About MJ Klein

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

Walking Through Taiwan’s Streets During Chinese New Year

May 17, 2015 by  

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Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

It’s Taiwan. It’s the Chinese New Year. Cultural festivities are bountiful yet one day I found myself a little bored, so we went for a walk, starting in an alley where friends live.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

And this is the other end of the alley.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

I thought I would take a bunch of street photos to try and give our readers and idea what it’s like to walk down a typical street in Taiwan.  Unless you’ve been here it’s hard to imagine just how commerce oriented Taiwan really is.  It seems that everyone is selling something, just about everywhere.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Shops expand to take up surrounding space.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

And sidewalks become places to display goods for sale.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Hardware store.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

I’m sure that licenses were obtained and royalties are regularly paid for these images.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

This is a potable water station.  You cannot drink water directly from the tap in Taiwan (and many other Asian countries I might add).  This station pumps filtered water into your container for bringing home to drink.  This person is filling containers on their scooter.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Evidently there is a morning market here.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

This tree was in a neighbor’s yard.  The fruit is called “Buddha Head” because of the shape.  When walking down the road, this is the first glimpse of the sports stadium.  The official name is the “Kaohsiung World Games Stadium.”

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

The roof is lined with solar panels (more on this later).

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

There is a nice park surrounding the stadium.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

The little “river” that runs through the parks has lots of fish, which Phoenix liked.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

This sign explains about the design goals.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

This closeup of the English section will make it much easier for you to read.  When the stadium is operational, the roof mounted solar panels generate about 80% of the power needs.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

But the stadium is sitting idle most of the time and there are many places in need of a repaint.

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Photos From Chinese New Year 2015, Round Two

Xinpu Hakka Festival, a Lantern Festival That Celebrates the Hakka People

April 17, 2015 by  

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Xinpu Hakka Festival

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.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

There were lots of floats on display.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Xinpu Hakka Festival

As you can see, some of them were quite elaborate.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Xinpu Hakka Festival

We came to this cool display of hand painted lantern shades.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Hui-chen is pointing out the Doraemon lantern shade because Phoenix likes Doraemon.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

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.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Definitely a carnival festival going on.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

Lots of vendors selling you-name-it.   n, until I eventually told the ride operator that the kids were bored.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

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.

Xinpu Hakka Festival

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.

Thanks for reading!  Please leave your comments below!

Geotagged photos by MJ Klein

Testing the Adisi Tent in Taiwan

March 26, 2015 by  

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Our latest camping adventure in Taiwan was in Guoxing where we used a brand named Adisi, which is a Taiwanese home grown brand.

More Camping in Taiwan

The tent structure remains attached to the quick-setup frame, so you don’t have to take it down.

More Camping in Taiwan

These very clever joints fold and lock into place, making it very easy to set up the frame with the tent attached.

More Camping in Taiwan

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.

More Camping in Taiwan

This is the tent and additional frame in the front for the foyer, awaiting the addition of the rain fly.

More Camping in Taiwan

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.

More Camping in Taiwan

The rain fly is also well designed.  All zippers are covered with flaps that keep out the rain.

More Camping in Taiwan

The rain fly has 10 little pockets like this, that contain tie-downs.

More Camping in Taiwan

If you had high winds where you’re camping, these 10 tie-downs would hold the rain fly secure.

More Camping in Taiwan

As you can see, the tie-downs are provided at 2 levels: at the top and mid points of the rain fly.

More Camping in Taiwan

The foyer has 2 entrances, making it very convenient.

More Camping in Taiwan

There are tie-downs for all the inside flaps too.

More Camping in Taiwan

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.

More Camping in Taiwan

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.

More Camping in Taiwan

This is the front of the tent with the foyer.  Notice the stainless quad pod to the left.

More Camping in Taiwan

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.

More Camping in Taiwan

I’m not used to such high-density camping.  But for Taiwanese, this is normal.

More Camping in Taiwan

More Camping in Taiwan

The above 2 shots are of the main avenue in the center, with campsites along each side.

More Camping in Taiwan

Above and below, the Dahu Township, Miaoli.

More Camping in Taiwan

More Camping in Taiwan

As always, the food is fabulous.

More Camping in Taiwan

Cold chicken (“oil chicken”).

More Camping in Taiwan

Squid and vegetables.

More Camping in Taiwan

Bamboo soup.

More Camping in Taiwan

Fried seafood.

More Camping in Taiwan

Mountain pork.

More Camping in Taiwan

Kale.

More Camping in Taiwan

In the evening, fires were lit and food cooked.

More Camping in Taiwan

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.

More Camping in Taiwan

All photos by MJ Klein.

The Global Mall in Taiwan and the “Big Ball”

November 14, 2014 by  

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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 Taiwan Pavilion

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.

The Taiwan Pavilion

This part of the mall is a 2-floor structure.

The Taiwan Pavilion

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.

The Taiwan Pavilion

More blue lights and LEDs.

The Taiwan Pavilion

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.

The Taiwan Pavilion

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.

The Taiwan Pavilion

After the film we went down a floor and walked over a bridge to where the ball display is located.

The Taiwan Pavilion

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….

