nostromos bLog






* all entries (444)
* concerts (28)
* misc (119)
* techtalk (18)
* travel (241)
  `-bruxelles_07 (8)
  `-canada_14 (22)
  `-hongkong_09 (13)
  `-iceland_10 (14)
  `-ireland_16 (7)
  `-japan_13 (22)
  `-paris_06 (1)
  `-poland_10 (3)
  `-russia_10 (12)
  `-scotland_15 (11)
  `-sweden_09 (10)
  `-taiwan_12 (22)
  `-tokyo_08 (14)
  `-usa_09 (10)
* zoo (38)
  `-abroad (8)
  `-linz (3)
  `-misc (11)
  `-schoenbrunn (16)


07(03), 06(03), 05(02), 04(02), 03(02)
12(02), 11(01), 10(08), 09(03), 07(17), 06(01), 05(04), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(06)
12(05), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(02), 07(04), 06(01), 05(02), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(02), 09(09), 08(16), 07(02), 06(03), 05(04), 04(03), 02(03), 01(02)
12(03), 11(01), 10(02), 09(01), 08(23), 07(03), 06(02), 05(01), 04(02), 03(02)
12(03), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(23), 05(02)
09(04), 08(01), 06(01), 05(02), 04(02), 03(01), 02(01)
11(01), 10(02), 09(15), 08(01), 07(02), 06(04), 04(12), 01(06)
12(05), 11(01), 10(06), 09(12), 08(02), 07(02), 06(01), 05(01), 04(10), 02(01), 01(05)
12(02), 08(01), 07(15), 06(02), 05(03), 02(02), 01(03)
12(05), 11(01), 07(24), 06(06), 05(03), 04(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(01), 10(07), 09(01), 08(04), 07(05), 06(04), 05(06), 04(01), 03(04), 02(06), 01(04)
12(04), 11(02), 10(03), 09(04), 08(03), 07(04), 04(01)
07(01), 05(01)
08(01)
10(01)

Sat, 08 Dec 2012
a weekend trip to graz (0 comments)
this weekend nina and i paid a visit to my brother, his wife and my nephew in graz. since it's christmas time, we went to the christmas market[01-06] on the schlossberg[07]. Additionally the ride with the "Schlossbergbahn"[08] was for free this day, so we decided to not walk up the hill by foot, and rather enjoy the view from the funicular.
later my nephew enjoyed rides in a little fun park[13-24], and afterwards we all enjoyed hot beverages in the cafe[25-29] situated in the Kunsthaus Graz, aka the "Bubble".

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Tue, 04 Dec 2012
skype + skyped + bitlbee (0 comments)
++ alert ++ tech-talk ++ alert ++ tech-talk ++ alert ++
yuhu! i finally found some time to manage to include skype to my command line world, using Skype4Py, skyped and bitlbee. in order to get it running on my freebsd server, i had to do a few modifications. biggest, and most hurting one, was to install a full X11 environment on my server in order to get Xvfb running. also it needed a linux-emulation for the skype-gui-client, so i installed linux_base. i chose the fedora 10 ("linux_base-f10-10") version. then upgrading from python-2.6 to python-2.7 ("python27-2.7.3") was another necessary step, otherwise Skype4Py ("Skype4Py-1.0.32.0") wouldn't have compiled. furthermore some small modifications to the freebsd-ports Makefile of bitlbee ("bitlbee-3.0.6") to include and build the skype-plugin, and finally the skype-gui-client ("skype-2.1.0.81") itself, again from ports. next following the installation howto from the skype-plugin author miklos vajna i created a certificate necessary for the communication between skype-daemon and the skype-gui-client. then i started the skype-gui-client on the Xvfb server, and tried to attach the skype-daemon to it. this did not work in the beginning, as the skype-gui-client wanted to make use of dbus communication which i did not want. i preferred X11 communication, as i had just installed a full X11 environment and did not want to have the overhead of dbus. so i modified the skyped python script to use "Transport='x11'" instead. after launching both skype-gui-client and skyped again i got a pop-up asking for permissions to access the skype-gui-client API. i accepted and had a working communication between gui-client and skyped - yippieh! fine, now it was time to configure and launch bitlbee, and attach to the server with an irc-client. i chose irssi, since i am already used to it and made a bitlbee-specific config file for that too. after registering to my bitlbee-server, which will generate an xml file with the registered user's configuration, i added my skype-account, configured separate channels to show online and offline users from my skype-account. one last thing that cost me a few hours of trial'n'error was to get bitlbee to join my existing group chats automatically, as at my current and my last workplace people love/d skype-group chats for internal communication. automatic joins are achieved by "bookmarking" the chats in the skype-gui-client - but it has to be the right client. stupid me did bookmark the chats in a different client - argh! so for bookmarking, and also for other configuration matters like auto-connect on startup and notification settings in the gui-client, i redirected my display once more to my ssh-X11-tunnel. but... finally i have all the comfort of an irc-client in my skype-chats. i'm happy!

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012
efterklang (0 comments)
^C: efterklang (peter broderick), arena hollow mountain apples sedna step aside frida found a friend told to be fine i was playing drums black summer dreams today between the walls monument raincoats cutting ice to snow the ghost modern drift alike

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Mon, 19 Nov 2012
disco ensemble (0 comments)
^C: disco ensemble (death letters), B72 intro bad luck charm we might fall apart second soul i've seen the future too much feeling drop dead casanova spade is the anti-heart so cold eartha kitt threat letter typewriter undo headphones white flag your shadow bay of biscay stun gun

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Wed, 07 Nov 2012
cat cake (0 comments)
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw, look what i got!
a cute little kitty-cat on an awesome, super-delicious, self made, marzipan cake with kitkat filling - cuteness-overload... thanks so much, nina!

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Fri, 26 Oct 2012
switch to nginx (0 comments)
today i switched from apache22 to nginx. conversion of the config files took quite a while, including getting rid of unused config stuff. so config lines went down from 1019 (apache22) to 576 (nginx) lines. tests have shown that the webserver now delivers the content faster by one third. additionally i added the "colouring" feature on my website. so now it's not only dark or inverse, but also red, green, blue, yellow, and brown. try it out yourself here if you like to. thanks to colorschemedesigner for making colour picking quite easy...

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Sat, 22 Sep 2012
hairy stuff (0 comments)
after about 20 years of long, and eight years of dreaded hair, i cut it today. also considered getting them dark blue first, but i postponed that, since i thought it's better to allow my hair a little rest and time to adopt to the new freedom. feels strange so far, but i like it...

