First Impressions of Taiwan

Reached Taipei today for presenting my paper on Tactical Networks, in IEEE-VTC 2010 Spring.  After arriving Taoyuan International Airport about 3:30 pm (Local Time), I was took a TowardYou Airbus to reach the place where I would be staying for the next week. This time, inspired by other travelers, instead of checking into a hotel, I thought of staying at a hostel. The airbus took me to Far Eastern Plaza Hotel from where I reached the hostel on foot.

All through my journey in the bus and on foot, I was trying to observe and absorb as much as I can about Taipei. Being popular as a safe city (apparently safer than Seoul), I was looking forward to meet the local people and taste the local food. After quite a few traveling experiences, I have came to believe that, in order to taste authentic local food, street food is the way to go..  Though I spent today for rest and recharge before I go for the conference registration tomorrow, I plan to delve into the vastness of Taipei Night Markets after that.

I must admit that the hostel which I had checked in to, is much better that what I had thought.. Located next to Taipei 101 (The ex-tallest building in the world in terms of occupiable floors, a record recently broken by Burj Khalifa) this hostel is in fact located next to a night market. Though I admit that the facilities are fewer when compared to expensive hotels, I have already found three things which is unique to such places.

  1. Friendly host: If you do your research right, you can choose a hostel with a very helpful host. In my case, thanks to the reviews from hostels.com, I was not disappointed. Vanessa is a very friendly person, who waited for me for about 3 hours (Thanks to the delayed flight). She lives in the building and is incredibly friendly.. First thing what she did was to introduce me to the facilities and was more than willing to help me plan the rest of my trip. And most importantly of all, her English was flawless.
  2. Common room activity: The hostel has a common room where the people who stay here come for meeting others. Today, there were so many university students who had come for an overnight stay as a part of their club. I found that Taiwan stresses on English education and as a result, I found that 100% of them spoke English, something rare in the Asian countries. I also heard from Vanessa that another Indian is going to check in tomorrow. Eager to meet him.
  3. Cheap Washing ‘n Drying: For as low as $1.5, I can wash and dry all my clothes at one go.  This is something I have missed in all the hotels I have stayed, each time I traveled abroad. Most of them charged me $5 upwards for a shirt/trousers.

On my way from the airport, while turning around a corner, I found something like an outdoor fashion show with models wearing “strange” (I fail to appreciate the FTV-type hairdoes!!) hairt syles standing in front of a COACH showroom with lost of people photographing them.  While walking along the streets, I saw a woman (in her late 20s) pushing a buggy. Familiar with the sight in Korea, I looked for the cute baby sleeping comfortably inside. There was a baby alright, but it was a puppy. Resting comfortable on the cushions, there it was.. Small and cute..  Dog Walking.. Taiwan style??

With a growing interest in cars these days, I also observed the trends of car brands.. As expected, Toyota and Nissan were the majority with a speck of VW, Benz and Lexus here and there.. There was even a KIA but not a single Hyundai.. Quite Surprising for someone coming from Korea..  There was also a Samsung Anycall showroom (did not know that they used the anycall brand outside Korea)..  The most striking this about Taipei roads was the cleanliness and the thick lush of green trees separating the lines. Though the traffic density was quite high on the roads, the breeze smelled fresh, probably due to this green magic. There was a really large number of motorcycles on the road (A sight common to India, but quite rare in Korea).  The apartments  crowded the street sides, but were not very tall though. The people were quite kind when I was asking for directions.. On the whole.. The first impression is quite good and I cant wait for delving more deep  into this vibrant city in the coming days..

Tomorrow, I plan to board the Taipei Metro for the first time and go to the most popular attraction in the city: The National Palace Museum (with 677,687 artifacts, it is one of the largest museums in the world). Then I would go to the conference site for registration and welcome reception followed by a visit to the local night markets for a taste of Taipei night life.

Chao..

Kiran

Long Time No See!!

It has been really really long since I posted last..

