June 23, 2013 § 5 Comments
5. Marvel at the big picture
Like the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Grand Palace is the one must-see sight while visiting Bangkok. Once you set eyes on the palace, you wouldn’t question why it was so recommended. It’s magnificent, breathtaking and a visual feast.
4. Look closely at the details
The detail of the ornate decorations may often get overlooked by the grand architectural structures. There is a lot to look at when you visit the temples and it can be overwhelming (especially in the heat!) but it is worth taking a few closer looks at the wall. You’d be amazed by the variations of colors and patterns covering the temples. The titles of each section are vivid, beautiful and different.
Could people from the past create such beautiful work if they have the attention span of a modern person?
It’s not just the tiles though. The wall murals depicted scenes for epic stories. Even if you are unfamiliar with Thai folklore, you can easily figure out what is going on. The stories need no explanation.
It’s worth paying attention to details everywhere you go. As a tourist, it’s easier to pick up details since you are actively drinking in the new sights. If you apply a tourist-filter to your daily life at home, you often spot gems that you have never noticed before.
September 9, 2012 § 2 Comments
The Power of Color is this awesome annual festival that promotes the creative art scene in Taipei. Works from both Taiwanese and international artists are showcased in different venues around the city, and also includes a variety of events and activities over a 2 month period.
I accidentally stumbled upon the Da-an 56 exhibit this past Saturday. Da-an 56 is an old red brick house with a large courtyard, nestled in the bustling shopping district of Taipei’s East area. I’ve passed it several times in the past, but this is the first time it’s been opened to the public. It’s very rare to see a standalone western styled house in Taipei. Except for the super-rich, most of us live in apartment buildings in Taiwan.
Though the date of when the last owners moved out is unknown, the house looks as if it has been frozen in time, about 40 years ago. The wallpaper peeling, the floor boards creaking and the unmistakable musty odor of old houses. From the living room to the bathroom, each room and area of the property has been transformed into individual exhibit rooms for the artists.
The first exhibit you see when you step foot into the house is the eye catching piece “Thank You” by Heidi Volt.
At the start of the exhibit, all the watches are set to the same time and beeps at each hour. As time goes by, the cheap digital watches start walking to their own pace of time. If you take a close glimpse, the time on each watch is off by a few seconds or some by a minute or 2 (or more). The beeping at each hour slowly loses its synchronization and creates a cacophony of digital noises. Time really is relative isn’t it?
I loved the 3D world created by Akika Ikeda’s pop-up cut outs of books, magazines and other media. The scenes seem to come to life when popping out of their paper home.
Finding a gigantic pink flower in the bathroom caught me off guard completely. Upon closer inspection, you can see that the piece is created by facial masks, which is very popular among Asian women. I interpreted it as sacredness of the bathroom for women and their quest for beauty.
The Rotators was a sound sculpture assembled by various different objects, mostly motor-driven appliances. Besides creating a rhythmic sound, the lights also go on and off! Also, were you creeped out by this picture? My friend was taking a closer look at the exhibit just while I took the picture. So no, that isn’t Ringu (ahhh, I’m getting the creeps already) but in all honesty, Da-an 56 can definitely be considered for a haunted house venue. It has that old, eerie feel to it that comes with the aging house. *goosebumps*
This is what I would imagine would happen if a graffiti artist gets locked into a white room for a week.
“Erebus” didn’t seem that interesting at the first glance. However, if you look at the frames closely enough, you’ll see dim outlines of the artist’s family. It was kind of like a magic eye, where you have to stare at it long and hard, and even at different angles. The first image I saw was an elderly grandma and I freaked out completely. It’s interesting how the artist manipulated the photos and her statement about the piece is worth a read.
Passing in Between was by far the memorable, as you had to personally enter the exhibit. As you can see from the picture, it’s an enclosed wooden staircase with a normal human sized door but then decreases until only a mouse can make it to the end. As a human, you get stuck half-way into the staircase as you try to make it to the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Doughnut in Alice’s Wonderland” was by far the most popular piece. It’s a beautiful piece that is created completely out of bamboo. I love the reference to Alice in Wonderland as the whole Da-an 56 was by far a mind-bending, stimulating trip out of reality. But in a good way.
I almost missed the “Dispatchwork” by Jan Vormann but luckily for me, I caught it on the way out. I think this is my favorite piece because it reminds me that if you look hard enough, there are bits of creative sparks all around this city, fueled by color. Those sparks are subtle but they are there. They act as reminders that even in our mundane daily lives, you can always find something little that can bring a small on your face.
July 1, 2012 § 3 Comments
All the stress and tension that has been building up in my body from the months of unbearable overtime melted away the second I stepped foot in Italy. The sun was shining and the weather was impeccable; 75 degrees and clear blue skies each day.