The Taiwan Pavilion

Finally reaching the higher-density areas.

The Taiwan Pavilion

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.

The Taiwan Pavilion

Outside the glass was a shallow pool of water.

The Taiwan Pavilion

Now this side seems uniform.

The Taiwan Pavilion

One last look and it’s time to leave.

The Taiwan Pavilion

The Taiwan Pavilion

All photos by MJ Klein

 

Quadding Our Way Through Yong-an & Its Markets

September 16, 2014 by  

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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.

Sunday At Yong An

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.

Sunday At Yong An

After returning the quad, we drove up to the fish market and went inside.

Sunday At Yong An

As usual, there were all kinds of stuff on sale.

Sunday At Yong An

Sashimi is very popular in Taiwan.

Sunday At Yong An

Sunday At Yong An

 

Sunday At Yong An

Breaktime over, we went back inside so HC could buy something to cook for dinner.

Sunday At Yong An

She got some fried oysters here.   They were really good.  We got some fresh live shrimp from another place.

Sunday At Yong An

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.

Flying Cow Ranch in Miaoli Taiwan

August 10, 2014 by  

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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.

Flying Cow Ranch

Flying Cow Ranch

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.

Flying Cow Ranch

We decided to go to the Pasture Animals area first.   This is a zoom telephoto shot of the corral near the barn.

Flying Cow Ranch

A nice rolling hill….

Flying Cow Ranch

Flying Cow Ranch

This sign talked about the difference between 2 cow breeds.

Flying Cow Ranch

Another informative sign about a cow’s mouth.

Flying Cow Ranch

Flying Cow Ranch

As you can see, Phoenix is not one bit afraid of the cows.  It was obvious that she liked them.

Flying Cow Ranch

Flying Cow Ranch

The cows were being called back to the barn….

Flying Cow Ranch

because it was feeding time for them.

Flying Cow Ranch

These are grass-fed cattle.

 

Flying Cow Ranch

Next we walked over to this gift shop/store for a break.

Flying Cow Ranch

Right beside are the Barbados Black Belly Sheep.  They make ice cream at the ranch, using milk from those cows we saw earlier.

Flying Cow Ranch

This area has a network of misters that spray water mist to cool down the area.  It almost looks like smoke.

Flying Cow Ranch

Next, we went to the duck feeding area.  Or, I should say “duckling.”

Flying Cow Ranch

I guess you have to tell people not to hurt the baby ducks.

 

Flying Cow Ranch

 

Flying Cow Ranch

We then went around to the rabbit house.

Flying Cow Ranch

 

Flying Cow Ranch

Flying Cow Ranch

This is a genuine rabbit hole!

Flying Cow Ranch

Flying Cow Ranch

There is a long wall that has been painted with this mural about farm things.

 

The Temples + Tombs of Nantou Taiwan

July 19, 2014 by  

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We headed to Nantou, in the county of Nantou, the second largest county in Taiwan. On the main drag, vendors line the street.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

These carnivorous plants were interesting.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

And so was this wasp nest.  The wasps were long gone, however.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

There are little private temples all over Taiwan, and this one was next to some kind of repair shop.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

One vendor was selling miniature plants.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

This is what we came to see – the famous Paper Dome.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

What?  That’s not paper!

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

We walked around to the rear to see the paper structure.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

These columns and seats are made of paper.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

But I cried “foul!” when I saw the chip-board ceiling.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

The rear sides and entire back are opened up.  The outer building protects the paper structure from the elements, obviously.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

This is a wider view.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Behind the Paper Dome is some interesting works of art.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

The dome itself is not paper, but plastic sheeting.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

This sheeting gets pretty hot, so it’s cooled with spraying water.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

I thought this Japanese looking bell looked interesting, so I took a shot of it right after someone rang it.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Next to the building is a lily pond.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

With lots of little fish.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Speaking of fish, this heron caught a nice one in the river beside the Paper Dome.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

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.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

There are huge vats basically right out in the open.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

We went inside the main building and found it to be a madhouse of vendors selling all sorts of things.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

I don’t know why, but flavored eggs are a big deal in Taiwan.  There was no shortage of them here.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Hui-chen wanted to take a tour of the place, so we went upstairs and took a look.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

This is the beginning of what turned out to be the shortest tour I’ve been on.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

That’s right – a liquor urn tunnel.  Don’t ask me – I have no idea.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Before we hit the tunnel, there were several examples of classic liquor urns designs from the past.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Then we entered the Liquor Urn Tunnel.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Looking back from the end.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Around the corner are some examples of ingredients used in the factory to make the various liquors and beers.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

This old-fashioned liquor cart was cool.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

This is the Liquor Urn Tunnel from the outside.  The urns are held in place by pipes.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

One last look….

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

“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.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

The above 2 shots are of deceptions of old style liquor urns used in the past.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

HC wanted to by some wine for cooking purposes.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

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

Hot Springs Hotel in Nantou Taiwan

June 18, 2014 by  

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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.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

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).

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

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.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

The exterior of the hotel.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

This is the outdoor spa area, which we did not use.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

 

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

Just in case you were wondering, yes we are in a mountain area.

Our Visit to Nantou, Part One

 

 

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