Thursday, February 28, 2019

Stopover in Naha, Okinawa

We are making our way from Taiwan to Southern Kyushu, Japan.  One of the most cost effective ways happened to be flying from Taipei to Okinawa then Okinawa to Kagoshima.  We spent a day walking around town in Naha.  The subtropical climate and large number of Taiwanese tourists makes it seem we haven't left Taiwan, yet it is unmistakable that we are no longer in Taiwan, no vegetarian restaurants, scooters, or public transport all over the place.  Could it be that I miss Taiwan already?!

A spiffy elevated monorail connects Naha Airport with city center. We did not see much else in the way of public transportation though there are some buses.
Monorail Tracks - Naha, Okinawa, Japan

In Naha we stayed at the clean, cool and slightly quirky (to us anyway ie Welcome to Japan) Mr. Kinjo Hotel.
Mr,. KINJO - Naha, Okinawa, Japan

View from room window.
View from our room at Hotel Mr Kinjo - Naha, Okinawa, Japan

We had one full day in Naha and set out in the morning to walk to the restored Shuri Castle.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Shuri Castle's main gate, Shureimon, is the symbol of Okinawa.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Views from the castle ramparts.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Main building.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

More ramparts.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Fish pond.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Temple ruins.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

After Shuri Castle, we headed over to the Pottery District, Covered Markets, and Shopping Street.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Elevator-style parking garage - cool - space saver for sure.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

A tip from the tourist office sent us for an unplanned quick trip to Yogi Park where low key cherry blossom festivities where ongoing.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Cherry Blossom Festival - Naha, Okinawa, Japan

However, the main action was on the so-called Shopping Street.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Naha, Okinawa, Japan

The Yomiuri Giants, NOT the SF Giants, are in town for Spring Training.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Ending the day with a local Orion Beer.
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Enjoying Taipei

Taipei has over 100 kilometers of dedicated bike trails along their riverways, much of them conveniently enclosed by flood walls.  They also have bike share stations all over the city.  We scraped hiking plans and opted for bicycling.  At first the bridges intimated us.  Then we had to cross a couple.  The special ramps and wide lanes all made it very easy.  Next time, we'll leave more time to bicycle.

Our hotel in the Jingmei District of Taipei was almost perfect; close to a bike share, subway station, vegetarian restaurant, bank, a.mart grocery store, bus stop, and the night market. And it had a shared kitchen with a steamer so Sun-Ling steamed up some Tang Yun i.e. glutinous rice balls with sweet sesame paste inside. Yummy.
Tang Yun  - Taipei, Taiwan

And view of Taipei 101 from our room.
Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Jingmei Night Market.
Jingmei Night Market - Taipei, Taiwan

3USD plate (6 dishes + rice) at local veg resto.
Fav Veg Resto - Taipei. Taiwan

Neighborhood Bing Stall.
Bing Stall - Taipei. Taiwan

Our first Taipei bike ride we took the MRT up to Tamsui, used our credit card to "share" 2 Youbikes, then cycled south along the Tansui River Bike Way. This section is touted as the BEST bike way in Taipei; we disagree. Much of the route was along the MRT tracks, there were more than several dis-jointed sections with dismounting and confusing turns, and there were many walkers on some narrow sections. Plus the scenery was not that great. Overall impression = so-so.

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

Then we headed east along the Keelung River Right Bank Bike Way. Wow! Wide, plenty of room for cyclists and walkers, view to Taipei 101, open air, and many rest stops (with toilets).
Taipei, Taiwan

One section of the bike way was along a series of baseball fields, soccer fields, and basketball courts.
Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan

Then we cruised along below the river levee with the Taipei Songshan Airport across the way and Taipei 101 in the distance.
Taipei, Taiwan

Cycling along the Keelung River Bike Way - Taipei, Taiwan

Rest Area under a bridge.
Taipei, Taiwan

Keelung River Bike Way - Taipei, Taiwan

This section had a dedicated land for walking (right). The lanes separated by a dashed yellow line are the dedicated bike lanes, NOT a road. The roads are above on the levee or elevated highway.
Keelung River Bike Way - Taipei, Taiwan

Saxophone - Taipei, Taiwan

Returned our Youbikes in Donghu.
Youbike Station - Taipei, Taiwan

As we were looking at our phones to find the shortest way to the nearby MRT station, several locals came up to us and said we should visit the Cherry Blosson Festival just down the street, so we did.
Cherry Blossoms - Taipei, Taiwan

Cherry Blossom Festival - Taipei, Taiwan

Cherry Blossoms - Taipei, Taiwan

The next morning, we started the day with complimentary pour-over coffee packets.
Pourover - Taipei, Taiwan

Then grabbed some Youbikes from a share station just around the corner and squeezed through a door in the levee flood gates to get on the Xindian River Bike Way heading northwest.

Taipei, Taiwan

Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Another beautiful mostly sunny day with temps about 70F.
Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

We stop for a break next to some birders and see our old friends the Sacred African Ibises in the distance.
Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Negotiating a bridge crossing. Once up the ramp - signs say "please walk your bike" - there is a wide, separated, bike lane with good signage on the bridge.
Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Bike Lane - Taipei, Taiwan

Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

These bring-your-bike-in-with-you toilets are way cool.
Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

The sun comes out, hats go on, and we enjoy a fabulous ride along the Xindian River back to our hotel.
Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

Final bridge crossing.
Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

And back to a different open door in the flood gate.
Bicycling - Taipei, Taiwan

We had time to ride the MRT to city center (near Taipei Station) to see the Lantern Festival lights. Here's Taipei Station
Lantern Festival - Taipei, Taiwan

Some of the lights were traditional, some not, some in-between.
Lantern Festival - Taipei, Taiwan

Lantern Festival - Taipei, Taiwan

Lantern Festival - Taipei, Taiwan

Lantern Festival - Taipei, Taiwan

Lantern Festival - Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei traffic.
Traffic - Taipei, Taiwan

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