WORLD MEDLEY: VIEWS THROUGH A LENS

By Rachel Ger
Contributing Writer

This is the fifth and final article in our 2015 Week of Photo Journals: Changing Perspectives. We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s presentation of the beautiful photography and travel accounts of UC San Diego students. Click on the images in the article to view the photos up close.

Kolkata street scene

A snapshot of the juxtaposition of two different generations in the streets of Kolkata, India. The bright colors of the faded paint on the walls don’t do much to shroud the fact that these slums are backed wall-to-wall by tall, luxurious buildings where the rich live and play – with the impoverished right on their doorstep. But somehow, in this moment, all of that doesn’t matter. This grandfather and grandchild have far more important things to think about right now, such as “what game should we play right now?” and “what memories are we going to make today?”

“We’re All Just People” at Centre Pompidou in Paris, France

My favorite part of this museum of modern art wasn’t the exhibits themselves (although they were extraordinary); it was the people-watching I got to do on the escalators between floors and on the landings of each plexiglass surrounded level. Each person or couple was so absorbed in their own little world – napping, lunching, even people-watching themselves, with a pair of eyes, unbeknownst to them, observing from above. There’s a certain sense of peace that comes with being allowed to peek into someone else’s life, a stranger whose world only collides with yours in this encounter and then continues on, completely unrelated to you beyond a moment of accidental eye-contact or a brief “excuse me” or “where did you get your top?”

Nighttime in the City of Lights - Paris, France

Nighttime in the City of Lights – Paris, France

Our long walk back to our Airbnb after each adventure-packed day always became a little tedious. We were all tired, hungry, and not looking forward to returning to the slightly sketchy area we were staying in. Always too tired to engage in the nightlife, on this night the nightlife came to us – we were met with lovely street music, lively youths, bright lights; reviving and energizing us and reminding us of all the little treasures this beautiful city has to offer.

A peek down a nondescript alley met by wary eyes in Kolkata, India

A peek down a nondescript alley met by wary eyes in Kolkata, India

A day in Kolkata seems to stretch for hours on end, punctuated by the hottest, most humid climate I have ever experienced in my life. Night comes as a brief relief to the excruciating heat that causes sweat to pour down our bodies during the day and makes us drowsy and sluggish. Revived by the coolness of the night air, we went for a nighttime walk around the dusty, bustling streets, filled with the sounds of socializing and loud vehicle horns protesting the packed dirt streets. I stepped away from the group for a moment to see what lay behind this corner, and was surprised to find that I wasn’t alone – I seem to have intruded on this little boy’s preparation for a sneaky night of great adventure and excitement.

Beautiful coastal town of Amalfi

A winter day feels just like summer in the beautiful coastal town of Amalfi in Italy. After waking up at the crack of dawn to take the long train from Naples to Sorrento in order to make it on time to catch one of the last three buses running to Amalfi for that period of time (there had been floods because of the rain the week before, and part of the road had collapsed… just in time to complicate our travel plans!). Speeding around the craggy cliffs of the Italian Riviera stopping every which way to pick up locals and slowing down to allow vehicles coming from the other end of this one-lane road pass, we finally arrived at Amalfi hours after we set out from our hostel. But all the hours of travel and transportation complications were worth it when met by the sight of this beautiful little beach town and the warmth of the Italian locals. The Amalfi Coast in every bend and curve possesses the kind of unparalleled beauty that can’t be adequately captured on camera.

 Impending rainstorm on Christmas Eve

Impending rainstorm on Christmas Eve – adventure in rural Italy

Our nonexistent knowledge of the Italian language paired with our inability to navigate tiny provincial streets inevitably and unsurprisingly stopped our quest to find the route to the famous
Sentiero degli dei (the Path of the Gods) right in its tracks. Without a single shop open on Christmas Eve and dead silent streets, it took the sight of these orange-brown clay topped white houses to help us keep our cool. It all turned out fine in the end and we got to where we needed to
be perfectly on time – and now we’ll always have a story that’s one for the books.

All images by Rachel Ger, Prospect Contributing Writer

TAIWAN: FROM SUNRISE AT ALI MOUNTAIN TO SUNSET IN KENTING

Dome of Light in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

By Kirstie Yu
Staff Writer

My previous photojournal invited the reader to traverse Taiwan through its cuisine. There is so much else Taiwan has to offer, including impressive architecture, wondrous nature, and many simply unforgettable sights. I wanted to capture Taiwan’s most enticing tourist spots outside of its capital Taipei in this sequel.

Ali Mountain (阿里山)

Alishan National Scenic Area (阿里山國家風景區) in central Taiwan is best known for its cloud sea and sunrise, which we woke up at 3 a.m. to catch. Although the sunrise usually attracts throngs of tourists, we were fortunate enough to arrive slightly before a typhoon warning closed off the mountain road. We were thus able to watch the sunrise from a perfect vantage point without having to fight too many other tourists for the best viewing spot.