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Sat, 25 Aug 2012
day 22 in taiwan (0 comments)
last day in taiwan for us. this means getting up early, having breakfast, packing things, trying to fit all the additional stuff we acquired since day 01 into the luggage along with all the other things, checking out, leaving our luggage at the hotel, then wandering some malls to find a suitable bag for hand luggage, as all the stuff didn't fit into the rucksacks, returning our "easycard" that was used for the metro, and then spending all the money we got left on souvenirs, cute and cool stuff we saw, and, and, and. you see, we've been pretty busy.
our flight will leave at 22:15 and so far no signs of any typhoon-related troubles. so plenty of time to spend the last taiwanese dollars (TWD), because at home there wouldn't be much use for them. one thing we used to money for was souvenirs, useless stuff[02,04] and food[09-19,31-32], like this steam pot restaurant[09-19] right at the central station.
there was steam everywhere, and one had to decide was soup all the stuff will be cooked in. nina went for a chinese medical soup (whatever that means), i went for the seaweed soup. then we could choose rice or noodles (where we chose the latter), and then some pork[13], and a sea-food plate[15-17]. so at first we got a bowl[10] full of vegetables, mushrooms, and other stuff we could not identify. by that time we didn't know there will be the really huge seafood plate, because the bowl already contained some crab stuff and shrimps. all the stuff was delicious and fun to prepare. in the end the soup was a mix of flavours of all the stuff we put in it to cook. so very nomnom. desert was a taro-cake[18-19] - totally weird and strange colour, but it tasted delicious. then it was time so say goodbye and head for the airport. so we got on the bus to the airport and drove back the same way we came on day 01. sniff, sniff. but it wouldn't be taiwan, if there wasn't a nice surprise for us at the airport (just to make farewell even harder). a hello kitty self-check-in area[20-22,24]! how awesome is that? but also the normal check-in counters[25] where in hello kitty style! by now nina got hungry again, so she had a dumpling-snack[31-33] right next to "taipeh 101"[27,30], after check-in, and did some last calls home on the hello kitty phone[34-35]. after security checks we also found this cute hello kitty store[40] that even has a lovely hello kitty mahjongg[41]. aaaw, so cute, too bad we have to leave...
resumee: wonderful holidays, thanks nina. also thanks to jeff once more for all the good tips and suggestions on where to go and what to eat. it's really hard to find information about places on the internet, since the romanization of chinese characters is not standardised. thus, e.g. to look up some stuff on the "jiji" train, one should also use the search terms "chichi", and "qiqi". it did not get easier that nina had an english, while i had a german travel guide, since they also differ in the names. 1718 pictures turned out to be useful. i hate typhoons. track: day 22

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Fri, 24 Aug 2012
day 21 in taiwan (0 comments)
today we had a long stroll through taipeh, again with loads of nice people, shopping, eating, heat and humidity. but at least it seems "kai-tak" is not affecting the north of taiwan at all, though the south gets hit hard, at least according to the news we've seen on monitors in the metro and on tv-screens in the malls. baeh, typhoons suck, poor people in the south :/ for us, the more lucky ones, this means that there should be no problem with the flight tomorrow. we also got up pretty late because nina was very tired in the morning (because of yesterday's massage maybe?). but we made it to the breakfast, and then went to a tiny shop only about 50 metres from our hotel entrance away, called "melecat". they had all kind of stuff with the cute little melecat on it, most of it being bags of all sorts. nina bought a bag there, i got a key fob - so cute! then follows a shopping spree by nina, i spare you all the details... at around 15:00 o'clock we arrived at the "hello kitty sweets shop"[01-28] and were escorted to our table by staff all dressed in pink, and with loads of bows and lace. and, remarkably enough, also the male member of the staff was wearing a pink apron! then we ordered hello kitty cake, coffee, and got a free hello kitty pudding, and the LMFAO song "party rock anthem", and waitresses in short skirts. aaaaaw, so much pink, so much kitty, it was totally awesome! BUT!... and here comes the biiiiig but... there was a thing that totally puzzled me... see pictures on slides 11 and 12, for example. do you notice any oddity?
after this wonderful coffee/cake break we were walking around the area to later go to "zhuji", another restaurant recommendation by jeff. jeff told us to try the pastries there, and so we did. some beef, vegetable, leek and seafood pastries[42,45], a soup with braised beef[43], and a wonton soup[44]. super delicious!
with full bellies we were rolling to even more shops afterwards. nina again was on a shopping spree :) later we got back to the hotel to have our last night in taiwan. time flies... track: day 21

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Thu, 23 Aug 2012
day 20 in taiwan (0 comments)
thanks to "kai-tak" today was a constant mix of sunshine and rain, but permanently hot and humid. so we decided to go shopping. in the shops they usually have A/C so we could cool down a bit. unfortunately almost all shop owners are not happy with people taking pictures inside, often with a sign explicitly telling you not to take pictures. so, unfortunately, i cannot show you all the fancy cool sh** they had in the shops - too bad. then in the early afternoon nina said she'd have a surprise for me, and, after searching for the address and exact location, brought me to the "hello kitty sweets shop"[10-13] - yippieh! unfortunately the cafe was fully booked, but we got a reservation for the next day, 15:00 o'clock.
pretty close to the "hello kitty sweets shop" was "din tai fung" dumplings[21-24,26-30]. a restaurant recommended to us by our native taiwan friend jeff (hey, jeff! glad you enjoy my bLog, and thanks so much for all the awesome recommendations!).
so after having eaten awesome dumplings with all kind of great fillings, and noodles with peanut sauce[29] (super-nomnom!) we went to the next-door souvenir shop. yop, that's right. the "din tai fung" chain seems to be so popular, it even has its own souvenir shop[23], and of course its own mascot[22], and restaurants all over asia and even in the US of A. oh, and we got a present because we showed our "friend's of taiwan" membership card - a little dumpling, as a cell phone accessory. after another tour through various fancy and cool shops we went back to the hotel, deposited our stuff, took a shower and made another visit to one of the thousand massage shops. while i was going for the foot massage again, nina this time tried the back massage, as she did not dare to risk another painful foot massage. i was totally happy with my choice, and this time also nina was super relaxed and happy after the treatment. aaaaaah, i wish we had such things in austria too - i will miss them. back at the hotel we decided to stay at the "hotel flowers", and thus booked our last night in taiwan. *sniff* track: day 20

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Wed, 22 Aug 2012
day 19 in taiwan (0 comments)
we left taroko today, heading back to taipeh again mainly because of "kai-tak", the latest typhoon, but also for shopping. so after going by hotel shuttle bus to hualien train station, where we got on a pretty crowded train back to taipeh. we were lucky to still get a seat, unlike other passengers, like three guys travelling taiwan on bike. but they also switched to train due to the typhoon. in the afternoon we arrived at the taipeh station, had yummy waffles[02] at "aunt stella"'s cafe, and then headed on to our new hotel called "flowers hotel". so called because they had (plastic) flowers in every window. after a long shower (which actually was pretty useless, because it was raining, and this makes it only more humid and hot), we decided to go to "shimen district", a loud, crowded, and busy shopping district with all kind of fancy stuff. just the right place after the days in taroko. but before we came by the "chenghuangtempel van taiwansheng"[03-09].
in shimen (actually called "ximending") there were really cool shops. some having cats[16,19-20], some having "chi's sweet home" stuff[23]. oh, and i bought another book of "chi's sweet home", this time part five, since it became tradition to buy one book in every japan or china related place. so far i bought book one in tokyo, book two in chicago (in a japanese mall), and book four in hong kong. only four books to go (at the time of writing) - yay! one shop[31-33] was our favourite. it had tons of little plastic figures of manga and movie characters. i bought a little "totoro" figurine from the movie "my neighbor totoro" that is also a calendar.
later we had some dinner[34-38], and for the first time we were not pleased with the food. while i considered mine as "almost ok", nina was not happy with hers. amazing, isn't it? after 19 days! track: day 19

