Monday, February 1, 2016

Keelung (基隆) - Chaojing Park (潮境公園) - Embrace Cultural and Creative Park (擁恆文創園區) [Taiwan Day 883: My Long-Lost Brothers - Jan. 31, 2016]


I have three brothers and I always think of them. Alvin is a mechanical engineer and is now working. Steve is the most intelligent and he graduated in a science high school but got tired of going to college thinking that he is smart enough to survive this world. Patrick is the youngest and although not gifted with the intelligent brains that his big brothers have he has a dream to finish college . I wonder what they are doing now. Just like my parents they were happy when I left home for Taiwan. I have never returned since then but living on this island nation for more than two years I did not know that I still have two other brothers and they are Mrinal and Swamy.

They were the funniest and craziest Travel Buddies that I ever had. Mrinal came from Bangladesh and he was my classmate in a Data Mining class. He was a family man and he even showed a photo of his six year old son. Swamy is an Indian and had a vertical red line in the middle of his forehead that runs up to his neck. I really thought that it was real blood. The back of his hair was also braided and he wore earrings. “This is guy is so cool. He has a unique fashion sense”, I told myself. The three of us laughed loudly when I found out that he was like that because of his religion not because it was his fashion style.

 



My two Travel Buddies were excited to see Keelung for the first time. I remembered one my trips in Keelung which was in Taiwan Day 624 (The Five Senses in Keelung) when I brought Filipino summer interns in Academia Sinica for an exciting tour in Northern Taiwan's harbor city. My intern friends were very happy after the trip and I was very expecting the same kind of fun on this travel adventure. We arrived at the new train station of Keelung which was very modern and far away from the classic train station residents of the city used to have. The old train tracks we saw walking from the footbridge were already removed and I've heard that the place was being redeveloped. 

Mrinal

Swamy



Mrinal was quick to pose for a shot behind the “Cute Keelung” decoration of Keelung Station. My new friend from Bangladesh was very fond of taking pictures like what I always do in my travel adventures. He even gave instructions on how to do it! I brought them to Keeling Maritime Plaza and the two were mesmerized by the scenery. Swamy brought his selfie stick with his Microsoft phone on it. He took selfie pictures and videos in the plaza and I was amazed with the wonders with what a selfie stick can do.
 




We went back to Keelung Station to board Bus 103. We waited for a few minutes at the Keelung Bus Station which was the gateway for many of Keelung's tourist destinations. The bus came and we paid only NTD 9 for the entire trip to Badouzi stop. I have visited the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology (NMMST) before in Taiwan Day 749 (The Home of the Sea) and I told them about the structure of the museum building that it was a power plant during the Japanese colonial period of Taiwan. Mrinal and Swamy wanted to get inside but I told them that were no real fishes inside and the museum mainly talks about techniques in fishing and marine aquaculture technologies. I saw excitement in their eyes when I mentioned that Asia's largest aquarium was currently being built in the premises of NMMST and is expected to be finished in 2017.







Mrinal wanted to have a photo with a big wave behind him.

Oh yes! The big wave came and Mrinal got the photo that he wanted but Swamy and I got wet with seawater. lol. My printed travel plan also got wet. haha!





The 48-hectare NMMST complex includes the Chaojing Ocean Center and the Chaojing Park and we walked along the road beside the shoreline to take good pictures. Mrinal was so happy to see the sea that he wanted to have a photo with a big splash of wave behind him. We were standing on a breakwater with powerful waves crashing to Taiwan's Northeastern coastline. A big wave suddenly came and surprised us. Mrinal got the photo that he wanted while Swamy and I got wet with seawater. It was actually dangerous to stand on top of a breakwater. The powerful giant waves could push us and we might fall into the East China Sea.
















































I did not expect Chaojoing Park to be an amazing place and I first thought that it was a boring place. It was a park but it was situated on a cliff beside the sea. The striking structure of the Chaojing Ocean Center was also nearby while a portion of the park was a former landfill. It was a fun walk while we enjoy the view of big waves arriving in the island of Taiwan. The Keelung Islet was also very visible from Chaojing Park. It became cooler at noontime and we ate our lunch while sitting comfortably in a good area in the park. We watched the locals visiting the area while we ate our lunch and we saw a woman looking at the sea. My Travel Buddies and I laughed with the idea that the woman was going through something emotional. We suddenly saw a group of four young Taiwanese women and a few minutes later was a separate group of young Taiwanese men. Oh! Chaojing Park was really great place to meet someone new. haha!





The English-speaking driver of the service shuttle of NMMST gave us a free ride back to the museum where we walked for a few meters to reach the bus stop for Bus 103. While waiting for the bus I saw Swamy's “blood” on his forehead suddenly disappeared like magic. The bus came and we reached Keelung Station where we boarded a train going to Badu Station for our next destination. Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night was alive in Keelung's Embrace Cultural and Creative Park (擁恆文創園區). 



Looking at Badu Station from the bus stop

the shuttle bus schedule







The Embrace Cultural and Creative Park park provided a free shuttle bus which stops in front of the Badu Staion. I included on my travel plan the arrival times of the bus so my friends have lots of time to bought a cup of hot coffee. The shuttle bus arrived and it took us up to the gate of the park where visitors were immediately required to pay for the ticket. Regular adult tickets in the park costs NTD 100 but we only paid NTD 50 since we were presented our student IDs in Taiwan.















































Unison group spent NTD 90 million to recreate Van gogh's Starry Night painting. It was an amazing work of art looking from afar but coming closer would reveal that it was made up of thousands of colored plastic bottles. Mrinal shared his ideas of great photos with the colorful scenery while Swamy opened his camera for a selfie video. There were also a lot of lights that were set up in the area to provide a range of colors at night. 




























We got curious about how the Embrace Cultural and Creative Park was developed. The rolling hills were like an open pit mining with a pond at its bottom. What was more surprising were the variety of other attractions on the top of the hills. We climbed the stairs until we found golden fishes with water squirting out of its mouth. There were also large tiles painted with different images. I appreciated the painted tiles more when I put my camera on my tripod and lifted it up. 














There was an observation deck with a giant bell near the top of hill and the East China Sea was visible with the Keelung Islet on our view. At our left side was a harbor and it must be the Keelung Harbor. Mrinal and Swamy shared some things about Buddhism when we reached a Buddha Temple. They knew a lot of things about Buddhism because Bangladesh and India shared a common culture since Bangladesh was a former part of India. I listened to their stories of the man named 'Buddha'. 















It was already dark when raindrops started to fall. We went down hill and we saw the thousand bottle artwork was now glowing with lights. A fountain laser show was happening and accompanied with light and sound effects making the place a real “Starry Night”. After the show, we decided to go home and we passed by different giant snow globes where visitors can rent and stay at.
 




Mrinal and Swamy were a perfect set of Travel Buddies. The former loves his photos taken and also contributed to the decision making during the trip while the latter enjoys wandering in Taiwan and had already visited a lot of places like when I was still a first year PhD student. They are now an unbeatable duo in my Taiwan Day Adventures. I feel so blessed to have Mrinal and Swamy as my friends. Life in this island will never be the same again because I have finally found my long-lost brothers.
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