Posts Tagged With: TRAVEL

Hiking Xiaozi Shan in Pingxi (孝子山平溪)

I went on another weekend hike with Stu recently, this one to Xiaozi Shan (孝子山) and its nearby mountains located just to the south of Pingxi (平溪), Taiwan.  We had a good time as usual, enjoying the first rain-free Sunday that Taipei has seen in months.

XiaoZi Shan and it neighboring mountains, Cimushan (慈母山) and Cimufeng (慈母) are all just a few minute’s hike from the 106 highway and downtown Pingxi.  They all feature sheer-rock faced peaks with awesome views of the surrounding mountains and the Pingxi valley. What’s unbelievable about this area, is that all of the peaks are accessed by a trail “intersection” that has 4 different trail heads withing 40 meters of each other, and the peaks are all within a 30 minute hike from there!

Stu and I spent a few hours hiking up and down all the different peaks, then wandered home on a back trail and still got home for a late lunch, which has to make this area THE most accessible and best bang-for-you-buck hikes in all of Taiwan…

Hiking near Pingxi, Taiwan

A couple of men descend from the peak of Xiaozi Shan (孝子山) on a aluminum ladder in Pingxi (平溪), Taiwan.

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Random Taiwan Images

Been busy lately.  Haven’t been out shooting the fun personal projects that I’d like to be shooting, but hopefully I’ll have a little more time over the next few weeks.  So, instead of a full sized blog post on a project, I offer you some random images from Taiwan that I’ve recently shot.

It’s quite a mish-mash this time, with photos like the peaceful one below, to skateboarding, to screaming heavy metal bands.

The Taipei City Skyline and Taipei 101 and a swastika carved into a rock

Two swastikas are carved into a boulder facing Taipei, Taiwan. The swastika is a symbol of peace in the Buddhist religion.

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lhasa, Tibet – The Jokhang and Barkor

The Jokhang Monastery (ཇོ་ཁང་) is the most holy of Tibetan Buddhism’s holy places.  Unassuming from the outside, one needs to connect with the enthusiasm of the throngs of pilgrims walking around it to feel its allure.  As it probably will be for you, visiting the Jokhang is a once in a lifetime experience for many of the pilgrims.  Unlike you, many of these pilgrims walked to be there… and some of them even walked in a special way to show their devotion: They take three steps, say a prayer, and lie face-down on the ground.  Then they stand up, take three more steps and repeat the process.  The act of taking a prostrating pilgrimage can take the devotee years to reach the Jokhang from their home towns.  But many do it, as a sign of devotion and a way to help improve their karma in this life and the next.

Tibetan Buddhist Praying

Pilgrims and merchants walk and pray in the juniper smoke early in the morning on the Barkor at the Jokang Monastery, Lhasa, Tibet.

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Tibet, TRAVEL, UNCATEGORIZED | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Must See Taipei – The Jade and Flower Markets (建國假日玉花市)

The Taipei Jianguo Jade and Flower Markets (建國假日玉花市) are a must-see for anyone in Taiwan.  Located next to each other on Jianguo South Road, the two markets stretch for nearly a kilometer (1/2 a mile) under the elevated highway.  They are only open on weekends and can make for a wonderful escape from Taipei’s often dreary rain.  But even on a sunny day, the Jade and Flower Markets (along with the adjacent Daan Forest Park) make for a nice afternoon walk for tourists and locals alike.

a giant lily blossom for sale at the Taipei Jianguo Flower Market

A big, beautiful lily for sale at the Taipei Flower Market.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

How to Shoot Travel Portraits

Learning how to photograph people while traveling can help your photography on the road and at home.  I use a few different methods to approach people whom I want to photograph while traveling, and I’ll try to explain that process below.  I’m sure there are many other techniques that other photographers might use, and if you have any you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments.