So many things happened.. So many changes.. So many new experiences.. Started a new phase of my life.. etc etc…

First of all.. I graduated.. Yay!! I am now a M.S. degree holder .. hehe

I will explain in brief about what I have been upto. I hope to post in detail about a few of them in the near future.

July was a month full of tours.. First week, I went to the biggest theme park in Korea, called Everland and Caribbean Bay (Owned by Samsung).

A few pics from these places (taken from public domain)

Everland

2500339-Yongin_Everland_theme_park_South_Korea-YonginKorea Everland 08Caribbean Bay

Caribbean Baycaribbeanbay

Then the following week, I happened to visit Jeju Island which is also considered as the most beautiful place in Korea. It has been two years since I came to korea, but I never got a chance to visit Jeju so far. As I have heard many stories about the place, I would be lying if i said I was not looking forward to the trip. The trip was for 4days 3 nights, and we also climbed the tallest mountain in Korea, Hallasan Mountain. It is a dormant volcano with a huge crater on the top. The total distance covered on foot was about 19km. Other than the mountain, we also went to various beaches and stayed in beach side cottages.

Jeju Island

410427346_977bac033djeju-island04_5867

Then in the third week of July was my trip to Japan. I thought Korea was pollution free, but after my trip to Japan (for a week), I could really feel the not-so-noticeable but still existent pollution in Korea. Japan was THAT CLEAN!! The weather was hot and humid though. We stayed in Tokyo and went to places like Kamakura (through the seaside railways), Odaiba, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Tokyo Disney Sea etc.

Japanese cuisine is awesome.. Udong (Thick noodles) was the best I have ever had (after having eaten different varieties of udong from Korea). On a cultural facet, the experience was really touching. The humility of the people was something that was striking. But one thing which caught my eye was Japanese fashion sense. They had a comic-book kind of fashion idea. I believe that resembling comic-book characters is the current fashion trend among youngsters.

I will write a separate post with details and pics from Japan in the near future.

Then came the fourth week of July, I went to my home sweet home.. Spent about 50 days there and then came back to Korea on 11th September 2009.

Those were the most diverse and exciting four weeks in my entire life..

I joined Samsung in mid september and that was the beginning of a new phase of my life. I work in the WiMAX/LTE System Lab in the R&D Department of Samsung Digital Media and Communications Division. The team is pretty good and the team members are really kind. I hope that I can do my best here and work hard to have a good professional career.

Keeping fingers crossed!!

Twilight @ Suwon Fortress

Click on it to view in full, on black…

Trekking along the “Great wall of Korea” ..


Today was Chuseok (추석) and my second in Korea… The Same Day Last year was filled with pretty much everything that i could have asked for.. This year we thought of Visiting a very important historical landmark in Korea which is Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Its pretty much a smaller version of the great wall of china covering multiple hills going up and down with occassional outposts and 4 Main Gates.. It covers an area of 1.54 kilometers with a wall in the perimeter. The wall itself is around 5.74 kilometers long. The fortress features a floodgate, four secret gates, four guard platforms, two observation towers, two command posts, two archer’s platforms, five firearms bastions, five sentry towers, four angle towers, a beacon tower and nine bastions. The whole fortress including the wall was built in just two years, 1794-1796. The total cost of building the entire structure is around 158 US dollars and 1500 sacks of rice. How inexpensive in the world we live in where high school students have MP4s and PMPs costing 200-300 US Dollars! Such a contrast….

Sergey and I decided to visit this place and go for a walk along the hilly perimeter of the fortress. We were told that it would take about 3 hours to walk along the entire length and we started off our journey from the south gate around 3:40 pm. By the time we decided to stop, it was about 6:30 pm and we still had about a quarter of the distance to cover. Since we were really hungry from the constant strenuous trekking we decided to go back to Suwon Metro Station and head back post dinner. Will upload the pictures soon @ My Photo Gallery..

