Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Back from Sun Moon Lake

Just came back from doing a Tour Taiwan story on cycling around Sun Moon Lake. It was quite nice cycling around the lake. I didn't get to ride the whole thing the first afternoon when we were filming, but the next morning, I met with Tingfa, our fantastic guide and he took me for a full tour. Without stopping, we finished the nearly 30km up and down ride in about 1 hour and 40 minutes. This is what Sportstracker on my phone recorded, then sent to Google Earth:

Watching the sun come up over the lake brought back memories of rowing with the team and mountain biking with Carrie. But the nostalgia quickly faded once the bigger hills started coming at us and I got real busy pedaling and feeding just enough oxygen to my brain so I could keep going and not blackout.

After everything was in the can, we quickly headed back to Taipei to cut the film. We managed to finish all three language versions and still get off work on time. But boy, was I exhausted. That was yesterday. I don't know how I made it through today. I'm again so tired, I'm nauseous, have a huge headache, one really swollen eye and a sore right jaw that hurts when I open it. Ack. My body knows I'm off tomorrow. Sometimes I feels like off time is sick time. Time for bed. No running tomorrow. I'll get plenty of cycling the day after when we go to film in Dapeng Bay, Pingtung. We're doing a story on cycling around there too.

Views from the balcony of the room I stayed in:

Dinner that night:

Yes, that was in a 7-11. It was my first time having a convenience store dinner, and inside of a CVS too. The guys suggested it and I did not complain. The food may not be great, but at least I know there isn't bacteria in it that I'm not used to... However, despite all that work during the day, I could only finish the salad, oden and sesame pudding. The oinari-san and hanjuku tamago ended up being breakfast.

Here are the scripts for the short version of the story. I haven't gotten around to writing and cutting the long version yet.




[[stand-up: 來到日月潭 想觀光兼運動 騎鐵馬環湖剛剛好!]]


[[美國人 因為沿著河畔騎 所以感覺很好 路面也很平 我覺得是個很好的路線 也有上坡下坡 一點都不會無聊]]

[[日本人 很有趣的路程 但是因為車道比較多 所以如果可以有更多自行車道可能更好]]

[[觀光局副局長謝謂君: 我們的構想是 在明年底之前 我們會有一條水上的自行車道 會把整個日月潭的日行車道串在一起 大約33公里長]]

[[解說志工 許廷發 對於一些喜歡騎腳踏車的老手來說 30公里不會太短 對於一些新手來說30公里又不會太長 而且整個坡度 最陡的才只有3%而已 所以騎起來會很舒服]]

[[STAND-UP 真是沒有想像中的那麼簡單 還要爬坡 啊...]]



民視新聞 翁郁容 郭文海 南投報導

Cycling Sun Moon Lake

Cycling tourism in Taiwan has been picking up speed as more and more roads and trails are adjusted to be bicycle-friendly. There are five main destinations for cycling tourists in Taiwan, and Michella Jade Weng visited one of them - Sun Moon Lake.##

Nantou County's picturesque Sun Moon Lake is known as one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan. It’s enclosed by mountains on all sides and even has its own island in the middle.

Michella Jade Weng
And what better way to enjoy the scenery than by cycling around the lake!

There is a road and some bicycle paths that go around the lake and are about 30 kilometers in distance. Walking the entire way would take too long and driving would leave one feeling unsatisfied, so many tourists these days are choosing to take their bicycles and are enjoying the course's dynamic terrain.

American Cycling Blogger
You ride along the water, so it's a kind of a nice route. I thought the roads were nice, were smooth, they weren't broken up, it had good views. It was a good rolling kind of terrain. It was not boring at all.

Hsu Ting Fa
Volunteer Guide
For good bicyclists, it's not too short, and for new bicyclists, it's not too long, so everyone can ride here very well and can enjoy the ride here.

Challenging, yes. Not too difficult...that remains to be seen. You could always choose to cycle only a part of it or walk your bike up some of the steeper hills, but if you want to push yourself and go all the way without stopping, you better be fit or you're going to be sore like I was.

After taking in the stunning landscape, another unique way to enjoy Sun Moon Lake and a nice ending to any cycling holiday is to catch an evening performance by the indigenous Thao tribe.

Michella Jade Weng, Formosa TV, Nantou.

Friday, 25 September 2009

"Hodo hodo ni"

I think I overdid it with all the jogging and cycling the past few days. This morning I went power walking instead. My right tensor fasciae latae is hurting like how my mothers’ words can on certain days. (Re: mother’s cutting words – call it “miscommunication,” call it “post-menopausal PMS,” call it “venting to me because they love me so much,” call it “I deserved it,” whatever.) What, you don’t know what a tensor fasciae latae is? That’s OK, I don’t know how to pronounce it either. It’s a muscle on the upper leg that starts from the pelvis and ends halfway down the thigh on the side. There’s that voice going on in my head, “ほどほどに.” Blah. I won’t have time to exercise tomorrow anyway – it’s the crazy 3AM Saturday morning news routine and family day following. Need to stretch more, and to start working 空手型 with a little bit of 太極 into the routine so I’m not so harsh on my body all the time.

