An amazing place. Another Taiwanese tourist attraction well-known among the Chinese diaspora. I have skipped it on my past 2 visits to Taiwan as it sounded really touristy, Touristy it may be, but I have to admit that this is one of the most beautiful lake resorts I have visited anywhere. Sun Moon Lake certainly deserves all the reputation it radiates.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Alishan, a Tschou tribal village located in the central mountains of Taiwan, is one of the most famous Taiwanese tourist attractions in the Chinese world. The popular and timeless 1970’s pop song, Alishan, which sang praises of the place’s beautiful maiden and handsome young men, has propelled this small hill station initially developed by the Japanese as a timber station into a renowned attraction amongst Asians. We began the day in Chiayi, had a nice dip at a nearby hotspring known as Guanzhiling, then drove on to freezing 2’C Alishan through winding mountain roads.
We woke up at 5am this morning and got onto the quaint Japanese built steam train to the summit to watch a sunrise that Taiwanese tourism authorities described as one of the world’s top ten (no comments on the merit of the claim), before a very pleasant walk in the Alpine meadows and forest full of giant thousand year-old trees. We ended our stay here with a Tschou tribal cultural performance before driving for 3+ hours to Sun Moon Lake.
We began our drive around Central Taiwan from Chiayi City, which is the base for visits to Taiwan’s famous Aishan hill station. Taiwan is a gastronomical paradise and many Taiwanese cities and towns have their own local specialty that they brag about. Armed with Taiwan Tourism Board’s food brochure, we had a great time exploring Chiayi’s food delights, including fish head, glutinous rice with minced meat and the super yummy turkey rice.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Nine sites relating to the Ancient Kingdom of Ryukyu are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Apart from the Shuri Castle, there are also the royal tombs, royal gardens, sacred sites and a number of castles built on the most impenetrable cliffsides. These monuments are not only a testimony to the cultural advancement of this long gone civilization and their historic trading and political links to countries in East Asia and Southeast Asia, but also the pride of the Okinawan people in preserving their unique culture and heritage.
The Battle of Okinawa bitterly fought between US forces and Japan during WWII was the only major land battle fought on Japanese soil during the war. Despite overwhelming military superiority, US forces took almost 3 months to conquer this small island. Over 200,000 Japanese civilians and military perished together with 12,000 US soldiers. Many Japanese soldiers committed suicide by jumping off the cliffs during the final stand, often forcing civilians to kill themselves before that. Today, remnants and monuments to those horrifying battles still stood in Okinawa.
The legacy of the war remains – Okinawa has since then become the most important US bases in the Far East, and nuclear weapons aim at China and Russia from these islands. The major US bases and the land they occupy are hated by the islanders who would want to regain control of their ancestral properties.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I watched a 45min performance of Ryukyuan classical court dances today at the Shuri Castle in Naha. The dances of the Kingdom of Ryukyu were said to have been influenced by both Chinese and Japanese dances. Court dances that they were, they were very much restrained in movement. A biased bystander commented that the dancers resembled individuals walking slowly with constipated stomachs. Even those dances described in the official brochures as tense appeared to be tense only by mood and not by exuberance of movement. I cannot comment as I am untrained in such matters but I have to confess that many of those who were present could easily fall asleep. To give them credit, the dancers did have elaborate face make-up, controlled yet intense facial expressions and rather difficult constrained movements that could be achieved only after many years of training.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Date: 14th January 2011, Friday 730PM
Thursday, December 09, 2010
The new map of the UK? Looks like Wales would be split into smaller regions and Scotland would be independent.
Monday, December 06, 2010
Palle Huld, Danish Actor Said to Be Model for Tintin, Dies at 98
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: December 5, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
Kuda Kepang - the Javanese horse dance - has long been a feature of Malay cultural performances. However, the version that is often played in official ceremonies and cultural festivals is devoid of its original pre-Islamic spiritual highlights. On Saturday night (27/11/10), I brought my Japanese friends, Azusa and Kazuto, to the Malay Village to watch the Tedja Timur group perform. Amazing stuff with the performances going into trance and possessed by the ancient war gods and battle horses. This time around, however, the spirits did not possess the audience or performance assistants as it might occasionally. Great fun anyway...