Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Taipei Lantern Festival

We headed to Taipei last weekend to go to the Taipei Lantern Festival. We took the HSR (High Speed Rail), that was installed by the Japanese Shinkansen company which built the first bullet train in the world in Japan. Background story: there's a big lawsuit going on between the Taiwan goverment and European Eurostar company. Eurostar was promised the contract to build the high speed, but after the former Prime Minister of Taiwan had a heart attack and a Japanese hospital fixed him, he had a change of heart (forgive the pun) and Shinkansen suddenly had the deal.

Ethan loves the high speed. He's got his fast shoes on (the Taiwanese call them bull?*%t shoes).

Ethan is showing off his newest war wound. He face planted at the night market and managed to scrape his lips, and, if you can believe it, his gums between his two front teeth . There was a lot of blood at first, so it was hard to tell how badly he was hurt (especially since he was screaming). He's a trooper though. It didn't seem long before everything was under control. There was a pharmacy open late and we were able to get him some medicine to numb his gums. We certainly had a lot of people staring at him and asking what happened.

Evie and Ethan are making a new friend, which turned out to be a good thing. Joel and I had our hands full as we were boarding the train and this lady took Evie by the hand and helped her on the train and to her seat. As we were exiting in Taipei, she was there to help Evie off the train too.

The bullet train is fast. It's shaved almost two hours out of the trip to Taipei (from Taichung), and it's only really 2:45 hours. Yes, it's only about 45 minutes up there now.

Our big girl...

There she is, the Sunworld Dynasty Hotel. It looks better than it was.

As you can see Evie quickly made herself at home. The room was large, but that's because at every hotel we keep on asking for "upgrades" and they keep giving them to us (at no charge). I guess they pity the Americans lugging the kids and excess baggage.

It looks glorious in the pictures, but it needed a real dusting.

On the corner, just across the street is the new arena. It's really beautiful and part of the reason Taipei is looking like other first world cities.

A view of our hotel from across the street. There's an Outback Steakhouse in the lobby, but we ate at McDonalds!

And the view from where I took our hotel picture. It quite a task to dodge the scooters and cars to get here, thus the lack of people actually walking here.
Hello TGIF! We're on our way to TGI Fridays for lunch.

Randomly, we were sat in the same booth Joel and Evie and I sat in when we were here two years ago. If you can believe it, Chili's is better in Taiwan than TGIF. Go figure.

Evie has been into doing the mazes in her coloring books lately and was excited to see one on her kids menu color page.

Not yet one year old and already eating french fries - as we're finding out on a daily basis, we're so much less strict with baby #2

We took the long way back to our hotel to walk off some of our lunch. It was hard not to overeat.

There's is plenty of cool architecture in Taiwan, even on common streets. Evie just likes the idea of falling in the water.

These ladies were outside their salon playing with their pet bird. Evie enjoyed watching the bird...they enjoyed watching Evie.

Ethan is soooo big...much bigger than Taipei 101. Joel likes this angle because you can see all of his teeth.

Taipei 101 is a really exceptional piece of architecture. It has old school Chinese influence with new school design.

We just happened upon this sandbox on our way to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. He's widely recognized as the founder of modern day China, not that the Taiwanese like China so much.

It's all fun and games until...

someone throws sand. The Taiwanese boys this age are B R U T A L.

We walked through the Taipei 101 Lantern Festival on our way to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. One of the lanterns was the story of Cinderella. It was pretty detailed, but the story is a bit different from the US version; instead of mice and a dog they used rats and a lizard. I guess you use what you've got.

In the Year of the Ox, ox lanterns were the main theme. Black and white Holstein cows seemed popular as did water buffalo. There were also oxen wearing a wide range of colorful costumes.

Part of the display at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall also included promotion for the Deaflympics which will be held in Taipei from September 5-15. There were statues of the frog mascot in various sporting poses bearing the names of many of the countries that will compete in the Deaflympics. (It's hard to see the statues but they are sitting upon the yellow boxes you can barely see). We love the hall because of the hard sweep of the corners. It looks amazing in person.
Steven, his son Edward and Joel in front of Taipei 101. Steven and his wife Jesse currently live in Canada but are in Taiwan visiting her family. Steven is a freelance photographer who recently visited Nebraska (with Jesse and Edward) to take photos of the Tomac headquarters for a shoot in Bike Magazine, set to be published soon.

Evie and Ethan enjoying this little puppy named Pony. Each of Ethan's pets is like a little slap to the head, but Pony didn't seem to mind much.

We thought it would be more traditional style lanterns, but the Taiwanese like to be modern (as opposed to the Chinese, which tend to be more traditional).

Happy Go is a milk brand here in Taiwan. We might have paid for this float.

Evie on the lap of the Bronze sculpture of Sun Yat-sen. Joel's working on that tasher.

Taipei 101 is quite impressive at night.

After the kids were in bed, I went to Uvempu's Clothing Night Market. When Joel and I were here two years ago, it was a gold mine for cheap Diesel and True Religion jeans. The market seems to have changed and the gray market venders were not there. I walked away empty handed, but it was fun to get out and enjoy the nightlife a little with out the kids-in-tow.

If you need new look, Uvempu is definately not the spot to find it.

This picture is out of place for some reason. We had dinner before I went to the night market. Jesse's family lives near this restaurant she recommended. To my left is John, a friend of Steven and Jesse's. He is an on-site project engineer from New Zealand, living in Hong Kong and working in Taipei. He has recently completed work on Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world, the Taiwan HSR (High Speed Rail) and the biggest casino in the world in Macau. Jesse is the one holding Edward.

Video in hotel room: Evie has found the golden arches...

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