(image from Wikipedia)

Advice: marry a European, divorce, remarry, repeat

Dear Uncle T was in town a couple of weeks ago for less than 24 hours but was nice enough to give me a call anyway. (He is from Japan but practically lives on airplanes and in suits, having to travel so much.) We had an interesting conversation. Here’s what I recall.

T: Hi Michella, how are you?
M: Great, Uncle Tad, and you?
T: Very busy these days. Have to work really, really hard in this economy, but I’m enjoying myself. How’s your godmother?
M: Oh, I think she’s been busy. Why don't you give her a ring sometime? I’m quite busy too, and also enjoying myself. Enjoying my single life, to work as much as I please, free to do anything as I please, when I please.
T: Oh, that’s good to hear. I remember you wanted to go traveling in Europe.
M: Yes, thank you for your suggestions! But these days, the forces that may be aren’t even letting me out to Tokyo or Bali, so I won’t set my goals too high for now.
T: Hahaha, I think you should visit Eastern Europe. I’m really fascinated by that area these days and it’s so beautiful there. For example, I really enjoy going to Prague. You know, you should try non-single life too. Maybe men here are not strong enough for today’s women, for someone like you. Maybe you should go to Europe for maybe like a year and find a European man. Having a non-single life is interesting too.
M: I’ll think about that when “non-single life” finds me. (A EUROPEAN man??? STRONG man??? I’m hoping for an intelligent, wise and interesting man, preferably someone who knows something or a lot about art or music, and not a muscle man who turns into the Terminator and then a politician… But Uncle T may be right on the second thought.)
T: You know, I met this very interesting and nice lady the other day. She is a successful businesswoman, and a very nice person. She is friendly with everybody, even her ex-husbands. She was married three times, and she still has very good relationships with the two ex-husbands, which is very surprising. I’ve never met anyone like that, and it really opened my eyes to see that such a situation was possible. Even though she has had two divorces and three marriages, she still enjoys a good life with everyone in her past still in her life and a good career to boot.
M: That is interesting. A very modern woman, perhaps. (Like modern families with children from different marriages, with everyone having different last names.)
T: A very special woman. Not everyone is like this, but I think it is great how she can do that.
M: Hm. Yeah. (What is he trying to get at? Try a marriage, divorce if it doesn’t work, remarry, redivorce, remarry? If she can do it without killing herself in the process and still end up in one big happy situation for all, maybe you can too? It’s the 21st century?)
T: Anyway, try non-single life someday. You may enjoy it.
M: Hahaha, we’ll see.
T: It’s too bad we cannot meet this time. Let me know when you are in Tokyo next and let’s get together!
M: OK, Uncle T, thanks so much for calling!

Go traveling in Europe for a year, marry a European, divorce, marry again, divorce, marry again, take over the world in my career, live happily every after.

Hahaha! I love my Uncle T! He may sell fasteners and building material for a living, but he sure is funny! With a voice like a bass singer and a million stories from having met so many people all over the world, I could listen to him talk forever.

(images via Google images)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Day four down the tubes too

Vacation day four also ended with work. I was called in for a meeting, which lasted 'til 21h00. I was starving and ready to vomit bile by the time we got out. Stupid boss was sitting there eating his dinner the whole time and didn't realize he forgot to order dinner for the rest of us. The meeting was about "how not to get fined by the NCC for reporting on consumer news and on stories with product placements." Tricky business, but interesting.

One highlight of the day though - I bought my new bike! Oh, and also gave Dad what I made in Penghu (with sand and shells). The poor guy is going through a midlife crisis.

Keeping my fingers crossed that the next three days will be quiet so I can really recharge. My neck and shoulders are really aching, among other things. My body is complaining. I had better listen. H1N1 is peeping in through the window.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Just not meant to be

This vacation was just not meant to be.

I had set aside seven days this month to go to Tokyo, but those plans fell through.

(sushi Oneesan brought for New Year's dinner some years ago)

So instead, I planned to go to Bali with Gina, but those plans went into the soup (as they say in Mandarin).

(photo by Uncle Tsu, this was Palau, but you get the idea)

Then I thought, it wouldn’t be so bad to stay in Taipei, until work kept calling.