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Tue, 21 Aug 2012
day 18 in taiwan (0 comments)
we had planned today as a hiking day, so started our hike with the "swallow grotto trail" (aka. "yanzihkou trail"), that should give a nice view over some parts of the gorge. starting from our hotel we had to take some steep and long stairway[007], walk along the street[008-014] where also the bus would go, and finally arrived at the "swallow grotto"[015-045]. usually the water here should have been crystal blue and cyan, but guess who's to blame once more. yop, typhoon. so thanks to "haikui" (that's the name of the typhoon) the water was all gray and dirty. too bad, as we had only seen it with clear water so far. on pictures at the tourist information centers and in information brochures.
but at least the streets were opened and not closed as the "changchun trail" was, which would have led us from the "eternal shrine"[046-101] via the "kuanyin caves", "taroko tower", the bell tower, and a hanging bridge, to "changuang temple". but closed. grrr...
while taking a break at the nearby parking lot we had some snacks called "meat zongzi"[103,105] (with a chestnut inside) and "bamboo tube meal"[103] - nomnom! we found out there's another way to the "changuang temple" and the bell tower. so we went along a road[106-111,122,139-148] that was not the main road, and we soon ended up being all alone. the road was next to a riverbed[112-121], and we found a way to get down there. after exploring nice rock formations[117-119,121] we got back on the road to reach the "changuang temple"[126-138]. but the hanging bridge[125] to the bell tower[131] was closed too. oh well, at least we got to see a nice temple with a little balcony[128,132-134] where one got an awesome overview over the gorge, and besides a praying police man we were the only ones there. tranquil, quiet and contemplative - wonderful.
enjoying the atmosphere we almost forgot about the bus. so we had to hurry back[139-152] to the bus station, as the last outbound bus goes at 15:30. fortunately the bus station was not far away. in the meantime it had also started to rain, so we were lucky we had to go through a tunnel[146-148] to reach the station. while waiting for the bus, we enjoyed all the different lions[153-155,157-158,161] at the shakadang bridge.
for the rest of the day it was raining, and it seems a new typhoon (named "kai-tak") is approaching taiwan, hitting land tomorrow. i hope this does not affect our flight back home... in taiwan, garbage trucks have a distinctive tune they play when they come to collect all the garbage. we have heard the sound so many times and also seen people waiting in the street to hand over their garbage. why i mention this right now? well... even here, far away from the next town and civilization we heard the truck at the hotel. it's a wonderful tune to whistle along too, which we also did. i considered to get the tune for my telephone as my new ring tone. dinner buffet at the hotel this evening was awesome (i think you might already get bored of that, right?). track: day 18

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Mon, 20 Aug 2012
day 17 in taiwan (0 comments)
today we got up early and were fetched by a bus to be brought to the harbour. there we started our whale watching tour, hoping to finally see whales. so we got on a boat and drove out to the sea. soon we spotted some other whale watcher boats[009-010,024-025], and then some dolphins[011-023,026-032]. luckily they were in the mood to come closer, and also there were quite a lot of them. so they followed us, some also swam in front of our boat. aaaaw, so cute! we were happy, but still whales would be nice, because that was the main reason for the trip (and also because we already had the "swimming with dolphins" experience in new zealand). so we drove along the coast, but there were no whales. bohoooo, unlucky us. but on the way back to the harbour we spotted another small group of dolphins[036-037] - this time a different kind of dolphin, though we had no idea which species, as all the information on the boat given by the crew and the captain were not in english. all we got over the loudspeaker was a "different dolphin" - hehe.
the whale watching trip was surprisingly cheap, compared to the ones we already had, so this is definitely a recommendation for whale lovers (and/or watchers). also they handed out some kind of "diploma" once you survived the trip. or was it for spotting dolphins? we don't know, as we didn't get one, because no one told us they will be handed out to the brave survivors. bohoo! back at the visitor center we fetched our luggage from the nearby hotel, and got on the "taroko gorge shuttle bus", heading to buluowan[048-052], where our hotel is located. a wonderful trip inside the gorge, winding and steep on sometimes pretty narrow streets, close to the abyss. but the bus driver drove like a boss, and so we soon arrived at our accommodation. unfortunately it was a long stairway from the bus station to the reception of the hotel, but we made it, with some breaks for examining strange coloured caterpillars. our japanese style bungalow[053-057,063-070,077] (equipped with two cool chinese hats[055-056]) was located in a park[064-067,077] with other bungalows in a circle like shape, surrounded by high mountains. what an awesome resort! also they had all kind of insects, and each of them way bigger than what i am used to. spiders[058,071-073,075,078], stag beetles, crickets, caterpillars[098] (though they were tiny, and the ones we already spotted when we arrived), undefinable, strange bugs[079-080,082-083], locusts[099-102], etc. especially the spiders were everywhere and pretty big. their body is like my forefinger, the entire spider with legs has the size of my palm. luckily they always sat high up in the trees or under the roofs.
later that evening we were invited to an show. they even had an english handout what were are about to see, namely aboriginal rites[103,111], dances[104-106,108,112-122] and some old instruments[107,109], and new ones[110]. the performers were all from the hotel, and although no pro performers, they all had fun and were committed. especially the younger girls really seemed to love the dancing. also the singing parts were quite impressive. and another impressive thing was the demonstration of the echoes (that's what "buluowan" means in the taroko aboriginal language). all people at the show were shouting, than waiting several seconds to hear the screaming all around them.
when walking back to our bungalow, there were stars all over the sky. really impressive and lovely. what a great place. ah, and of course the food was great too, but we did not bring our cameras, so no pictures of that, sorry. track: day 17

