Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

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2023/10 Moments October 2023

Left Seoul for 8 days in Ho Chi Minh City, and then 7 days in Taipei. Extended family time with sightseeing, almost completely offline from work.
Seoul, Korea; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Taipei, Taiwan; Tokyo, Japan; Toronto, Ontario

ICN Incheon Airport Terminal 1
ICN Incheon Airport Terminal 1: At 6:00am for a 7:35am flight, got into Security Line 3 before seeing the Priority entry to the left. Still annoyed that Asiana cancelled 7:35pm ICN-SGN, so we changed departure strategy to leave apartment say 4:00am to walk to Holiday Inn and all receptionist to call us a taxi. Needed 2 cars for 3 passengers with big luggage. (Incheon International Airport, Seoul, Korea) 202310001


Vincom Center:
: Periodic torrential downpour every few hours means that first week of October isn’t the nearly the end of rainy season in Ho Chi Minh City. Went for long walk from west to east in District 1, trying ATMs with a Canadian bank card unsuccessfully, finally visiting money exchange office that offered XE rates, with a slight downgrade for old bills. Cloudy conditions are preferred to inhuman sun and heat, and air pollution wasn’t noticeable until later rush hour when rain was less plentiful. (Vincom Center, Đ. Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231002

Banh Mi store, District 3
Banh Mi store, District 3: Driver took brief detour to find banh mi shop on the way to tailors, since we missed breakfast in the early morning. Roast pork sandwiches don’t have carrots in the recipe, but sweet cucumber instead. Gluten-free and vegan diets redirected away from the French baguette-style rolls, in favour of sticky rice. (Banh Mi store, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231002
Ngoc Chau
Ngoc Chau: Clerk in fabric store holds bolt of cloth in place to give impression of what a complated ao dai would look. Bride’s mother suggeted second ao dai for later in evening on wedding celebration day at end of this week. Lots of driving to tailors on Monday, giving seamstresses a week to adjust fit. (Ngoc Chau, Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, District 3, Ho Chí Minh City, Vietnam) 20231002
Phước An Hội Quán
Phước An Hội Quán: Big drum close to the entry of this Daoist temple, reflecting the military dedication to Quan Cong, a legendary army general from the Eastern Han Empire circa 220-240 AD China. Walking through District 5 Cholon, found one temple with Buddha statues, and two temples with statues not of Buddha. This quarter was founded by Chinese immigrants in 1778, some visitors to the temple were speaking a Chinese dialect close to our ancestral village. (Phước An Hội Quán, District 5 Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231003
Bin Tay Market
Bin Tay Market: By 1:30pm, food aisle vendors were closing down, so we decided to take the most local cuisine and trust the cooks. Searching District 5 Cholon on our walk towards the market, restaurants on the map were closed on Tuesday lunchtime. This market is definitely oriented towards wholesale distribution, buying one of anything would seem strange. (Bin Tay Market, District 5 Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231003
Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts
Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts: Courtyard of the city art museum seems to have lines for badminton, wondering when they might put up nets to play. On display were mostly 20st and 21st century Vietnamese artists, with special emphases for pioneering female creators. Building interior seems to have been renovated since our visit in 2013. (Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231003
War Remnants Museum
War Remnants Museum: Guillotine brought by the French in the early 20th century for use in the jail, and transported during the U.S. war with Vietnam for decapitations until 1960, beside a tiger cage used for inhumane imprisonment. Inside main building, compelling history of munitions used, lives lost and number wounded. Some exhibits showed reconciliation amongst war veterans, while others showing injured survivors were too depressing to watch. (War Remnants Museum, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231003
Tân Bình district
Tân Bình district: First formal meeting between the families, as the Permission Ceremony (Le Dam Ngo) where the groom’s father requests the bride be allowed to marry. Using Google Translate between English and Vietnamese, verbal agreement was made without fuss. Two families are now to be joined thorugh the marriage, and with future children. (Tân Bình district, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231004


Beirut Restaurant:
: Pause at dinner to admire belly dancing in Levantine (Middle Eastern) restaurant. Vietnamese language is optional in this expat enclave south of the twisty Saigon River, redeveloped starting in the 2010s. Family from Toronto was still in transit this evening; we chose a non-Asian cuisine foreseeing more local recipes for the next few days. (Beirut Restaurant, Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Golden Lotus Healing Spa Land: Korean-style jimjilbang spa includes doctor fish garra rufa originating from Turkey, nibbling on dead skin as pedicure. Most in family reticent to put their feet into the water, sensation is mostly ticklish, then slightly sharper above the ankles. Passed the time waiting for one-hour full body massage, heard in review that masseuse walked on the back of my legs, but I was lying face down into a hole on the bed. (Golden Lotus Healing Spa Land, Tân Phong, District 7, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam) 20231005