(hazy view of Taipei 101 from FTV's rooftop)

Vacation day 1: had to go in to the office for about five hours to finish the Qianggu (搶孤) story. Qianggu is a traditional festival held at midnight of the last day of the 7th month (also known as “Ghost month,” the equivalent of Halloween, perhaps) of the lunar calendar, where men race up poles greased with 200 gallons of cow lard and then climb up bamboo racks to cut down the flag atop with a sickle. Personally, reporting on it once was enough for me. First because we didn’t get back to Taipei (the festival was in Yilan) until 2 AM (we even left before the whole thing ended). Second because the smells of cow lard, burning ghost money, squid being grilled in the nearby night market and smelly men chewing betel nuts all together at the same time was a bit too much to bear. And third because it was dangerous - the total height of the greased poles plus bamboos was more than 13 stories high with almost nothing to catch competitors if they should fall. So vacation day 1, I went back into the office to finish the story in English, Mandarin and Minnan for the Tour Taiwan travel series. After finishing the stories, I dragged myself to a dinner held in Michael’s honor, for he was just accepted into the business school at Johns Hopkins. I arrived at the dreadful karaoke restaurant in Danshui around 22h00. Dad was so drunk we hardly recognized each other, and same with practically all his friends. After two bites of food that Mom had left for me, I went outside to save my head from exploding. In my mind, Drunk People + Karaoke = Potential Eardrum Rupture and Subdural Hematoma]. After stopping by the Danshui house and picking up fruit from Mom had “shared” with the gods and ghosts earlier, I caught the pumpkin train back into Taipei and got home around 1h00. Long day.

(one of Ada's magical salads)

Vacation day 2: office calls at 5h24 as the sun was just getting out of bed. The 6h00 show producer says, “Michella, we need you to come in. The 6h00 anchor isn’t going to make it.” Without washing my face nor brushing my teeth and not knowing what I was wearing, I sped into FTV, grabbing the scripts on while flying into hair and make-up. Thank god the show started on time. Was going to have brunch at Nonzero with Ann, but ended up having bagels and yogurt at home instead, which wasn’t bad at all. As I was watching “PS, I Love You” again on cable and really starting to get into the vacationing mood, this time my boss calls, “Michella, we need you to come in tomorrow. We’re short one reporter because Gloria’s still working on the Hatta Yoichi (八田與一) documentary and can’t report.”

(picture by Terence, some time ago at the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station)

Vacation day 3: did a political story in the morning about former legislator and Taipei city councilwoman Diane Lee, who was charged with dual citizenship (US and Taiwan, dual citizenship is illegal in Taiwan), and is to return the salary she was paid during her time as public servant, which amounts to TWD120mn (USD3.7mn). The story was that opposition councilmen were accusing the Ministry of the Interior for attempting to interfere with the council’s decisions in order to aid Lee in not having to return the money. In the afternoon, I did a story on H1N1, with CDC officials urging pregnant women to take medication as instructed by a doctor if they catch the flu. A 23 year old pregnant woman in Taidong refused to take Tamiflu (partially because it hasn’t been deemed 100% safe for pregnant women), and she and her baby both died, unfortunately.

Today is vacation day 4. I cycled 23 by the river this morning at 5h00, watching the sun come up over Taipei, and it felt great. Despite my 1-speed, tiny wheeled, slow-poke Strida, it was a good ride. Then I bought a runbing (潤餅, Taiwanese spring roll stuffed full of warm veggies in a whole wheat wrap – one of my favorite foods) on the way home and just finished eating. Heaven. Going to water the plants, nap and then go to William’s press conference for the Metabolic Balance book launch this afternoon. Not exactly all fun, but better than going in to work again.

I need to rest up and get healthy the next few days, for more busy days are coming and my intern has the Type A flu (90% chance of which is H1N1). Sunday and Monday, we’re going to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) in central Taiwan to do a story on their bike trail that wraps around the lake. Thursday and Friday, we’re going to Dapeng Bay (大鵬灣) in the south to do another cycling story. What good timing it is to buy a new bike! Then it’s straight to night shift for seven days. Later in the month, we’re traveling again to Zhiben (知本) to do a story on the hot spring industry there recovering after Typhoon Morakot. Then we’re going to Yilan (宜蘭) to report on the beautiful landscape changing from green to red as autumn comes. October is going to be a busy month.

September was a busy month. I’ve somehow become the go-to person for all tasks bothersome, difficult, tricky and risky. I was almost sent on an undercover assignment to a country where people are beaten to death on the street and disappear to never be found again. The assignment was to secretly interview a monk, while all the way having to lie to get to the interview. Very happy it didn’t pan out. Recently, I’ve also been helping Gloria with her Hatta Yoichi documentary after work, because almost all the interviews were in Japanese. I enjoy helping her because she is grateful for the help. Can’t say as much for a lot of other people who come running for help… In November, FTV’s having me host a 1-hour program talking about the developments of Taiwan’s various marketplaces/downtown areas. The tricky part is, experts from Taiwan, the US and Japan will also be on the show, and most of them don’t speak Chinese, so I’ll have to switch a language with each expert. My brain is going to fry, even if I remember how to speak Japanese again.

Instead of counting my eggs before they hatch, I think I’m getting a feel for my fatigue before it actually sets in. I better stop. Instead, I will rest, exercise, meditate, read, and dump the contents of my brain (perhaps into the air or onto the blog). Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Been going through lots of emotional and physical stress lately. I need repairs both inside and out.

Speaking of which, my Strida needs the rear brake cable tightened. What a great excuse to go look at that cute little bike that I want again.