Trip to Hilo

by Thomas White

Nick and I took a father-son trip to Hilo, specifically the volcano to check out some photo ops in the future. As this wasn't meant as a picture taking adventure but only a scouting trip to see what the flow was doing we took it pretty easy. Hiked about an hour towards the flow but realized I wasn't too confident in getting close with Nick with me so we decided to just head back to Hilo for some Linner and a long drive home.

 On the way back we stopped at the Hilo Zoo. What a great place. Entry is free but donations are always welcome. While it's not the San Diego Zoo it's a very nice place to just hang out and see some animals.

 The ironic thing about the photo below is that peacocks aren't part of the zoo, they simply run around wild.

If you get the chance, head over to the Hilo zoo but don't expect  the huge commercial type of operation you find in bigger cities.

Talk Story at the Mauna Lani Resort

by Thomas White

So I went with the family up to talk story at the Mauna Lani Resort to meet some friends and enjoy the end to a great day. Talk story is a basically a Hawaiian saying for shooting the breeze and relaying events. It's a tradition in the islands and this event was sponsored by the resort. It takes place once a month on the closest Saturday that coincides with the full moon. Live Hawaiian music and hula was the theme of this particular event. During a break from the activities I took the opportunity to take a few shots.

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Hakone and Mt. Fuji

by Thomas White

So to continue my 3 day pass adventure, I decided to revisit Hakone. Simone and I once tried to get to Mt. Fuji but the tour was fully booked so the agent suggested we go to Hakone. It's actually one of the better places to view Mt. Fuji in my opinion and it's really easy to get there from Tokyo. It's almost like a Disney adventure with cable cars, pirate ships and tram rides. Have a look at here for everything you'll need to know. 

Lake Hakone

Lake Hakone

Japanese Snow Monkey's

by Thomas White

Having 3 days off the other day in Tokyo lead me to go on an expedition. I had seen and heard of the Japanese Macaque located in Nagano. Since I was able to get a cheap JR train pass for the 3 days I decided to head up to the snow monkey park. Below is a description of the park from their website:

...Jigokudani is located in a mountainous area in approximately the center of Japan. Jigokudani Monkey Park is located in the valley of Yokoyu-River that flowing from Shigakogen area of the northern part of Nagano-Prefecture. At 850 meters in elevation, it is a harsh environment where snow covers the ground for one-third of the year.

People called Jigokudani (Hell's Valley) because they could see the spectacle that looks like the hell that steep cliff, spring out boiling water from the surface of the earth. But this place is a paradise for monkeys. Two groups of monkeys are living in naturally at present.....

Kansai to Kobe

by Thomas White

I had a two day layover in Osaka and met up with  Henry Coste in Kobe for the day. Henry works for Skymark airlines and he's based in Kobe, the other side of the bay from where I was staying.  

Osaka's International Airport is on a man made island located in the Osaka bay. Kobe is on the other side of the bay and getting there, while not too difficult, can take a long time. One good thing about Japan is the abundant means of public transportation, however, it's not the cheapest. Having the choice to take either a bus, train or boat to Kobe, I opted for the ferry as it was about half the travel time as compared to the other options.

Getting to the ferry from the airport couldn't be easier. Located in the terminal at Kansai airport there is, in true Japanese fashion, a vending machine for ferry tickets. I thought  the time needed to decipher the barbed wire (katakana/hiragana) directions written on the machine would be more than normal, I set off abut 30 minutes before the free bus left the the ferry port. As it turned out, I had an extra 30 minutes to kill as the directions were also predominately displayed in English. I put in my 1800 yen and out popped my one-way ticket to Kobe. The bus left, unsurprisingly right on time as did the ferry for the 35 minute trip to the other side of the bay.

I spent the day just wandering around Kobe and having a look at what the city had to offer. Henry suggested with take the New Kobe ropeway, a gondola, the the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden. Not that we really wanted to see the herb garden but rather it was located atop a mountain, Mt. Maya, overlooking the city. As it was a really nice day and frankly started running out of touristy thing to do we road the gondola to the top and hiked backed down the mountain after seeing what the area had to offer.

Kitano city was really different in that a lot of the buildings there were built by foreigners as the Port of Kobe opened and it reminded me a lot of a European city. If you get the chance, I'd recommend checking it out along with the Mt. Maya. Here's a site where you can get the skinny on getting there among other things. Kobe area information

Scary High

by Thomas White

Here is the shot of the highest, and longest zip on the adventure. Pictured is a friend of ours as she cruised over and past the falls.

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Akaka Falls

by Thomas White

Regardless of how many times I've been to Akaka falls it always impresses me. My mom and her friend were visiting from the Mainland and wanted to undertake a zipline adventure. I told them of a new operator out of the Akaka falls area and they booked a tour. As it turned out, I went along. The tour was great and had some really nice "zips" along the way. Afterward, we headed up to Akaka Falls for a photo opportunity and saw them along with some of the lesser viewed wonders of the area. The zipline adventure was great by the way. I'll post some shots soon. I gotta say, the tour guides were quite friendly and knowledgeable, but when one of their pulley's (the one's keeping you from falling into the ravine as you're zipping 700 ft. in the air) malfunctioned, I didn't really feel that confident in "going again".