Golden Lotus Healing Spa Land
Golden Lotus Healing Spa Land: Completing Korean spa jjimjilbang massage, offered tea and fruit to continue relaxation. Family chose from hot sauna and refrigerated sauna rooms, most declining the doctor fish garra rufa treatment. District 7 is a newer part of the city with westernized urban planning, but our schedule didn’t permit more than taking the taxi in and out. (Golden Lotus Healing Spa Land, Tân Phong, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231005
Nhà hàng Việt Phố
Nhà hàng Việt Phố: Travellers arriving an extra day before the nuptial celebration were invited to join for dinner. Guests from Toronto, California and other cities in Vietnam introduced themselves in the noisy restaurant. Photograph only captures about two-thirds of the length of the long table. (Nhà hàng Việt Phố, Võ Thị Sáu, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231005
RMIT VN Recreational Centre
RMIT VN Recreational Centre: Touring the Saigon South campus of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, encountered cheerleading men elevating each flyer up and then transitioning to prone position. University is modern and compact in 2 buildings, with covered walkways to student centre and athletic facilities furher on. Received permission from faculty member to tour the campus, admission onsite has been tightened since the pandemic attracted non-academics and crowded out students. (RMIT VN Recreational Centre, Tân Hưng, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231006


Tân Bình district:
: Normally quiet residential street interrupted by Le Xin Dâu ceremony, asking for bride to join the groom’s family. Sidewalk coffee shop customers watched nine groomsmen bring in offerings, into apartment ground floor transformed week long table and backdrop. Many photographs and video captured. (Tân Bình district, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231007

Hotel Nikko Saigon
Hotel Nikko Saigon: Late afternoon western ceremony in hotel garden was followed by banquet for 330 guests. Theme of enchanted garden requested by groom was fulfilled by bride with wedding planner. Two masters of ceremonies for proceedings in Vietnamese and in English. (Hotel Nikko Saigon, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231007


Hotel Nikko Saigon:
: A lion dance is exceptional for a Saigon wedding, and more traditional in the Chinese ceremonies familiar to the groom. Western tradition included a wedding cake, Vietnamese tradition included pouring into a champagne tower. Evening concluded with DJ and dancing on the runway and stage for the last hour of the event. (Hotel Nikko Saigon, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231007

Grandma Lu Bánh Mì
Grandma Lu Bánh Mì: Modest brunch order for banh mi, with vegetarian and pork fillings. French bread isn’t gluten free, so we crossed the street for some roast pork and rice for our sleeping son. Slow Sunday morning after full day for wedding, followed by visit to club to experience Vinahouse. (Grandma Lu Bánh Mì,, Phường Cầu Ông Lãnh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231008
Vinh Nghiem Buddhist Temple
Vinh Nghiem Buddhist Temple: Devout workshippers in main hall praying to Buddha, along with Bodhisattvas on left and right sides. Wasn’t expecting stacks of material offerings in front of the altars, some with cash layered between tiers. Temple completed in 1971, using modern concrete material, follows traditional style more common in ancient japan. (Vinh Nghiem Buddhist Temple, Phường 7, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231008
Việt Chay
Việt Chay: Vegan dinner with families joined up, day after big nuptial ceremonies, deferred from lunchtime because prior day fatigue called for more recovery time. Official formal Lễ Lại Mặt protocol would prescribe newlyweds revisiting parents home, to show respect that their contribution towards the bride’s upbringing would not be forgotten. This event was opportunity for farewells before depatures from the city on the next day. (Việt Chay, Phường 8, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) 20231008
Rose Lounge Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN): Star Alliance Gold status allows one guest into international lounges, so sons are at food court. Easy morning with midday check-in, 2 taxis for 5 people with big luggage. On to third city, been away from home for 2 weeks, this trip feels like a long one. (Rose Lounge Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN)) 20231009
Rose Lounge Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN): Star Alliance Gold status allows one guest into international lounges, so sons are at food court. Easy morning with midday check-in, 2 taxis for 5 people with big luggage. On to third city, been away from home for 2 weeks, this trip feels like a long one. (Rose Lounge Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN)) 20231009
Taiwan Taoyuan Airport (TPE)
Taiwan Taoyuan Airport (TPE): Of five travellers, 3 winners in the Taiwan the Lucky Land promotion. Registered on a few days before flying, won NT$5000 on Easycard that we can use on transit and in convenience stores. Welcoming gesture for Canadians visiting Taiwan! (Taiwan Taoyuan Airport (TPE), Taiwan) 20231009


National Palace Museum:
: Children especially enjoy the Marvels within the Sea Immersive Interactive Tunnel, reinterpreting Sea Nie Huang (circa1662-1722) Rich and Varied Products of the Sea and Sea Oddities, as people observed and imagined marine life in the Qing dynasty. Found in the calligraphy and painting section of the massive collection. Bronzes and ceramics are more durable, but feel lifeless. (National Palace Museum, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231010