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Sun, 19 Aug 2012
day 16 in taiwan (0 comments)
so today today was our bus tour in the hualien area. after getting on a small bus, since our tour group was around ten people, we had our first stop at liyu lake[001-012], a lake that has loads of carps, and also - according to our guide - resembles the shape of a carp. by guide i mean our lonelyplanet by the way, as there was no english guide on the bus. just us, and luckily a lady that translated the most important stuff the bus driver said for us (that was when to be where to continue the tour). we had a stop for about 40 minutes there. not enough time to walk around the lake, but to have fun with a little lizard [006-010]. nice scenery, but again it was very very hot, so we had enjoyed the shadow and kept walking to a minimum.
next stop was the "butterfly valley resort"[021-053] that had - as the name implies - loads of butterflies, and also poisonous snakes, plants and wasps. the perfect place for tourists like us. the driver gave us a map of the resort, and we had about one and a half hour to walk around the park. so we chose two of the trails through the area. snakes and wasps we did not encounter, but there was one particular place where there were loads of butterflies[045-047]. unfortunately you don't see them on the picture, but believe me, there were butterflies everywhere. really lovely.
time for some lunch, so our driver stopped at a little restaurant, picked up several biandangs[057] (that's the taiwanese version of the japanese bento boxes), put them in the back of the bus, and drove on to the "pastureland resort experience area"[056-072]. now it gets a bit crazy and kinda WTFed. the resort (or what we saw of it, as we actually just stopped there to occupy the benches and tables there) offers a little shop all around the local heroes, namely the black and white spotted cows. parents can buy their kids grass to feed it to the cows. also one can buy all kinds of milk-related edible products[058-060]. and, once customers are convinced that cows are cool and milk is awesome, one can buy all kind of merchandise stuff at the local souvenir shop[063]. this experienced lasted around one hour. got milk?
but it would get even weirder. next stop was the "hualien sugar factory[076-081]". if you expect some presentation of the sugar processing business, you were wrong - just as we were in believing so. what we got was... hm... hard to describe. loads of shops, loud music, and a huge crowd of people[077-078] buying all kind of stuff offered there, ranging from candies and sweets (of course) to clothes, which we bought there. nina got a cute dress, i got a nice t-shirt. after 20 minutes we entered the bus, which was hard to find due to all the other buses that parked there too, and drove on. puh, that was a little disturbing, and way too loud to us. but - according to our guidebook chinese people love that. noise and a crowd makes them feel cosy and happy. whatever floats their boat. next stuff was nice again, namely the "lintiansuan historical studio", where we spent one hour. it is some kind of an open air exhibition, showing how logs were transported and processed in the last century. so they had the old tracks from the train transporting the logs, and other nice stuff. but what caught our attention was something that all the other visitors ignored. we found an old abandoned house[096-120], and we were the only ones there. in an exhibition hall they showed amazing wood carvings[122-131]. carved out of one huge trunk they created wonderful sculptures.
according to the schedule we got handed out when we booked the trip, this would have been the last stop. but the bus driver had a nice surprise for us. he brought us to a bamboo charcoal "factory"[142-146]. they made bamboo charcoal their, showing how efficiently it can filter water (and indeed it went from brown to pure), how one can use it for fabrics, how one can use it as an edible coating for peanuts (that really tasted awesome!), and how conductivity of the bamboo is achieved by turning it into charcoal. really impressive stuff this bamboo tree. also they had a little cafe right there, where they sold the civet cat coffee[144]. though not the original "kopi luwak", this was coffee beans digested by the local civet species, the formosan masked civet. so cat poo-poo coffee for me - yippieh! but i will have one back home, as the package only includes six sachets for quite a high price. after 20 minutes we left the place and went on to another unscheduled stop. and it seems the bus driver has saved the craziest sh** until last. we stopped in front of the "jota food company"[150-154]. right after getting of the bus loud music was all around again, several girls dressed as aboriginal women made some additional noise, and showed us the way. inside tons of people, little room, no turning back, always straight on with the other visitors. the first 50 metres were dedicated to the history of the jota food company and their products. the remaining 200 metres were all dedicated to sweets and food. all the other guests there seemed to be on some kind of a shopping spree and bought tons of sweets, while we seemed to be immune to all this candy madness. all we did was try some provided samples and bought a soy ice-cream[150-151], since it was still hot. we were happy to get out of this jota hell again. in the shadow we enjoyed our pineapple and peanut ice.
all in all a good choice to take such a day tour, since one gets to see a lot, without the need of a car or scooter rental. also we got a little more insight of the chinese idea of recreation and leisure time activities. back at the tourist information, we booked a whale watching tour, so we finally get to see one - hopefully. we already failed at spotting whales in iceland and new zealand. let's see if we are lucky this time. also back to our hotel we decided to book a hotel in the taroko gorge online (after the fiasco on little luichiu island). this turned out to become quite a challenge, because, although the taroko gorge homepage is available in english(!), the booking site was not. but thanks to the google translate service, we managed to find out what the form fields were all about. once i got to the site with the credit card payment, visa decided that i need to be "Verified by Visa" on the spot. so no booking until i had undergone the initial process to be visa verified. but about one hour and several grrrrrs later, we had our double room booked. so far the most expensive hotel, but it seemed pretty fancy, and besides there's not much choice when it comes to accommodation in this national park. track: day 16

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Sat, 18 Aug 2012
day 15 in taiwan (0 comments)
today we went straight to the tourist information center after the breakfast to ask for a recommendation on what to do and what to see in hualien. unfortunately the ladies did not speak english, so we decided to rent a bike (yes, a bike, not a scooter), and explore hualien by bike[02-36].
so we spent the morning and afternoon biking along the river to the shore on really nice cycle lanes[02-07,12,18,22-23]. oddly enough we were not the only ones doing sports on a very hot and humid day. there were quite a lot of taiwanese and chinese people on bicycles. but i guess we were the only ones getting a nice sunburn. nina in the face, me on the back of my hands. but the ride was really nice, and we got to see a lot[19]. after having a long shower at the hotel, we went for a stroll in the area around the hotel. we found a little market hall where they produced mochi and other sweets (no photography allowed). also there was a little coffee house where we had a taiwanese coffee. the shop was owned by two lovely ladies[39-40], that seemed to be drinking coffee all day long. to us it looked like they were on drugs, talking a lot and very fast all the time - great fun. and really nice. after that we went to another sweets shop where we bought bamboo mochi (that's mochi inside a bamboo stick), and tried several other sweets. all very nomnom. next we found a pachinko hall[44] (as in japan, these are amusement arcades, full of gambling machines (again no photography allowed). so we spent a few hundred taiwanese dollars on games. each one of us could pick a game, then we played one game, then the other one could pick a machine. so when it was nina's turn, she picked an alien shooter[45] - hmpf. it hurt to kill all those cute little aliens...
after all the suffering and pain we went on to grab some dumplings - as usual, very delicious. in the meantime we also decided what to do on the next day. so we went to the tourist information center, and booked a one- day tour, called the "rift valley tour", to see some stuff from the area around hualien. also we booked one more night at our hotel, the "green hotel - ching yeh". we hope there's an english guide on the bus tour. track: day 15

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Fri, 17 Aug 2012
day 14 in taiwan (0 comments)
after saying farewell to the guys at mvilla hotel we got a ride to the pier, where we got on the ferry back to donggang today. on our way to luichiu we had to take a taxi from the bus station to the ferry, so we thought let's get on a taxi again, and go back the same way we came. but the taxi driver seemed to be misunderstanding (on purpose or not we could not say), and instead he brought us to the next bigger city, namely khaoshung. and although the trip was pretty expensive (compared to a bus ride in taiwan, but still way cheaper than what we would have paid for this ride in austria), at least we gained loads of time. at the railway station in khaoshung there was an english speaking girl at the tourist information center that helped us plan our trip to hualien. she suggested we take the bus, since the trains might be full and there might be no seats available.
yet we tried our luck at the railway ticket counter, and, lucky us, we got two seats - yay! since we still had about 30 minutes until the train would leave, we went back to the tourist information lady and asked her to book us a room in hualien, which she did.
so we got on the train, passed by loads of rice fields, and after a five hour ride, and a total change in the weather, from sunny to rainy, we arrived in hualien. track: day 14

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Thu, 16 Aug 2012
day 13 in taiwan (0 comments)
the typhoon will not hit taiwan at all - lucky us! so i returned the scooter today, grabbed a coffee at the 7-eleven store and went home by foot. on the last 200 metres the hotel owner's son drove by with his scooter, and gave me a ride back to the hotel. nina was a little sick because of having eaten too much eggs for breakfast (she had eaten my portion of scrambled eggs too), so she was sleeping in the meantime. the weather was fine again, just a few light rain showers from time to time, but overall it was sunny all day long. so we spent the day on our balcony, enjoying the fabulous view[1-3] over the sea, cooling down in the room (thanks to the A/C), watching a few movies on HBO-asia and FOX-asia, sorting out and editing our photographs, writing bLog entries, and the like. the hotel staff was also busy, cleaning all the floors, and seemed way more relaxed than the day before. most likely due to the good news about the typhoon. in the afternoon the first new guests arrived, we were not alone anymore. amongst them was an english speaking girl, which made communication with the staff way easier. in the evening the phone rang and one member of the family asked if we wanted to join them and the other guests watching "burning birds" (at least that's what we understood). curious about what we will get to see we joined them. we walked around in the hotel area when suddenly they were pointing in some direction. they wanted to show us glowworms - hehe. also we learned that the scary and pretty loud noises we heard the night before came from frogs (or toads?), though we did not spot one, as they stop making noise as soon as you come close to them. we also tried (and bought a package) "twisted dough", a delicious sweets offered by the mother.
after a beautiful sunset[3] at the end of the day and we went to bed, knowing that we will have to leave this wonderful hotel tomorrow. it was really relaxing and a nice break from the strenuous trip. track: day 13

