person tent, which is even larger.
This the the rear of the tent, after setup. The red flap can be set up as an awning and there is also a rear entrance to the tent if you desire to use that too. Notice the air vents up at the top. This tent has plenty of ventilation and did not have a moisture build-up problem overnight.
This is the front of the tent with the foyer. Notice the stainless quad pod to the left.
One of the more interesting things I noticed at this campsite is the Norfolk Island Pine trees. Below, the tent set up at another location.
I’m not used to such high-density camping. But for Taiwanese, this is normal.
The above 2 shots are of the main avenue in the center, with campsites along each side.
Above and below, the Dahu Township, Miaoli.
As always, the food is fabulous.
Cold chicken (“oil chicken”).
Squid and vegetables.
In the evening, fires were lit and food cooked.
This shot shows the awning that we had to put up because of drizzling rain. It was too low for me to walk under and quite inconvenient for cooking with the Dutch oven.
All photos by MJ Klein.
We recently went to the new Global Mall and what we have come to call, “the big ball.” This big ball, made in Taiwan, is a round display that was all the rage way back when it went on display in Shanghai where it caused quite a stir. No one had seen anything like it. Now, years later, this round display is in a purpose-built building that is part of the Global Mall complex.
The Global Mall is one of the most interesting, if not strangest malls I’ve ever visited. There are odd spaces that have become stores, and it somehow all makes sense. But there are hardly any customers, since it is so new.
This part of the mall is a 2-floor structure.
This is the start of the show. For some reason, the designers want to give you the feeling of being in space. So, visitors are supposed to step on these pads and look at themselves in the corresponding monitor across from them. The monitor adds a space suit to the display, so it (supposedly) looks like you’re wearing a space suit. With each one of us carrying 2 bags, neither Hui-chen or I felt like doing this. So we just walked past the pads and into the next room.
More blue lights and LEDs.
There was a (Chinese language only) presentation of what we were about to do. There was a graphic of the ball display (shown above) and a walkway where we would be going in a few minutes. I found the access panel on the wall very distracting, and wished they had a regular screen instead of just showing this on the wall. Anyway, shortly thereafter a graphic came on and said that photography was not permitted inside the display.
I took this photo inside the ball display! The presentation was an animated short film that began in space and then went down to Taiwan, and featured many famous and beautiful places and animals in Taiwan. Being on that bridge in the middle of the ball with moving pictures all around can be a bit unnerving but incredibly cool at the same time.
After the film we went down a floor and walked over a bridge to where the ball display is located.
This is what it looks like directly underneath the ball display. As you can see, the density of the LEDs varies over the surface of the display (something I never realized when looking at it from across the street).
The lantern makes it’s way up the display….
Finally reaching the higher-density areas.
I noticed a band of lower density higher up the sphere. But when you look at the display, it doesn’t seem any different from top to bottom.
Outside the glass was a shallow pool of water.
Now this side seems uniform.
One last look and it’s time to leave.
All photos by MJ Klein
We’ve been to Yong-an quite a few times but on this particular occasion, we specifically wanted to check out one of those quads (4-wheeled cycle) and take the whole family for a ride. The Yong-am District (Yǒng’ān Qū) is a coastal suburban district of Kaohsiung City in southern Taiwan.
This is the biggest quad they have so we rented it for the rest of the day and headed out to the road along the beach where I’ve ridden my trike before.
After returning the quad, we drove up to the fish market and went inside.
As usual, there were all kinds of stuff on sale.
Sashimi is very popular in Taiwan.
Breaktime over, we went back inside so HC could buy something to cook for dinner.
She got some fried oysters here. They were really good. We got some fresh live shrimp from another place.
Lastly, we got some clams from this vendor. It pays to walk around and check out before you buy though, because 5 minutes after buying these clams, we found another vendor on the other side of the market, selling the exact same items for less money.
We went to to the famous Flying Cow Ranch in Miaoli Taiwan recently and even though it was a weekend and crammed with people, we had a great time.
From the looks of this sign, you’d think that everything was spread out over a couple of KM, however it’s all compact and easily walkable.
We decided to go to the Pasture Animals area first. This is a zoom telephoto shot of the corral near the barn.
A nice rolling hill….
This sign talked about the difference between 2 cow breeds.
Another informative sign about a cow’s mouth.
As you can see, Phoenix is not one bit afraid of the cows. It was obvious that she liked them.
The cows were being called back to the barn….
because it was feeding time for them.
These are grass-fed cattle.
Next we walked over to this gift shop/store for a break.
Right beside are the Barbados Black Belly Sheep. They make ice cream at the ranch, using milk from those cows we saw earlier.
This area has a network of misters that spray water mist to cool down the area. It almost looks like smoke.
Next, we went to the duck feeding area. Or, I should say “duckling.”
I guess you have to tell people not to hurt the baby ducks.
We then went around to the rabbit house.
This is a genuine rabbit hole!
There is a long wall that has been painted with this mural about farm things.
We headed to Nantou, in the county of Nantou, the second largest county in Taiwan. On the main drag, vendors line the street.
