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

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

 

 

Thailand: Food & Streets in Images…

October 27, 2013 by  

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Thailand, an end to a fabulous trip.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

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….

Thailand 2012, Last Day

And because you just can’t have too many photos of grilling meat, here is a closer view!

Thailand 2012, Last Day

I’ve been to this little place across the street from the Tamarind Residences many times before.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

There is no menu.  You just have to look at what they have and try to communicate what you want.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

The boss lady’s very cute little girl took a keen interest in what I was doing.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

I tried to get her to return the “Asian Sign of Picture Taking” but I was unable to.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

After exhausting my limited repertoire of Thai, the boss lady went to work preparing the food that she thinks I ordered.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

First course, some delicious grilled Thai sausage.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Next up, an omelette with basil

Thailand 2012, Last Day

The little girl took a seat right next to me and intently watched everything I was eating.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Kale and garlic with Thai spices, a dish that I’ve had many times and in many places, but never tire of.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

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.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

When I arrived, the place was deserted.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Not a soul at the gate, either.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

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.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

One departing shot before I put my camera away until I arrived in Bangkok.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

We’ve covered the “new” airport before.  It always looks interesting, like the inside of a caterpillar.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Structural details always interest me.  Hope they didn’t bore you.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

After snapping too many photos (but hey, it’s digital so who cares?), it was time to board.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

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.

Thailand 2012, Last Day

Little things like a cup holder make your flight more enjoyable (and easier in some respects).

Thailand 2012, Last Day

And….   we’re off!

Thailand 2012, Last Day

 

 

Parrots, Turtles & More At Taiwan’s Green World

October 15, 2013 by  

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Recently we joined reader Stefan and his lovely wife and daughter for a visit to Taiwan’s Green World.

Our Visit to Green World

The first thing that we saw were Macaw parrots.  Now, who doesn’t love parrots?

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

At the time of our arrival, the parrot show was about to begin.  We walked past some of the food vendors,

Our Visit to Green World

and through the gift shop, complete with a dinosaur skeleton.

Our Visit to Green World

The parrot show is just ahead.

Our Visit to Green World

We entered the show area on the side.  But it was just way too loud here, so we moved to the rear center.

Our Visit to Green World

This being Taiwan, of course the sound was cranked up to ear-splitting levels.  I was concerned about Phoenix and her sensitive baby ears.  But she seemed OK with being in the rear of the auditorium.

Our Visit to Green World

The parrot show is basically standard stuff, but the birds are cute and quite smart.

Our Visit to Green World

This Blue & Gold Macaw is responding to verbal commands in Chinese.

Our Visit to Green World

Soon, the trainer had the parrot doing all sorts of cute things.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

An all time favorite: bicycle riding on a wire.

Our Visit to Green World

No parrot show would be complete without parrot skating!

Our Visit to Green World

I found this demonstration very interesting.  The old shell game, with a golf ball hidden under one of the metal cups.

Our Visit to Green World

The parrot found the ball right off, every time.

Our Visit to Green World

Of course, I have no way of knowing if the bird was really keeping track of the ball, or if the trainer places the ball in the same position every time.  But I must admit that the speed at which the trainer was moving the cups around, it would be hard to keep track of the ball.

Our Visit to Green World

After the parrot show, we walked over to the Alpaca House.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

The alpaca is a type of small camel that has been domesticated in a number of South American countries.

Our Visit to Green World

The keepers have been creative in  grooming these animals.  This one looks more like a poodle than an alpaca.

Our Visit to Green World

Back to the exhibits.  We went into a kind of exhibition house, but I forgot the name of the place already (and I didn’t photograph the sign).  But, inside there were quite a number of different interesting animals.

Our Visit to Green World

Not everyone likes snakes, especially big ones.  These are behind glass.

Our Visit to Green World

I always like tortoises of any kind.  There were quite a number of several varieties on hand.

Our Visit to Green World

If I am not mistaken, this is a horn bill.  It was nice and quiet, just posing peacefully on the perch.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

More snakes.

Our Visit to Green World

More tortoises.

Our Visit to Green World

Even more.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

I told you they had quite a number of them!

Our Visit to Green World

Bearded dragon.

Our Visit to Green World

This is a worst-nightmare of a snapping turtle.  This guy is huge!

Our Visit to Green World

I was rather amazed at how calm the animals were.  This bird just stood there while I took the photo.

Our Visit to Green World

As we headed out the door, I took one last photo in the entrance area.

Our Visit to Green World

When we stepped outside, the alpacas were out in the pasture grazing.

Our Visit to Green World

Everyone came over to take photos of them.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Phoenix thought they were interesting and they held her attention.

Our Visit to Green World

Green World is kind of a big loop that you walk around (or take one of the shuttles).  Along the route we came to the Sky Way, which is an elevated platform for walking through the rain forest.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

The above photos show the platform, which is quite high off the ground.  A nice easy loop to walk, the air was cool in the forest.

Our Visit to Green World

Continuing on our walk around the loop….

Our Visit to Green World

We came to this type of garden.  Notice the signs on the different plant species.  Believe it or not, at the entrance to this area, was a control panel with buttons for English, Chinese and Japanese languages.  You guessed it: there is an audio program that gets blasted throughout speakers placed along the walkway, talking about each species by numbered sign.  At first it was interesting, but after about 10 minutes we just wished it would end.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Audio program notwithstanding, this is a very pleasant walk.

Our Visit to Green World

At the end there is a small pond with a trickle of a waterfall.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Going back to the beginning (this is also a loop).

Our Visit to Green World

These are restrooms, which follow the decor of the park.

Our Visit to Green World

We couldn’t go up here because we had the stroller for Phoenix.  So we have something to check out next time.  The ancient Hakka building sounds interesting.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Here we come to the Bird and Butterfly Ecological Parks.  We went into the Butterfly park first.

Our Visit to Green World

Before we even went inside there were butterflies fluttering around.

Our Visit to Green World

If you look hard enough, you can see the fine mesh net that covers this exhibit and keeps the butterflies inside.

Our Visit to Green World

If you’ve ever wondered how one feeds butterflies, now you know.  There are pieces of fruit placed on these shelves.

Our Visit to Green World

The butterfly park is a beautiful, peaceful walk.

Our Visit to Green World

This is one of my favorite exhibits: insects that mimic parts of plants.

Our Visit to Green World

There are a number of glass cases containing many species of these types of animals.

Our Visit to Green World

This one really does look like a leaf.

Our Visit to Green World

Next we went into the Bird park where we were greeted by this myna bird who welcomed us in Chinese.

Our Visit to Green World

Many species of birds fly around at liberty, however they are kept inside a cage much like the butterflies.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

I identified this beautiful bird as a female eclectus, one of the few sexually dimorphic species of parrots.

Our Visit to Green World

Stefan identified this critter as a golden pheasant, and he told me they are an introduced species in Europe.

Our Visit to Green World

These are a type of goat that is common in the Caribbean, but thought to originate in Africa.

Our Visit to Green World

And these of course, are Emus.

Our Visit to Green World

Our Visit to Green World

Super Typhoon Soulik Bearing Down on Taiwan

July 11, 2013 by  

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We sit preparing for the arrival of a super typhoon called Soulik (locally called Huanina) due to hit in the next 48 hours.

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

Typhoon Soulik (Huaning)

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