Photo 1

We took the first train of the day to the sunrise viewing location. The Alishan Forest Railway is a 53-mile network that was originally constructed by Japanese colonialists in 1912 to transport wood down the mountain. The trains themselves are famous as well, and there is even an Alishan Forest Railway Garage Park (阿里山森林鐵路車庫園區) for retired trains in the city of Chiayi (嘉義) at the base of the mountain.

Photo 2

Xitou (溪頭)

Also in central Taiwan, the Xitou Nature Education Area (溪頭自然教育園區) was established for research purposes for the National Taiwan University (國立臺灣大學). President Chiang Kai-Shek famously posed for a photo with college students on the bamboo bridge at University Pond (大學池) within the recreational area. I found the bridge itself to actually be quite steep.

Photo 3

Within the Forest Recreation Park (森林遊樂區) are many unique natural creations, including a tree in the shape of a heart (pictured below) and a 3,000-year-old cypress tree called Shen Mu (神木) or “God Tree.”

Photo 4

Within Xitou is a small Japanese-inspired Monster Village (妖怪村) built in 2011 that has eccentric monster statues, red lanterns and hidden secrets throughout. The village, which contains a wide array of themed souvenir shops and restaurants, is eerily pretty when the lanterns are lit up at night.

Photo 5

Jiufen (九份)

Jiufen, only an hour away from the heart of Taipei by bus or train, attracted attention in the late 1800s due to the discovery of gold in the region. With the vibrant and bustling Jiufen Old Street (九份老街) and hillside town speckled with houses, it is not hard to understand why director Hayao Miyazaki drew inspiration from this town for his film “Spirited Away.”

Photo 6

Photo 7

Yilan (宜蘭)

The Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館) showcases the geography and history of Yilan county in northeast Taiwan through its Mountains Level, Plains Level, and Ocean Level permanent exhibitions, as well as other special exhibitions featuring the culture of Yilan. Inspired by the cuesta rock formations in the region, the architecture mimics a rock or mountain rising from the earth.

Photo 8

Tainan (台南)

In southern Tainan, remnants of Dutch and Japanese rule in Taiwan still remain in the form of preserved architecture. Fort Zeelandia (熱蘭遮城) was built in the early 1600s by Dutch settlers and still stands today as a museum filled with history about Dutch rule in Taiwan. It was fascinating to see something so European in Taiwan.

Photo 9

Photo 10

Formerly a warehouse owned by British trading company Tait & Company established in 1967, the Anping Treehouse (安平樹屋) has since been taken over by banyan trees that have turned the warehouse into a fairytale-like building due to years of neglect. Roots and branches snake along every wall, and trails and stairs were built in 2004 to allow visitors to explore every inch of the mysterious building.

Photo 11

Kaohsiung (高雄)

Public transportation is extremely convenient, accessible, and cost-friendly in Taiwan. Taiwan’s transportation includes the MRT (mass rapid transit) a.k.a. metro system in Taipei City and Kaohsiung, train, HSR (high-speed rail) that runs from Taipei in the north all the way to Kaohsiung in the south), city bus (a low-cost comprehensive bus network), Taiwan Tourist Shuttle, and taxis galore. Formosa Boulevard Station (美麗島站) is the central station where Kaohsiung MRT’s two lines meet, and it houses the Dome of Light (光之穹頂), the largest glass work in the world.

Photo 12

Kenting (墾丁)

Kenting’s unbridled natural beauty and year-round tropical weather always attracts visitors to Maobitou Scenic Area (貓鼻頭), the southwestern-most tip of Taiwan, and Cape Eluanbi (鵝鑾鼻), the southeastern-most tip. I saw the bluest cerulean ocean water I’ve seen in my life at Maobitou, which means “cat’s nose.”

Photo 13

Eluanbi Lighthouse is called “The Light of East Asia” because it is supposedly the brightest lighthouse in Asia, or at least in Taiwan. Eluanbi means “goose’s beak.”

Photo 14

The Kenting Night Market (墾丁大街) bustles with life after dark with locals and tourists alike eager to snack on traditional Taiwanese food, win prizes in a variety of games, and buy souvenirs from the numerous vendors after a long day at the beach.

Photo 15

Finally, one cannot leave Kenting without going to Guanshan (關山), a seaside hill that was named one of the top sunset spots by CNN last year. I have been to Guanshan to see the sunset twice, and the colors and aura of the sunset are never the same each time. Pictures do not do the sunset justice, so this definitely must be seen in person when visiting Taiwan.

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All images by Kirstie Yu, Prospect Staff Writer