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Archive for November, 2016

Last month, Jeff and I took a two-day trip north to Corning, N.Y. After we made our own glass at the Corning Museum of Glass, Jeff surprised me with an afternoon excursion Watkins Glen State Park, which is famous for its sheer river gorge that features 19 different waterfalls. Had I known we’d be exploring the gorge, I wouldn’t have brought my Mamiya C220, which shoots square frames, but here are some of the pictures I made:

© 2016. The Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. The Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

The next afternoon on our way back to York, we took a detour to visit Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Jeff had been billing it as “the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” (to be fair, many others refer to it as such), but when we arrived just before sunset, I felt a little let down. The fall foliage couldn’t be beat…

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

…but after exploring the Watkins Glen gorge and having visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona as well as Palo Duro Canyon in northern Texas, I couldn’t see anything canyon-esque about Pine Creek Gorge.

It’s a very nice river valley, though.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

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As I wrote in my first Taiwan blog post, the point of the trip was to surprise my grandma for her birthday. When we weren’t exploring different parts of Taipei, we spent time with my grandma, which often involved meals, which frequently included her circle of friends.

The biggest meal was a birthday lunch hosted at a Neihu District restaurant by three of my grandma’s oldest friends whose husbands had all served in the Republic of China’s Navy with my grandpa in World War II. The husbands have died after enjoying decades of friendship, but their widows are still close friends. It was certainly the most lively meal we had in Taiwan, with a lot of delightful banter that I couldn’t understand but still enjoyed.

After the meal, I took portraits of each of the women, as well as my grandma, outside the restaurant:

© 2016. After Grandma's birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. After Grandma’s birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. After Grandma's birthday lunch in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. After Grandma’s birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. After Grandma's birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. After Grandma’s birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Grandma, after her birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Grandma, after her birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Grandma (far left) with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Grandma (far left) with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

Then, the women parted ways, either by taxi or subway:

© 2016. Grandma says farewell to a departing friend who boarded her taxi, in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Grandma says farewell to a departing friend who boarded her taxi, in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Grandma on the subway out of Neihu Station. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Grandma on the subway out of Neihu Station. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

Growing up, my brothers and I would see our grandparents every Sunday for dinner, but I’d never spent much time with my grandma until this trip to see her in Taiwan. It was really lovely getting to learn more about her life and character as we sat together for breakfast every morning, and to meet so many of her friends throughout the week. It was also very special to me, as a photographer, to get to photograph my grandma in her own country, on film. I only wish we’d been able to do this sooner, and that we might be able to do it again in the near future.

That’s the last of my Taiwan blog posts (until I visit again?!). Here’s a quick rundown of the previous ones, if you happened to miss any:

  1. Welcome back, Grandma
  2. Da’an District
  3. Xinyi District
  4. Guandu Temple and Beitou District
  5. Huiji Temple on Zhishan
  6. Taipei by night
  7. Spirited away in Jiufen
  8. Jiufen by night
  9. Lungshan Temple of Manka
  10. Bopiliao Old Street
  11. Maokong Gondola
  12. National Palace Museum
  13. Day market
  14. Night markets

 

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As I wrote before, the first thing you’ll hear about when planning a trip to Taipei is the night markets — and for good reason.

© 2016. Lin Jiang Street Night Market in Da'an District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Lin Jiang Street Night Market in Da’an District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market, in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market, in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

Night markets are street markets that begin operating just before sundown and close late at night. Many began as a collection of goods and food vendors clustered around temples, and now tourists and locals alike can choose from the larger, destination night markets as well as the more suburban, lesser-known, localized night markets. We visited both large and small night markets. Regardless of size, you’ll usually find that stores facing the street will fling their doors open to sell household goods or clothes, while food vendors will crowd the sidewalks and the middle of the street to hawk their xiaochi, the snacky foods at which Taiwan excels.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market, in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market, in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

Shilin Night Market is one of the largest in Taiwan, and even featured carnival-like games on one edge of its expanse. There’s also an underground food court area that’s almost as crowded as the street level. At one point, I asked my uncle Doug whether Taiwanese locals go to night markets, or if we were just surrounded by fellow tourists. He said night markets attract both — it’s a social thing to do, and the food is so cheap and easy to share.

Unfortunately for me, by the time we arrived at night markets at the end of the day, Taiwan’s oppressive humidity had sapped much of my hunger and appetite. The snacks I did try were delicious, though, and there was no shortage of food options. Night markets, especially the larger ones, can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of vendors, pedestrians and bright lights, but I think we succeeded in trying the foods we’d wanted to, and in immersing ourselves a bit in Taiwanese culture.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

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One of my favorite things about my grandma’s apartment in the Da’an District of Taipei is that it’s only a short walk away from a market (specifically, the market shown in the second photo of this blog post). Like older market houses in the U.S., this one features licensed vendors selling a variety of items from their stalls, ranging from fresh produce to raw meat to prepared foods to household goods. I can’t imagine many of the stalls would pass USDA regulations for food safety, but everything looked and smelled so good. Here are just a few photos, taken on a morning when my grandma and uncle Doug walked over to pick up some items for breakfast.

© 2016. A butcher in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da'an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. A butcher in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da’an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Fresh-made dumplings in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da'an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Fresh-made dumplings in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da’an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Fresh squids in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da'an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Fresh squids in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da’an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. A vendor greeting my grandma and uncle Doug in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da'an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. A vendor greeting my grandma and uncle Doug in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da’an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

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For the first half of our week in Taipei, we debated whether to visit the National Palace Museum. The cons: It’s like the Met of Taipei, except more epic, so it teems with tourists. The pros: It’s like the Met of Taipei, except more epic, so you kinda need to go.

© 2016. National Palace Museum in Shilin District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. National Palace Museum in Shilin District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

Located in the Shilin District, the museum’s collection of almost 700,000 Chinese imperial art and artifacts spanning about 10,000 years of Chinese history. It’s not without its own controversy: The collection was originally housed and displayed in Beijing, until the 1930s when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek ordered that the most valuable pieces be evacuated ahead of the advancement of the Japanese Imperial Army. The collection continued to be moved around until the surrender of Japan in 1945. Three years later, the museum again evacuated the most valuable pieces, this time to Taiwan, before the Communist army seized control of the museum.

The People’s Republic of China claims the collection currently in Taiwan was stolen and actually belongs in China, but the Republic of China (Taiwan) has used the art and artifacts to bolster its claim to legitimacy because those items would likely have been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the mainland.

In the end, Jeff and I visited the museum by ourselves, going through almost every exhibit, relishing the air conditioning and trying to stay ahead of the traffic clogs that were the official tour groups of Japanese and Chinese tourists. We also visited the Zhishan Garden that’s outside the museum, but it was raining pretty hard, so I didn’t take any photos.

© 2016. Gateway to the National Palace Museum, facing the street and apartment buildings, in Shilin District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Gateway to the National Palace Museum, facing the street and apartment buildings, in Shilin District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

I’m glad we made the decision to go, as disappointing as it was to learn that the museum’s most beloved pieces — the jadeite cabbage and the meat-shaped stone (literally, a piece of jadeite carved to resemble a head of cabbage and a piece of jasper carved and colored to resemble braised pork belly) — were temporarily being displayed elsewhere. I’m much more familiar with European and American art, so it was refreshing to learn more about Chinese art and history.

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