I really had an amazing experience today due to lots of picturesque and serene locations in the fortress. IT caught me thinking that this marvelous structure was built just in 2 years and now… Centuries later its still standing heads up with all its prodigious glory. What a workmanship.. Even better craftsmanship… Just unbelievably wonderful.. We can see examples of many such palaces and temples in out own country, India, itself… Take Madurai Meenakshi Temple in the South, built in 1600s … Taj Mahal in the North, completed in 1648.. Hawa Mahal in the East, completed in 1799.. Sanchi Stupa commissioned in 3rd Century BCE..

All these are examples of our national treasures.. Works or art and skill we must eternally be proud of .. Each of them tells their own story of devotion and dedication…

A striking contrast which came to my mind thinking about all the ancient marvels.. The Public Roads.. Strong roadways is definitely something a country can be proud of.. It would play a pioneering role in its development and trade relations and should be having a high priority when we think of development of a state or a nation itself.. In my thought, this might be the ONE inspiration behind the “Golden Quadrilateral” project started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former PM of India..

I dont know much about other states but atleast in m hometown, undoubtedly, the best road ever built was the Swaraj Round, by Shaktan Thampuran.. Centuries after its built, it is one of the roads with minimal damage when compared to many other very recently made roads.. The latter (with a little exaggeration of course) can be seen with more craters than the moon after a strong rain.. I am sure that this is a case (to some extend without doubt) in many cities along the lengths and breadths of our country..

Coming to think of it.. Swaraj Round was constructed at least 3 centuries before these “high technology roads” and may be that is the ONLY reason why it is still intact.. I mean.. the resources meant for its construction would not have been redirected to some other “destinations”.. Man!!! If only we knew the “secret”!!!

Snaps…

Long Time No See .. 🙂

Click on each of the links to know what the point to. I hope its of interest to you…

Han River

Han River Two

Woodlands

Pink Blossom

Han River Three

Yellow Green

River Taxi @ Han

Hope you liked them…

Comments Please… 🙂

Kiran

Obeying the Rules ??

A picture is worth a thousand words. I was just browsing through my photographs yesterday, when I came across the one shown below. It was taken near Seon Yu Do Park, Han Riverside, Seoul. You can know why it is a little interesting, if you observe that in spite of the traffic pattern, which is really heavy with  line sof cars going as back as your eyes can see, on each of the lanes, there still is another lane to the leftmost side which is absolutely emtpy. Obviously intrigued, I asked my friend why it was so. His reply was that, the l eftmost lane was for emergency purposes only. It is meant for granting fast access to police and ambulances when there is an emergency situation and hence people leave it empty even if it means that they have to wait for a lot more time driving in the busy lanes. Moreover, this scene was not  a rare one around here it seems. HIs words literally took me off guard and caught me thinking..

If you know what I mean, I hope you would be impressed as well. If you have no idea of what i am talking about, then i guess you are better off not knowing it.

Adieu,

Kiran

Photographs – Visit to Cheon-An

Hello

As i had written in my post on the visit to Cheon-An, i have uploaded the pictures in my online web gallery. Check it out if you like to see some nature photography as well.

Here is the Link – http://picasaweb.google.com/kirantnath/AVisitToNaMinsooSHouseCheonAn

Also, the week after the Choen-An trip, I also happened to go for the SNU International Students Association Membership Training (Its a visit organized by a club or and association for its members and is like a relax-from-the-acads-tour for 2-3 days) to Yeoju. It was fun. Will write on it soon. In the meantime, you can check them out in the following link as well – http://picasaweb.google.com/kirantnath/SNUInternationalStudentAssociationYeoju

In the last link, along with the MT pictures, you can also see some Korean Farmlands. Man was i surprised to see such beautiful fields here? I thought each and every part would be as modernized as possible, instead, what i saw reminded me of my hometown and the view around my house.. For the uninformed, I live in the pretty countryside of Kerala, away from all the hustles and bustles..

I miss my home-sweet-home.. 😦 😦 😦