Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Some final notes about Taiwan

Weather: It looks like I went over at a good time as the weather was relatively calm most of the time with 70 degree days and cloudy to partially cloudy days in Taipei. My mom's house in Taipei didn't have air conditioning, but it never really felt too warm or cool while I was indoors. Further south though around Kenting, the humidity definitely stepped up quite a bit to make it feel hotter than the temperature indicated. While we were exploring around Kenting National Park, my brother and I were wearing t-shirts and sweating like dogs, and we couldn't understand how the native Chinese people there could bear to be outside wearing what seemed like thick jackets o_O I guess those people just get use to it over time.

Taipei: For whatever reason, Taipei looked, felt, and smelled a lot cleaner this time around from the last time I remembered. The traffic though was just as crazy as I remembered before as driving in the city reminded me of a continuous game of chicken as drivers would test each other's will to see who's most willing to take any small crack or opening in the busy traffic to get ahead. I'm impressed that despite these driving habits, I didn't see any accidents over the entire trip. As before, scooters were abundant everywhere since owning a parking space probably cost as much as having a house in Taipei.

Taipei 101: Before I got to Taipei, I didn't know that Taipei 101 was currently the tallest building in the world, and at first glace from far away, I didn't feel that it was actually that tall. But once I got up close, well, it was pretty tall :P The stacking trapezoid parts of Taipei 101 I think disguises the fact that there were 101 floors to the building. There's a 5 floor mall built adjacent to Taipei 101 for clothing shoppers, and on the 5th floor, the public can buy tickets to the observatory on the 91st floor. I figured by this point most people in Taipei had probably been to the observatory, but the day that my brother and I went, it was still quite a madhouse to line up to get into the two elevators that go to the observatory. Another interest fact was that these two elevators are also the fastest elevators in the world, and I had no doubt they were fast as we got to the 91st floor in about 30 seconds. The ride in the elevator even had its own little show as the lights would dim and the ceiling of the elevator had a fiber optic show. There was no windows to the outside, so I couldn't really judge how fast the elevator was really going except for the elevator LCD that pictorially showed where the elevator was relative to the building. But even with that, I never really felt that the elevator was going that fast, and then magically, we were on the 91st floor. And as you can see from the pictures, the view from the observatory was very very nice :)

Taiwan High Speed Rail: Apparently, a lot of my parent's friends had said that the new high speed rail had its problems, but the two times that I rode it, it was quite a comfortable experience. The train had a top speed of 300 km/hr, but it was silky smooth and very quiet, so you wouldn't think you were going that fast were it not for the windows showing the blur of everything the rail passed. Similar to an airline seat, you reserve your seat ahead of time when you buy the ticket, but unlike a couch class airline seat, the rail seats were comfortable and had plenty of legroom. A trip from Taipei to Kao-hsiung takes about 90 minutes, so if you ever want to head to the southern part of Taiwan without the hassle of going through airline check-in and such, check out the High Speed Rail.

National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium: If you happen to find yourself in the southern part of Taiwan and have some time, definitely do yourself a favor and check out this aquarium. There's a little bit of something to see for everyone, whether it's fish, turtle, penguins, sharks, whales, and more!

Karaoke @ Partyworld: During the various bus rides that I took in Taipei, I would pass a Partyworld and wonder "do they sell party supplies or something?" Obviously, I was wrong as Partyworld turns out to be the place for karaoke. One of my mom's friend's daughter (let's call her B) called me to see if my brother and I wanted to go one night, and we tagged along. Partyworld was sort of like a hotel, but instead of having rooms to sleep in, each room was fitted with lounge seats, a plasma screen TV, and a computer on the side where you queue up songs. You could also call up using the room phone for food and drinks to be brought in. In terms of singing, I think I did alright, but I probably need to do some more KR practice with my endurance as my voice started to strain by the 3rd song. Some of B's friends though were REALLY GOOD. I'm sure they've done this a lot, but when a person sings well, it's hard not to be impressed. We were out till about 4 am, but even at that hour, there were still people filing into Partyworld sing the night away. Fun times :) I say for the next Houston meeting, we should include Karaoke in the list of things to do :P

Strange and funny things...

I lost my camera at Taiwan last Tuesday, but my roommate David managed to find a camera sitting in a snow pile in front of the leasing building that same day too. He had left his contact information in case anyone would go looking for it, but it's been a week now, and since he has a camera, I'm now in possession of a Sony DSC-T10.

The funny is this bottle of water that I managed to bring back in my check-in luggage. Maybe I should write the bottling company for some royalties for having my name not just on regular water, but Oxygentech Super water! :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Back from the Far East...

After 3 layovers (Nagaya, San Francisco, and Chicago), I finally managed to make it back from Taiwan last night. I didn't get much sleep on the way (I'm guessing about 3 hours total from the flights within the US), but I'm going to take it easy over the weekend to recover.

I've uploaded a couple of pictures up to my Picasa web space, so take a look over here at some of the pictures I took at Taiwan :)

On a more somber note, my camera was stolen in Taipei :( So if anyone has any good suggestions on digital cameras, I'm in the market for one.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quick Update 2

The family and I returned from the southern part of Taiwan where we did some sightseeing with some of my parent's friends. To get down there, we took the new Taiwan High Speed Rail, which was very quick and quiet while going at speeds up to 300 km/hr, so it's able to get to the southern part of Taiwan in about 90 minutes or so. After eating at a nice seafood place, we headed to the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, and I took plenty of pics which I'll be posting when I get back :) At the end of the day, we stayed at a really nice hotel in Kenting, and our room was literally less than 50 feet away from the beach!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Quick Update

Since the wireless internet that I've been "borrowing" has been sort of sporadic, I'll just post some quick notes of what's been going on.