Anyone that’s been to Florence can’t possibly question why Forbes ranked it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The rich history, art and culture oozes out of every corner. Everywhere you look is a visual feast for your eyes.
Firenze is a city flooded with tourists. In fact, it felt like tourists outnumber locals by 1:5, easily pinpointed by the DSLR camera around the necks and city maps in their hands. The locals must get tired of all the visitors all the time.
In addition to taking a million pictures of all the famous sites such as the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, I also spotted some cool street art along the way. As always, I love seeing the new urban art settling in and coexisting with all the classics.
It was probably the weather, but the colors of Firenze were so vivid! Everything appeared so sharp and bright. Taipei doesn’t quite emit such radiance (it’s been mostly grey and rainy).
If you plan on going to see Michelangelo’s David, please remember to book ticket in advance or pay a visit early in the morning. I neglected to do either and ended up waiting in the longest line ever. One hour later and a bitch mood to boot, I was still flabbergasted when I set my eyes on David. A lot of masterpieces aren’t really that amazing in person (ahem, Mona Lisa) but it really is worth seeing this in person. It’s unbelievable that a man can create such a masterpiece of a sculpture, without forgoing the intricate details. You can see the veins in the thighs and the tension in the face.
Hiking up to Piazzale Michelangelo and watching the sunset was by far my favorite part of the Firenze leg (Pisa, San Gimignano, Pienza and Orvieto pictures will come shortly!) The atmosphere was relaxed and cheerful, everyone seemed happy to be there in the moment. Lots of people brought snacks and a bottle of wine. If you forgot to pack something (like me), there are food vendors selling sandwiches and a variety of alcoholic beverages. What more could you ask?
I wonder what it’s like to live in this city, with such beauty around all the time. Do people ever get tired of it?
November 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
The boy is an active person, much more so than I am. While I would choose to stay in bed to nurse a hangover, he would rather wake up early to hike and catch the rare Taipei rays during this time than waste time being indoors.
Thus, I have gotten more outdoor time, hiking trips and images of beautiful scenery in the past few weeks than I have in the first 5 months since moving back. I’ve discovered a delicious little French restaurant that serves amazing brunch 2 blocks away, a large traditional market with every type of fresh produce, lots of small parks and a handful of narrow alleys with a lot of character.
I completely forgot that there was a river fairly close to my apartment. There is a nice path and a lot of open space around the river banks for people to walk on.
The river itself isn’t very impressive. Like any other river running through a city, the water was rather murky and unpleasant. I was rather impressed to see fishes leaping out of the water at periodic intervals. Though we couldn’t figure out what type of the fish would lurk in such dire waters, we somehow came to the conclusion that it was probably mating season.
Along the banks, we stumbled across a very large and well attended garden. I’m assuming the Taiwanese government owns the land around the river but this garden was very clearing tended by private individuals that just wanted a space for themselves to grow something. Having a yard or a garden in Taipei is unheard of since everyone lives in apartment buildings. Seeing green and having some space is a rare commodity in Asia, so it isn’t too hard to understand why someone would be tending a garden far from their own homes. There were a few middle aged women watering the flowers and being chatty. The flowers were beautiful and were as tall, if not taller than me, forming a slightly isolated flower wall.
February 18, 2011 § 2 Comments
It’s unbelievable how lazy living in the Caribbean can make you. The sun, the sand and the lazy breeze – it’d make an insomniac fall asleep in a jiffy. Being the heavy sleeper that I am already, I’ve been racking in at least 10 hours of sleep in the past few days. I feel so incredibly lazy and slightly relieved (but mostly sad) that I’m not staying in Belize for an extended period of time.
Lots of sleep means lots of dreams. Lots of long, weird, random-ass dreams. But mostly I’m just impressed with my imagination and how real my dreams have been. Inception was such an awesome movie to me because they got all the aspects of dreams and dreaming correct. It’s so easy to watch and relate to all the different things in that movie, from the ‘kick’ to the compound passage of time. Dreams are fascinating.
I stumbled on Maria Fischer’s “Traumgedanken”, a book that contains a collection of literary, philosophical, psychological and scientifical texts which provide an insight into different dream theories. What makes the book unique though, is the design. The whole book is woven and tied together by a web of different color threads. Each color connects to a specific key word and touches each page that deals with that topic. There are several pages that sports beautiful thread illustrations. The design is a model of the nature of dreams; its complexity and fragileness.
January 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ve been feeling pretty homesick for Taiwan recently. In the past, I would go back every summer to get my fix but since I decided to stay in the States to look for a job, I couldn’t really leave.
One of my favorite books growing up in Taiwan was called Xei Xiao Der Yu or “A Fish With A Smile”. It’s written and illustrated by renowned Taiwanese illustrated Jimmy Liao. The premise is simple; a lonely man finds solace and comfort with his pet fish, who is always smiling at him. The illustrations are charming and warm and the story is heart-warming.