Archive for 2011 年 05 月

2010 Taiwan – Day 8 (屏東,恆春,墾丁)

The day was Christmas and some to note that Taiwanese do not treat this day as public holiday. Not that it matters to us anyway.

We deposited some of our luggage at the Kaoshiong train station. We decided that it will not be wise to bring everything along for this side trip. Breakfast after this and was a quick bite at the 三商巧福 nearby.

The side trip planned for would be to go to the famous 海生館, followed by a detour to 恆春 to see the old streets, finally touching down to 墾丁 where our hotel was. We had, back then in Singapore, arranged for this local driver to drive us around all day and he came promptly to pick us up.

The first place he dropped us, after like 1.5 hours of ride, was the 福安宮, which is the largest 土地公 temple in the world (土地公 is the god who looked after the land).

The temple was impressive. Usually the 土地公 temples we see are those snall little ones under a big tree or something. This one is totally out of the scale.

The driver took us to this small shop, like 5 minutes ride away, where its famous for its cold bean soup, or 冰豆蒜.

I have never had this dish cold before. Back home, this was always served hot, with pieces of fried long dough or 油條 to go along. Having this cold really cooled me down, especially on a sunny day. Something simple and yet so special.

And next, it was the main highlight of the day, the 海生館. The full name is 國立海洋生物博物館, National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium. This was how much the tickets cost…

For someone like you and me without concession, the full price will be NT$450, which is like SGD$20. To me, this twenty bucks was way much more worth than the Underwater World in Sentosa. Read on and I am quite sure you will agree with me.

The entrance…

Past the entrance and I was surprised by how big the whole place is…

Walking towards the main building and we saw this pool with some life-like models of humpback  and sperm whales.

This is the main building…

Inside the main hall…

From this main hall, there are several doorways which lead to different sections, like coral reefs section, deep sea section etc…

One of the many deep pools…

The tunnel through the deep sea section.

Lovely belugas scratching their backs on the floor…

This was the tropical section…

There was this area where we are allowed to come into contact with some the sea dwellers like starfish, sea slugs.

We went into one of the live exhibit areas where there was to be a scheduled feeding show.

I was so excited to see a whale shark in the tank! I had thought that only one aquarium in Japan had a captive whale shark, so to see one here was totally unexpected and a sight to remember!

The guide giving an introductory on the fishes found behind her.

The feeding diver was immediately swarmed by the fishes when he got in.

After finishing the show, its our turn to get fed!

There was one restaurant there, but the prices was quite steep and the place  too crowded to get seats. We went to one of the stalls outside the main hall to grab something instead.

Not the best stuffs I have had in Taiwan, but they will suffice for now.

We only managed to cover like half of the main hall so far, but we decided to go to another building. It will probably take a full day to finish the whole place.

This is the largest fresh water fish, the arapaima.

I really liked how a deep tank like this one showed us the diversity of living things at different levels.

We got to the penguin gallery…

A Yellow-fin tuna! Everytime I see tuna is either dead on the fish market floor or already sliced up beyong recognition.

We were quite exhausted by this time and had already spent like four hours here. Its time to leave since we still got other places to cover and the driver was waiting for us.

He was there outside the park, he had took a nap while waiting for us and he was awake and fresh to bring us to our next location, 恆春.

The 南門 or South gate. 恆春 was a old town and fortress, with walls surrounding it and only way to get in or out is through the four gates. Among the four gates, only the South and West were well preserved. Being over a hundred years old, and an earthquake in 2006 destroyed much of the walls.

From the South Gate, we went further into the town, and came to this location where 海角七號 was filmed. The main protagonist’s house.

Nearby, just a stone’s throw away is the Post Office where some of the shots were taken.

We reached the 西門 or West Gate.

Don’t know why got this tank here…

This was what was left of the East Gate.

The structure nearby…

was used for their annual celebration event. The vertical beams will be coated with oil and young men will be struggling to climb up to the top to get the coveted prize.

As the town was small, we finished sight-seeing rather quickly and the driver brought us to another attraction which is at the outskirt of the town.

出火, or Ground Fire, is an natural phenomenon where methane from underground escaped through the holes in the ground and got ignited by the locals.

There are locals here selling fireworks, DIY popcorn and many other toys which you can play using the fire.

With this, we left the town and the driver got us to our hotel in 墾丁.

By the time we reached, it was already sunset and dark.

This was our room. We managed to book the highest floor, which comes with a bathtub facing the sea.

View from the balcony.

We had made a special dinner arrangement. Back in Singapore, we came to know of this unique German restaurant. You can’t just have a meal there without prior reservation, and there is no menu, you simply tell the owner what you can’t take and he will settle the rest for you.

We rented a mini scooter and rode like thirty minutes to the main town.

