Temples & towers

temple-taichung

Where has all the craftsmanship and artistry gone?

Pictured, part of a temple roof in Taichung and beyond Hotel One, a modern day skyscraper. The turquoise-tinted all-glass Hotel One is certainly an impressive sight and easy on the eye, mainly due to its curved shape and breathtaking height. However the detailed coloured carvings of the low wooden temple could be viewed for hours whereas a brief glance at the skyscraper and you’ve seen it all, just about.

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Just one of the many intricately carved sculptures found on temples.

Many skyscrapers are simple geometric forms clad in mirror glass, which if nothing else has one advantage of reflecting the sky, making them semi invisible and slightly less oppressive. However the majority of office and apartment blocks are just plain grey rectangular concrete boxes with uniform square windows placed at regular intervals with about as much aesthetic appeal as a brick. That’s it! I would hazard a guess that covers around 80% of high-rise buildings worldwide.

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A tall tower block rises from the city almost obliterating the view.
Skyscraper mirror glass reflects concrete apartment blocks a common sight in every city.

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I wonder how this affects our moods as we wander through sun-shaded cities of grey concrete and glass, looking for some greenery and a place to sit, rest and chat.

 

NYE across the world

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For those who may have missed the spectacular drone displays celebrating the New Year 2020 you can click on the image or here to see a YouTube video showing examples of what many cities displayed. Whether Shanghai’s display ever happened seems open to debate as the video above was created earlier in the year.

It is interesting to note that many Asian and Far Eastern countries had incredible drone and light displays and less fireworks. Their displays were fresh, original, spectacular and less polluting than most of those in the West. Meanwhile Boris’s ‘Brexit’ Britain used the event to pollute London even more with an endless stream of conventional fireworks, no doubt bought from China.

The Chinese must be quite amused. It sums up today’s Britain for me, a lack of sophistication, sensitivity and originality. A disappointing start to the New Year. You do have to wonder where all the British creativity has gone as the rest of the world seems to be way ahead of us. Below a still from the NYE drone show over Singapore.

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Sun Moon Lake

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This is the harbour at Shuishe pier on Sun Moon Lake, located in the heart of Taiwan. The lake is surrounded by mountainous terrain, 2000-3000 meters plus and lies at an elevation of almost 800 meters. The surface area covers almost eight square kilometres and Ci En, a twelve story pagoda sits atop one hillside opposite the harbour. From Shuishe pier there is a walkway along the edge of the lake northwards that takes you to Wenwu temple several kilometres away. Glorious weather makes this a perfect day out, particularly as last time I visited it was engulfed in mist so that all I could see was water lapping the edge of the pier.

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Small Faces – Itchycoo park 1967 Just for fun

pterodactyl

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This pterodactyl is just one of many image tiles on the walkway strip leading up to the National museum of natural science. (see post: Taichung postcards). The creatures come in all sizes and this one is by no means the biggest. The larger ones are hard to view unless you have a drone or access to one of the tower blocks surrounding the walkway. Even then trees along the strip would probably hinder the view. So I created this image by stitching together 8 separate images so that it could be viewed in all its glory as I doubt few people have ever seen them properly. My feet at the bottom show just how big this one was.

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A pedestrian walks along the strip, the normal ground level view.

Taiwan aboriginal village

A day out to educate myself. At least that was my plan anyway…

In the heart of Taiwan not far from Sun Moon Lake is a place called the ‘Formosan aboriginal culture village’. A 90 minute bus ride from Taichung took me there for just a few Euros.

On the way, as we headed inland towards the mountains, it was clear to see the ever present pollution hanging over Taichung, something that is easy to miss while in the city as the air does not seem to be that polluted. The cloud of purple grey pollution hovering over a city on a clear blue sky day was something I first noticed in Munich, Germany back in the 1980s.

On arrival my destination turned out to be more of an amusement park with touches of Disney world. At first I was shocked and a little disappointed as fun fairs were never really my thing even when I was younger. However it was quite spectacular.

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Observation tower, cable car and crystal clear water park with huge slide (not shown)

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I discovered, via a well designed map, that the aboriginal village and museum were situated high above the amusement park, which required a fairly long walk and ascent of several hundred meters.

A labyrinth of paths climbed the hillside but many of the direct routes had been blocked due to maintenance and so I was forced to zigzag my way up in search of the museum.

Lets face it, museums and art galleries are hard on the legs and feet at the best of times but having to walk and climb several kilometres (slight exaggeration) to reach this one did nothing to help my growing disappointment. However once there it was well worth the effort, particularly the museum artefacts and the reconstructed wooden homes of the aboriginals.

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A peaceful retreat away from the amusement park noise and screams of excitement.

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It was fascinating standing inside the wooden huts imagining how they had once lived and for a moment, despite the simplicity of the structures, I felt slightly envious that they could have been so close to nature as the structures were mostly open to the elements. No triple glazed sealed boxes here. Just the sounds of the forest. It really made me wonder about much of present day living, especially in cities with the ever growing tower blocks.

The whole experience of the Formosan aboriginal culture village took most of the day and on my return through the amusement park it certainly looked great fun if you are young and into that sort of thing. The water ride looked particularly spectacular and there was also an observation tower, cable car to Sun Moon Lake and a monorail. What more could a family want for a day out.

Well, it was a good job I did not Google research it beforehand as I may have not gone and then I would have missed a treat.

Freedom II

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Another stressful morning freeing two more sheep caught in brambles. It took me half an hour hacking my way through brambles, shoulder high, to get to this one. This is a new problem as the last flock took no interest in brambles (blackberry bushes) but these new sheep seem to have a taste for them.

After rounding up the flock the owner and I managed to get them into another area fenced off and away from the worst of the brambles.