Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Clean Slate for 2014 …

A clean slate for 2014, and I mean it quite literally … (see before and after photos):

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30 Dec 2013, 2 p.m., after doing my “random” pieces (see previous two posts, and more below of my “desperate” attempt to waste as little ink as possible)

A clean slate for 2014 ... thanks to Si-Min!

A clean slate for 2014 … thanks to Si-Min, this is the state at 2:20 pm, 30 Dec 2013

Below: two more pieces done on 30 Dec 2013 morning, as I “desperately” attempt to clean up the palette as much as possible, before cleaning it … in the end, Si-Min (that dear girl!) volunteered to help me clean it; must say she did a very thorough job!!

(“After the Big Bang”, “Order and Chaos”, “Cherries, Grapes and Onion?” and “Bamboo III” in previous posts were also part of this attempt!)

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Inspired by the Sea of Cloud scenes in Taiwan recently, … and trying hard to use up the stone blue and stone green paint …

Orchids ... finishing off the black ink and brown ...

Orchids … finishing off the black ink and brown …

Have a great year ahead!

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After the Big Bang …

I call this piece "After the Big Bang" as the 3 dimensions of space and the 4th dimension of time are created which spirals and radiates out to form the universe.

“After the Big Bang”: the 3 dimensions of space and the 4th dimension of time are created which spirals and radiates out to form the universe after The Big Bang.

Random stuff that I learnt to paint over the course of 3x8 lessons with Mr Ang Cheng Chye. My eldest girl thinks this piece is "cool"!!

“Order and Chaos”: Random stuff that I learnt to paint over the course of 3×8 lessons with Mr Ang Cheng Chye. My eldest girl thinks this piece is “cool”!!

 

Bird and Chrysanthemum, done in Lesson 4, before Taiwan trip.

Bird and Chrysanthemum, done in Lesson 4, before Taiwan trip.

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Narcissus and Vase (Lesson 7, so that it can be used for house decorations for Chinese New Year; had thought that they were onions, as I did not understand the Chinese name of the plant (siu3 xian1 hua1) used by the teacher)

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Grapes, cherries and onions? (was trying to use up the remaining paint on palette, and did this piece)

 

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Bamboo ink paintings III, II, I

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Bamboo III (30 Dec 2013, was trying to use up the remaining paint on the palette before washing it for the first time in months!)

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Bamboo II (bought a brush usually used to apply wood varnish to do the thick stem)

Bamboo I (from watching video of lesson that I missed while in Taiwan)

Bamboo I (from watching video of lesson that I missed while in Taiwan)

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[taiwan 2013] day 10: alishan sunrise

A different perspective of our trip, by Si-Yan … much more photos of food, hahaha! check out the rest of her blog …

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We had to wake up at 3am to see the famous alishan sunrise!! It was cold and rainy in the morning but there were still tons of people taking the train up. Weather was not v good but it was worth all the trouble and lack of sleep cos the scenery at the top and everywhere around the park was still gorgeous!

The sunrise part was a bit of a disappointment cos there was kinda no sun, like it gradually got brighter and brighter but couldn’t really see the sun or the colourful sky that you’d normally associate with sunrise

After sunrise there are a few trains to go down but we decided to walk around on the trails. Luckily it was almost all downhill heh we met people climbing uphill (cos after sunrise there are no more trains going up) which must’ve been superr tiring. Anyway yeah the trails…

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14 days in Taiwan … some hits and misses!

Qingshui cliff, near Hualien (beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean)

Qingshui cliff, near Hualien (beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean)

A summary of our first trip to Taiwan, and ideas/tips for the next visit! (especially for independent travellers like us):

14 day itinerary – good for all the “must visit places”, at a nice relaxed pace (stayed overnight Taipei 3N (DongWu Hotel), Hualien 2N(Byeyer Hotel), Taroko Gorge 1N (Leader Village), Sun Moon Lake 2N (SunMoon Lake Karuizawa), Alishan 1N (Lauya Homestay), Taichung 2N (Hotel 53), Taipei 2N City Inn III)).