I’ll start out by telling you that I’m not an outgoing person at all.  I’m a shy guy.  I always find it difficult to approach people.  But I’ve learned that missing a good portrait because you didn’t ask hurts a lot more than getting rejected.  If you’re also a little shy, you’ll need to practice being more bold and get out there and ask people if you can take their picture.  I’m here to tell you that it’s not as hard as you think, and there’s even a little bit of a scientific process to doing it…

An blog post on how to photograph people while traveling

Kyoto, Japan - I was standing in this alleyway, waiting for someone interesting to walk by and pose for me in front of that nice wooden door in the background... Along came this Geisha. (See "The Trapping Approach")

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Techniques, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Yushu, Tibet (China)

Yushu (aka Jyekundo (སྐྱེ་རྒུ་མདོ་) in Tibetan) is an Autonomous Prefecture in the Qinghai Provence of China. Located 800km south of the nearest city Xining, Yushu used to be a daunting 12-16 hour bus ride from Xining in the north or about 10 hours to Gantze in the south (where I came from).  Now, it appears that Yushu has it’s own airport and has become quite a hot spot for tourists.

I was only able to spend two days in Yushu due to visa restrictions, but it left a wonderful impression on me.  I also did something a little different while I was there.  I only spent one day site-seeing, and I spent the other in the market, shooting lots and lots of portraits.  Click “Read the rest of this entry” to see some of my favorites.

Tibetan Woman Smiles

I was in Yushu just after a huge annual horse festival. This is an exciting time for Tibetans and they will often dress to impress. This woman is wearing some very expensive (and very heavy) jewelry in her hair.

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture, Tibet, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Dege, Tibet (China)

Located in a deep gorge to the west of Chola Mountain, Dege (སྡེ་དགེ།) is one of Tibet’s most revered and remote places.  It’s found in the far northwestern Sichuan Provence very close to the boarder of Xizang Provence (modern “Tibet”).  Dege (aka Derge) is home to the most important printing press in all of Tibet, the Barkhang (Parkhang) Scripture Printing House.

Dege is a full day’s bus ride from the nearest town, Ganze.  Basically, you need to drive all the way around the formidable Chola Mountain and sometimes you’ll think the bus is driving straight over it.  A perilous dirt road winds up and over Tro La (Chola) Pass at nearly 6000m (19,6850ft) – a lot higher than Mt Everest Base Camp!  The views from the bus will leave you breathless in more ways than one.

A man prays in front of the famous Barkhang (Parkhang) Scripture Printing Press in Dege, China (Tibet).

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Tibet, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Ganze, Tibet (China)

Moving northwest from Dawu (Daofu), the next town you come to is a dusty, unremarkable one called Luhuo.  I stayed here for a night, but quickly regretted it as I couldn’t find any decent economy lodging and even the local gompa (Tibetan monastery) wasn’t very exciting.

SO ON TO GANZE!  (aka Gartze, Gantze, Ganzi, and a few other spellings)

Despite being yet another dusty town, Ganze has a certain charm to it.  It’s a major town for trade and Chinese trucks can be seen (and inhaled) barreling down the main street.  Ganze is also about a full day’s bus trip from Kangding so if you’re on a long haul bus to Yushu or Dege or any other town north of here, you’re going to have to overnight.  I would highly recommend staying in the affordable, but quite nice hotel above the bus station.

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Tibet, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Formosa Adventurers – FINALE!

If you know me personally, or follow my blog, you probably know that some friends and I entered a contest called “The Best Trip in the World” put on by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

It’s a contest that gave the opportunity for selected groups of bloggers to travel Taiwan for 4 days and blog about it.  We were one of the lucky groups selected and we completed our 4 day itinerary back in June. The final stage of the contest has arrived and we put our adventurers into a finale video, complete with a goofy music video at the end.

Remember that this was the first time any of us ever tried to put a video together and we had a blast!  We highly recommend that everyone get their friends together, plan a trip (to Taiwan, of course!), and make a fun video!

Also have a look at my friends’ websites about Taiwan:

Stu’s Taiwan Hiking Blog

and

Phil’s 老外的臺灣旅遊日記 (in Chinese)

Thanks again for all the support!
-neil

Categories: TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers, TRAVEL, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Formosa Adventurers – 4 Day Trip!!!

