Taiwan trip

August 2, 2009

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As I mentioned in a couple of entries back, a free magnet given by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau during the Lunar New Year festival in Los Angeles reminded me of my trip to Taipei a couple of years ago.  I know it’s been a while ago (2004…hehe) but still wanted to share some of my thoughts about the city as it was first time there.  (For those interested in reading about my stroll to the Chinese New Year festival, please see the entry on July 27)

Taipei is a very crowded urbanized city, like many capital cities.  However, defying the apathetic reputation of modernized cities, its people are very warm and welcoming.  Being unfamiliar with the place, as my friends and I have never visited before, we had to ask locals for directions many times.  Yet, all the people we asked, of varying ages and gender, were very informative and wanted to help. We were very impressed. 🙂

Another fascinating aspect of Taipei is that even though it is a large rapidly- developing city, land seems to be more plentiful as compared to other modern cities in the world.  There are large plazas and squares in front of important monuments and around the city which make the city seem less claustrophobic.  It was very pleasant to see families out enjoying some kite-flying and times together!  Thus, even though our trip lasted for less than a week and we were constantly on the go, it was a relaxing and pleasurable trip.

Towering above the rest of the city, Taipei 101 was an amazing feat even though in 2004 it was not yet entirely opened to the public.  Sometimes I wonder how such tall buildings could be built!  It is not a shocker that it is considered a wonder in the world of architecture and modern society.  Despite such rapid modernization, ancient culture is preserved.  What amazing masks!

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As an urban planner, I also like to pay attention to the infrastructures in place wherever I go.  Having a separate bike lane and pedestrian walkway could prevent accidents and perhaps encourage bike riding.  Car drivers, biker riders, and pedestrians could all share the road, which I think is a great idea! 

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Lunar New Year street festival

July 27, 2009

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(This post was originally posted during Lunar New Year in February.)

Well, this is the first time I’m writing about myself here but just wanted to share some of my experiences in Los Angeles with you.  For these, I’m going to stick with writing in English as it is a good way to practice reading English!  I’ll try to provide the Chinese to more difficult words. 

Last weekend I had a chance to visit the Lunar New Year street festival held in Monterey Park.  Even though I go every year, I’m always amazed at how they are able to block off several blocks on a rather busy Garvey Avenue for several days!  Walking on the street definitely gives an entirely different perspective than when one is driving on it.  The street seems so much wider.

Compared to those in Asian countries, I’m sure this street festival was not as grand.  However, I do appreciate the City’s effort to bring a little joy to those who do celebrate the lunar New Year.  I’m sure not all American cities have something similar- maybe just the ones with a significant Asian population (i.e. San Francisco, New York)?  They also plan it months in advance.  While in high school, I had the opportunity to work with the City to book some game booths to fundraise for our school club.  At the time, I was afraid when the time came around as manning the booths were physically demanding and exhausting!  However, when I was walking around last weekend, I was on the lookout for any signs of my alma mater but unfortunately did not see any.  Something just wasn’t the same. 

Here in Los Angeles, there are at least three other local cities which put up something similar- Alhambra, Rowland Heights, and Chinatown.  Usually, local vendors, government departments, local colleges, tourism bureaus, and overseas vendors set up booths to promote their products.  I remember getting many freebies when I was younger but nowadays, the quantities have been reduced and more products are for purchase only.  I’m sure the economic tsunami also has an adverse effect on this.  Nonetheless, I’m happy with my loot! 

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Seaweed Sesame Eggroll from a bakery in Hong Kong!  I like the seaweed taste to them as they remind me of Japanese hand rolls.

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A free magnet from the Taiwan Tourism Bureau which says, “Taiwan- Touch Your Heart”.  I have more to say about this, later in another post, as Taiwan lived up to this and touched my heart when I visited.