My route to the Philippines from Trumansburg first took me on wheels from the Ithaca Bus Terminal at 450am down route 100 in Pennsylvania. I slept most of the way, as Colin and I had stayed up all night the night before editing our Porchfest Documentary. Around 10am we rolled under the Hudson River via the Lincoln Tunnel and arrived in the Port Authority in Manhattan. I hit the streets with my ridiculous and heavy baggage and took quick stroll around Times Square and made a few images with the 8mm Fisheye lens. 

9th Avenue - In Fisheye - Sept 20, 2012

Then I followed an underground maze of passages to board the E train to Jamaica station and the expensive Air Tran to JFK. Leaving the Big Apple around 5pm on China Airlines we flew over the polar region and I caught my first glimpse of the top of the world. To my surprise I saw no snow, but rather sparse clouds, brown earth and lots of lakes. According to the in-flight tracking digital map we were south of the pole, but east and then West of Alaska. I was in a dazed/tired/dehydrated and not-window-side type of mood and unfortunately have no images to share from the far north. By the time we passed Alaska, night fell and the whole plane including myself passed out. We landed in Osaka-Kansai airport in Japan almost 15 hours after leaving New York. During my very brief stay in Japan I saw heard some words I had learned this summer from working with a friend from the region. I tasted some of the tap water, cleared security and rode in a airport train twice. Out the window of the airport train I created the first image below. 

Airport Train by night, Kansai Airport, Japan

After getting back on the same plane and in the same seat, we continued three hours in the air to the capital of the island nation of Taiwan. Shortly after clearing customs and immigration I arrived a the Novotel Hotel which was provided by China Airlines due to my long gap between connecting flights. The Novotel might be the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in. The few images below represent some of the scenes in the hotel. 

Out the window of a shuttle bus in Taipei Airport

Elevator at the Novotel Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan

Looking towards the airport from the Novotel Hotel, Taipei, Taiwan

Novotel Hotel Lobby, Taipei, Taiwan

At around 7am after a fancy buffet breakfast, I met Pedro and Yolanda from the Outward Bound School in Taiwan in the lobby of my hotel. Pedro is the Director of Marketing and Yolanda the Director of Risk Management. Along the highway north of the airport I noticed a tree flowering with beautiful purple flowers, some banana plants, tea, rice, and sugar cane. I enjoyed seeing the green plants of the near tropics again, after having been away from the tropical world since December of last year. Both Pedro and Yolanda speak perfect English and entertained my many questions about the new-to-me landscape that surrounded me. 
The first port of call was a traditional Taiwanese breakfast. Although I had just ate three fat plates of food at the Novotel, I ate another small meal with my new friends. From the window of the restaurant I saw many cyclists and asked Pedro. He said cycling was very common in Taiwan and Giant's manufacturing was headquartered nearby. Out the window of our car I saw many pieces of evidence pointing towards a connection to Buddhism: temples, statues of Buddha, etc. Pedro said Buddhism was very commonplace in Taiwan. 

Buddhist Shrine in a Restaurant in Longtan, Taoyuan County, Taiwan

After leaving breakfast we went directly to the administrative offices HQ for Outward Bound Taiwan (OBT). From the rooftop of the administrative building the Republic of Taiwan, OBT and the Blue Peter flags fly high in the wind. In the course planning area, I was entertained by the photo books showcasing the various course areas and high quality topo maps. From the looks of it, in the winter, things get kinda real up in the 3000m mountains in the south-east of the island. Part of the property was leased to OBT from the Acer computer corporation for a few decades. The campus reminded me of the OB Costa Rica: very green in the middle of a semi-urban area. 
OBT's ropes courses is nestled into a very green campus, with dawn redwoods and tea plantations abound. The ropes course looked solid, and very tall. The common element "Leap of Faith" was located some 18m in the air. Stout looking eucalyptus poles pressured treated a green color supported the high cables. Some staff were preparing for a full day event with a corporate group coming to the course. I met briefly with the Executive Director Mr.Ping who knew some of my buddies from OB in Hong Kong and in Singapore. 
After we left the ropes course we headed to a local market in Longtan, Taoyuan County town. A quick walk through provided a necessary glimpse into the bustling Asian markets I'm all too familiar with. One feature of a market I've never seen before was a fish auction. It was quite the spectacle: the seller creating a deal which kept getting better and better until someone took it. Like a traditional auction in reverse, the deal got better as the lack of bidding encouraged the seller to sweeten the deal. I didn't see any other foreigners present, and I captured of few of the scenes of the market on camera. On the way back to the airport we passed the presidential escort which featured 3 panel vans and about ten BMW police cars. 

Fish Auction at the public market in Longtan, Taoyuan County, Taiwan

Fruit for sale in the Longtan, Taoyuan County Public Market, Taiwan

Although a very short visit to Taiwan, I was able to share some quality laughter and experience some basics of life in Taiwan. Thanks to my hosts Pedro and Yolanda!

Yolanda and Pedro with the Outward Bound Taiwan flag, Longtan, Taoyuan County, Taiwan

 

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