-I flew via United Airlines for this trip (the last two times I came to Taiwan, I flew via Northwest), and my flight path actually got changed when I went to check in on the 7th. The original plan was to go from Columbus to Chicago to Tokyo to Taipei, but it ended up that I went from Columbus to Washington DC to Tokyo to Taipei because I guess the inclement weather in Columbus and Chicago resulted in some flights being rerouted. I didn't think much of it at the time, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I had a window seat all to myself from the flight out of Chicago to Tokyo :) I flew in a Boeing 777, and each seat had its own little LCD screen where you can watch whatever movies were being offered at the time, but the coolest part was the "Map" feature that displayed where the plane was relatively in the world and gave updated statistics about how fast the plane was traveling and how much longer the plane had yet to go to reach its destination. As for the airplane food, I thought it was actually "decent", but then again, I hadn't had airplane food in a while and both my mom and brother said the food was pretty terrible. On the way over I had some chicken and noodles, lasagna, and curry chicken. I didn't pay much attention to any of the movies that were on at the time (I watched a bit of "Man of the Year") and rotated my attention between Elite Beat Agents and Sudoku on the DS and read a bit of Stephen King's Cell.

-One of the immediate things I noticed is the abundance of 7-11's. In fact, there's one right next door to my mom's house!

-I haven't eaten out that much yet except to get some breakfasty chinese-type food in the morning. Again, next door to my mom's house is a place where you can get soy milk and sao bing yo teow (I don't know the english words for it -_-) and other tasty food for teh win!

-My brother and I hit up the Taipei game show today (2-11-07) and man, it was crowded!! Although it was fun to look around and see everything, my brother and I probably would enjoy myself more had we known how to read chinese -_- There were also an abundance of attractive booth models in the various sections, but I felt sort of creeped out taking pictures of them since they all looked so young -_- One of the cooler exhibits was for this game called Hellgate: London. The exhibit had probably 40 PCs all loaded with the game, which I can best describe as a 3D Diablo. There was a guy working there that was cool enough to show me and my brother through the game since we couldn't read any of the menu options or dialog. There was a lot of free shwag to be found as well as many of the major booths had their models tossing out bags, pens, posters, and other various shwag. My brother and I probably ended up getting 2 game demos and a bunch of free online trials, but they'll end up going unused because of our illiteracy -_-

That's all for now. I'll have some pictures later when I get back home.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Made it....

After some loooooooong flights, I just wanted to let everyone know I made it safe and sound. Now to get some sleep -_-

On sort of a funny note: Everything on blogger is in Chinese -_-

Monday, February 5, 2007

Heading to the far flying west...

I don't remember who I told, but this Wednesday I'll be heading over to Taiwan along with my mom and dad. My brother will also be joining us later, but he'll be coming 2 days later since he didn't get tickets earlier. It's been like over 10 years since my last trip to Taiwan, and for now all I have planned is to visit my grandparents, but apparently my mom has a bunch of friends that want to show us around, so I guess I'll be looking forward to that. My mom said Internet is prevalent in Taiwan, so I'll try to keep everyone posted about what's going on. If you have any suggests of things to go see, I'd like to hear about them in the comments :)

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Super Bowl Extra Large + 1

Congrats to the Super Bowl XLI champions Indianapolis Colts. In sort of a sloppily played game due to the continual rain, the Colts withstood the elements and executed better than the Bears to give Payton Manning his first Super Bowl win. For those who don't follow football, Payton Manning has pretty much established himself as maybe the NFL's best QB of all time since he holds so many passing records, but a lot of critics branded him as one of those people who can't win the big game. But now with wins over his rival team New England and this Super Bowl win, he has gotten that giant monkey off his back. Strangely enough, it was probably the Colts defense that was the unsung hero by limiting the time of possession for the Bears and not letting them get into any sort of rhythm.

The commercials this year weren't that good as a whole, but CareerBuilder and Bud Light gave us some laughs. You can check the commercials out on Youtube. Also, Prince put on a pretty good half-time show compared to half-time shows of the past.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

More singing will commence...

After showing David the awesomeness that is Karaoke Revolution, he decided to go out and get the AI edition for us to play with. This'll end up as a present to his sister/mother back in Iceland, but we'll be doing a lot of sing testing in the meantime ;)
The sing system is exactly the same as in the party edition. The one big change of course is the addition of the American Idol mode where you can start from the audition room (where apparently instruments are allowed now :P) and work your way up to the finals. In between songs, the judges (Simon, Randy, and Laura) will give their opinions. David and I haven't really explored all the different things that the judges say, but I'm sure when we have people over, we'll discover some classic quotes from the game :P As for Laura, she basically acts like Paula in always giving out positive feedback. The song choices are also just as good as in the party edition as well. Overall...the American Idol aspect just adds an extra layer to an already polished series of KR games. However, I've yet to find "Yo, Dude, Rock!" in this game :(

Friday, February 2, 2007

Happy Groundhogs Day!

It looks like Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow this morning, so hopefully spring will be coming soon! I'd more than welcome it since it's been brutally cold here in Columbus the past week -_-