February 3, 2014

Ducky and the queen - another look

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We've been having fantastically good weather in northern Taiwan lately, and as I've got my new toy with me, I decided to take 2 short trips outside Taipei within the space of 12 hours.  I wanted to re-shoot 2 attractions under better lighting conditions.

After dinner last night, I grabbed my camera bag and took the slow train up to Keelung.  I saw Florentijn Hofman's rubber ducky on a gray and dreary day in December, so the pictures didn't look that great.  I also think that Keelung's an ugly city and the wrong setting for Ducky, and always thought Ducky would look much better at night.

Sure enough, Ducky looked radiant against the black of the night.

And most of the ugly buildings are no longer visible in the darkness, leaving just a few lights in the background.

I was really happy to see Ducky again, especially after the mishap on New Year's Eve.  The one regret I have is that I never got the chance to wear my Rubber Duck Project T-shirt from Hong Kong while visiting Ducky.  It was too cold in December, and although it's been warm these couple of days, I had unfortunately left the shirt in Hong Kong...

On this visit, I was also reminded of a certain scumbag named Jerry Fan (范可欽), who was originally hired as part of the strategic planning team but subsequently dismissed when he began infringing on Hofman's IP rights.  This shameless scumbag soiled the reputation of the Taiwanese people, and it was sad to see the outline of another yellow inflatable bird in the distance...

I passed up the opportunity to snack at the night market and took the train back.  It was almost midnight when I got back to Taipei, so I headed off to bed quickly as I needed to get up early in a few hours...

My alarm went off before sunrise, and I dragged my ass out of bed, cleaned myself up, and went off to the bus terminus near my apartment.  Yes, I'm taking the 6:30 a.m. bus north... so I can be back at Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園) just after it opens at 7:30 a.m.  I didn't get to spend enough time there two days ago, and I definitely want a few pictures without all the annoying tourists around.

As I got off the bus around 7:40 a.m. and was walking the few hundred meters to the park entrance, at least 3 tour buses drove past me, loaded with Mainland Chinese tourists.  Damn!  I should have gotten on the 6:15 bus... Damn! Damn! Damn!

Fortunately, the groups of tourists were bogged down by their guides explaining this and that, so I ran past them towards my top priority... and found there were only 5 people in front of me lining up... and no annoying ants in the background!!!  Yes, I refer to tourists as ants, because when they show up en masse in my pictures the black dots often look like a swarm of ants...

So I got the shot that I came for... the Queen's Head (女王頭) looking majestic all by herself!  I'm glad I came to see her on this trip, because her neck has been eroding at a pace of around 2cm per year over the last few years.  At some point in the not-to-distant future, without any intervention, her neck is bound to snap under the disproportionate weight of her head...

Mission accomplished, I then strolled around and spent time exploring the rest of the geopark.  There was a diverse range of rock formations to look at, and all pretty interesting.

Because of the inevitable, the park has chosen a successor to the Queen, and the public voted to name her Cute Princess (俏皮公主).  Like the Queen, she is made of mushroom rock (蕈狀岩).

There were also others known as ginger rock (薑石), as they look like old ginger roots.

Then there were these candle shaped rock (燭台石), which were also pretty cool.

This was an interesting day for me, and the morning light was perfect for photography.  Unfortunately my visit was marred by the swarm of Mainland Chinese tourists, many of whom were simply uncouth.  They just didn't have any manners, and were never taught the value and importance of preserving natural or cultural heritage.  All they care about was having their picture taken at scenic spots, and it didn't matter if they had to climb on top of some rock and damage it in the process.  The very act of them enjoying themselves resulted - in a very small way - in preventing someone in the future from enjoying the same view they were having.

I blame their upbringing - both at home and at school.  But I also blame the local tour guides and taxi drivers who are taking them around sightseeing.  When a tourist starts climbing on top of rocks in a park like this, it's the responsibility of the tour guides to ask them to stop, and to explain to them the reason behind it.  If the Mainland Chinese tourists are uneducated, then it's up to us to educate them.  Alas, the tour guides only have dollar signs in their eyes, and are all too afraid of offending their clients.  They are afraid of not getting a tip from the Chinese, and so they stand by while today's clients commit acts which damage the very attractions which are meant to draw in future clients.  It's pure shortsightedness.

Well, I did end up telling a few Mainland tourists to get off the rocks.  I'm not gonna stand around and watch these people destroy treasures that belong to the public.

After strolling around for more than an hour, I kinda got hungry so I sat down to enjoy a bowl of cuttlefish bisque (魷魚羹).  This was the more traditional version, made with cuttlefish paste molded around a tentacle instead of whole slices of cuttlefish.  Like the whitebait version 2 days ago, this could have used a little more seasoning...

Time to head back home on the bus.  And waddaya know... I stepped some dog shit while asking for directions.  Today's the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, and according to popular belief this means I'll get rich ("gold" is euphemism for "dog shit" in Chinese) and have good luck for the year.  YES!!!


Anonymous said...

Good for you. I had wanted so many times to lecture mainlander tourists loaded with crass purchases, on jumping the taxi queue outside of Times Square, or shouting into their cell phones while riding the MTRs. They are very ugly tourists indeed and the world is fed up with them.

Anonymous said...

Just because they werent fortunate enough to be brought up in the same way as you gives you to the right to judge them. Im sure with time and some education they can display some common curtsey judged as required by you lot.

Markus Schmidt said...

good for you to yell at unruly mainland Chinese tourists. I had that experience at Sun Moon Lake and Ali Shan a few years back (sunrise!), but more annoyingly have the experience every year at Ocean Park when taking my daughter to enjoy the displays. It helps to speak some Mandarin and add a few expletives in Cantonese; one year a mainlander elbowed over my (then small) daughter and I yanked him around at the shoulder and screamed 大 家 都 要 排队 at him, adding a better-not-to -be -transcribed Cantonese expletive - that helped some, but every year it's the same....


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