With much difficulty, we found the place…

A small and cosy place…

Other guests, which included a small family of three (I suspected Singaporeans too) at the corner, a group of young Taiwanese and another from Hong Kong.

Appetizer.

Soup.

The main. Turkey and pork ribs.

This is the owner cum chef (doesn’t he look like Colonel Sanders of KFC?). After the main dish was served, he came out of the kitchen and started pouring drinks for everyone. I couldn’t tell what it was, except it was something very strong.

Everyone cheering off for a merry christmas.

The dessert.

While we were all eating, some Hong Kong guy asked the chef how did he end up in this part of the world, so far from his homeland and doing this?

So actually he married a Taiwanese woman and decided to settle with her here. Unfortunately, she met with an accident several years ago and passed away, leaving him and this house which he converted to a small restaurant. He could have left and gone back to Germany, but the civil case on his wife’s accident was not closed yet.

We can’t help feeling sad for him. Who would have guessed that behind his unique little restaurant lies a sad life story?

What a sad way to end our Christmas in Taiwan.

GE 2011 – My thoughts after

Its 3 days after the election results. Dust is beginning to settle and mood beginning to calm. The past ten days have been nothing short of exhilarating, inspiring, but also tiring at the same time. In the end, when the results were announced, when I finally settled down, I was made to think hard about what the results really meant.

The negativity of the results first.

1) The most hated mini-stars, WKS and MBT remained, albeit by a much smaller margin compared to last election. It was disappointing, heart-breaking even, I had expected and hoped so much to see them go.

2) The shooting in your foot system – GRC.

Foot stomping, tongue-tied TPL got herself an MP status by piggy-back onto our SM. Well loved foreign mini-star GY got booted out. Mr MP, as a minority, can get elected without going to a GRC. The system, its very initial intention already doubtful,  has stopped being a safe haven for PAP, and is like a tight slap across its own face for the situation it has created today.

I am saddened by the fact that a popular guy like GY, who has not done anything gravely wrong like WKS and MBT, who has already done his soul searching before the campaign, has instead become the first casualty from the PAP’s own invention.

3) The people’s MP, Mr CST, lost in his maiden fight for a GRC. He has fought for 20 years, as Potong Pasir’s MP for the people, solitary against the MIW. He worked for this people, without the financial assistance of PAP. He was sometimes, in his healthier days, changing light bulbs for his people without the press covering. His town council worked for this people, when help refused to come from stat boards. He quitted his lawyer job and worked full time as an MP. Ask, who else can claim to have done all this?

Yet because of the biased press/media, none of the deeds done by Mr CST ever got mentioned or raised. Such a people’s champion will never be openly recognized, never praised or rewarded. And because of the lack of open recognition for Mr CST, the people of Bishan/Toa Payoh will never get to know how much they lost.

4) Our leaders were not as ideal as I thought they would be. So disconnected with the people, an apology which was the minimum gesture, came few years late and mere three days before elections.

And although there was a marked improvements in less low-handed tactics, I still wished they can have more integrity. Re-drawing of GRC/SMC boundaries, last minute reputation smearing, baiting old citizens with food and transport to attend rallies should not happen. Using upgrading as a carrot is downright despicable, for the money came from all Singaporeans.

5) The ratio of pro-PAP versus those against stands at 60% to 40%. While this means that out of every 10 person, 4 are against PAP or pro-Opposition, I take it that there are still 6 person who can’t see the light. Whether it is because of fear, greed, lack of foresight, blind faith or whatever, I hope its not too late by 2016 for them to realize the truth, to get screwed badly by PAP’s policies, to get marginalized by the never-ending tide of FTs. Only then will daft singaporeans wake up to fight for democracy and themselves. But maybe, by 2016, it will all be too late. True blue singaporeans maybe a minority then, sidelined by the new citizens PAP has been so eagerly wooing.

6) The fear in civil servants are still knee deep. They continued to be held ransom by their rice-bowl, completely missing out who they are paid to serve. Being a singaporean, their first and fore-most duty is to ensure that the public can get served well, and only by having a just and clean government can that be possible.

I don’t despise the civil servants who voted out of fear. I pitied them.

What positive can we take from this election?

1) The people of Aljunied and Hougang have proved that, the alternate voice in parliament is ever so important. When GIC and Temasek lost billions, the policies that hurts singaporeans get passed, there was only a small voice then crying out for us. The people of Aljunied and Hougang have stepped forward, bravely so for the sake of all singaporeans.

Sadly, I can’t take much positivity from the results. While Worker’s Party has certainly done well in retaining Hougang and gaining Aljunied, I feel the future of Singapore is bleak. Singaporeans are still very much hanging on to their myopic and materialistic way of life. And so, the sunrise I was hoping to catch a glimpse of, never came.