Places visited in Taipei, grouped by day – (LongShan Temple and surrounding nite markets, Ximengding)/(National Palace Museum, Shilin Night Market)/(Yehliu, Jinguashi, Jiufen, Shifen)/(Chiangkaishek Memorial, Taipe101)/(Tamshui, Bali, XinBeitou, Shida Nite Market)/(Maokong Gondola, morning of departure).

Activities at other places: (SunMoonLake – boat ride, trails, cycling)/(Alishan – take sunrise train, view Sea of Clouds, trails, hot spring)/(Hualien and Taroko – Taroko Gorge trails, East Rift Valley tour, Qixingtan and Qingshui Cliffs)/(Taichung – eat ice-cream  at Gong Yuan Eye clinic, watch 3D IMAX The Hobbitt)

Tip: may be good to stay 2 nights at Alishan, to increase change of catching sunrise (in case of very bad weather on first attempt) and take in more of surrounding sights, and also to catch sunset.

Beautiful scenery at Alisan, despite not seeing the sunrise colours (cloudy, with very light intermittent drizzle)

Beautiful scenery at Alisan, despite not seeing the sunrise colours (cloudy, with very light intermittent drizzle)

Accommodation: For us, staying at different types of accommodation (standard room, family room, boutique hotel, in city, natural setting (lake, mountain)) is an important part of the travel experience.

Tip: for Taroko Gorge, Leader Village Hotel, book with the dinner since there is no where else to eat nearby (the hotel is basically surrounded by mountains) and you cannot just walk 10 min to another place for food, unlike in the city hotels!

Leader Village  Hotel, - beautiful place to stay if you love nature!

Leader Village Hotel, – beautiful place to stay if you love nature!

Getting around: we took all kinds of transport available (easycard onMRT, public bus (Taichung), taxi (pre-arranged before going for Hualien-Taroko area, through hotel for Yehliu – Shifen, random taxi for getting to Alishan and back to Taichung – see tip below), trains (Taipei-Hualien, Taichung-Taipei)

Tip 1: get Easycard for Taipei (good for MRT, public bus, boat from Tamsui to Bali, Maokong cable car ride) and Taichung (free within 8 km of railway station, but need to use same Easycard to tap in and out)

Tip 2: Give allowance for road blockages!! (e.g. Taroko to Sun Moon Lake via Central Highway – we had no problems with this one this time, but sometimes, road is block due to landslide – it is a beautiful road to travel, get Mr Li from Hualien (Tiffany’s husband) – very good and safe driver, just search trip adviser for contact details) (e.g. Sun Moon Lake to Alishan – our 9 am bus had to turn back after 1 hour on the road as the earlier 8 am bus reported that road was not passable)

Tip 3: 95% of the time take local advise, but not always, about alternative routes (e.g. Sun Moon Lake to Alishan – neither the bus driver who had to turn back, or our home stay contact at Alishan gave us the “best” advise of travelling after the road was blocked, telling us the standard way “get bus to Taichung, then train to Chiayi, then bus to Alishan”. On looking at map later that night in the home stay at Alishan, we figured we should have arranged a cab to take us SML-Alishan via alternative route without heading north-east to Taichung.) In the end, a “random” taxi driver (an elderly gentleman taxi driver approached us at Taichung railway station after we had bought our train tickets, and gave us the alternative of taking his cab for both going to Alishan and return trip to Taichung the next day, including side trips for sight seeing (2 days for 5000 NTD, a pretty good deal; he could give this price apparently, as his cab runs on LPG).

Our driver from Taichung to Alisan and back - he is 62, needs walking stick, and just had a back operation!

Our driver from Taichung to Alisan and back – he is 62, needs walking stick, and just had a back operation!

MISSES this time … 

Taipei101 –  did not go all the way up as it was a rainy and misty day, nor eat at Din Tai Fung (just hang around the first few floors)

Tamsui Fisherman Wharf and sunset – choppy seas, even the ferry to the Fisherman Wharf from Tamshui Port and Bali was not operating (but still managed to eat the “famous” fried food at Bali, the foot high ice cream at Tamsui and other street food, and shopping)

Taroko Gorge – two of the famous scenic trails were closed for maintenance (Baiyang waterfall, Tunnel of 9-turns)

Central Highway from Taroko to Sun Moon Lake – misty throughout most of the journey, including at HeHuanSan, Wuling, and Cingjing  (the 3200 year old sacred tree along the way was simply awesome!)

