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Old August 16th, 2012, 06:30 PM   #1
hkskyline
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hkskyline's 2011 Year in Review (January - June)

Time to clear my backlog. Here's a summary of my travels in the first half of 2011.

Guangzhou

With a bright and sunny holiday weekend, I trekked up to Guangzhou to see its newest attraction, Canton Tower.



It took over an hour to line up and get to the highest observation deck. But the twisty exterior actually blocked out some of the views from the inside.



The tower is at the southern end of a new central axis they're building. Across the Pearl River is the Zhujiang New Town, an emerging business district with a stunning urban park.













Macau

The sunny winter also prompted me to head in another direction to Macau to closely examine their historic legacy.



Welcome to a piece of Portugal on the South China Sea.







There's still a lot of gritty street scenes where you can catch a glimpse of local life.







Tourist guides portray this as a great shopping street. But most shops were closed. I was there for the architecture anyway.



Macau also has its share of funky and flashy architecture, especially its casinos.



Several islands off the main historic area also offer architectural sights. These small green houses are now open as museums.



This museum has fully furnished its interior to mimick an actual house from yesteryear.





The Chinese bourgeoisie also lived in lavish homes.







The colonial legacy has left behind plenty of churches, but so few tourists bothered to peek inside.













[u][b] Taipei </u></h2>

Taipei's annual lunar new year lantern festival is quite impressive. Their huge collection is on display in a city park.



Digging through the nooks and crannies, these small historic attractions are unique and a bit off-the-beaten-track.



Taiwan used to be a Japanese colony, and some of that history is on display in this local museum.



There is plenty of street food around, and lots of night markets to visit!













Drying clothes in a street market is quite a difficult thing to do especially when all these food stores are emitting all sorts of aromas.



[u][b] Kaohsiung </u></h2>

Kaohsiung is not so well-featured in the tourist guides. They seem to think there are very few tourist attractions here. To some extent it's true, but there are some hidden gems like these giant statues with a lake setting.









This is a temple, and not the Forbidden City.



One of several exquisite temples within walking distance of each other. These are more local landmarks than tourist sights.







Modernity vs. history.



Kaohsiung's new subway system has tried to incorporate art into its station design to attract riders.



They've also turned parts of its ugly port into an art district.





[u][b] Doha </u></h2>

It's time for my annual Europe trip again, and I chose Qatar Airways to save some money. This was my first time transitting during the daytime, but it wasn't so interesting. They were pretty much all QR planes.



But the aerials were nice, albeit sandy!



[u][b] Paris </u></h2>

I was in Paris for a quick stopover only. Luckily the weather co-operated as I emerged at the Notre Dame.







Recycling





My mission for the day was to beat my jet lag. I designed a long walk around the Bastille to keep myself awake.







[u][b] Porto </u></h2>

Having been to Lisbon before, I aimed for the 2nd largest city, Porto, on this visit. I didn't want to tire myself out by visiting a large city since there was still plenty of itinerary ahead of me.



These historic trams weren't as small as the ones I saw ascending the Alfama in Lisbon, but they were a good option to navigate Porto's hills.



The cathedral looks plain on the outside, but the details were within.



With so many hills, there were lots of vantage points around. Thanks to a very helpful gentleman at the tourist information centre, I saw quite a few.





The historic quarter snaked along the hillsides but it was not as gritty as the Alfama.



This is the end of the line.



After a very cheap and delicious lunch away from the tourist traps, I did a long photo-taking session at this wonderful vantage point.



The views from the bridge were also great, and with only the occasional tram rumbling along the top deck, it was safe to run across to see both sides.





The city had no shortage of interesting architecture, all the way down to the last detail :













[u][b]Barcelona</u></h2>

The weather turned grey and wet when I reached Barcelona, which was quite disappointing since I wanted to cover plenty on this 2nd visit.





I wanted to take this cable car, but after checking the fare, I opted to take photos of it instead.



The wind just didn't pick up to move the Catalan flag.





This is the place to celebrate Gaudi.



I saw this type of stoplight feature in Taiwan, which was normal since there were many mopeds on the street, but I didn't see that many cyclists in Barcelona.



With rain falling, I sought refuge inside. The Gothic cathedral was dark and many parts were covered up for maintenance. Still, it had a certain mystique that the bright and grand Renaissance cathedrals couldn't achieve.





Nicely manicured, but too bad it's not open to the public for a closer inspection. The observation area at the Arenas shopping centre is new, and a wonderful addition since several key landmarks are within sight.



I'm quite fond of markets and what sorts of local foods are available. Spanish ham tastes really good!





I have no idea what to do with these happy feet.



I came back regularly to do my fruit run.



I was too lazy to cook my own meals though.





The artists' corner was the only part of La Ramblas that I liked.





If I were to mark the places that I've been to in Europe, it'd get a bit messy.



2010 Year in Review (July - December) | 2010 Year in Review (January - June)
2009 Year in Review (July - December) | 2009 Year in Review (January - June)
2008 Year in Review (June - December) | 2008 Year in Review (January - June)
Hong Kong 2008 Year in Review - Bonanza | 2007 Year in Review (January - June)
2007 Year in Review (July - December)
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