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Wed, 15 Aug 2012
day 12 in taiwan (0 comments)
the central weather bureau website's graphics indicate that the typhoon seems to go southwards today, not fully hitting the mainland (and luichiu island). but still the impact will be about 40% to 80% of the typhoon's strength. but the weather on the island was nice, humid and hot as always, with a mild cool breeze. so we decided to rent a scooter[19,23-24] and go around the island, since we went to the local 7-eleven at the harbour and this way we could easily get our bought stuff back to the hotel. we bought food (mainly cup noodles, as we had a water boiler in our room) and sweets, and water. the hotel was empty, we were the only guests remaining, and also at the pier there were only local people. pretty strange compared to the day before where the streets and the pier were full of people.
so we also were the only ones at the local tourist attractions like the "vase rock"[08-12], "sanlong temple"[25-31], and "geban bay beach"[32-35], where we went swimming for the first time. also for the first time on our taiwan trip we did not have tons of people around us. no noise, no stress, crowds - that was really wonderful.
back in the hotel we used the google translate service to say thanks to the hotel staff and how much we enjoyed the food. so we trained the pronunciation and words, and when we recited them, no one understood us. at first the son looked puzzled, called for his mother. we thought, ok, bad pronunciation, and tried again. but again, the mother did not understand us. that was a little frustrating. so we showed them the chinese pictographs, and the finally understood. they were happy and flattered by our words (or signs, to be more precise). ah, just for the sake of consistency: the food[36] was awesome! track: day 12

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Tue, 14 Aug 2012
day 11 in taiwan (0 comments)
today we left tainan, heading for the "little luichiu island", located south-east of taiwan. to get there, we had to take a train to pingtung, going on by bus[03-04] to donggang, and there taking the ferry[05-06]. on the ferry they had television sets, and that's when we noticed there's a nasty typhoon heading right towards taiwan. the ferry harbour was very busy with loads of people - less going to the island, than leaving it. so we also boarded a ferry. we knew we were pushing our luck since we did not book any hostel or hotel in advance. but since it was during the week we thought there should be plenty of free rooms available. but it turned out we were slightly wrong with this estimation. the little island is a holiday and day trip destination of tons of tourists. we felt pretty naive, and additionally pretty lost since there was no tourist information center on the island. but an old woman at the pier asked us if we needed a place to sleep, so we took her offer. luckily there were some english speaking people around again, that arranged a transfer to the hotel and a room at the hotel - puh, stupid western tourists.
the hotel[07-13,22-26] itself was about five minutes by car from the harbour, and pretty expensive compared to what we had paid so far. but this was a real luxury hotel (in a strange greek look and style, mixed with some western european elements) with huge rooms, a big garden, and a nice terrace with an awesome view over the sea. with the typhoon coming, there was only one ferry the next day at nine in the morning, and the next one most probably on saturday by the earliest, depending on the typhoon. so we had to decide whether to stay or leave. nina has already seen a typhoon on her last taiwan trip, so she knew that everything comes to a halt when the typhoon hits the mainland, so it did not matter where you are. so we decided to stay on this little island, also because the staff offered us the room for half the price while the typhoon is over taiwan. we preferred staying in this luxury room and wait, over some small hostel on the mainland for the same price. also we thought a little luxury would be best for a recovery break during the typhoon, since we both are already pretty exhausted from our journey so far.
it turned out to be a family-run hotel and one daughter was the local primary school's english teacher. so she translated for us. also she brought umbrellas, raincoats, and cookies for us - a small typhoon survival package. in the evening we took a little walk[14-21] around the close-by area. seems like taiwanese people refuse to walk, because at the pier the people were almost shocked when we said we walk by foot and do not want to hire a scooter to get to the hotel. also with all the escalators in the bigger cities people here seem to get pretty lazy and try to avoid walking whenever possible, even for the smallest distances. later, back at the hotel we had an awesome meal, with various meats, vegetables and salad-like food. unfortunately we did not bring our cameras with us, so no pictures of that feast. track: day 11

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Mon, 13 Aug 2012
day 10 in taiwan (0 comments)
second day of our temple tour through tainan. first stop was the "chikhan tower"[06-35], a reconstructed fort dating back to the 17th century, built by the dutch - quite an impressive site.
next temple was the "god of war temple"[36-62]. again an impressive temple with loads of fascinating little details all over the place, and taiwan oldest temple. all the temples have a huge "oven"[49] included where people burn paper money and paper with messages for their ancestors on it. that's where we met mike, from san francisco, and mei, from tainan (we assumed they were a couple). mike was so kind to offer his help and explain us some of the things that were going on here in the temple. finally we got a better understanding what all the different things one can buy at the temple entrance are for. you buy a package, get incense sticks, paper money, and cookies (or other sweets). you place them at the entrance hall of the temple as a gift, light the incense sticks, walk through all the temples, wave the sticks over your head, get blessings from all the different gods you ask a favor from, and then return to the tables with your gifts. there you pick up your edible gifts and the paper money. then you burn the money - again a gift to the goddess, and take home the blessed sweets. each temple is usually home to various gods. the god of war temple included a side-temple for lovers and couples (how appropriate, and where else to expect that rather than in the temple of war), where nina and i went to get some blessing - hehe. mike also gave us the address of a great restaurant in tainan where they have fish noodle soup, and one where they sell dumplings.
having a little more insight, thanks to mike and mei, we went on to the tainan grand matsu temple[63-74], that used to be the palace of the last king of the ming dynasty. in a small alley i saw a cat and took a picture[67] of it. an older woman noticed that and thought i was taking pictures of some of the old buildings, so she came closer, introduced herself as lee mei, and showed us the oldest street[68] in tainan, and also some really old buildings[69-73] (though we were unsure how old they really were, but telling from the decayed bricks, they were quite old). lee also showed us a backyard of her old house. and she also gave a CD to nina with music from her daughter. "i see friendly people - they are everywhere!" it already got dark, so we went to the fish noodle shop mike recommended to us. and he was right, the soup[80-81] was awesome. right next to the restaurant was a fruit shop[82], where we bought smoothies[91] and some fruits, which we enjoyed a little later at a roundabout in front of the national museum of taiwanese literature. the fruits and smoothies were so awesome!
last temple we paid a visit to was the confucius temple. unfortunately the temple itself was already closed, but one could enter the park around the temple with old banyan trees, bonsais, loads of frogs (or toads?), huge snails, and loads of people doing sports like running or walking. since it was on our way home to the hostel, we stopped at the dumpling shop and bought some to go. nomnom... food is so awesome here! track: day 10