Alisan – could not see the sunrise colours and missed out on hanging around our home stay to enjoy the place (our room was the one which had views on 3 sides!) due to late arrival because of the road block.

Travelling on the Eastern Coastal route and visiting Yilan and Kenting.

BUT overall, it was still a GREAT TRIP!!!

Taiwan trip photo essay Part 1  (Taipei-Hualien-Taroko-Central Highway to Sun Moon Lake)  |  Photo Essay Part 2 (Sun Moon Lake-Alisan-Taichung-Taipei)

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14 Days in Taiwan photo essay part 2 (Sun Moon Lake-Alisan-Taichung-Taipei)

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Misty roads on the Central Highway, at the left is the 3200 year old sacred Bilyu Tree … its longevity was truly amazing and awe inspiring!

Our driver, Mr Li - very safe and experienced (makes more than 200 trips on this route in a year) ... picture above at Wuling 3275 m, highest point by road on the highway, temperature 2 degree C.

Our driver, Mr Li – very safe and experienced (makes more than 200 trips on this route in a year) … picture above at Wuling 3275 m, highest point by road on the highway, temperature 2 degree C.

View from our hotel at Sun Moon Lake -  walking distance to the bus to Alisan the day after ...

View from our hotel at Sun Moon Lake – walking distance to the bus to Alisan the day after …

Day 8 boat ride and cycling around Sun Moon Lake

Day 8 boat ride and cycling around Sun Moon Lake

Clear(er) skies on the morning when we leave Sun Moon Lake for Alishan

Day 9 Clear(er) skies on the morning when we leave Sun Moon Lake for Alishan

Day 9 Reached Alisan Lauya Homestay, too late to catch any views for the day ...

Day 9 Reached Alisan Lauya Homestay, too late to catch any views for the day …because of unexpected road block which caused the SML-Alisan bus to turn back after 1 hour

Day 10 Alisan sunrise, but it was too cloudy ... still we were lucky that it was not raining and there were still excellent views

Day 10 Alisan sunrise, but it was too cloudy … still we were lucky that it was not raining and there were still excellent views

Alisan, near the Shen Mu area - temple with autumn leaves - must take time to walk around after photos at the sunrise area ...

Alisan, near the Shen Mu area – temple with autumn leaves – must take time to walk around after photos at the sunrise area …

a photo with our host at Lauya home stay, before heading down to hot spring and Taichung

a photo with our host at Lauya home stay, before heading down to hot spring and Taichung

Day 11 Taichung no program day - visit info centre at train station to see what is available - visited a local park and watch IMAX 3D Hobbitt!! very good!!! and violent.. try to stay at a hotel near the railway station (makes life very convenient)

Day 11 Taichung no program day – visit info centre at train station to see what is available – visited a local park and watch IMAX 3D Hobbitt and eat ice cream at Gong Yuan Eye Clinic opposite hotel!!   try to stay at a hotel near the railway station (makes life very convenient)

Day 12 Haha, we meet our driver again at the railway station as we prepared to catch the 1030 train to Taipei ... he again asked if we wanted him to bring us around in Taipei ...

Day 12 Haha, we meet our driver again at the railway station as we prepared to catch the 1030 train to Taipei … he again asked if we wanted him to bring us around in Taipei …

The "bian dan" I bought on the Taichung-Taipei train ...

The “bian dan” I bought on the Taichung-Taipei train … 80 NTD only

A wet day in Taipei when we visited the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial after dropping off bags at City Inn III Hotel

A wet day in Taipei when we visited the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial after dropping off bags at City Inn III Hotel

Taipei 101 for dinner (but not at DTF)... above is the Din Tai Fung restaurant (surprisingly not that long wait, only 20 min)

Taipei 101 for dinner (but not at DTF)… above is the Din Tai Fung restaurant (surprisingly not that long wait, only 20 min)

Day 13 Tamshui (wet and windy day) and Bali, in the morning

Day 13 Tamshui (wet and windy day) and Bali, in the morning

cute kid on train to Xinbeitou (hot spring area) (same MRT line as Tamshui one)

cute kid on train to Xinbeitou (hot spring area) (same MRT line as Tamshui one)

Xinbeitou thermal valley ... very cheap public baths (40 NTD only)

Xinbeitou thermal valley … very cheap public baths (40 NTD only)

Teppanyaki dinner, at Shida night market area (on our last night in Taiwan)

Teppanyaki dinner, at Shida night market area (on our last night in Taiwan)

Day 14 morning - catch the Maokong gondola (4 km ride) for 50 NTD (can just use Easycard) ... take the "crystal cabin" if possible to see the tree tops below!

