Baler, Aurora, Philippines, July 2013
Back in 2008, i went to Sanzhi and shot the pod houses there. those have been demolished since.
in October 2013, i went back to Taiwan and went to Wanli, a different town north of Taipei that had another set of these crazy pod houses.
this place was even more abandoned than Sanzhi, and it’s right beside an emptpy beach.
Gurney Hawker Centre
Hot, sticky, and named after a chewable seed that gives you a mild high, what’s not to love about Penang?
Modern Penang was founded by the British in the eighteenth century. Its name derives from the Chinese word for betel nut. It’s not normally on the must-go lists of SE Asian spots of people from the Philippines (where I’m from), but I’ve been fascinated by it since I read about its food, history, street art, and architecture.
I went there October 2013, and it was hotter and muggier than Manila, despite it not being summer. I normally avoid places even hotter than my homeland so the last few Southeast Asian places I went to before Penang had climates cooler than my hometown- like Chiang Mai and Bali, and I definitely did not go during summer.
Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage site, lived up to my expectations and more. I spent three days going back there to take photos of its street art and installations. A free shuttle bus takes you around Georgetown proper, and you can also rent cheap bikes to go around, which definitely helped with the scorching heat.
I loved how Penang architecture, named after a style called Straits Eclectic, was well preserved and still in active use today by existing businesses like dry goods shops, auto shops, and hardware stores, just like they were decades and decades ago. They weren’t just repainted and made to stand static as a tourist attraction.
The Penang Botanic Gardens had monkeys that were more territorial and photo-averse than the monkeys in Bali‘s Uluwatu Temple and Ubud Monkey Forest. I couldn’t get too near without them snapping and lunging at me.
Other highlights (Please look at this Flickr album for more, like Penang Hill, Camera Museum, temples, etc.)
stayed at the 1926 Heritage Hotel (yes, built in 1926, originally housed mid-level staff the British government sent over)
and of course, Penang food: (Please click on the thumbnails to view gallery in lightbox.)
Click here for Day 1
Departing our charming old inn.
We drove to Neiwan and visited a museum dedicated to the works of Liu Hsing Chin, a famed Taiwanese comic book artist.
One of the oldest still-functional police stations in Taiwan. this one has japanese style architecture.
Next stop was yet another old street, where we had a Hakka cuisine lunch at an old movie theater full of retro memorabilia.
Then we had a two hour drive back to Taipei City where we stopped at the old Taiwan Sugar Company factory (that’s been turned into a museum). That district, Wanhua, is undergoing gentrification and one of that district’s newer infrastructure projects is the Fashion Institute of Taipei.
Wanhua used to be the capital of Taipei for wholesale garment trade. There’s still a lot of garment stores around, but not as many as in its heyday. Nowadays it’s mostly pajama stores, uniforms (military and school) shops, and clothes for older people. The borough captain of that district came out to meet us and give us some promotional swag.
Click here for Day 1
I went on a two day tour of Northern Taiwan last October 2013.
The aim of this tour’s host is to encourage travel to these small towns that are not usually part of the typical traveler’s route around Taiwan.
Note- all place names will be written in English because my WordPress blog can’t display Chinese text for some reason, probably the MySQL database isn’t set up to display UTF-8, which is too complicated for me to do.
Click here for Day 2.
We all met up at the Taipei Main Station and boarded our mini van early in the morning.
Our first stop was Su Ao, where we hit up the port and a huge temple there, where a mackerel festival is underway.
While still in Su Ao, we checked out a small Coral Museum that housed a lot of corals turned into sculptures.
Then came the Su Ao cold springs, where the water temperature is supposedly 25C all year round.
We then drove to Jingtong old street, checked out an old coal mine museum, its still-functional old train station, and supposedly one of the oldest mailboxes in Taiwan.
Japanese era mailbox
Next up is the historic street of Pingsi, which wasn’t far from Jingtong.
We went to yet another coal mine museum, where we took a bumpy ride on a former coal transporting mini freight train that still runs on the old tracks. This lady was the train driver.
Our final small town for Day 1 was Shi Fen Old Street, where we wrote on paper lanterns, lit them up beside the tracks of yet another ancient train station, and set them loose into the sky.
We slept at the Loauchu bed and breakfast, built in 1922.
Click here for Day 2.
I’ve seen a similar traveling fair in 2009 where the ferris wheel sign has the same design. Might be from the same company. Click here to see the 2009 photos.
All photos below taken June 2011 in San Juan. Nine photos: