Posts Tagged ‘travel’

reads: mollie’s used books live underground in taichung

October 18, 2010

Friends of ours have been staying with us on their way from Southeast Asia to India. I was out and about with them on Saturday, checking out the early hours of the opening of this year’s Taichung Jazz Festival, and stumbled across this haven of the printed word on Gongyi Road, right next to the 7/11 near the People’s Park.

Mollie Used Books has a good feel to it. Located at basement level it is was a bit of a struggle to find the entrance until we noticed the not-so-clear sign on the glass shopfront pointing it out. It has a cafe with some pretty good-looking food and a decent and varied selection of English books. Of course, if you can read Chinese there’s an enormous selection of books printed in this language. Adding to the excitement there’s also an exhibition space, currently showing photography.

Here are some pics so you can get a feel for the place:

Inside Mollie Used Books, a new second-hand bookstore in Taichung City, Taiwan.

A view of the Mollie Used Books cafe area. The second-hand bookstore chain has just opened a new store in Taichung City, Taiwan.

I bought three books that day. Martin Amis: The Essential Guide (Reynolds and Noakes, NTD80), Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck, NTD60), and The Dharma Bums (Kerouac, NTD150).

Books bought from Mollie Used Books, a new second-hand bookstore that has just opened in Taichung City.

You might also like:

Follow JoB on Twitter or join the JoB Facebook group.

Thank you for supporting jar of buttons.
Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.
Advertisements

News: JoB is back, but probably still sporadically

July 14, 2010

I’ve been tied up with nearly one million things of late: planning for my impending wedding here in Taiwan, travelling over the mountains on a scooter from Taichung to Hualien and back, editing and writing (well, mostly editing) for Art Radar Asia, writing an article for new Taichung ex-pat mag, Guanxi, and counting down the days until I finish up as an English teacher with Hess.

So, poor old JoB has been completely neglected over the past few months. But, as I recently noticed that people are still actually visiting this space, I’m going to try my darnedest to remedy this by posting short, informative posts on interesting stuff.

Some things to look forward to:

  • A picture feast of adventures over the spine of Taichung on a scooter.
  • A round-up of my articles published on Art Radar Asia recently, including a link to my impending interview with seminal Taiwanese contemporary artist Tsong Pu.
  • A copy/link to my article on comedy group Taichung Improv in the soon-to-be released first issue of Guanxi magazine.
  • Other stuff that I feel like posting on as I see fit.

Lots to stop by for, huh?

Travelling along Taiwan's mountain highway, Highway 14.

Travelling along Taiwan's mountain highway, Highway 14.

Follow JoB on Twitter or join the JoB Facebook group.

Thank you for supporting jar of buttons.
Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

JoB likes: HUNTING FOR WATERFALLS

March 30, 2010

I had spent most of Sunday morning studying Chinese, so by the time 3pm rolled around I was ready to road trip it to the mountains for some fresh air and greenery.

I found this video on YouTube about a waterfall supposedly 30 minutes outside Taichung City, called Siannyu Waterfall. My boyfriend and I decided we must find it as summer is just around the corner and it would be great to have a place to swim and escape the crazy Taiwanese summer heat.

So… off we went.

The Bat Hole (Toubiankeng Bat Cave) – a series of very narrow caves that you can climb through. We didn’t go into the caves because we didn’t have a torch and my shoes were too precious to me to risk them being covered in bat s*&t, but we’ll go back another time better equipped.

Some locals were swimming in a large waterhole in the river below the caves. One kid was contemplating jumping from the cliff into the water  but he backed out in the end.

Carrying on down the road we saw this sign. We were on our way!

Plantations of fruit trees and betelnut palms covered the hills either side of the road. Each piece of fruit was individually wrapped in a white paper bag, giving the hillsides a polka dot pattern that you can’t really appreciate in this photo.

We made a quick detour from the task at hand to climb the hill and check out the view. Amazing!

Found it! After a dodgy drive down a crazily small and ill-kept road we finally found the start of the waterfall. Very remote and surrounded by amazingly steep mountain peaks.

There are tons of potential swimming spots downstream from the start of the waterfall.

A secretive cafe just up from the waterfall, filled with pottery casks of… something. We didn’t try it out this time but it looks like the perfect place to relax post-swim. Bring on summer!

How to get there: Take Highway 136 from Taichung City and follow the Siannyu Waterfall signs. They’ll take you past the Toubiankeng Bat Cave. The waterfall is in the Taiping Wine Cask Mountain area. The drive should take you between 30 – 50 minutes, depending on which part of Taichung you are coming from and how comfortable your scooter seat is.

You might also like:

Follow JoB on Bloglovin or join the JoB Facebook group.

Thank you for supporting jar of buttonsCopyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

JoB likes: FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT

January 19, 2010

Taichung City have set up TTJ (or Taichung Traffic Jam) Bus, supplying five free bus routes to various areas of the city.

I assume this is to try and relieve some of the congestion by encouraging more people to get off their scooters and cars and onto public transport. I recently travelled on the Blue Line (#58) and the Yellow Line (#56).

You can pick up a map of the routes (in Chinese only) at the Taichung Train Station information centre or click here for an online version. You can find a useful English outline of the major stops for each route here.

I used this system to catch a ride to Viewpoints and Viewing Points, the 2009 Asian Art Biennale exhibition currently showing at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. You can read my ramblings on the exhibition here.

TTJ Bus routes map

source

Thank you for supporting jar of buttons.

Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

JoB likes: DAKENG SCENIC AREA

January 3, 2010

I have been holed up in my apartment for two days suffering from an awful cold. I had had enough of watching movies, putting on the washing, hanging out the washing, wearing my dressing gown, washing the dishes, eating soup… and today decided I needed to hit the bush (or jungle in Taiwan, I guess).

So, I worked out how to catch the bus to Dakeng Scenic Area. I caught the 15 on Beitun Road near where it crosses Wenxin Road and the 21 back to roughly the same spot. And it only takes about 15  minutes by bus to get into the mountains. I can’t believe how close lush rainforest is to the city.

We didn’t look at any travel brochures before we went and I really believed the trails would consist of leisurely strolls through manicured shrubbery. So I dressed accordingly – wearing a silk dress, white cardy and black leather boots.

Here’s a picture of the actual trail.

It was truly a hike and I was constantly in fear of slipping over. But, I hitched up my skirt and dug in and we got to the top of the trail and came across a Buddhist temple complex sprawling over the top of the mountain. The views were wonderful, even through the smog.

Thankfully, as the temple sat atop the mountain, the walk back was pretty much all downhill. We stomped down and strolled past a river, home to tons of tadpoles, a flock of geese and one of those white crane-like birds you see everywhere in Taiwan. It was just lovely.

We then wandered around the township at the base of the trail. There seemed to be one shop that was super popular with all the visitors but we couldn’t work out what was being sold. Possibly a soup of some kind.

We also stumbled across a tourist attraction which housed a DIY shop called Carton King with an attached museum exhibiting, yep, many different kinds of cardboard containers.

Most of the merchandise was pretty average, stuff I’ve seen before and don’t really like, but there was a whole lot of cardboard furniture that was pretty cool and I really liked these cardboard bags.

But the best thing about this tourist attraction was the Honey Museum which wasn’t actually a museum at all but a shop selling locally produced honey products. Among these products was this honey ice cream.

I can with all honesty say it was the yummiest ice cream I have tried in ages. Creamy with no icey bits and just a subtle honey flavour that mixed beautifully with the vanilla. And it only cost NT$90 for two tubs.

Dakeng Township seems to have a weird fascination with toy windmills, the ones that as a kid you would run around with on the end of a stick and blow it to make it twirl. They’re everywhere. I’m not sure if they’re up all over town for some kind of festival or if they’re always there. Anyway, they made for great photos.

After looking at windmills and eating our fill of sublime ice cream we jumped on the number 21 bus and rode it back to Wenxin Road.

When we got back to our apartment I looked up the area on Google maps and saw that there are a ton of trails to explore and a million other things to see. So I’m going back, more suitably attired, in the weekends to come.

All up, for two people, the trip cost us NT$170. NT$80 return for the bus and $90 for the two tubs of ice cream.

Thank you for supporting jar of buttons.

Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

news: ah, the tropics

October 14, 2009

A quick post to announce I’m back from my tropical week-long disappearance to Lyu Dao (Green Island) and will soon have a post up with details on that wonderful little island. I hope you’ve managed to check out Reichburg in my absence. If you have, tell me what you think.

And if you haven’t already, check out the 2009 Taiwan Design Expo, on in Taichung until 10/18. I’m going on Friday.

Thank you for supporting jar of buttons.

Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.

JoB likes: YUANLIN

August 7, 2009

I once spoke with a fellow teacher who told me he had asked his manager why our company had placed my boyfriend and I in Taichung (to live) when our branch was in Yuanlin (nearly an hour away by train). He said his manager replied by asking, “Have you ever been there? No? Well, there’s nothing there.” In other words, Yuanlin, in the opinion of this teacher’s manager, is a %$#&hole.

Well, since I’ve been travelling there on a regular basis and have had the opportunity to explore this not-so-little country town, I’m happy to report that it actually has a lot to offer, maybe not to the average tourist but certainly to anyone who happens to be passing through on their way to other areas of Taiwan. Or to the Taichung resident who wants to explore their extended neighbourhood.

P1030950

Yuanlin has the feel of an eccentric, semi-rural township. I liken it to Castlemaine outside Melbourne, Australia. (Sorry for those reading who come from anywhere other than Melbourne but it was my only point of reference.) There are a number of shops, cafes and restaurants that have a unique charm. Among my favourites are:

Moustache
This store is located in the block of shops to your left that edge the public square outside the train station. I love this store for its name alone, let alone what it contains inside its four walls. This is one of the best streetwear stores I’ve come across in Taiwan. Their stock of urbanist sneakers is constantly renewed; there is always a new pair my feet cry out for. I mainly stop by for the sneakers, but my boyfriend has purchased chequered shirts and tees from this store and they have a great range of guys pants.

P1030962

Lulu
Walk straight ahead from Moustache towards the city, past the High Life on the corner, and keep an eye out for a small white and black sign above your head that says, “Lulu”. This teensy store oozes cute. It is hidden down an alley so always feels like your own personal shopping secret. Literally filled to the brim with clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery, it contains many covetable items. My favourites are their selection of dirt-cheap watches (only $150NT), which come in tons of eccentric designs, and their cluster of cute and crafty wooden pendants. Their range of long-length tees and tops are also must-haves. My only regret is that my huge size-10 feet are far too big to fit any of the shoes in their charming collection.

P1030919

Tony’s BBQ
Tony’s is a traditional Japanese BBQ and a favourite with the locals. It’s completely open plan but has moved away from the standard Taiwanese outdoor restaurant setting and developed a style of its own. Their menu is in English and Chinese and they serve Taiwan Beer in huge mugs. Saki is also available for those who like to avoid the TB headache the next day. The squid with green onion is so good: whole barbequed squid, stuffed with green onion and wasabi. I also really enjoy the lamb with thyme and the grilled mushrooms. There are plenty of vegetarian and seafood options available for those of you so inclined.

P1030925

Pali
This bar is retro-fitted in the actual sense of the term and spans three floors. It’s cluttered with knick-knacks in the way essential for kitsch and houses comfy lounge-about chairs, the kind you can curl up cat-like in. The top floor is home to items for sale: original 50s to 70s furniture and household stuff that I’ve found very hard to locate in Taiwan and will be perusing for purchase once I’m debt free. The music sifting from the speakers ranges from corny local pop to jazz to DJ Shadow to early grunge classics. Pali’s menu offers some Western choices, generally mucked up in the way only the Taiwanese can (although I have yet to try their pastas and they could prove me wrong), so it’s best to stick with the bar snacks, which are great. I have a deep regard for the deep fried tofu. The drinks menu is outstanding, with many imported beers, including Hoegaarden, dozens of cocktails and the usual mixers. This bar is best enjoyed on the second floor, with an arrival just before sundown, after which the friendly staff dim the lights to a flattering and chill-out inducing level.

P1030934

So jump on the train and take a trip through the now-harvested rice fields and rural communities to a sleepy, artsy little town, host to a crop of shops and eateries that are both welcoming and oozing cool.

Thank you for supporting jar of buttons.

Copyright © 2010. This website is for personal non-commercial use only. All written work and imagery copyright to jar of buttons unless otherwise stated.