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Sun, 12 Aug 2012
day 09 in taiwan (0 comments)
today, right after breakfast we went across the street to the tourist information center. we asked some questions about getting to alishan, a national scenic area, where we planned to stay a few days for hiking and escaping the loud and busy cities. but after some sceptic looks from the lady and a few phone calls later we were informed that there is no train from chiayi, the last big city before entering the alishan area, to the center of the alishan area, because of - you might have already guessed it - the typhoon. oh, we hate it so much! but... the lady said there will be one bus to alishan, leaving from chiayi at 14:10. great, we thought and booked a double room in a hostel in alishan right away, as the lady at the tourist center offered to do that for us. so we took the bus to shuili where we planned to get on the chi-chi train. we thought this would be some special train with open wagon with an old steam driven locomotive. the name would be so perfect for what we had imagined. but it was... none like that. the chichi train is a local train just like any other, only that it is full with tourists, so when the train, going for the opposite direction we wanted to go, had arrived, it was packed full. like trains in taipeh during the rush hour. uuuh, what a horror. additionally, the station master waved us, that there is a telephon call for us (we imagined he was told to find two non-asian guys somewhere in the station - and during our nine days, we barely left any non-asian people, most of them in taipeh city). i assumed this meant nothing good. and in fact, it was the lady from the tourist center in shuishe, telling us that even the bus at 14:10 was cancelled because of last weeks typhoon. bloody typhoon. oh, we hate it so much and even more!
ok, so change of plan. no alishan for us. instead we decided to go to tainan, another big and loud city - hehe. luckily when we boarded the chichi train, it was not that full, but still that full, that we did not get a seat. so we started the ride standing with our luggage, not seeing much of the landscapes passing by. after about 30 minutes, we managed to get two seats. while we were discussing our next steps, we met elle, who sat next to us, helping us out, and giving us a few hints on what we might do. it turned out elle took the same train as we did, because she was also heading south, but going much further south than we did. she also helped us to get two more tickets in ershui - that's where the chichi train ends - from chiayi to tainan (lucky us, because it's getting harder and harder to find english speaking people in stations). so, a few hours later we arrived in tainan, got a hostel that was very close to the train station, and started a small tour through tainan, which is famous for its temples and shrines. we managed to see the kailung temple, tiantan temple, the sacrificial rites martial temple and the guangong temple.
on our walk through the streets we found a guy who was making lollies[50-56] from hot and liquid candy mass. the nice thing about it: you can name the animal he will create for you. a mother requested a bear and a monkey for her daughter.
being hungry, we found some japanese restaurant[57-62], where we ordered fish soup, sashimi, grilled, and deep fried fish. needless to say that it was awesome. track: day 09

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Sat, 11 Aug 2012
day 08 in taiwan (0 comments)
we really made it today! we joined the hiking tour[01-10] to mt. maolan at 04:50, to get a nice view on the sun moon lake. so called because the east side of the lake resembles the sun while the west side resembles the moon. unfortunately the weather was not so good, so instead of a beautiful sunset we got pretty heavy rain. but still the view was amazing and worth getting up that early.
after getting back to the hostel and having our breakfast, we went back to bed again and fell asleep until afternoon. but then we started our sightseeing trip around the soon moon lake and got one of the many ferries[12-15] that brought us to the cinglong hiking trail[16-27] that brought us to the xuanzang temple[28-39].
next stop was the xi-en pagoda[42-63]. inside there were steps going up all the nine (a very powerful number for the chinese) floors[52-62] of the pagoda. from the top you had a wonderful view over the area.
after that we got back to the pier at the lake, walked the streets enjoying the small market there, when we realized it's time for us to hurry to the last ferry, which leaves at 17:00 o'clock. so back on the other side of the lake we enjoyed the ita thao night market and had some excellent food[71-72] - some deep fried stuff. also we bought some mochi[74-75]. nomnom... this night we unfortunately had to spend the night in a different hostel. we will miss the friendly owner of the one we had spent the first night in, "laurel villa". if you ever go to sun moon lake, be sure to book a room there. track: day 08

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Fri, 10 Aug 2012
day 07 in taiwan (0 comments)
today we left taipeh, and headed to "sun moon lake". we picked a train at 10:00 in the morning, so after having breakfast and checking out we drove to the main station. but when we wanted to buy a ticket the guy at the counter said "no seats". in other (more) words: the trains were full, you are not allowed to board. next train would be at 12:00 o'clock he said, but we decided to go the bus station instead and try our luck by going by bus. fortunately the bus station is only about five minutes on foot away from the train station. there we bought a ticket to puli, where we will change for shuishe, where our hostel, which we booked at about 02:00 o'clock in the morning, is located. in puli there were no english signs, and also the people at the bus station did not speak english. but we managed to get the right bus, because the people here are so friendly and really try to help whenever possible, even if they don't speak a word english. i really love that.
on the bus[01-02] we took a nap, and enjoyed the landscape. and after about a four and a half hour bus trip later we finally arrived at shuishe at the sun moon lake, a quite small city, full of tourists (chinese people that is), "lively" one would say. in shuishe we took a short stroll[03-21], some delicious take-away food which we ate at the pier, some awesome fruits, had a "taiwan beer"[16], and went back to the hostel, as everything here closes at 21:00 o'clock, and therefore the hostel also closes at 22:00.
there the owner told us there will be a hike tomorrow morning, that will bring us up a mountain to enjoy the sunset. that means departure at 04:50. we said we try to join. i wonder if we make it... track: day 07

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Thu, 09 Aug 2012
day 06 in taiwan (0 comments)
today we wanted to go to the north, to keelung. therefore we bought a ticket at the TRA (taiwan railway administration). when we got on the train and left for keelung, the first 20 minutes we drove underground. but then we arrived at the city, and wanted to go to the "buddha's hand cave". our guide book said it's only about 500 metres from the railway station, so we started to walk. but soon we got the feeling the guide was very wrong. so we asked some locals before we would be walking on in the heat any longer. they then said it's still pretty far, and it might be better to take a taxi. and so we did, waved a taxi, got on, drove for another five minutes, and finally arrived there. definitely not 500 metres. but before we got into "buddha's hand cave", we walked into the "fairy cave"[10-29], a dark and humid cave with little altars inside, some of which you only reach by crawling through narrow and low caves[26,29]. unfortunately inside it was not much cooler than outside.
taking stairs up[032] to the temple did not make it any better. so when we walked through "siandong park" and arrived at the "shengan temple" we were - once more - soaked in sweat. i guess it was our pitiful appearance that made the local people at the temple offer us tea and some ice cooled jelly (or whatever it was). thankfully we took the drinks, rested and cooled down a bit in the shadows. the woman gave me a paper fan, and her husband gave us a self-made painting - they were so very friendly. the temple[034-045] itself unfortunately was closed due to restoration works[042]. so we went downstairs again, finding a metallic shining bug. while we were taking pictures of it, we got bitten by some flying mosquito like insects several times. so we hurried to get inside the "buddha's hand cave". it was again a tunnel system inside the cave, but this time not narrow and low, but well lit and wide[048-049,054-056]. i almost did not notice the hand at first, because it was on the cave's ceiling, and i'd rather would have expected it on some wall instead. but once we found it, it really looked like a hand[050-053].
when we got out, a taxi driver was having his dinner at a small cook shop at the temple entrance. luckily the lady who was cooking there and also had a cute kitty[057] could speak a little english, so we had her ask the taxi driver if he could bring us to jungjeng park. after a short ride in a taxi with an A/C we got off again and stood in front of the entrance of jungjeng park[058-092]. inside there were two huge lions[067-070,074] guarding a huge guanyin statue[064,066,068-069,072,075]. inside[078-081] the statue there are stairs which you can climb for a little donation you can give at the entrance. but definitely the best thing they had there was a catomobile[086-091], which was playing kylie minogue's "can't get you out of my head" while you were riding it.
next stop was another temple in zhongzheng park[096-106] where they were dismantling decorations for the ghost festival (which we unfortunately missed). inside the temple there was also a small museum about the ghost festival. while we were inside it had started to rain on the outside. still we went on to the next temple, foguangshan temple[110-118].
after that we were very exhausted and tired because of the heat and walking around. so we decided to have something to eat and take a little rest. we found some awesome dumplings which we ate while hiding from the rain. after that we had a coffee at mcdonald's, where we enjoyed the cool air. feeling much better, we went to the night market in miaokou[133,140-156], which was right in front of a big temple[121-139], where they had amazing seafood[143-155] - nomnom...
after getting back to the hostel i wanted to go to a laundry to have my clothes cleaned, but this was harder than i thought. the guy at the reception said there is one, but it's pretty far and only reachable by metro. problem was, the last metro is at around 23:50 and it was already past 22:00 o'clock. luckily nina remembered the laundry she went to when she was in taiwan the first time in 2009. so we drove there by metro, have our clothes washed and dried, and missed the last metro, so we went back home. the streets were all empty, but some shops still had opened. it was a nice walk home, very quiet, with only a few people in the streets. back home we wanted to book a room in the taroko gorge area. but checking stuff online, it turned out the roads were still closed because of the last typhoon one week ago. we were lucky that we checked that night, because otherwise we would have gone all the way down the east coast to taroko for nothing. instead we decided to go to the "sun moon lake". damn typhoon... track: day 06