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Hong Kong Photowalk

by Thomas White

As I mentioned earlier on in one of my posts, I started following a bunch of photographers online and watching some of their podcasts. One of them is Scott Kelby. He has put together a worldwide photo walk now for the 6th year and I happened to be in Hong Kong on this year's walk.

 I met with a pretty small group around 9 a.m. we just cruised through a part of Hong Kong that the walk leader, Jay Martinez was familiar with. Turned out to be a great day even though I had to leave a bit early to get back to the airport for my flight later that night.  This was my first such walk but plan on attending more as the come up.

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Paris in Asia? Not

by Thomas White

So I got back from a Honolulu trip and had a "cultural day" (day off) in downtown tokyo so I decided to head down to Tokyo Tower and get a beer and something to eat. Surely isn't Paris but I'll take what I can get at this point.  

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Dam it's early!

by Thomas White

I guess one of the benefits to working the cargo schedule is that I'm always around when the sun comes up. Here I was waiting for the loading to be completed and had a couple of minutes to catch the sun coming up over Naha on the island of Okinawa.

It's too bad that in addition to seeing the sun come up, I also had to work til the sun went down on that day (wasn't as nice though}.

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TV anyone

by Thomas White

I guess this is one of the most iconic buildings in Shanghai, well they are all pretty dam spectacular but when you see this on you know exactly to what city it belongs. Well, I guess if you knew where it was. 

It's real name is the Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower but I think a lot of people just refer to it as the TV Tower.

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Going Up

by Thomas White

The size of these monsters is amazing. The Shanghai tower, the one with the cranes on top in the background, looks like it will dwarf it's two neighbors when it's finally completed.

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Trifecta of scale

by Thomas White

Here is a shot taken up to the dizzying heights of these three Chinese mega structures in Shanghai. On the left is the Shanghai World Financial Tower, on the right is the Jin Mao Tower, and at the bottom is the Shanghai Tower (still under construction). These building are awesome to behold from an ant's POV at street level. 

Since I only had a few hours downtown and the streets were packed with people due to a Chinese holiday, I couldn't make it into any of these building for a ride to the top. I plan on doing so next time I'm in Shanghai though.

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Taipei 101

by Thomas White

Well, I survived that Super Typhoon and had a chance to go downtown in Taipei. I had gone to Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in Asia, in the past but never got a good shot of it. Plus, I was going crazy just sitting in the hotel at the airport.

Being used to the train system in Japan, I can say that public transportation in Taiwan is years behind. I was able to get from the airport to the city using only public transport but it was a pain in the butt. It just defies imagination why some cities don't connect their international airports with the rail system servicing the city. At least there was an option to get downtown whereas some places, mainly in the United States, don't even have that option. 

Taipei 101 is 508 meters tall (about 1500 feet) and from signs located outside celebrating their 9th anniversary, I would guess it's about 10 years old. Here is a link to the history of the building.

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Inside the building encompassing the 88th and 89th floors is a massive damper. It basically counteracts the swaying of the building caused by wind etc. According to the literature this this weighs 730 tons. Here's a picture i took from the 89th floor.

Some stats from Popular Mechanics

TUNED MASS DAMPER STATS

Where it dangles: Taipei 101

Diameter: 18 ft.

Cost: $4 million

Weight: 730 tons

Number of steel plates: 41

Cable thickness: 3 1/2 in.

Protects against: Earthquakes, high winds, oversize gorillas.

Read more: Taipei 101's 730-Ton Tuned Mass Damper 

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Taipei

by Thomas White

Not too much action happening after I left Hong Kong. Flew up to Okinawa for a couple hour stop over until my flight to Taipei. A massive typhoon was headed that way so I was happy to get down there before the brunt of the storm hit. As it turns out,  typhoon Jelawat turned away from Taipei and headed straight for Okinawa. My flight up there later that night was cancelled due to 100 km/h winds expected at my ETA. So now I've got a bonus day at the airport in Taiwan.

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Hong Kong shopping Mecca

by Thomas White

So I arrived in HK and headed down to Sham Shui Po electronics district. You can get anything you ever wanted down here. I went to the camera section and specifically, Fu Li Dat electronics. I'll post a map of it's location shortly. All I can say is that the prices are great and if you look around you can get those little items that you'd pay an arm and a leg for anywhere else.

 

My new websit and blog

by Thomas White

So, I've been listening to This Week in Tech hosted by Leo Laporte and thought I'd dip my toes into the world wide web. One of his advertisers, Squarespace.com offers newbs like me an easy method to get your site up and running. With a discount provided by TWIT, (offer code TWIT(anymonthnumber)), you'll get a 10 % discount. It might take me a while til I get the hang of it but I'm planning on putting a lot of my travel photography images here and just blogging about some of the stuff that happens while I'm on the road.