Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Taiwan Day 1 part 2 - 华山咖啡大街

05 Apr - After dumping our luggage into our room, we still had some time to kill before the sun sets. With the help of the 民宿 owner, we called a cab to explore the 华山咖啡大街, which is the only attraction around the area. 华山 is a small hill located near to the 民宿 we are staying in which is renowned for their coffee plantations. After the coffee beans are harvested, some of it is sold to the local shops nearby, hence the origination of 华山咖啡大街, where coffee based products are being sold.

华山咖啡大街

The entrance to one of the many scenic walkway around the area

Interesting....Singapore Carpark?
 
Another attraction around 华山 are the two hanging bridges called 小天梯与情人桥. This attraction was recently built a few years ago by the local government. However, I totally under estimate the effort that I have to put in to get to the attractions. Never did I foresee that I have to climb a long walk path up the hill slope to reach my destination.

The long way up...

Base of 小天梯 after walking for about 30 minutes

小天梯

To reach 情人桥, you have to continue to climb up some more flights of stairs

情人桥, where only 2 people may pass at any one time
 
Passing the 情人桥, we continue our climb past the coffee plantations at the side in order to return to the main street.
 
Scenic view awaits us at the top of the hill
 
After the vigorous climb, we took a rest at this café when we returned to civilization
 
The coffee café entrance
 
Complete with a mini garden =)

Nice yummy dessert to reward us for the exercise earlier. Well... all slimming efforts down the drain =p
 
After we are done touring the 华山咖啡大街, we returned to 望民宿 to join up with the 民宿 owner who has kindly volunteered to bring us to the local night market. It was indeed an eye-opener to see so many food and activities concentrated in an area!
 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Taiwan Day 1 part 1 - Journey to 望民宿

05 Apr - A trip wholly planned by me from the start till the end. I didn't expect that planning can be so challenging. For just about 1+ weeks worth of holiday, it took me about 3 weeks of researching to come out with the itinerary. I am really glad that most of the journey went smoothly and we enjoyed our special holiday. =)

Took a morning flight out of Singapore. Weather was fine with pretty clouds floating by...

But the food kind of needs improvement. Can't complain much though, it is budget flight after all.

Landed safely at Taoyuan International Airport
 
We quickly pick up our luggage and off we go to take a public bus to Taipei City. It is easier to navigate the airport now as signs are being put up everywhere to direct tourist on where to go. Next destination: Taipei bus station to transfer to a normal train bound for 斗六.

3 hours ride from 台北 to 斗六 with no seats. It certainly reminds us of our Tokyo to Hokkaido train ride in Japan in 2012.....

By right, foreigners are allowed to book ticket seats for the train ride on their website. But..no matter how I tried, the system just don't allow me to book the seats. End up we have to stand for almost the whole journey. =(

Train zooming by green fields of rice paddy

After a long ride, finally we arrived at our destination! But this isn't over yet...To get to our 民宿, we have to make our way to 剑湖山主题乐园 via another public bus....

which was luckily located near to the train station!
 
Upon reaching our destination stop, I had to call the 民宿 owner to come and pick us up. As it was still early, the room is not ready yet. The kind owner dropped us along the way to have our lunch.

Nice signboard, but the food is just average. =p
 
By late afternoon, we finally arrived at our 望民宿!
 
with a beautiful garden done up by the owner
 
And complete with a swing! =)
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Transcendence

Synopsis: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can… but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him. [Source: Cathay Cineplexes]


 
Interesting concept: A world where artificial intelligence can have self awareness and act like a fellow human being. When connected to the Internet, it attains the power to enhance and control other humans. This is indeed terrifying if it goes out of control. The movie itself is not exactly the blockbuster that I expected, but nonetheless, still watchable. Do not expect much actions in the movie, except to set you thinking to what extend should human play God in the name of science? If not for the main lead being Johnny Depp and the interesting storyline, I would have give this movie a miss.
 
Rate: 6/10

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Wind Rises

Synopsis: Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Short-sighted from a young age and thus unable to become a pilot, Jiro joins the aircraft division of a major Japanese engineering company in 1927. His genius is soon recognized, and he grows to become one of the world’s most accomplished airplane designers. The Wind Rises chronicles his life and depicts key historical events that deeply affected the course of Jiro’s life- including The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, The Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic, and Japan’s plunge into war. He meets and falls in love with Nahoko, grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo, and innovates tremendously, leading the aviation world into the future. [Source: Cathay Cineplexes]
  

 
A moving anime depicting the aviation history of Japan. It tells the life story of Jiro, who will later become the pioneer of Japan Zero Fighter planes during World War 2. The anime depicts friendship, love and humanity beautifully. A great movie to catch if you have the time.
 
Rate: 6.5/10

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Marvels Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Synopsis: After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier. [Source: Cathay Cineplexes]

 
First thing first, are the muscles of the Captain America in the movie for real? They just looked too big and artificial for his size! Other than that, like all Marvel movies, you will get to see plenty of actions of the superheroes. Never a bored moment filled with twists and turns as the Captain tries to find out who he could trust after being betrayed by his organization. Do remember to stay till the end of the screen credits rolls as there are two short clips which will be shown somewhere during the mid credit section and at the end. It looks like there will be a Captain America 3, scheduled for release in 2016, potentially fighting the HYDRA twins (One with super human speed while the other process telekinetic powers.
 
Rate: 7.5/10

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising

Synopsis: Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, a.k.a. Wild Tiger, and Barnaby Brooks Jr.’s partnership comes to a sudden end when Apollon Media’s new owner Mark Schneider fires Kotetsu and moves Barnaby back into the First League, pairing him up with Golden Ryan, a new hero with awesome powers and a huge ego to match. When the heroes are sent to investigate a string of strange incidents tied closely to the city’s Goddess Legend, they discover three superpowered NEXTs plotting to bring terror and destruction to Stern Bild. [Source: Cathay Cineplexes]




A continuation of where the anime left off. Things do start to get interesting when Barnaby was paired with a new egoistic partner and Kotetsu was fired and has to deal with life being back to a normal civilian. The movie itself was pretty average but it was rather good to see that the heroes decided to discard the rivalry among themselves and worked together to defeat the evil at the end of the movie. This was something that did not happened in the anime as usually, the heroes will try to outdo each others in apprehending the criminals.

Rate: 6/10

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Divergent

Synopsis: Divergent is a thrilling action-adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities. Tris Prior (Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late. Divergent is based on the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth. [Source: Cathay Cineplexes]


 
The movie follows most of what was written in the original novel, except for a few scene which was altered to suit cinema settings. The plot has a resemblance to The Hunger Game, where people are divided into various classes to  suit their personality. An evil then arises to try to break the balance and it is left to the leads to save the day. The pace of the movie was good, with just enough excitement to keep the audience contented. Overall, I will find this a pretty good movie to watch. It was also confirmed there will be a sequel to this "Divergent", which will again based on the novel "Insurgent" released in 2012.
 
Rate: 7.5/10