Day 14 morning – catch the Maokong gondola (4 km ride) for 50 NTD (can just use Easycard) … take the “crystal cabin” if possible to see the tree tops below!

and back to Singapore ... on the 4:20 Tigerair flight!

and back to Singapore … on the 4:20 Tigerair flight!

Taiwan Photo Essay Part 1  |  Taiwan … Hits and Misses

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14 Days Taiwan photo essay part 1 (Taipei-Hualien-Taroko-Central Highway to Sun Moon Lake)

Day 1 Longshan Temple, Taipei - visit in the evening for better atmosphere and lighting for photos...then head to night markets nearby and Ximending ...

Day 1 After touch down and leaving bags at Dong Wu Hotel, headed to Longshan Temple, Taipei – visit in the evening for better atmosphere and lighting for photos…then head to night markets nearby and Ximending …

Guangzhou St Night market near Longshan Temple, then Huaxi St Nite Mart, and finally  to Ximending.

Guangzhou St Night market near Longshan Temple, then Huaxi St Nite Mart, and finally to Ximending.

Day 2 National Palace Museum, where we spent half a day ... try to see the "cabbage" and "3 layer pork" near lunch time to avoid the big tourist groups and long queues ... (haha, we did so without realising it at first, and wondered why not that crowded) ... no photos allowed in museum however! Nice garden beside and free entry using museum ticket..

Day 2 National Palace Museum, where we spent half a day … try to see the “cabbage” and “3 layer pork” near lunch time to avoid the big tourist groups and long queues … (haha, we did so without realising it at first, and wondered why not that crowded) … no photos allowed in museum however! Nice garden beside and free entry using museum ticket..

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Shilin Night Market (very crowded as popular with both tourists and locals)

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Day 3 Hired a car through hotel, to take us to Yehliu (a geopark, with interesting rock forms)…

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seafood lunch near Yehliu/Keelung, after a morning at Yehliu Geopark

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Day 3, after lunch, headed to Jinguashi, Jiufen (old street shown in photo above), and Shifen (to release the sky lanterns) – this sequence will enable you to do the sky lantern at night, when the atmosphere is better..

Shifen sky lanterns ... help is available if you forgot your chinese characters for common auspicious sayings ...

Shifen sky lanterns … help is available if you forgot your chinese characters for common auspicious sayings …

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Day 4 Head to Hualien by train from Taipei (2+ hours) for Taroko Gorge and other sights like Qingshui Cliff (photo above).

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Qingshui cliffs – beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean. We managed to head further up the road and stop at different points for the scenery as well as go down to the beach as our itinerary was very “slack” …

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Taroko Gorge first visit – doing the Shakadang Trail (2 hrs) after lunch. Crystal clear waters with varied shades of blue and rocks (marble) …

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One of the lions on the bridge leading to the entrance of the Shakadang trail …

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Day 5 – the previous day, we decided to do the East Rift Valley tour and Tiffany arranged a driver for us … above, the Lin Tian Shan Forest/Logging Factory which was one of the many sights on the tour …

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Day 6: Pick up bags from Hualien Byeyer Hotel and start tour (above, Qixingtan – interesting beach with very nice rocks) and rest of Taroko gorge trails there were open…

Lunch time at Tianxiang, and a walk around to the base of the pagoda shown ...

Lunch time at Tianxiang, and a walk around to the base of the pagoda shown …

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Day 6 end of day, drop off at Buluowan, Leader Village Hotel, in the Taroko National Park ….

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Day 7 Walk around a bit in lovely hotel grounds, breakfast, and then off to Sun Moon Lake via Central Highway (a full day drive/tour through the Central Mountain Range)

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The views on Central Highway, when the mist cleared …

Taiwan Photo Essay Part 2  |  Taiwan … Hits and Misses

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