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Wed, 08 Aug 2012
day 05 in taiwan (0 comments)
today was father's day in taiwan - at least that's what the ads told us. but we didn't notice any difference in the behaviour of the people. no idea how they celebrate it. our first stop took us to the "chiang kai shek memory hall" [001-138] (he was a chinese nationalist leader). a huge place with several big buildings like the national concert hall, the national theater and the CKS memory hall itself. while walking the square it was hot, hot, hot, and very hot. we never knew how much sweat a body can produce in a day. after walking the parks[032-052] around the hall, we went inside[053-110] of one of the halls is also a big museum with loads of exhibitions. there we met a nice guide who told us some interesting stuff.
also we were watching the changing of the guards[56-062], which takes place every hour. those poor guys were all sweaty too. there was also a dinosaurs[63-64] and a dali exhibition[65], but we did not go there. instead we entered the CKS museum[067-076].
on the first floor there were some more exhibitions. at one the artist was present too. she had really nice paintings, but we did not buy one. then we suddenly heard loud noises from the main hall and we witnessed some promotion show[085-107] for (what we think) local theatre and an opening[101], but we had no idea of what was being opened here. then we took a little break, had some coffee and - once more - absolutely delicious cake[108-109]. after that we left the CKS square and headed on to the nearby "2-28 peace park", housing a pagoda[139-145]. to flee from the heat we headed on to "taipeh 101", a landmark of taipeh. it's - as the name implies - a 101 floor skyscraper with a nice view over taipeh. we've been there on day 02, but there were too many people, so we postponed the visit. and now was the perfect time, as sunset was close. after queuing for about 15 minutes we entered the elevator up the tower. "taipeh 101" has the only damper that is accessible by public. also it has the largest damper in the world. and the fastest elevator (1010 metres per minute), and many more world records i might have forgotten here. fact is, it's quite impressive. unfortunately the outdoor observation deck was limited to only a small area due to heavy winds. nina bought me a little "damper baby"[157,164,184-185] figure, the mascot of "taipeh 101".
after that we had an awesome ice cream at "cold stone creamery" [202-203], where the guys selling the ice cream mix the ice cream with the ordered ingredients like banana, nuts, chocolate chunks, etc. very nice, and the ice cream is amazing. when we finally got home to our hostel again we decided to go to a foot massage salon, as a guy gave us a leaflet promoting the salon. while i was totally enjoying it, nina did not like it so much as the lady was pressing too hard so it was painful to her. too bad. i wish i could do that every day... track: day 05

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Tue, 07 Aug 2012
day 04 in taiwan (0 comments)
the bLog entry for today will be pretty short, as we spent almost all day long in taipeh zoo[001-118], the biggest zoo in asia. the area is huge and it takes hours to see all the stuff they offer. in the end we ran out of time, but managed to see quite a lot of it.
besides all the animals in the enclosures there were also other animals like huge spiders [008,049-050,087], butterflies[022-029], dragonflies[051-052]. but there was even an area where they had butterflies[032-046,079] inside.
and there were also some squirrels[062]. soon there was a lovely tune played all over the zoo area, telling people the zoo will soon be closed. we spotted a sign that said the exit is over one kilometre away. and all day long it had been so very hot and humid that we decided to go by one of those touristy trains[108].
we took the metro back to taipeh main station and ended up right in the middle of the rush hour[125,127-128]. since we didn't want to join the crowd, we decided to go for a coffee and wait a little. so we went to SOGO, a big shopping mall and found the "UCC vienna café".
after returning to the hostel, having a long nice shower, we went out again to go to the shilin night market[135]. the market is right around a temple, but it was already closed. unfortunately it was already late when we arrived there and as already mentioned, the metro stops at about midnight. also it had started to rain, so we drove home, but took a different route on our way from the metro station to our hostel to find some nice place to eat. this way we found out that we actually were in the middle of the so called "combat zone", the red light district. but it looks quite different from red light districts i have already seen so far. only some red lights and the names on the signs. but wandering around we soon found a nice restaurant that had awesome dumplings with a delicious sauce. nomnom, as usual. track: day 04

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Mon, 06 Aug 2012
day 03 in taiwan (0 comments)
day 03 started with the seek for a new hostel. the night before we tried to find a room via the internet. we found a cool hostel on the "youth hostel international" homepage, but they did not allow us to book a room for one female and one male person to be in a one room (be it double or twin), additionally all rooms were booked. the YHI site also listed the homepage of the hostel, so i wanted to read about their terms regarding mixed sex rooms. oddly enough i did not find a word mentioning the restriction. also they had an online availability check for rooms. so i tried this one too, because on the YHI site it said the hostel was fully booked for the rest of the year. ney, that believe we did not. but also the website of the hostel itself said so. but... still we tried, and went there this morning[01-11].
when we arrived, asking for a free double-room, they said yes, no strange looks because we wanted to share the same room. additionally we were asked if we'd prefer a twin or double bed room. so... the internet is not always right in taiwan. also, it seems they have plenty of rooms available (though we could not verify this, but the hallways were always pretty empty). what we got is actually a hotel room, with tv, wifi, fridge, shower and toilet, separated and in the room, a safe, a desk, a disposable shaver, a comb, toothbrushes, a shower cap, shower gel, towels, bedsheets, a blanket - all the stuff we did not have in the first hostel. also the price is pretty decent. oh, and there is breakfast included - yippieh (though i'm afraid taiwanese breakfast is not the stuff i'd want to eat in the morning, but we will find that out tomorrow...). now that we got a room, we needed to transfer the luggage. so we went back again, checked out, got our stuff, and went back again to the hostel. so walking the way three times in approximately one hour gave us smiling looks from security guards and other people that had to be positioned along our way. we found out that especially people in uniforms tend to give you a nice smile. either it's because they feel obliged to be friendly to visitors, or it is their extra amount of power they gain from the uniforms (or they think they gain). anyway... there were loads of friendly guards along our way, and it made it easier for us carry the heavy luggage.
after a shower (it's really very very very very [...] hot and humid here, and carrying all the luggage only made it worse) we were searching for the guanghua electronics digital plaza[17-19], a six floor electronic market full of electronic stuff. really impressive! only downside... it's not as cheap as we had hoped for, most of the stuff was even more expensive than back in austria. so all we bought was an adapter for our headphones to plug them into the airplane outlet, so that we can use our own headphones and not use the ones they give you during the flight. when we left the store it had started to rain, which did not make it any cooler, but only more humid. since we both were pretty tired and our feet hurt, we decided to go back to the hostel[20-21] and take a little nap before going to the night market. the little nap actually didn't make it better, but still we got up to go to the night market. and actually it was worth it. though it was only a very small one, they had nice stuff there to eat. so we bought some strange fruits[23], and "taro" balls [24]. next we tried some skewers[30-33], which you pick, then hand them all over to a guy who prepares them. the taste was awesome - nomnom...
unfortunately we had to leave very early (in numbers: 23:50), as this was the time of the last metro. it's seemed a little strange to us that in a city where loads of stores, shops, and other stuff is opened 24/7, and then the metro stops at around 24:00 o'clock. pretty strange. but, this way we got home and to bed early. track: day 03