Linjiang Night Market
Linjiang Night Market: Vegan street food snacks recommended by friend living on the east side of the city, away from popular tourist venues. Also sampled sweet potato balls, wintermelon-pineapple-oliveoil drink, Taiwanese guava with dried plum powder, but the squid vendor was not available. Dining is more limited when travelling with vegans. (Linjiang Night Market, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231010
Houtong
Houtong: A shelter for visitors overlooking the Keelung River, with small cat houses where felines can stay warm. Originally a coal production town, open train carriages show that fuel is still in demand. Confused morning routing mean slow local trains eastbound into mountainous forests . (Houtong, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231011

Bangka Longshan Temple: Misty rainfall in courtyard with waterfalls on eastern wall, with the Buddhist temple entry facing south. Built in 1740 during the Qing Dynasty, the structure has been restored multiple times following natural disasters and a bombing in WWII during Japanese occupation. Local friend advised the neighbourhood is rough, with few tourists after dark. (Bangka Longshan Temple, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231010


Shifen Taoist Shrine:
: Modest temple in the village away from the commercial vendors along the railway tracks. Statues in the centre, but no Buddha that is a different religion. A big drum seems to be a common feature, and often military weapons. (Shifen Taoist Shrine, Pingxi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231011


Shifen Waterfall:
: Rainbow Pool is at the bottom of the widest waterfall in Taiwan, with anticline (arch-shaped) rock formations above. Park is a 15-minute walk from the old town, with well-groomed paths and suspension bridge featuring upstream rapids before the big plunge. Waterway was straightened in the late 20th century, with a flood diversion channel created downstream at Ruifang to preclude torrential flooding. (Shifen Waterfall, Pingxi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231011

Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street: Gradual inclines under the covered walkways take visitors by wall-to-wall shops, while the more intrepid manage the stairs upwards and downwards. Views northward to Shen’ao Harbour are breathtaking, for which photographs are insufficient. Mountain village was established in days of gold mining during the Qing Dynasty by the Japanese. (Jiufen Old Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231011
Dihua Old Street
Dihua Old Street: Visited street of traditional Chinese herbalists, seeking luobuma with an old sample package, but was told that no one in the district would have it, as they have in Shanghai. A tea shop did have luobuma tea bags, but not bulk, so the price would have been four times what I’ve previously paid. The green leaves are available in Chinatown of Oakland California, I’ll have to rely on their importing direct from mainland China. (Dihua Old Street, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231012
Dadaocheng Pier Plaza
Dadaocheng Pier Plaza: Reproduction of a Tangshan Sailing Boat on dryland, with brightly coloured active ships dockside. The Tamsui River Basin was first colonized by Han people in 1683AD. The Huwei region became active as a commercial port by 1861. Before the end of the 19th century, silt buildup in the basin and development of the Keelung Port reduced traffic to passenger travel. (Dadaocheng Pier Plaza, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231012
Xiahai City God Temple
Xiahai City God Temple: Compact Taoist temple where devotees pray to specific gods for good fortune. In the south room, the Wife of the City God blesses married couples to have a good relationship and family. Statue was alongside a god of defence (war?) and god of wisdom. (Xiahai City God Temple, Dihua Street, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231012
ABC Mart Ximen
ABC Mart Ximen: Sympathetic shopping encouraged by Easycard charged with Taiwan the Lucky Land promotion, accepted for merchandise purchases. Found Nike Air Monarchs to replace very old New Balance soles that developed a crack. Happy to find mens 6.5 size shoes in Asia, they’re rarely available in North America. ((ABC Mart, Emei Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231012


Xingtian Temple:
: Well-fed koi sidestage right from the altar, in a contemporary building built in 1967. Said to be the most popular most-visited temple in northern Taiwan, we arrived in afternoon rush hour to many devotees praying facing the statues to the north, some facing south, and others seated facing the lecturer to the east. Order was maintained by women wearing light blue smocks. (Xingtian Temple, Minquan Road East, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231012

Addiction Aquatic Development
Addiction Aquatic Development: Arriving mid-evening, routing around the water tanks with sealife, we opted to bypass the high-end restaurants to find the takeout sushi being marked down. After paying cash at checkout, we enjoyed chutoro, scallops, tuna gunkan, ikura don and assorted nigiri at the stand-up tables. Walked along dark streets to and from the venue, the nearby Second Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market is an early morning neighbourhood. (Addiction Aquatic Development, Minzu East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231012


Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei
: In the corner room is the second floor, HUNG Sheng-Hsiung (2022) The Dwelling of Collaborators plays music to a sparse arrangement of furniture. Featured exhibition on Signal Z contemplates the qualities of being “liquid’ and ‘fluid” as a starting point, investigating contemporary social phenomena and living condition. A variety of fluid states cross the public/private and physical/virtual boundaries. (Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231013

228 Peace Memorial Park
228 Peace Memorial Park: Monument to remember the February 28 incident in 1947, where thousands of civilians were killed in the suppression of an anti-government uprising. This structure in Taipei is one of many in the country, designed by architect Cheng Tzu-tsai while in prison. Viewed on a long afternoon trek from the National Taiwan Museum to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial hall. (228 Peace Memorial Park, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231013

Daan Park Pavilion: Fortunate timing to attend the free weekend shows of Taipei Jazz Festival, with the Taipei Youth Jazz Orchestra. Tiered benches in the amphitheatre full, with more casual listeners on the grass. Venue in the midst of the forest park, in the university district. (Daan Park Pavilion, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231013

MaoKong Tea Master
MaoKong Tea Master: Tasted a variety of teas from leaves grown at this level and higher. Local preference is for intense flavour, some smokier or fruity or floral. Enjoyed the Maokong gondola ascent, and returned with the glass-bottomed floor. (MaoKong Tea Master, Wenshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231014
Shenkeng Old Street
Shenkeng Old Street: Beside the modest Shiding/Jishun Temple is a cart reputed to serve the best stinky tofu in the region, taking its time on the grill with a patient lineup of customers. This village dates back to the Qing Dynasty, on the route between the mountainous areas and the harbours in lower lands north. In the Japanese era of the early 20th century, this was a major business centre for trading the tea grown at altitude. (Shenkeng Old Street, Shenkeng district, New Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231014

Daan Park Pavilion: Starting their tour of Asia at the Taipei Jazz Festival, the Tomasz Chyla Quintet has just released a new album. Violinist lead shows a democratic style with band members weaving solos into intros, outros, and in-between. The Polish musicians spoke English, giving us a greater understanding than the speeches by the local Chinese master of ceremonies. (Daan Park Pavilion, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231014

Songshan Cultural and Creative Park: Booming music led us to the courtyard in early afternoon, with Les Petites Chose Productions in dance rehearsal for performance in evening. Theme relates to The Garden of Early Delights, with Chuang Che-Wei. Rooms in the former tobacco factory filled with art installations and crafts vendors. (Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231015

Taiwan Design Museum
Taiwan Design Museum: Exhibition on Designs For The Next 100 Years by design firm NOSIGNER looks into solving ecological problems. Follows the approach of Evolutional Creativity from Eisuke Tachikawa of mutation and selection in biological evolution to create astounding beauty and function. Award-winning book written in Japanese was translated into Chinese and published in Taiwan. (Taiwan Design Museum, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 20231015
Eva Air Star Lounge TPE
Eva Air Star Lounge TPE: Signs of travelling through an advanced Chinese airport: fried gluten with peanuts and vegetarian floss with morning congee. High service in a Star Alliance lounge, including staff to help find seats. Awoke at 4:15am for first leg to Tokyo Narita, theoretical 3h40m connection. (Eva Air Star Lounge, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Dayuan District, Taoyuan City, Taiwan) 20231016
Narita Airport Terminal 1:  A 3 hour connection isn’t long enough to even get close to Tokyo, but the bright lights of commerce welcome visitors. Gate 46 is closer to the United Lounge, but we opted to walk over to the ANA lounge for more local flavour. More accustomed to flying to Haneda then Narita these days, but I haven’t actually been to Tokyo in a few years. (Narita Terminal 1, Japan) 20231016
Narita Airport Terminal 1: A 3 hour connection isn’t long enough to even get close to Tokyo, but the bright lights of commerce welcome visitors. Gate 46 is closer to the United Lounge, but we opted to walk over to the ANA lounge for more local flavour. More accustomed to flying to Haneda then Narita these days, but I haven’t actually been to Tokyo in a few years. (Narita Terminal 1, Japan) 20231016
McCleary Playground
McCleary Playground: Towards constructiion of the future Riverside-Leslieville Station expected 2041 on Ontario Line, trains are running on the west tracks while the east bridge ihas been demolished. Heavy machinery has temporarily taken over the playground that will be enlarged as new retaining walls are put into place. Inconveniences on streetcar routings in the short term are in the promise of benefits in future. (McCleary Playground, McGee Street, Riverside neighbourhood, Toronto, Ontario) 20231022

Riverside neighbourhood
Riverside neighbourhood: Ready to greet visitors calling trick-or-treat. Not yet dark, but sometimes parents bring the really young while it’s still daylight. Weather is clear, temperature should still be above freezing for the evening. (Riverside neighbourhood, Toronto, Ontario) 20231031
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