Formosa Adventurers just got back from our 4 day trip to promote Taiwan.

We had an absolutely fantastic time and it will be one of those events in my life that I’ll always look back at and smile about.

In four days we went river tracing, white water rafting, 4-wheeling, paragliding, hot springing, local food eating, and we also learned a lot about the aboriginal culture here in Taiwan.

There’s nothing like a fun trip with your friends…  you should plan one now and make some videos like we did… seriously!

These are  the things we do on many weekends, but the fact that we were doing it to try to win a contest gave us a bit of extra “umpf” and made it really special.

You can learn a lot more by reading our official contest blog and watching the videos below.  (If you’re short on time, day 1 and 3 are my favorites!)

Day 1 – River Tracing and an Aboriginal Festival


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Categories: TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hiking Taiwan – Jialou Hu 加羅湖

JiaLou Hu 加羅湖 is a mountain lake tucked high in one of Taiwan’s beautiful clouded forests.  If you can get to the trail head, it’s a moderate three hour hike to the lake.  On the way, you pass through some spectacular forests scattered with luscious green ferns, mossy vines, and a few 1,000 year old trees.

Three friends and I went there during the four day “Dragon Boat” holiday in late May.  We did it in two days, but there is plenty more to explore in the area, and most of the people we met there were staying for the whole weekend.

I took this opportunity to give my first shot at a multi-media presentation.  I would really, really like to get some critiques and feedback on what you think of it, so please feel free to comment below.

The multi-media presentation is above, but there are some still photographs and more information after the jump…

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Categories: Hiking, Motorcycling, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Hiking the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) – Elephant Mountain (象山)

Elephant Mountain (象山) is the most famous of the “Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山)” of Taipei, Taiwan and the most easily accessible.  It’s the third and last article in my series about hiking the Four Beasts MountainsPart one is on 9-5 Peak (Jiuwufeng – 九五峯), and part two is on Tiger Mountain (虎山).

Elephant Mountain is the most popular of the mountains for a good reason.  Being the closest to the city not only means easy access, but it means stunning views of Taipei, especially Taipei 101.

Taipei City and Taipei 101 as seen from Elephant Mountain

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Categories: Hiking, Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, The Four Beast Mountains, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

Hiking the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) – Tiger Mountain (虎山)

Tiger Mountain(虎山) is the second subject of three in this series of articles on hiking Taipei, Taiwan’s Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山).

Tiger Mountain is the most northern of the Four Beasts Mountains and the easiest to get to.  It’s not the easiest to find (that would be Elephant Mountain) but if you have transportation, it’s an easy walk along a well kept, level trail.

All along the trail are stunning views of Taipei 101, Taipei City, and Nangang.

Taiwans Tower of Babel   Viewed from Tiger Mountain.

"Taiwan's Tower of Babel" Viewed from Tiger Mountain.

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Categories: Hiking, Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, The Four Beast Mountains, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Hiking the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) – 9-5 Peak (九五峯)

One of my all time favorite hikes/photography locations in Taiwan is The Four Beast Mountains (四獸山) area.  Located within Taipei City limits, these trails are an easy escape from busy city life and have amazing panoramic views of Taipei City and Taipei 101.

The trail system includes Tiger (虎山), Elephant (象山), Leopard (豹山) and Lion (獅山) Mountains and is very easily reached from the Taipei MRT system.  In fact, the base of Taipei 101 is only a 15 minute walk from the Elephant Mountain trail head.

If that’s not enough, many of the trails are lighted, 24 hours a day!

The view of Taipei from 9-5 Peak is unrivaled.

The view of Taipei from 9-5 Peak is unrivaled.

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Categories: Hiking, Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, The Four Beast Mountains, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Photography from Taiwan

Being a photographer in Taiwan, I have my fair share of random pictures from my daily experiences.  Here I present you with a few that I came across in the past few weeks:

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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