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Sun, 05 Aug 2012
day 02 in taiwan (0 comments)
after getting up we decided to stay another day in the "happy family" hostel right next to central station. after booking another night, we took a look at a little park right opposite the hostel. it is "yixian park"[001-007], with a little pond and a small museum (which we didn't enter). also there was some kind of cosplay photo shooting. we got ourselves the "easycard" - a card for the metro, on a prepaid basis. you swipe the card when you enter the transport network, and swipe it again once you leave. based on the amount of stations you travelled, the sum will be subtracted from the card. our first ride on taipeh metro took us to longshan temple[012- 038], a pretty big and busy temple. a lot of people burning incense sticks and tables full of presents for the deities. one person, we assume he was working at the temple, gave us two dumplings. we were pretty unsure whether we should use them as a present, have them blessed, or simply just should eat them. since they looked so delicious, and there were already tons of other presents, we decided to eat them (i hope we didn't bring the wrath of god upon us). and they were delicious! nomnom.
next we took a walk to the nearby botanical garden. but we underestimated the distances on the map and in reality. the walk turned out to be more of a hike. on our way to the garden we came by a street full of bird sellers[050-055]. there were loads of poor birds that seemed to be in a bad condition. one of the selling guys also didn't want us to take pictures. when we finally got to the botanical garden[059-070] we saw our first cat, that was living in the garden. while chasing the kitty, some kind of insect must have bitten nina, as she got some bumps all over her feet. poor her.
after we left the garden we were heading for the "taipei 101", the second tallest skyscraper in the world (and tallest up to 2004). going there we came by a shopping mall where we had a coffee break and went to some shops[078], and the taipeh city hall[083-087,110-114]. the lower floors of taipei 101 are again a shopping mall[092-108] - but this time for luxury articles. so loads of shops like "hugo boss", "dior", "rolex", "louis vuitton", etc. when we finally got to the elevator for the tower, there were so many people that we decided to return here on some other day. seems like sunday is the day to go for an outing. on our way out we found a less luxurious toy shop[101-103], having all kind of cool stuff, including some squid girls stuff.
then the sun set, and it got dark pretty fast. seems like the days here are not that long and it gets dark early. so we enjoyed the sun set[111-121] and come to the "sun yat-set memorial hall"[119-121]. loads of people there hanging out, playing with friends, or walking their dog. next stop was "zhangxiao fuxing" where we went to another shopping mall, named "SOGO"[125]. of course, shops all over the place. but we got hungry by now, so we tried to find a good restaurant and ended up in some interesting chicken restaurant, where we got an introduction to what we will have for dinner [126-132]. you basically choose what ingredients you want and what type of sauce you want. we went for chicken, added some vegetables and noodles. then the girl that gave us the introduction started cooking for us. at first the meat was cooked, later when half the meat was already eaten, she added noodles and water. then noodles and meat was removed from the wok and again water was added together with the vegetables we chose. so we ended up with an awesome soup. all the stages gave us great and delicious food, and also all the waiters were friendly and curious - we think they do not get that many tourists in the restaurant (and in taiwan too we assumed).
tomorrow we will go for some other hostel, as the room was not that great this time. track: day 02

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Sat, 04 Aug 2012
day 01 in taiwan (0 comments)
after the departure in vienna we had a stop in bangkok. since there were not that many cool movies available during the flight, we only watched "The Pirates! Band of Misfits", "battleship", "the lady", and "tofu boy" - a strange chinese animation movie, we had the chance to sleep quite a bit. in bangkok we had a short stop of about an hour, then we flew on to taiwan, taipeh airport. in taiwan all the people are super friendly. and quite trusting. there was an asian woman at the airport trying to get some money from the ATM there. since we also needed some taiwanese dollars from the machine, we queued right behind the lady. then she turned around with a helpless look on her face and told us the machine wont give her money. so we moved closer and looked at the available options. once we've chosen one, she was asked to enter her PIN. without hesitation she punched in her code, while we were standing right next to her. of course we looked at the nice and lovely ceiling while she was hitting the keys. puh... strange woman. ahm... when we tried, the ATM also refused to give us money. it's seems they don't have maestro here. but since ninsti was already here in 2009, she still had quite a lot of dollars left which we now spent for a bus ride to taipeh main station. but before we had to fight the immense humidity. the temperature was ok, but combined with the humidity it was pretty tough. but... once on the bus we enjoyed the air conditioner. a lot of new highways are currently built, but they all are several metres above the ground level. sometimes even in layers. the best we saw were three roads yet to be finished in three levels. we assumed it would be because of the floods, tsunamis, and typhoons. speaking of... we didn't see any damage or such. so far. we also found a neat little hostel right close to main station. it's called "happy family hostel II". oh what a lovely name. and they have air conditioner - yippieh! after checking in we took a stroll around the area. to me it's a wonderful mixture of my asia trips so far. a little bit of japan (the cuteness in all the things you can buy), and a little bit of hongkong (the run down buildings, weird cabling, etc.). ah, apropos cuteness... they love hello kitty here. "eva", the airline we booked, has hello kitty all over in their catalogues. and they even have an boeing painted in pink with hello kitty all over it. totally awesome! to finish this day, we took some sushi from a sushi take away restaurant, as all the other restaurants and street food has already closed.
so far, we really like it here! track: day 01

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Fri, 18 May 2012
New Order (0 comments)
^C: new order (zeronic), gasometer elegia crystal regret ceremony age of consent love vigilantes krafty 1963 bizarre love triangle true faith 5 8 6 the perfect kiss temptation blue monday love will tear us apart

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Fri, 11 May 2012
LMFAO (0 comments)
^C: LMFAO (dj dainjazone), stadthalle wien rock the beat II sorry for party rocking get crazy take it to the hole put that a$$ to work i'm in miami bitch gettin' over you boom boom pow shooting star reminds me of you i am not a whore one day yes shots party rock anthem champagne showers sexy and i know it party rock anthem

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