These carnivorous plants were interesting.
And so was this wasp nest. The wasps were long gone, however.
There are little private temples all over Taiwan, and this one was next to some kind of repair shop.
One vendor was selling miniature plants.
This is what we came to see – the famous Paper Dome.
What? That’s not paper!
We walked around to the rear to see the paper structure.
These columns and seats are made of paper.
But I cried “foul!” when I saw the chip-board ceiling.
The rear sides and entire back are opened up. The outer building protects the paper structure from the elements, obviously.
This is a wider view.
Behind the Paper Dome is some interesting works of art.
The dome itself is not paper, but plastic sheeting.
This sheeting gets pretty hot, so it’s cooled with spraying water.
I thought this Japanese looking bell looked interesting, so I took a shot of it right after someone rang it.
Next to the building is a lily pond.
With lots of little fish.
Speaking of fish, this heron caught a nice one in the river beside the Paper Dome.
After we had enough of the Paper Dome, we walked back to the car to head toward our next destination. Before we go there, let me just say that had I known just what the Paper Dome really was, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see it.
Stacks of Taiwan Beer crates, full of empty bottles, can only mean one thing: we’re at the TTL Brewery in Nantou.
There are huge vats basically right out in the open.
We went inside the main building and found it to be a madhouse of vendors selling all sorts of things.
I don’t know why, but flavored eggs are a big deal in Taiwan. There was no shortage of them here.
Hui-chen wanted to take a tour of the place, so we went upstairs and took a look.
This is the beginning of what turned out to be the shortest tour I’ve been on.
That’s right – a liquor urn tunnel. Don’t ask me – I have no idea.
Before we hit the tunnel, there were several examples of classic liquor urns designs from the past.
Then we entered the Liquor Urn Tunnel.
Looking back from the end.
Around the corner are some examples of ingredients used in the factory to make the various liquors and beers.
This old-fashioned liquor cart was cool.
This is the Liquor Urn Tunnel from the outside. The urns are held in place by pipes.
One last look….
“The House Of Drunk Experiencing” is supposed to give people a feeling of being drunk, by having them walk on a tilted surface. I didn’t try it to see how authentic it felt, though.
The above 2 shots are of deceptions of old style liquor urns used in the past.
HC wanted to by some wine for cooking purposes.
After the tour, we took a look at this listing of all the local spas and HC pointed out her selection for our next spa.
Photos by MJ Klein
My wife asked me to drive her to Nantou, to a famous temple, which of course, I did. Behind the bedroom of our hotel on the first night is the spa, which makes sense since this is a hot springs hotel. On the left is a cold spring control, center is cool water, and on the right is the hot spring water.
The tub on the left (bottom) is for the cold springs, and we did not use that one. The other 2 controls are for the hot spring tub on the right).
There are no screens on the windows. Not that it matters because the roof is open between the slats. This lets in the mosquitoes but it also keeps the room from becoming overly hot.
The exterior of the hotel.
This is the outdoor spa area, which we did not use.
Just in case you were wondering, yes we are in a mountain area.
Thailand, an end to a fabulous trip.
I had the morning to myself so after relaxing in my room, I went out in search of some food. Across the street, I spied this meat grilling….
And because you just can’t have too many photos of grilling meat, here is a closer view!
I’ve been to this little place across the street from the Tamarind Residences many times before.
There is no menu. You just have to look at what they have and try to communicate what you want.
The boss lady’s very cute little girl took a keen interest in what I was doing.
I tried to get her to return the “Asian Sign of Picture Taking” but I was unable to.
After exhausting my limited repertoire of Thai, the boss lady went to work preparing the food that she thinks I ordered.
First course, some delicious grilled Thai sausage.
Next up, an omelette with basil
The little girl took a seat right next to me and intently watched everything I was eating.
Kale and garlic with Thai spices, a dish that I’ve had many times and in many places, but never tire of.
This is the Khonkaen airport terminal. When traveling, I always make sure I arrive plenty of time before my departure. Once I arrived several hours early at an airport for an international flight, only to find that there was a problem with my ticket that required almost the entire block of extra time to correct! After that, I make sure I arrive early for every flight.
When I arrived, the place was deserted.
Not a soul at the gate, either.
I wasn’t kidding when I said the place was deserted. With the exception of perhaps 2 people, the entire terminal building was devoid of waiting passengers, and this was only an hour before departure time. It seems that everyone in Thailand is on “Thai Time” because the place began to fill up about 15 minutes before boarding time.
One departing shot before I put my camera away until I arrived in Bangkok.
We’ve covered the “new” airport before. It always looks interesting, like the inside of a caterpillar.
Structural details always interest me. Hope they didn’t bore you.
After snapping too many photos (but hey, it’s digital so who cares?), it was time to board.
But when I got to my seat, I found that I couldn’t fit in it because of the box that was installed in the left armrest (shown on the right in this view). All I could do was stand and wait for a flight attendant to notice me. I was moved to another seat. They put a skinny Thai girl in this seat and she had no problems.
Little things like a cup holder make your flight more enjoyable (and easier in some respects).
And…. we’re off!